When TV lawyers come to mind, these are not paper shufflers but trial lawyers and exist in real life. Trial lawyers think quickly on their feet, analyze situations and assess persons in real time. These giants in the courtroom handle the most complicated cases, breaking the witness point-wise after patiently sifting through mountains of data. A great trial attorney is tough but is able to influence a jury. By highlighting great cases and talking to them, we analyze what makes a trial lawyer, truly great…
Phil Beck (Firm: Bartlit Beck)
Phil is best known for stopping the votes recount in Florida, thus winning the presidency for George W. Bush. In 2003, he defended the pharmaceutical company Bayer in a drug lawsuit due to their manufactured drug Baycol, enabling the price of their stocks to increase by 40% in half an hour. In 2009, he handled the defense of Ernst & Young, fighting off claims of $300 million as damages. Beck feels a lawyer must look at things like the jury, dilute complex matters into understandable bits, avoid condescending anyone, and anticipate how the witness examinations could go wrong, while being ready with back-up plans for them.
David Bernick (Firm: Kirkland & Ellis)
In 2009, Bernick avoided thousands of asbestos injury claims defending W.R. Grace. In 2018, he represented Dow Chemical in its dispute with Rohm & Haas who invested $3 billion in the combined company, post M&E. He has represented Philip Morris and General Electric against injury claims and even Apple in hearing loss litigation related to the iPod. He even defends breast-implant manufacturers and tobacco companies with equal fervor. David days that a lawyer must marry applicable law with the key undisputed facts in a way that impresses jurors as embodying fundamental fairness with total conviction and has the ability to show it with balance and credibility.
David Boies (Firm: Boies, Schiller & Flexner)
Boies is credited with setting off Microsoft in an antitrust case and represented Al Gore in the 2000 election litigation, apart from winning $4 billion for American Express in an antitrust case against Visa and Microsoft. Boies’ memory is his strength with an uncanny ability to recall key facts, legal citations or piece of contradictory testimony, under intense pressure. Under a gentle guise you sense an inner toughness, which is common to a man used to winning big. According to him, a great trial lawyer makes the complex simple while a great attorney is a good story teller, with excellent people skills, whom the jury finds credible.
Evan Chesler (Firm: Cravath)
Even Chesler defended IBM’s claim to the ALT key against some patent-infringement claims, joining hands with Thomas Barr in the company’s 13-year antitrust battle. He has represented Alcoa, Novartis, Xerox, Time Warner, and American Express in antitrust and intellectual property cases. Though heading the most successful law firm in USA, he can talk to you like your next-door neighbor. A great trial lawyer understands people, is sensitive to the audience, claims Evan. Diligent preparation with keen attention to the audience faced, and witness-specific adaptability questioning, works wonders.
Mary Jo White (Firm: Debevoise & Plimpton)
Mary Jo White went toe to toe with gangster John Gotti as the US Attorney for New York (Southern District) and has prosecuted many high-profile terrorist cases from the 1993 World Trade Center and was involved in the pursuit of Marc Rich. Since 2002, she has defended Timothy O’Brien against libel action by Donald Trump, besides defending numerous companies under federal investigations. White is a smart, tough, and relentless prosecutor of criminals.