We’re kicking off the new year with a look back at 2010, but with a slight twist: this time, we’re looking at the lawyers and legal professionals who were part of the year’s major news stories, and we want you to vote on who think deserves the title “lawyer of the year”. It’s our first annual Lawyer of the Year award, and here are the nominees for 2010…
00:00 Introductions. There’s a lot of news to cover, so Charley and Juli bring in Ian to help out.
00:55 First up are nominees Andrew Richards and Ralph Delouis. These two New York-based lawyers were recruited by the International Senior Lawyers Project to go to Haiti in order to help expand a non-profit micro-finance organisation providing crucial loans to Haitian farmers affected by the catastrophic January 12th earthquake. The Haiti earthquake dominated the news in 2010, but after a year there is still much work to be done. You can find out more about contributing to Haitian relief by visiting the American Bar Association site.
03:53 Next up, Josefin Lonnborg. Identical twin sister of Elin Nordegren, Josefin earned her spot on this list for being a rainmaker for her firm, bringing in the year’s biggest celebrity divorce case. When Elin started her high-profile divorce from golfer Tiger Woods, she stuck with family ties and went with Josefin and McGuireWoods. Not bad for a firm that doesn’t normally specialize in family law. You can find out more about the terms of the divorce here.
05:21 Kenneth Feinberg, the Master of Disaster, has a spot on our list. Feinberg is the go-to lawyer for mediation and claims programs in emergency and disaster situations. He was brought on to set up and run the BP claims fund after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. Here, he had the unpopular task of determining who gets compensated, and by how much. Despite some controversy over his position on the claims fund, he’s apparently the only man for the job, as the only lawyer in America specializing in mass-dispute resolution and national disasters (a limited field, to be sure).
09:17 We’ve got another dynamic duo on the list, in the form of Theodore Olson and David Boies. 2010 saw several landmark strides towards equality with regards to gay rights: Congress retired Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and Olson and Boies won Perry v. Schwarzenegger in California federal Court. Their win struck down Prop 8, the controversial ballot proposition that passed in 2008, which restricted the legal definition of marriage to opposite sex couples. The former Bush v. Gore opponents formed the team that took up the case for gay marriage, saying:
“we do not put the Bill of Rights to a vote. We ask judges to make sure that when we vote for something we’re not depriving minorities of their constitutional rights, and that’s what the judge did.”
Their work isn’t done yet though, as the judge’s ruling has been put on hold by the 9th circuit, and will likely go to the California Supreme Court.
13:22 Gloria Allred is our next nominee for lawyer of the year, not because of any particular case, but because she seemed to be involved in every major news piece in some way. From being the first to challenge California’s denial of marriage licenses to homosexual couples, to defending Tiger Woods’ mistresses, to representing Jodi Fisher in the HP CEO Mark Hurd scandal, to representing Meg Whitman’s housekeeper during the November elections, Gloria Allred did it all. She also managed to make her name in more popular media, being referenced multiple times on the hit TV show Glee. Just look at her resume sheet and you’ll know what people were talking about in any given year.
15:29 Our number six pick is Lisa Simpson, partly because we like her name, but mostly because she represented Facebook in one of the more bizarre cases of the year. Paul Ceglia, an entrepreneur from New York, claimed that due to a contract signed by then-Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, he owns an 84% stake in the mulit-billion dollar company. While oddly enough there actually was a contract, the claim’s validity is in question. Considering that Mark Zuckerberg was named Time “Person of the Year” and Facebook may soon be going public, we think Simpson did her job. Though Ceglia’s case would make a really good sequel to The Social Network…
18:18 Any addition to the Supreme Court has to make it on this list, and Elena Kagan is no exception. After teaching law at the University of Chicago and Harvard, serving as Harvard Law’s first female Dean, and acting as White House Counsel, Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court. There’s not much to say about her so far though, since she’s had to recuse herself from so many cases. So let’s just say she’s on our list for her past deeds and her future potential.
19:29 You may not recognize Edgardo Reinoso Lundstedt‘s name, but you’ll remember his clients: the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped in a mine shaft for months. Reinoso Lundstedt drew up a contract for them stipulating that they would all benefit equally from any media opportunities, and is currently in talks with Brad Pitt’s production company to make a movie out of the miners’ ordeal. Perhaps Charley put it best: if 33 Chilean miners can lawyer up from the bottom of a mine, the rest of us have no excuse to not get legal help.
21:28 The economy played a such huge role in the news that we thought there had to be a lawyer involved at some level. Lo and behold, we found our 9th nominee, Elizabeth Warren (another Harvard Law professor). In late 2010, Warren was made Special Advisor for the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, formed to safeguard middle class consumers in their dealings with banks, mortgage companies and other financial institutions. Warren’s job is one that many Americans probably wish existed earlier: to regulate financial products and services, and investigate emerging market trends. We wish her the best of luck, though we may be a touch self-interested.
24:05 Our last nominee is judge Henry E. Hudson, for his involvement in the health care issue. As the presiding judge for the lawsuit brought against the US Government by Virginia, Hudson ruled that the mandate in the Obama Health Care program requiring people to buy health insurance by 2014 was unconstitutional. According to Hudson, the mandate violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution by obliging individuals to involuntarily enter the market. Meanwhile, the federal government argues that Congress does have the right to regulate insurance because it involves interstate commerce. While the issue hasn’t been resolved yet, Hudson’s ruling has ensured that Obamacare becomes a legal issue in the coming year. It’s also worth mentioning that like many of his fellow nominees, Hudson has multiple claims to fame: he was the judge who convicted NFL quarterback Michael Vick to jail for dogfighting. Vick himself has been in the news again, as a poster-boy for rehabilitation (most of the dogs have been rehabilitated as well).
Many of these issues will spill over into 2011, so keep your eye out for any of these key figures. We’d also like to hear your take on these newsmakers, so listen to the show and then tell us who you think deserves to be our Lawyer of the Year! You can visit our Facebook page to cast your vote.