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Who Are the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America?

Today, the National Law Journal released its list of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. The NLJ releases a similar list once every few years, and each time, the nation’s top lawyers — some from Biglaw, some from legal academia, some from the in-house world, and some from the trial and appellate bars — celebrate their success in creating real change in the industry. That said, the people named to this list are relatively well-known to the general Above the Law readership, but they won’t exactly be household names to laypeople.

Which legal eagles soared into the NLJ’s list this time around? Well, the NLJ selected their influential lawyers based on their political clout, legal results, media penetration, business credibility, and thought leadership. We’ve whittled the impressive list of 100 down to our own top 10.

So who made our cut?

Did we say 10? We really meant 12, but we’ve recognized some of them here as joint nominations. Here are the 12 lawyers we took special notice of, in alphabetical order, with a brief blurb about each one. If we happened to miss anyone that you think should’ve been included, please email us or let us know in the comments, and we will update our own list accordingly.

1. David Boies & Ted Olson

Ted Olson and David Boies

How could we not include this dynamic duo as a twofer? We’re talking about two amazing lawyers for the price of… well, let’s just say God would probably blush at their hourly rates. Boies has been the chairman of Boies Schiller & Flexner since 1997, and Olson has been a partner at Gibson Dunn since 1972. The pair faced off in Bush v. Gore (Olson repped Bush and Boies reppred Gore), and now they’ve teamed up to argue California’s ban on gay marriage before the Supreme Court.

2. Ted Boutrous

Boutrous is the co-chair of Gibson Dunn‘s appellate and constitutional law groups, and we recently profiled him in the ATL Interrogatories. Fun fact: Did you know that Boutrous was first interviewed by Ted Olson at Gibson Dunn? Not only is he the class action king behind Wal-Mart v. Dukes, but now he’s teamed up with his mentor, to challenge Prop 8 before the Supreme Court.

3. Paul Clement

This list wouldn’t be complete without the patron saint of conservative causes. Once a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, Clement is now a partner at Bancroft. Last year, he unsuccessfully tried to overturn Obamacare, and now he’s trying to defend the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supremes. (Bonus: if you’re a liberal and you can get around his political ideologies, he’s kind of cute.)

4. David Drummond

Google is so hot right now, and so is the company’s chief legal officer. Seriously, check him out, he’s a stud. Drummond first advised Google during his years at Wilson Sonsini before he hopped in-house in 2002. Thus far, Drummond has guided Google through many “cutting-edge legal battles,” and hopefully he’ll continue to help them do no evil for years and years to come.

5. Tom Goldstein

Once a partner at Akin Gump, Goldstein left the firm to return to his own practice. On top of his scholarly interests in constitutional law, Goldstein is perhaps best known for founding SCOTUSblog, the leading website for Supreme Court jurisprudence. Plus, he got five million hits on the day the Obamacare decision was announced, and that’s no small feat.

6. Eric Holder

Say hello to the man, the myth, the mustache: Eric Holder. As the first African-American attorney general of the United States, he’s overseen some of the biggest cases our nation has ever seen. Things were going smashingly for him at the Department of Justice up until that Fast and Furious mishap, but we’re sure that he’ll be able to turn it around when he inevitably returns to Biglaw in the future.

7. Kyle McEntee

You know him as one of the founders of Law School Transparency and our 2010 Lawyer of the Year, but the profession knows him better as one of the voices behind the transformation of the way law schools report legal employment. Before the lawsuits and before government figures hopped on the train, McEntee (much like our own Elie Mystal) was one of the first to give law students a dose of reality.

8. John Quinn & Kathleen Sullivan

Can somebody break a hundred for John Quinn? One of the more colorful Biglaw characters we’ve covered, this Quinn Emanuel legal heavyweight is known for typing only in lowercase. Also worthy of mention is Kathleen Sullivan, the first female name partner of an Am Law 100 firm. She was heavily involved in the Mattel v. MGA case, and we wouldn’t mind if a Lawyer Barbie were modeled after her.

9. Amy Schulman

One of America’s best-paid general counsel (earning more than $2 million), this leading litigatrix used to bring home $6 million paychecks at DLA Piper before she left for Pfizer to make a pfortune. While not counting her millions, Schulman serves as a mentor for mothers dealing with work/life balance issues. Sidebar: much to Biglaw’s chagrin, she’s led the battle against outside counsel’s hourly billing.

10. Donald Verrilli

If you’re not familiar with this man’s name, then perhaps you’ve been sleeping under a rock. Verrilli’s been the Solicitor General of the United States since 2011, but prior to his time as a government attorney, he was a litigator at Jenner & Block. Though some called his performance defending Obamacare a disaster, he was vindicated when the Supreme Court decision came out in his favor.

And there you have it: Above the Law’s picks for the Top 10 Most Influential Lawyers in America. Congratulations to all the lawyers who made the NLJ’s Top 100, but know that you hold an extra special place in our hearts if you were talented enough to be culled from the herd and garner a mention here.

The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America [National Law Journal]

ATL Law Firm Directory
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