NOTHING HAS MEANT MORE TO THE ASPIRATIONS OF BLACK AMERICA THAN THE law. For more than a century--from the "separate but equal" ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson to the recent Michigan case upholding affirmative action--it has been a determinant in our access to and ascent in education, politics, business, and all facets of American society. Over the years, a phalanx of black lawyers has relied on their brilliant legal minds to win the battle for justice and economic parity in the courtroom and the boardroom.
Over the last three decades, the legal landscape has changed dramatically. At the height of the Black Power Movement in the 1970s, you would have been hard-pressed to find more than 3,000 African American lawyers. Today, their numbers surpass 20,000.
Yesteryear's black attorneys were champions of justice. Today, their scope of expertise has broadened, from defending corporate executives to negotiating multimillion-dollar business deals. Because of the ascension of top-ranking black lawyers and the shifting legal and business environment, BLACK ENTERPRISE has developed our list of America's Top Black Lawyers.
Our editors spent months researching to produce this high-powered listing. Selections were made on the basis of search with leading law schools, legal scholars, prominent attorneys, and the following legal organizations: Minority Corporate Council Association, National Bar Association. American Bar Association. Minority Law Journal, The National law Journal, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Executive Office for United States Attorneys, and the U.S. Department of Justice. After reviewing all areas of practice, we identified the best of the best in 15 categories, ranging from criminal defense to patent law. Our list of top lawyers was based on the following criteria:
* All had to be practicing attorneys. We did not include judges, business consultants, or individuals with law degrees who are not tied directly to the legal profession.
* All had to have achieved partnership or shareholder status at major law firms, served as general counsels at major corporations, or held positions as top-ranking legal officers at nonprofit organizations.
* An have gained reputations as leaders or have an average win rate as high as 95%.
In the next 15 pages, find out why these are some of the most coveted attorneys on earth.
Alicia J. Batts
Foley & Lardner
Career Highlights: Batts handles antitrust issues and other matters surrounding unfair trade practices in the automotive, aeronautics, pharmaceutical, financial, and energy industries.
The Columbia University Law School graduate served as attorney-advisor to former Federal Trade Commissioner Mozelle Thompson, analyzing recommendations for Commission action.
Power Play: Batts was part of the legal team representing the American Hospital Association for In re: Resident Physicians Antitrust Litigation, one of the largest antitrust class-action suits ever filed, involving allegations by medical residents that teaching hospitals and medical associations engaged in price-fixing residents' salaries.
Willie L. Hudgins Jr.
Collier Shannon Scott
Career Highlights: Hudgins helps companies analyze the potential implications of acquisitions and comply with government regulations. A graduate of Howard University Law School, Hudgins served as chief litigator for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, where he worked on some of the largest merger antitrust cases in U.S. history.
Power Play: While at the Justice Department, Hudgins led the investigations in U.S. v. (General Dynamics arm Newport News Shipbuilding and US. v. Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. As a result, the two proposed mergers were dissolved or abandoned.
Milton A. Marquis
Dickstein Shapiro Morin
Career Highlights: Marquis, who earned a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University, is a partner in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Group.
He served for 14 years at the offices of the attorneys general of Virginia and Massachusetts and The Department of Justice, including a stint coordinating antitrust efforts like the joint federal and state investigation of Microsoft Corp.
Power Play: Marquis was co-lead counsel in the Clozapine antitrust litigation, an action brought by 27 states against Sandoz, alleging that the pharmaceutical firm violated antitrust laws by tying the sale of the drug to the purchase of its blood testing services.
Patrick S. Thompson
San Francisco, CA
Career Highlights: Thompson counsels clients in industries such as telecommunications, vitamins, and brand name pharmaceuticals in price-fixing and monopolization cases.
A Harvard University Law School graduate, Thompson is active with the American Bar Association antitrust section and has developed an outreach program encouraging law students to consider careers in the field.
Power Play: Thompson has represented many clients in evidentiary hearings before the California Public Utilities Commission, including the proposed WorldCom/Sprint merger and the SBC Communications/Pacific Telesis merger, evaluating the proposed mergers for competitiveness from an antitrust perspective.
BANKING/ FINANCIAL SERVICES
Claudette M. Christian
Hogan & Hartson
Career Highlights: The Harvard Law School graduate spent years in private practice representing over 30 foreign companies and governments in debt and equity financings.
As a partner at Hogan & Hartson. she counts as venerable clients The World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Power Play:. Christian arranged the $2.5 billion ban k financing for the Bolivia-Brazil Gas Pipeline Project.
Chadbourne & Parke
New York, NY
Career Highlights: Vincent Dunn handles both lenders and borrowers in connection with secured and unsecured transactions, including acquisition financing, vendor financing, and raising working capital. The New York native is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Law.
Power Play: Dunn represented lenders in a $1.8 billion construction financing case for turbine generators and raised $500 million to lease the construction of an electric generating facility.
Jack P. Jackson
New York, NY
Career Highlights: Jackson has extensive experience in financings ranging from multibillion-dollar leveraged acquisitions to multimillion dollar venture capital and PIPE financings. His clients include J.P. Morgan Chase Capital, HSBC, and Sumitomo Bank. Jackson earned law and graduate business degrees from Columbia University.
Power Play: Jackson handled Superior Telecom's $1 billion bankruptcy restructuring and the bank financing of Pepsi's $1 billion acquisition of the largest bottler in Mexico.
David Baker Lewis
Lewis and Munday
Career Highlights: Lewis has specialized in municipal finance since 1974.
He has served as the firm's lead attorney on many municipal bond offerings with a client roster that includes the Automobile Club of Michigan, DaimlerChrysler, DuPont, and Prudential Life Insurance.
Lewis holds a law degree from the University of Michigan. Power Play: Lewis is a former director of the National Association of Bond Lawyers and a former chairman of the National Association of Securities Professionals.
Marsha E. Simms
Weil, Gotshal & Manges
New York, NY
Career Highlights: Simms oversees debt financing and restructuring in industries such as retail, telecommunications, energy, and manufacturing.
She also has represented major lenders in debtor-in-possession financing and exit financing of newly reorganized companies. Simms is a graduate of Stanford University Law School.
Power Play: Simms was counsel for Leucadia National Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's insurance and investment, holding company, in the FINOVA Group acquisition.
She is currently representing Sotheby's Inc. and Estee Lauder Inc. in bank financings.
Alphonso E. Tindall Jr.
New York, NY
Career Highlights: Tindall has represented every major investment bank in the U.S. as underwriter's counsel on more than $5 billion of financings.
He also has participated in virtue every kind of finance transaction from Connecticut to California. He holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut. Power Play: Tindall is past chairman of the National Association of Securities Professionals, a non-profit organization whose primary focus is the representation of minorities and women in the financial industry.
Barron F. Wallace
Vinson & Elkins
Career Highlights: Wallace specializes in the issuance of municipal bonds and sales for traditional tax-exempt financings for cities, counties, and state agencies. The Michigan Law alumnus represents 12 urban redevelopment authorities and tax reinvestment zones responsible for stimulating over a billion dollars of new investments in Houston and Galveston.
Power Play: Wallace secured $130.2 million bond financing for Houston Area Water Corporation, and $881 million bond financing for Texas Public Finance Authority.
St. Louis, MO
Career Highlights: Cousins serves as chair and founder of the firm's Financial Restructuring, Reorganization, and Bankruptcy Department.
A fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy, Cousins is also listed in The Best Lawyers in America. He earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.