This issue of the New York Law Journal's Rising Stars features 50 outstanding attorneys who have made an impression on their colleagues, their clients and the larger legal community.
Our honorees, who are 40 years old or younger, practice in every sector of the bar—large and small firms, public interest agencies, educational institutions, government and corporations. They demonstrate the finest qualities of a good lawyer: first-rate legal skills, preparation, judgment, creativity, dedication and ethics. Many of our Rising Stars bring to the profession a point of view shaped by prior careers or roots in a foreign country.
Our Rising Stars confront a huge range of legal issues. Some handle sophisticated financial transactions, and antitrust, intellectual property, bankruptcy and complex litigations for some of the world's most powerful corporations, individuals, institutions and government. Others teach, defend the city and state, take on the toughest criminal challenges, including terrorism, manage caseloads, supervise teams, deliver crucial arguments in trial and appellate courts, and offer pro bono counsel to immigrants, families in distress, the elderly and the vulnerable. Some have tapped their entrepreneurial spirit and started their own business ventures.
We congratulate our honorees on all they have accomplished thus far in their careers. Our goal, however, is not simply to recognize talent, but to identify attorneys who are likely to be among the next generation of bar leaders. It is expected that many of the lawyers featured in this section will use their gifts and opportunities to work with their colleagues to address challenges facing the profession and to improve the lives of those in the communities served by members of the New York bar.
This project would not have been possible without the dedication and expertise of our panel of 24 esteemed judges, who had the difficult and time-consuming task of vetting and ranking 300 nominees from five to one, five being the highest. The 50 attorneys listed as Rising Stars in this section received the highest ratings.
As a partner at Mayer Brown, Christopher Houpt is a leader in the firm's banking and finance litigation group. He works on cross-border issues and matters related to the financial crisis in which billions of dollars are at stake.
He has represented The Bank of New York Mellon, helping secure a major victory when a state court approved an $8.5 billion settlement entered by BNYM, as trustee for securitization trusts, with Countrywide and other financial institutions. It was the largest private settlement ever.
Christopher wrote discovery and substantive briefs on why the settlement should not be subject to further litigation. He oversaw financial experts, drafted expert reports and defended depositions and trial testimony, and was designated to give part of the closing trial argument. He then oversaw the writing of BNYM'ssuccessful appellate briefs.
He played a similar role in an important Second Circuit appeal, Retirement Board v. BNYM. That case was the first to address a novel attempt to apply the Trust Indenture Act to mortgage-backed securities. Christopher helped to set the bank's strategy for defeating that effort, and in December 2014 the Second Circuit reversed the district court judge. The appeals court ruled that the statute does not apply to more than 90 percent of residential mortgage-backed securities.
"As a financial analyst, I always respected the expertise of the in-house counsel that I worked with. However uncertain the business strategy might be, we knew that whenever we had a legal question, we could turn to our counsel for concrete advice."
Pro Bono / Civic Activity
In 2011, Christopher argued a First Department appeal and a motion for leave to the Court of Appeals in a search-and-seizure case. He also wrote Second Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court briefs for an alleged victim of police brutality. He spent several years working on a series of appeals and state and federal habeas petitions for a police officer convicted of depraved indifference murder.
He is working with Legal Aid on a habeas petition for a death row inmate in Alabama and has directed associates on pro bono matters, including an ongoing First Department appeal, a collection matter for an affordable-housing non-profit, and an immigration matter for a domestic violence victim.
Christopher is a member of the City Bar Association's Committee on State Courts of Superior Jurisdiction. He recently worked on comments to a bill that would change the rules of evidence on expert testimony.
Mayer Brown, partner, 2014-present, associate, 2005-2014; foreign law clerk for Justice Aharon Barak, president of the Supreme Court of Israel
J.D., Harvard Law School, 2005; A.B., Dartmouth College, 1998
Reprinted with permission from the June 16, 2015 edition of The New York Law Journal © 2015 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.