The legal world is full of lists and rankings. I should know, I help compile some of them. But there’s one honor that stands apart: the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Being a member amounts to a stamp of approval from your peers that not only are you an excellent lawyer, you’re also not a jerk.
Over the weekend, the group inducted 115 new fellows at its annual meeting in Philadelphia.
Founded in 1950, the college limits membership to no more than 1 percent of the total lawyer population in any state or Canadian province. There are currently about 5,700 fellows, including all the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Canada.
You don’t get invited to join because your law firm put together a snazzy packet of nominating materials. If anything, that might work against you.
Rather, you get selected by your peers. Not your partners--they can’t nominate you, second your nomination, participate in the discussion about you or even vote to admit you.
The nod comes from all the other lawyers you’ve crossed paths with.
As past president Francis Wikstrom, a partner at Parsons Behle & Latimer in Salt Lake City told The Lit Daily last year, “The truly outstanding and collegial trial lawyers will be noticed and nominated,” he said.
“The three essential qualities for fellowship are outstanding trial skills, collegiality and civility, and impeccable ethics,” he continued. “We recognize that there are lawyers who may be skilled at trial but who treat others poorly. Those lawyers will never be invited to become fellows.”
It’s not just talk. The nominees are investigated, with judges that they’ve appeared before asked to submit confidential evaluations; and opposing counsel too. Every fellow in the jurisdiction is polled to get their opinion. All this is before the final vote, where two-thirds of the members must say yes.
In an era where so many lawyers bemoan the decline of civility in the legal profession, kudos the college for making it count.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some of those who made the grade this year.
One of the best-known names is Beth Wilkinson. She co-founded litigation boutique Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz earlier this year after leaving Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. In a written statement, she said she “could not feel more honored” to be inducted.
Kirkland & Ellis partner Mark Filip, former deputy attorney general and acting attorney general, got the nod along with fellow Kirkland partner Andrew McGaan, a product liability and mass tort specialist. The pair bring the total number of Kirkland lawyers who are members of the college to 12.
“Mark and I are very excited to be selected,” McGaan said in an email. “What makes this honor particularly special is that selection is based on the recommendations and opinions of our peers within the litigation bar.”
Another big name from Chicago is Zachary Fardon, the current U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Also from the Windy City: Mayer Brown partner William Michael Jr., who co-chairs the firm’s white-collar defense and compliance practice and its global anti-corruption practice, as well as the health care group.
“Being included among the best trial lawyers in the profession, those who practice with great passion the art of persuading juries, is the pinnacle to a career for any trial lawyer,” Michael said.
He joins Mayer Brown partners Vince Connelly, James Ferguson, Ty Fahner, Lee Abrahams and Mike Feagley as fellows of the college.
Williams & Connolly partner Heidi Hubbard also has plenty of colleagues from her firm who are members--at least 10 other lawyers from the D.C. powerhouse are fellows, but so far, she’s the only woman.
“It’s a great honor to be included with such a talented group of trial lawyers, and I’m proud to be the first of what I expect will be a long line of women inductees from my firm,” she said.
Hubbard co-chairs Williams & Connolly’s products liability, torts and medicine practice group.
Another prominent woman litigator to get the nod is Sarah Chapin Columbia. The McDermott Will & Emery partner is global head of the firm’s IP practice and also serves on the executive and management committees.
Dechert’s Andrew Levander, who is chair of the firm’s policy committee, was also inducted. He’s represented high-profile clients like Robert Diamond, the former CEO of Barclays, John Thain, former CEO of Merrill Lynch and Jon S. Corzine, the former senator and New Jersey governor.
“It is certainly a tremendous honor. Not only does it reflect on a high level of professional success but it is particularly gratifying to know selection is based on comments from peers, adversaries and judges in front of whom I have appeared,” Levander said.
At Boies, Schiller & Flexner, partner William Ohlemeyer is the firm’s newest fellow (others include David Boies).
"I have always had the greatest respect for the lawyers in the American College who have been my mentors, partners, and co-(and opposing) counsel,” Ohlemeyer said. “I am pleased to now be part of an organization of so many lawyers with whom I have learned from, practiced with, and with whom I have been associated."
In addition to fellows from Big Law, many of the inductees are from small firms. Indeed, the college’s newly installed president, Bartholomew Dalton, heads four-lawyer Dalton & Associates in Delaware, where he holds the record for the largest verdicts in medical malpractice and automobile accident litigation in state history.
Here’s the complete list of the new fellows:
Dan Cavett, Tucson
Joseph E. Mais, Phoenix
Jon M. Sands, Phoenix
J. Russell Skelton, Phoenix
Steven W. Quattlebaum, Little Rock
CALIFORNIA - NORTHERN
Mark B. Fredkin San Jose
CALIFORNIA - SOUTHERN
Tracey A. Kennedy, Los Angeles
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Benjamin G. Chew, Washington
Christopher M. Davis, Washington
Heidi Hubbard, Washington
Mary C. Kennedy, Washington
Danny C. Onorato, Washington
Beth A. Wilkinson, Washington
Gerald T. (Jerry) Berry, Naples
Thomas E. Dukes, III, Orlando
Ladd H. Fassett, Orlando
Melissa W. Nelson, Jacksonville
Angelo M. Patacca, Jr., Jacksonville
Jesse Fletcher Suber, Tallahassee
Anthony N. Upshaw, Miami
Timothy H. Bendin, Atlanta
J. Anderson Davis, Rome
George R. Hall, Augusta
Laura D. Hogue, Macon
William L. McKinnon, Jr., Atlanta
John J. Ossick, Jr., Kingsland
David M. Louie, Honolulu
ILLINOIS - UPSTATE
Sergio Enrique Acosta, Chicago
Daniel J. Collins, Chicago
Patrick M. Collins, Chicago
Zachary T. Fardon, Chicago
Mark R. Filip, Chicago
Tarek Ismail, Chicago
Elizabeth A. Kaveny, Chicago
Mercedes Luque-Rosales, Chicago
Andrew R. McGaan, Chicago
William Michael, Jr. Chicago
Bruce R. Pfaff, Chicago
Kenneth J. Falk, Indianapolis
Andrew M. McNeil, Indianapolis
Timothy C. Boller, Cedar Falls
Michael K. Bush, Davenport
James H. Cook, Waterloo
Thomas Henderson, Des Moines
David H. Luginbill, Des Moines
Bradley A. Case, Louisville
James P. Grohmann, Louisville
James H. Gibson, Lafayette
David H. Nelson, Monroe
William B. Purpura, Jr. Baltimore
James G. Warwick, Baltimore
Ellen Epstein Cohen, Boston
Sarah Chapin Columbia, Boston
Tracy A. Miner, Boston
Dennis M. Haffey, Bloomfield Hills
John C. O’Loughlin, Grand Rapids
Perrin Rynders, Grand Rapids
William R. Stoeri, Minneapolis
Kenneth H. Coghlan, Oxford
Orlando R. Richmond, Sr. Ridgeland
Mary Anne Sedey, Saint Louis
Mark D. Parker, Billings
Donald A. Caminiti, Hackensack
Michael J. Sullivan, Montville
Thomas L. Isaacson, Gallup
NEW YORK - DOWNSTATE
Robert M. Baum, New York
Don D. Buchwald, White Plains
Andrew J. Levander, New York
Henry Mazurek, New York
Susan R. Necheles, New York
William S. Ohlemeyer, Armonk
NEW YORK - UPSTATE
Janet D. Callahan, Syracuse
James E. Hacker, Latham
Michael J. Murphy, Albany
Thomas F. Shannon, Syracuse
Howard J. Cummings, Raleigh
James R. Van Camp, Pinehurst
James D. Curphey, Columbus
Thomas M. Evans, Cincinnati
Kimberly Weber Herlihy, Columbus
Larry W. Thomas, Columbus
Monty B. Bottom, Oklahoma City
Charles H. Moody, Jr. Tulsa
Joe E. White, Jr. Oklahoma City
James D. Huegli, Portland
Judy D. Snyder, Portland
Charles P. Hehmeyer, Philadelphia
Colleen Ramage Johnston, Pittsburgh
Howard B. Klein, Philadelphia
John P. McShea III, Philadelphia
William J. Ricci, Philadelphia
David J. Wolfsohn, Philadelphia
Ramon E. Dapena, San Juan
Maria A. Dominguez, San Juan
J. Ramon Rivera-Morales, San Juan
Sonia I. Torres-Pabon, San Juan
Mark S. Mandell, Providence
Ronnie L. Crosby, Hampton
Charles L. Henshaw, Jr. Columbia
L. Morgan Martin, Conway
Leslie Gattas Coleman, Memphis
Thomas L. (Tommy)Parker, Memphis
Jeffrey W. Rufolo, Chattanooga
Jonathan T. Blank, Charlottesville
Timothy J. McEvoy, Fairfax
Stephen G. Test, Virginia Beach
Corrie J. Yackulic, Seattle
Barrett J. Corneille, Madison
Michael P. Crooks Madison
David E. McFarlane, Madison
Anne L. Kirker, Q.C. Calgary
Perry R. Mack, Q.C. Calgary
Blair C. Yorke Slader, Q.C. Calgary
Saul B. Simmonds, Winnipeg
Anil K. Kapoor, Tononto
Reprinted with permission from the September 22, 2016 edition of The AmLaw Litigation Daily © 2016 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.