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National Law Journal’s D.C. Rising Stars 2017 – Paul Hughes

28 August 2017
The National Law Journal

Washington, D.C., is a magnet for the top graduates from the top law schools in some of the most sophisticated practices in the nation, including appellate and antitrust. So for the NLJ's 2017 Rising Stars list, how did we go about reviewing a large pool of smart, young nominees? Very carefully. We looked for key elements including success on the highest stages, diversity of practice groups and law firms. We also looked closely at recommendations. We are proud to present our 2017 Rising Stars. This year, we share their keys to success in their own words, edited for clarity and length.


Paul Hughes, 34
Partner, Mayer Brown
The National Law Journal
September 1, 2017

What was the most valuable lesson you learned in your first year of practice?

I learned that compelling legal writing is an essential skill for appellate advocates. The best legal writers have spent decades refining their craft. And short sentences are often more effective than long ones.

Describe your biggest win or accomplishment in practice.

In Ross v. Blake, the Supreme Court address[ed] whether "exceptional circumstances" supply an exception to [a] requirement of the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The broad consensus was that our position [would] lose. I re-conceptualized the central issues in the case [and] orchestrat[ed] a win — one of my most significant accomplishments.

Who do you consider to be your greatest lawyer mentor?

Judge Diana Gribbon Motz of the Fourth Circuit taught me a great deal about succinct and clear legal writing and reasoning. I strive to emulate her crisp prose.

Please share a key to your success.

Creative entrepreneurship. As a young lawyer, I sought out pro bono opportunities that gave me significant argument experience. I leveraged that experience into first-chairing appellate matters for substantial clients.


Reprinted with permission from the August 28 edition of The National Law Journal © 2017 ALM Properties, Inc. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.

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