Top 10 legal practitioners
These 10 practitioners demonstrate how the practice of law is evolving. They are crafting data strategies, driving the racial justice agenda and developing multidisciplinary services, writes Kate Barlow.
Their work helps tackle some of the challenges facing society today: climate change, digitisation in healthcare and cyber security.
Litigator Bennett Borden stands out for his expertise in data analytics and machine learning. With a team of computer, forensic and data scientists, Mr Borden is using data to prove cases of constitutional rights violations by police officers in the US and to transform how police departments serve citizens.
He says working with a city police department on how it trains officers taught him “how an adversarial case can turn into a beneficial partnership”.
Profiles researched and compiled by RSG Consulting and FT editors
WINNER: Bennett Borden
Partner, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath
Litigator Bennett Borden, who has won an Innovative Lawyers 2020 award, is based in Washington DC. He began his career at the CIA, using data analytics and machine learning to describe, predict and influence human and organisational behaviours.
In 2015, he became Faegre Drinker’s first chief data scientist. For 15 years he has worked with non-profit organisations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center to sue police for unconstitutional arrest practices. He has also used data to design a new training programme and create metrics on police resource allocation.
Todd Alexander, partner, Norton Rose Fulbright
Based in New York, Todd Alexander has carved out a reputation as an influential voice in project finance.
Since 2016, he has hosted more than 120 episodes of the firm’s Currents podcast, discussing project finance and other key infrastructure behind global renewable energy projects. It attracts an average of 20,000 listeners per episode.
Mr Alexander uses the podcast as a platform to promote projects that need financing, including a solar revenue put, which is structured as an insurance policy on solar production and acts as a guarantee for the performance of solar assets.
Jodi Daniel, partner, Crowell & Moring
Since leaving the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2015, where she helped draft the rules on protecting patient privacy in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Jodi Daniel has used her expertise to help healthcare clients stay ahead of policy changes.
Working in digital health, where technological innovation often outpaces regulation, Ms Daniel is valued by clients for her ability to lead when regulatory hurdles are unclear.
Based in Washington DC, she set up Crowell & Moring’s digital health practice, which offers advice on law, technology and policy throughout the product design process.
Antony Kim, partner, Orrick
Washington DC-based cyber security lawyer Antony Kim is one of the instigators of Orrick’s Privacy in a Box service, which offers clients tools and templates to help with data and privacy compliance.
His next project is to scale the service to other practice areas, as part of his wider mission to create tech-based platforms that facilitate engagement with clients. As hackers use ever more sophisticated techniques, Mr Kim aspires to be more of a technologist than a lawyer.
Advising companies, he says, requires “a deep curiosity and commitment to learning how the business of technology and innovation intersects with the regulatory environment”.
David Nemecek, partner, Kirkland & Ellis
In his 10 years at Kirkland & Ellis, working between Los Angeles and New York, David Nemecek has built a reputation for his creative approach to debt-financing transactions.
He devised a financing structure for retail chain Macy’s, helping it to raise $4.5bn after sales fell during the pandemic. Mr Nemecek and the team at Kirkland & Ellis devised the structure after other lawyers said it could not be done, while protecting the banks in the event of bankruptcy.
Abid Qureshi, partner, Latham & Watkins
Abid Qureshi has had many roles at Latham & Watkins since joining in 1997, including co-chair of the Washington DC office’s litigation and trial department, chair of the global pro bono committee and now chair of the global recruiting committee.
After many firms cancelled summer associate programmes this year, Mr Qureshi led Latham & Watkins’ effort to run its programme virtually. He has led pro bono initiatives for under-represented communities and immigrants’ rights groups. In 2017, he represented radio host Dean Obeidallah in a defamation suit against a white supremacist website. In 2016 he became the first Muslim to be nominated for a federal judgeship.
Amanda Raad, partner, Ropes & Gray
Amanda Raad is co-chair of Ropes & Gray’s global anti-corruption and international risk practice.
Working from New York, she advises clients on a wide array of topics, including counselling investors on risk and instructing companies on corporate social responsibility and responsible supply chains.
In 2020, Ms Raad co-founded the firm’s Insights Lab, a multidisciplinary legal consulting group that uses behavioural science and data analytics to help companies with planning from a multitude of perspectives.
Amy Roma, partner, Hogan Lovells
During her 13-year tenure at the firm, Amy Roma has made a name for herself in the once-niche practice of nuclear and radioactive materials law.
Based in Washington DC, she helps clients take ideas for projects using nuclear energy to tackle climate change through development and regulatory approval, and advises them on the commercial considerations of running nuclear businesses with a global reach.
Ms Roma advises the US government on topics such as nuclear fusion and carbon-free energy sources. This year, she focused on a pro bono effort to secure 2m face masks for people in Massachusetts.
Edward Smith, deputy managing partner, Washington DC office, DLA Piper
Edward “Smitty” Smith, based in Washington DC, uses his regulatory and policymaking experience as a former legal adviser to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission to help increase internet access across the US.
He advised T-Mobile, the telecommunications operator, on initiatives such as Project 10Million, a $10.7bn programme providing free internet for children in the US.
While advising T-Mobile on its merger with rival Sprint, Mr Smith helped the company roll out a diversity and inclusion proposal undertaking to spend money with diverse suppliers and increase the diversity of its workforce.
Elizabeth Stern, partner, Mayer Brown
A leader in the field of mobility and migration law, Elizabeth Stern has harnessed her team’s expertise to develop technology-based answers to client problems.
She led the development of Mayer Brown’s “global people solution”, a tool that helps international companies with compliance and other aspects of managing employees’ cross-border movement, such as visas.
She advises clients on the implications of geopolitical events such as Brexit for managing employees and recruitment practices.
Ms Stern also led the development of a risk management tool for chief executives addressing each phase of the pandemic.