REX HEINKE, 59
FIRM: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
LAW SCHOOL: Columbia
CLIENTS: As an appellate attorney, has handled a wide variety, including Starbucks Corp.
YEARS IN PRACTICE: 34
Reason I’m a Lawyer: Lawyers can help others by working with them to solve their legal problems, which often has a major impact on their lives. Also, I enjoy the intellectual challenge of analyzing the facts and law and crafting a persuasive argument.
Most Challenging Case: We represented Bridas, an Argentinean oil company, against the government of Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic, over a failed oil and gas development contract. The issue was whether Turkmenistan was bound by the arbitration award when it was not a party to the contract between Bridas and an entity that Turkmenistan controlled. The case was decided twice by the District Court, twice by the Fifth Circuit, and our opponents’ petitions were both denied. Ultimately, the Fifth Circuit held that Turkmenistan was bound as an alter ego by the arbitration award, which was almost a billion dollars including interest.
Best Career Moment: When the California Supreme Court denied review of Chau v. Starbucks Corp. The trial court had awarded $100 million against our client, Starbucks, in a dispute over how tips should be distributed among Starbucks employees. We were successful in convincing the Court of Appeal to reverse that decision in its entirety.
If I Weren’t an Attorney: I would be unemployed.
Bucket List: Taking another trip around the world, including going to Abu Simbel, Egypt and South Africa.
My Colleagues Don’t Know: I went to college in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was president of the student government and active in anti-apartheid activities. As a result, the South African Government refused to renew my visa, forcing me to leave the country.
RICHARD PAUL ORMOND, 37
FIRM: Buchalter Nemer
LAW SCHOOL: University of San Diego School of Law
CLIENTS: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and other financial institutions, AssistMed Inc.
YEARS IN PRACTICE: 10
Reason I’m a Lawyer: I was inspired by my eighth grade history teacher who advised me that I talked too much and I should be a lawyer so that way, at least, I would be paid for talking. And, I have a deep fascination with law, politics and history.
Most Challenging Case: A $200 million Ponzi scheme lawsuit that has lasted more than seven years involving multiple parties, assets, criminal aspects and many gratuitous and salacious facts.
Best Career Moment: My first jury trial as a first chair.
Worst: Losing a motion for summary judgment in a hotly contested matter, knowing that the judge had made a wrong decision. It is still on appeal.
If I Weren’t an Attorney: I would be either a novelist or an archaeologist (a real Indiana Jones).
Bucket List: Attending the FIFA World Cup, attending the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix, going on an archaeological dig in the Holy Land, and attending Le Mans.
My Colleagues Don’t Know: I am a huge science fiction fan and collect comic books.
KIRK PASICH, 54
FIRM: Dickstein Shapiro LLP
LAW SCHOOL: Loyola Law School
CLIENTS: Constellation Energy, Fox Entertainment Group, Frontier Oil Corp., Hansen Natural Corp., Limited Brands, NBC Universal, Northrop Grumman Corp., Sempra Energy, and Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.
YEARS IN PRACTICE: 29
Reason I’m a Lawyer: I debated in high school and law school and always thought this would be a fun and rewarding career.
Most Challenging Case: The most challenging case that I have tried recently is Sempra Energy v. Marsh USA. This case involved an alleged failure by Marsh to procure a political risk insurance policy a decade ago that covered certain natural gas licenses in Argentina. An arbitration panel ruled that the policy did not afford coverage. Thereafter, Sempra retained us to pursue its claims against the insurance broker. The jury returned a $48.5 million verdict in October 2008. The matter is on appeal now.
Best Career Moment: Working with my colleague Linda Kornfeld in getting an insurance company to reverse a denial of coverage and pay for a bone marrow transplant for a pro bono client—which saved her life.
Worst: As a first-year associate, I missed a hearing because of a miscalendaring. I ultimately got it set aside and a ruling in our favor on the demurrer.
If I Weren’t an Attorney: I would be a record company owner. I love music. I wrote rock reviews in law school, managed rock bands for a few years, and as a lawyer have represented record companies, recording artists, and songwriters.
Bucket List: Visit the Incan ruins in Peru, run a marathon in a time that starts with a 3 (as in “3 hours”), another canal cruise in France, and watching my children continue to grow.
My Colleagues Don’t Know: I’m the co-owner of Mystery Bookstore in Westwood.
OTHER TOP LITIGATION ATTORNEYS
Meyers Nave LLP
Bingham McCutchen LLP
Louis “Skip” Miller
Miller Barondess LLP
Girardi & Keese
John QuinnQuinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges LLP
Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker LLP
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