The Rushford Report Archives
Who are the best international
trade lawyers in the world?
By Greg Rushford
Published in the Rushford Report
Because I have been covering legal issues for the
past 16 years, people sometimes ask, who is the best international trade
But now the story can be told.
The best international trade lawyer in
I know this because someone leaked me an advance list of the best trade- and customs lawyers in the world. The list, although not the rankings, will be published soon in the third edition of the International Who’s Who of Trade and Customs Lawyers, which studies and surveys such things.
Yes, it’s okay to be skeptical. But still, even though the exercise is hardly exact science, Who’s Who offers an opportunity to quickly survey the international trade bar.
For openers, Horlick and Wolff really are widely respected for intellect. Each lawyer would be high on anyone’s top list. Certainly, nobody’s smarter than these two.
But anyone who knows the bar well could tick off perhaps a dozen
others who are in the same league. And are we to believe that Horlick and
Wolff are so much smarter than Charlene Barshefsky, who sat in President
Bill Clinton’s cabinet as
Some really savvy lawyers from boutique firms -- J. Kevin Horgan and Donald deKieffer, for example -- aren’t on the list. They should be. And there is at least one lawyer from a big firm who might be on anyone’s list of the most influential political lawyers, but who doesn’t seem to be a top-flight
That would be Robert Lighthizer, who represents Stand Up for Steel interests at the giant Skadden Arps. The shrill Lighthizer -- in my view, the Lori Wallach of the trade bar -- is the kind of lawyer who, when he loses cases, has been known to publicly impugn the qualifications of the judges. The best that I can say for Lighthizer, a former aide to Sen. Robert Dole, is that he is an effective political attack dog. But if you are looking to pay due respect to an able lawyer who works the protectionist side of the street, Roger Schagrin is one of the first to come to mind. But Schagrin, who represents domestic steel interests, runs his own small firm and hence is ignored in the Who’s Who survey.
Despite such subjective
quibbles, generally speaking, it does seem that the International Who’s
Who has a decent eye for talent. Wilmer Cutler has seven out of the 119
Who’s Who picks worldwide, which is the most lawyers from any one firm
on the list. In
While I know
[While you can’t blame Who’s Who for sticking only to lawyers
in a survey of the bar, it is a mistake not to keep in mind other
influential people who aren’t lawyers. David Hartridge, who retired last
year as director of the WTO’s services division, is now senior director
of WCI consulting, a Geneva-based trade consultancy of White & Case.
And Doral Cooper, formerly the USTR’s top woman on
Take Michael Stein, a former International Trade Commission general
counsel who is now a Dewey Ballantine partner. Stein is on the list. No
problem there. But where is Dewey Ballantine’s John Ragosta? He’s one
of the most creative lawyers in
Of course, Ragosta’s free-trade adversary at Weil, Gotshal &
Manges -- Jean Anderson is also a savvy veteran. At least Anderson -- who
has won as consistently as Ragosta has lost -- was not slighted by Who’s
Who. Neither was Weil Gotshal’s Chip Roh, Jr., a former
But Brenda Jacobs and the venerable Mike Daniels over at Sidley
Austin -- two free trade advocates who know everything about how textile
protectionism works -- aren’t even mentioned. This really is an
oversight, especially since Who’s Who does recognize other Sidley Austin
lawyers like David Palmeter and David Price. Price, representing the
The truth is, there really is too much talent in the trade bar to
recognize in any one article: Robert Hertzstein (now at Miller &
Chevalier), Homer Moyer, Jr. (Miller & Chevalier), Butch Almstedt
(O’Malley & Myers), Peter Suchman (Powell Goldstein), Thomas Wilner
(Shearman & Sterling), for instance. And nobody who has seen their
skills in trade litigation would question naming Akin Gump’s Warren
Connelly, Spencer Griffith and Valerie Slater on a best-and-brightest
list. (Slater is now representing the
Have a problem with U.S. Customs? It’s no longer necessary to go
There are other noticeable gaps and omissions.
The Who’s Who list looks slightly foolish without the scholarly
and persistent Elliot Feldman, of Baker & Hostetler, on it. Feldman
has a Ph.d from MIT, a J.D. from Harvard, has taught at four universities
including Tufts and Brandeis, and knows Nafta law thoroughly. And while
William Clinton, David Houlihan, and Walter Spak -- all widely respected
White & Case partners who often defend major Asian interests under
Likewise, the list looks odd without Kaye Scholer’s Michael House
and Julie Mendoza, although at least Kaye Scholer partners Donald Cameron
and Christopher Parlin are recognized. But why isn’t Kaye Scholer’s
Raymond Paretzky on the list? Paretzky is reputedly as brilliant as his
resume: Yale Law,
Steptoe & Johnson veterans Richard Cunningham and Susan Esserman are rightly mentioned. But Steptoe heavy hitters Mark Moran and Olin Wethington aren’t mentioned. Go figure.
The omissions are even more glaring at Willkie Farr, where only Bill Barringer makes the Who’s Who cut. Has Who’s Who never heard of Ken Pierce, Chris Dunn, Dan Porter, Jim Durling, and Matt Nicely? These guys wage ferocious legal warfare. On behalf of Japanese steel clients, the Willkie Farr team drives the Stand Up for Steel crowd nuts.
Of course, what could be called the protectionist side of the bar
also has bench strength. Consider Terry Stewart, of Stewart and Stewart.
This is the lawyer who is considered to have been the moving force behind
the controversial Byrd amendment that allows
But even when looking at the "anti-trade" side of the
trade bar, the omissions glare. Paul Rosenthal and David Hartquist over at
Collier Shannon are on the Who’s Who list, as they should be. But for
some reason the able Michael Coursey and Lauren Howard -- who was the
first female managing partner of a major
Meanwhile, readers who know the bar well have probably been
wondering why Hogan & Hartson’s Jeanne Archibald, Mark McConnell and
Lewis Leibowitz haven’t been mentioned. Don’t fret, they are all on
the list. Leibowitz’ work with the Consuming Industries Trade Action
Coalition deserves special mention. CITAC has played an important
behind-the-scenes role in bringing the stories of
I can think of at least three other Hogan & Hartson lawyers who should have been recognized in the Who’s Who list, but weren’t: Warren Maruyama, T. Clark Weymouth, Lynn Kamarck.
But perhaps blessedly, all lists -- and gossip -- have to end somewhere.