Additional Reporting by Carolyn M. Brown, Chana Garcia, Alisa Gumbs, Seimond London & Christina Morgan
Nothing has meant more to the aspirations of black America than the law. For more than a century — from the “separate but equal” ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson to the recent Michigan case upholding affirmative action — it has been a determinant in our access to and ascent in education, politics, business, and all facets of American society. Over the years, a phalanx of black lawyers has relied on their brilliant legal minds to win the battle for justice and economic parity in the courtroom and the boardroom.
Over the last three decades, the legal landscape has changed dramatically. At the height of the Black Power Movement in the 1970s, you would have been hard-pressed to find more than 3,000 African American lawyers. Today, their numbers surpass 20,000.
Yesteryear’s black attorneys were champions of civil rights and social justice. Today, their scope of expertise has broadened, from defending corporate executives to negotiating multimillion-dollar business deals. Because of the ascension of top-ranking black lawyers and the shifting legal and business environment, BLACK ENTERPRISE has developed our list of America’s Top Black Lawyers.
Our editors spent months researching to produce this high-powered listing. Selections were made on the basis of research with leading law schools, legal scholars, prominent attorneys, and the following legal organizations: Minority Corporate Counsel Association, National Bar Association, American Bar Association, Minority Law Journal, The National Law Journal, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Executive Office for United States Attorneys, and the U.S. Department of Justice. After reviewing all areas of practice, we identified the best of the best in 15 categories, ranging from criminal defense to patent law. Our list of top lawyers was based on the following criteria:
- All had to be practicing attorneys. We did not include judges, business consultants, or individuals with law degrees who are not tied directly to the legal profession.
- All had to have achieved partnership or shareholder status at major law firms, served as general counsels at major corporations, or held positions as top-ranking legal officers at nonprofit organizations.
- All have gained reputations as leaders or have an average win rate as high as 95%.
In the next 15 pages, find out why these are some of the most coveted attorneys on earth.
Alicia J. Batts
Foley & Lardner
Career Highlights: Batts handles antitrust issues and other matters surrounding unfair trade practices in the automotive, aeronautics, pharmaceutical, financial, and energy industries.
The Columbia University Law School graduate served as attorney-advisor to former Federal Trade Commissioner Mozelle Thompson, analyzing recommendations for Commission action.
Power Play: Batts was part of the legal team representing the American Hospital Association for In re: Resident Physicians Antitrust Litigation, one of the largest antitrust class-action suits ever filed, involving allegations by medical residents that teaching hospitals and medical associations engaged in price-fixing residents’ salaries.
Willie L. Hudgins Jr.
Collier Shannon Scott
Career Highlights: Hudgins helps companies analyze the potential implications of acquisitions and comply with government regulations. A