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America’s Lawyers Black

jurors. “Get the jury to like you, and they will like your client,” says the partner at New York’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Wells, who has defended high-profile CEOs and political figures in white-collar criminal defense trials, is credited with getting acquittals for former Secretary of Agriculture under the Clinton administration Michael Espy and former Secretary of Labor under the Reagan administration Raymond Donovan. He also successfully defended Tennessee financier Franklin Haney in the first trial conducted by the Justice Department Task Force on Campaign Finance Violations. Another significant notch on Wells’ belt was persuading the U.S. Department of Justice to drop a three-year criminal investigation of New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli.
Wells, who serves as co-chair of his firm’s 150-lawyer litigation department, prides himself on knowing how to read jurors and making them feel at ease. Given the recent media hype and public awareness of corporate scandals, “It’s becoming increasingly tougher to win cases against a big corporation or a corporate executive,” says Wells, who appeared on our “30 for the Nex
t 30” list (see August 2000).
The son of a mail clerk and a cab driver, Wells, 52, grew up in Washington, D.C. He holds a master’s in business and a law degree from Harvard. One of his earlier gigs was at a New Jersey law firm, where he was on the trial team in a high profile espionage case.
Today, Wells’ practice has evolved. Half of his cases are white-collar criminal defenses and the other half is complex civil/corporate litigation. His biggest active cases are representing Exxon Mobil in the largest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act grand jury investigation and the National Music Publishers Association in a $17 billion lawsuit against Bertelsmann for its Napster alliance.
Says Wells, “I am making inroads in places where black attorneys were once not able to go.”
— Carolyn M. Brown
Munger, Tolles & Olson L.L.P.
With the string of recent corporate scandals, and the CEOs who have taken the fall, Bart Williams may have hit a gold mine by tailoring his practice to accommodate white-collar criminal defense.
As a partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olsen L.L.P., Williams has established his reputation as a successful litigator. His brother, Paul Williams, chief legal officer at Cardinal Health, also made our list.
He was the lead trial counsel for a senior executive at Hyundai Motor America who was acquitted in 1996 of charges of illegal federal campaign donations. Williams was able to convince a jury that the executive was a company scapegoat who knew it was wrong for companies and foreign nationals to give money but had no prior knowledge it was wrong to get reimbursed for personal donations.
Williams says the key strategy in white-collar criminal defense is witness preparation. “You can’t control what a witness says, but you can make it your business to know what he or she is likely to say through investigation. A trial is like a play. Trial lawyers are both directors and actors,” says Williams, who was one