Last year was a good year for legal news. So it’s no wonder that big names dominate our list of finalists for Lawyer of the Year 2020. Thank you to everyone who responded to our request for nominations for Lawyer of the Year 2020. We narrowed the many outstanding nominees to a list of eleven (yes, this year was so crazy) fascinating lawyers – excellent, despicable or controversial depending on your point of view.
Here are the nominees in alphabetical order, each with a short blurb:
Stacey Abrams: After losing her bid for Georgia governor in 2018 after a voter roll clean, the Yale Law graduate and former Georgia MPs founded Fair Fight, an anti-voter suppression group committed to so many by 2020 Disenfranchised color voters as possible to register presidential election. Through her efforts, Abrams helped paint her state blue and enabled Joe Biden to become the first Democratic presidential candidate to secure Georgia in about 30 years.
Bill Barr: Having planted himself firmly on Trump’s back end to politicize the Justice Department, Barr appears to have come out of his MAGA stupor by the end of his tenure as attorney general. Not only has he recently committed the unforgivable sin of telling the truth about widespread election fraud in the 2020 election (i.e., there was no evidence of it), but he has also failed to publicly open an ongoing federal investigation into Joe Biden’s son Hunter to announce. Now he says there is “no reason” to appoint a special adviser in either case. He’s finally trying to save what’s left of his reputation.
Amy Coney Barrett: Her honor is the fifth woman to serve on the Supreme Court, which is usually worth celebrating, but her nomination and endorsement has been marred by major controversy. Trump “saved” Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and now the newest SCOTUS justice system threatens to undo any legal accomplishments that its predecessor worked on all her life. Also, her nomination ceremony marked the start of the COVID superspreader events at the White House.
Joe Biden & Kamala Harris: President-elect Biden, a law graduate in Syracuse, will be the oldest U.S. president in the country’s history, and Vice-President-elect Harris, a graduate of UC Hastings Law, will be the first woman and woman of color who acts as vice president of US history. The pair beat Trump in a historic vote during the pandemic where mail-in votes helped them secure their victory.
Marc Elias: This Perkins Coie partner, former GC of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign and Kamala Harris 2020 Presidential Campaign, heads the Democracy Docket. According to one of our nominees, he is responsible for “protecting democracy from the dumbest potential authoritarians”. In September 2020, he joined the special process team for the Biden presidential campaign. So far, he’s helped lawyers win more than 100 electoral law cases in 2020 to protect Americans’ voting rights.
Jenna Ellis: The self-proclaimed constitutional scholar set off this year as a member of Trump’s Elite Strike Force on the path to disgrace, suing left and right to reject the results of the 2020 election. Not only did “Doctor” Ellis and her team fail repeatedly, but she was destroyed in the New York Times when it came to her colleagues’ thoughts on her legal issues.
Rudy Giuliani: From the respected New York City Mayor to the leaky lawyer spitting out conspiracy theories, 2020 hasn’t been overly kind to Giuliani or his legal career. Rudy, who leads a team of attorneys who Trump has reportedly referred to as “fools who make him look bad”, would probably like it if people looked at his wrecking balls with normal scrutiny. But hey, at least he got his own Randy Rainbow video.
Kayleigh McEnany: This youngest Harvard Law graduate had a Heckuva year. After McEnany was named White House Press Secretary in April 2020, she made the following promise at her first briefing: “I will never lie to you. You have my word on it. “After months of debating the alternative facts of the day, the former Above the Law columnist was considered so outrageous that it ended up in the Yale Book of Quotations’ annual update.
Sidney Powell: This conspiratorial former prosecutor threatened to “RELEASE THE KRAKEN” on unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud in America, but all she achieved was getting fired from Trump’s legal team. Their legal records on train wrecks included not only typographical errors and factual discrepancies galore, but also plaintiffs who didn’t even know they were going to sue. On the plus side, Trump reportedly considered designating her as a special advisor on election fraud, but AG Bill Barr finalized that.
Jeffrey Toobin: Did you rub one out during a Zoom video meeting with your co-workers? Do not do it. Toobin did and did not end well for him. After the award-winning writer and legal analyst was caught whipping his weenie on camera, he was fired by the New Yorker after nearly 30 years with publication. He’s currently on leave from CNN and may return in the future, but for now he’s been reduced to the human hashtag #MeToobin.
Before we hand the vote over to our readers, we’d like to reserve some honorable mentions for people like vocal anti-Trump activist George Conway of the Lincoln Project. his wife, Kellyanne Conway, who served as campaign manager and former senior counselor to Trump; Tiffany Trump, a graduate of Georgetown Law; and about the founder of the law, David Lat, who fought hard in his fight against COVID-19 and not only survived but flourished. Last but not least, the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18 of complications from pancreatic cancer, the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court is the first Jewish woman to serve in the country’s highest court. Ginsburg, an advocate for women’s rights and civil liberties, encouraged many women to pursue legal careers. Her dying wish was that she “not be replaced until a new president is installed”. If only our guides had listened. May their memory be a blessing.
And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Who should be above Lawyer of 2020 for the law? Please cast your vote below. Polls are open until SUNDAY, JANUARY 3, 2021 at 11:59 PM (EST).
Who should be named above the Lawyer of the Year 2020?
Marc Elias (43%, 427 votes) Stacey Abrams (31%, 308 votes) Joe Biden & Kamala Harris (7%, 67 votes)
Rudy Giuliani (5%, 50 votes)
Amy Coney Barrett (4%, 42 votes) Jeffrey Toobin (3%, 32 votes) Sidney Powell (3%, 26 votes) Bill Barr (2%, 20 votes) Jenna Ellis (1%, 9 votes) Kayleigh McEnany (1 %, 8 votes)
Total number of voters: 989
Staci Zaretsky is Senior Editor at Above the Law, where she has been working since 2011. She would love to hear from you. Please send her an email with tips, questions, comments or criticism. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.