For Immediate Release For more information

Tuesday May 27, 2003 Contact: Russell Mokhiber at (202) 737-1680


Dan Webb, John Keker, Reid Weingarten, Brendan Sullivan, Robert Bennett and Thomas Green are the nation's top white collar criminal defense attorneys, according to a survey released today by Corporate Crime Reporter.

The weekly newsletter polled white collar crime defense attorneys from the nation's top 100 law firms and asked:

If you were the target of a federal criminal investigation, who would you hire to be your criminal defense attorney?

Webb, a former U.S. Attorney in Chicago, made a name or himself prosecuting corrupt judges and lawyers in Operation Greylord, then went on to successfully prosecute Iran-Contra operator John Poindexter.

He has spent the last seventeen years with Winston & Strawn in Chicago, defending corporations and individuals accused of wrongdoing, including some big name corporations, like Philip Morris, McDonald's, Microsoft, and General Electric, and some big name politicians, like former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski.

In an telephone interview last week, Webb said that first and foremost, a criminal defense attorney has to put in the hours.

"A person has to be willing to spend an enormous number of hours dedicated to the client -- because that is what it takes," Webb said.

"Second, it takes a certain amount of judgment and experience to analyze a fact situation and find a path to follow. I have found over the years in representing white collar defendants that it is critically important that the defense lawyer master the facts quickly and then find a strategy to follow. That strategy might be a strategy to defeat the indictment, but you always have to be looking down the road anticipating that you will not be able to avoid the indictment. And you have to be always thinking -- how am I going to be presenting this case to the jury?"

Webb said that he's always had "a pretty good relationship with my brothers and sisters in the white collar crime bar -- they include some of the best trial lawyers in the United States, and many are close personal friends."

(The complete interview runs in the current issue of Corporate Crime Reporter -- see "Interview with Dan Webb, Partner, Winston & Strawn, Chicago, Illinois," 17 Corporate Crime Reporter 21(13), May 26, 2003).

The survey question was sent via e-mail to more than 600 white collar criminal defense attorneys at the largest 100 law firms in the country. The survey was conducted the week of May 12, 2003.

Sixty-two white collar crime defense attorneys responded to the survey.

The attorneys were asked to name their top five choices. Five points were given to a number one choice, four points to a number two choice, three points to a number three choice, two points to a number four choice, and one point to a number five choice.

Survey participants were asked not to name themselves or members of their own law firm.

In all, the responding attorneys named 102 different attorneys, many apparently choosing close friends or colleagues.

But the top vote-getters were all established and well-known members of the white-collar criminal defense bar.

In the interview, Webb said that he was approached to defend Arthur Andersen, but couldn't do it because he was busy defending Microsoft in the antitrust trial.

Webb criticized the Justice Department for its handling of the Andersen case.

"I'm not quite sure what the criminal justice system accomplished by indicting and convicting Arthur Andersen," Webb said. "There would have been other ways to handle that case with appropriate administrative and civil penalties that would have punished the company, but not caused the destruction of a major firm because of the wrongdoing of a few people. I personally question the wisdom of that strategy."

Here is the top ten list:


1. Dan Webb
Law firm: Winston & Strawn
Home base: Chicago, Illinois
Highlights: Prosecuted Operation Greylord public corruption case and Iran Contra figure John Poindexter
Hot known client: Philip Morris

2. John Keker
Law firm: Keker & Van Nest
Home base: San Francisco, California
Highlights: Prosecuted Iran Contra figure Oliver North
Hot known client: Former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, Former Credit Suisse First Boston executive Frank Quattrone

3. (tie) Reid Weingarten
Law firm: Steptoe & Johnson
Home base: Washington, D.C.
Highlights: Defended former Secretary of Agriculture Michael Espy and former Teamsters president Ron Carey
Hot known client: Former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers

3. (tie) Brendan Sullivan
Law firm: Williams & Connolly
Home base: Washington, D.C.
Highlights: Oliver North's defense attorney, represented states against Microsoft
Hot known client: Walter A. Forbes, former chairman, Cendant Corporation

4. Robert Bennett
Law firm: Skadden, Arps
Home base: Washington, D.C.
Highlights: Defended President Clinton in the Paula Jones case
Hot known client: HealthSouth Corp.

5. Thomas Green
Law firm: Sidley & Austin
Home base: Washington, D.C.
Highlights: Defended Wen Ho Lee against charges of being a spy
Hot known client: Tyson Foods

6. Earl Silbert
Law firm: Piper Rudnick
Home base: Washington, D.C.
Highlights: Defended Indonesian businessman James Riady and Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles
Hot known client: Former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay

7. Daniel Reidy
Law firm: Jones, Day
Home base: Chicago
Highlights: Prosecuted operation Greylord corruption case in Chicago
Hot known client: Abbott Labs

8. Robert Fiske
Law firm: Davis, Polk
Home base: New York City
Highlights: First Whitewater prosecutor
Hot known client: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

9. (Tie) Theodore Wells
Law firm: Paul, Weiss
Home base: New York City
Highlight: Convinced federal prosecutors to drop criminal case against Senator Robert Torricelli
Hot known client: (not available)

9. (tie) Plato Cacheris
Law firm: Baker & McKenzie
Home base: Washington, D.C.
Highlights: Saved CIA spy Aldrich Ames and FBI agent Robert Hanssen from death penalty, represented Fawn Hall and Monica Lewinsky
Hot known client: (not available)

10. Robert Morvillo
Law firm: Morvillo, Abramowitz
Home base: New York City
Highlights: Defended Adnan Khasshoggi
Hot known client: Martha Stewart

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