December 14, 2014

Jenner & Block Partners Paul M. Smith and Catherine L. Steege have been selected by Law360 as, respectively, appellate and bankruptcy MVPs.  As MVPs, Paul and Cathy are the subjects of in-depth profiles. 

Paul’s profile honors his success in one of the most closely watched copyright cases in years; In June, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially shut down online television streaming service Aereo Inc.  The profile notes that the firm represented a group of networks since the case was filed in district court after Aereo launched in 2012.  Paul briefed the Court during oral arguments, convincing the justices that they could rule narrowly in the case.  “The strategy on the other side was to say it would have all these broad effects.  We were saying, decide just this.  That will leave open lots of possible ways to distinguish it in the future,” Paul says.  The profile also describes Paul’s victory in Harris v. Quinn, in which he stopped the Court from overturning decades-old precedent allowing public unions to charge nonunion workers.  Finally, the profile calls Paul “one of the country’s top civil rights litigators,” in 2003 winning the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case that repealed the state’s anti-sodomy law and in 2014 representing a class of same-sex couples in Virginia in a successful challenge of the state’s ban on gay marriage. 

Cathy’s profile honors her “whirlwind year holding accountable the directors of a bankrupt Illinois casino, protecting the benefits of nearly 50,000 American Airlines Corp. retirees and preparing to take on the case of a lifetime before the Supreme Court.”  The profile notes Cathy’s victory in September for the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee for Emerald Casino, whose owners violated Illinois gaming board rules while attempting to relocate.  It also describes her successful representation of the American Airlines Section 1114 Retiree Committee in fending off an attempt by the airline’s parent to cut off health and life insurance benefits.  And the profile looks ahead to Cathy’s representation of Wellness International Network before the Supreme Court in 2015.  That case will clarify bankruptcy courts’ constitutional authority to enter final decisions on whether property in a debtor’s possession belongs to their bankruptcy estate.  “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she tells Law360.  “It’s certainly one of the most intellectually intense briefing projects that I’ve ever worked on in terms of presenting the arguments and the amount of care that goes into preparation.”