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Jenner & Block is pleased to congratulate two partners who were honored on October 26, 2013, at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL). Robert L. Byman was inaugurated as the College’s 64th president, following in the footsteps of firm greats Albert E. Jenner Jr. and Judge Philip W. Tone as the top leader of what is widely considered to be the premier professional trial organization in North America. In addition, Terri L. Mascherin was inducted into the College, becoming the third woman in Jenner & Block’s 99-year history to be elected an ACTL Fellow.
Founded in 1950, the ACTL recognizes the pantheon of the courtroom bar. Its membership, which is approximately 5,700, is limited to no more than 1 percent of the bar. Fellows are selected after an extensive investigation of their trial records and integrity. It is the only organization in which all justices of the United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Canada are honorary members. Fellowship is limited to attorneys with a minimum of 15 years of trial experience who have demonstrated exceptional skill as advocates and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards in ethical conduct, professionalism and civility.
“We are proud that Jenner & Block has enjoyed such a long history with the American College of Trial Lawyers,” firm Managing Partner Susan C. Levy said. “The recognition of Bob and Terri by the ACTL is so well deserved. They represent the very best in what this firm has been about for nearly a century: delivering excellence to our clients. They are leaders of this firm and stewards of the legal industry. I congratulate them both.”
Mr. Byman, a 44-year veteran at Jenner & Block, has been a Fellow of the ACTL since 1992 and is a longtime leader in the College. Before being named ACTL president, he was a member of the Board of Regents from 2008 to 2012; this past year, he served as the College’s treasurer. He will serve a one-year term in leading the College, following such acclaimed practitioners who have served as president of this institution as Albert E. Jenner Jr. (1958-1959) and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Philip Tone (1988-1989), both of Jenner & Block, as well as Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell (1969-1970) and Attorney General Griffith Bell (1985-1986). His President's Message to the ACTL can be read here.
Mr. Byman is a renowned litigator and appellate advocate who has successfully tried and argued many high-profile cases. Two of these (the case of Dennis Williams, one of the “Ford Heights Four,” and the case of David Dowaliby, accused of murdering his young daughter) became the subjects of books; the book about the Dowalibys was also made into a movie. Other cases that attracted considerable national media attention included Mr. Byman’s representation of the adoptive parents of the child known in the media as “Baby Richard”; Patrick Sykes, the defendant in the infamous “Girl X” case; Dale Basten, a defendant in the “Monfils 7” murder case; and Silvonus Shannon, a defendant in the highly publicized beating death of a Chicago high school student in 2009.
In 2000, as co-first chair in GE Capital v DirecTV, Mr. Byman won the largest verdict in the history of the State of Connecticut—$181,000,000—for firm client GE Capital. In 2009, he served as lead counsel to firm Chairman Anton R. Valukas in his capacity as examiner in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history.
Mr. Byman is a regular columnist on federal civil procedure issues for The National Law Journal and has authored more than 80 articles, chapters and texts on various trial practice subjects. He is a frequent speaker and faculty member at seminars, continuing legal education and law school trial advocacy programs.
Earlier this year, Mr. Byman was named a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, which, like the ACTL, selects its Fellows by invitation only, but from more than 30 countries worldwide. The Academy is limited to 500 active Fellows from the United States.
With her selection, Ms. Mascherin joins 13 other Jenner & Block Fellows of the College. She is one of a handful of women ACTL Fellows in Illinois. Within the firm, she was preceded by retired partner Joan Hall (the first woman Fellow in Illinois) and former partner Linda Listrom. Ms. Mascherin has represented some of the firm’s largest corporate clients in high-stakes civil matters—both jury and bench trials, as well as arbitrations. In her nearly 30 years at Jenner & Block, she has tried more than 25 cases. She is also an accomplished appellate advocate.
Ms. Mascherin was one of the lead attorneys on the firm team that secured a $101 million verdict for leading healthcare real estate investment trust Ventas, Inc. in 2009, recognized by The National Law Journal as one of the “Top Verdicts of 2009.” She was also a key member of the team on the appeal that affirmed the verdict and remanded the case for a trial on punitive damages, leading to an ultimate settlement of approximately $225 million for Ventas.
She has also represented Honeywell, Exelon and CRST Van Expedited in their most important and complex litigation matters.
In addition, Ms. Mascherin is one of very few women (or men) among the AmLaw 100 who have tried capital murder cases. She also successfully defended a challenge to the blanket clemency order issued in 2003 by then-Governor George Ryan, arguing the case in the Illinois Supreme Court on behalf of 10 death row inmates.
Last year, Law360 named Ms. Mascherin one of the top 15 female trial attorneys in America, and in 2007, she was recognized as one of the “50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal. She is also a longstanding leader in the organized bar and served as president of the Chicago Bar Association from 2010 to 2011.