Posted Apr 01, 2013 09:00 am CDT
Leon Jaworski is one of the most powerful names in the history of American law. For four decades, the former ABA president’s name has been half of one of the most recognizable legal brands in the industry: Fulbright & Jaworski.
In June, Jaworski’s name will vanish from the doors of the Houston-based law firm as it combines (don’t call it a merger) with London-based Norton Rose. The new firm will officially be known as Norton Rose Fulbright and will boast 3,800 lawyers with an estimated $2 billion in revenues.
“I don’t know who the hell Norton and Rose are, but they didn’t prosecute war criminals at Nuremberg or prosecute the president’s men in Watergate,” says one unhappy Fulbright lawyer. Fulbright chairman Ken Stewart of Dallas, who will lead U.S. operations for the new firm, says Jaworski’s legacy will live on—just not in name. “Col. Jaworski is a part of the fabric of this law firm and that will never go away,” says Stewart. “But our brand in the U.S. has been just Fulbright for a few years.”
Born in Waco in 1905, Leon Jaworski was the youngest person ever admitted to practice law in Texas at the age 20. After a short stint representing bootleggers and moonshiners during Prohibition, he joined railroad lawyer R.C. Fulbright in 1931.
Jaworski left the firm in 1944 to investigate and prosecute war criminals, including the Dachau atrocities. Jaworski refused to be involved in the prosecution of the Nuremberg Trials because he believed the specific laws being enforced were being improperly used retroactively.
In 1952, Jaworski was named managing partner of his law firm—a position he held until 1973, when he was again called into public service.
Less than two weeks after President Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Jaworski was offered the job. The Texas litigator led the team that successfully subpoenaed confidential Oval Office recordings showing that the Watergate break-in was masterminded at the White House, which led to the resignation of Nixon—a man Jaworski supported for president twice.
In 1974, Jaworski returned to his old law firm, which promptly changed its name to Fulbright & Jaworski.
Leon Jaworski died in 1982.