When this article was posted online on December 12, 2007, it was titled “Lawyers of the Year 2007 and 2008.” The article defined that term as the year’s biggest legal newsmaker, identifying former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as the major newsmaker of 2007. The Journal regrets that we did not make this theme clear.
We appreciate the feedback we’ve received, and we’re acting on it. So that there can be no confusion, the term “Lawyers of the Year” has been changed in the headline and story to “Newsmakers of the Year.” The story is otherwise unchanged from its original version.
This article, like all in the Journal, is the work of the magazine’s editorial staff. As is the magazine’s practice, it was not reviewed by the Journal’s volunteer Board of Editors, the ABA’s Board of Governors, or its officers, prior to publication. The Journal will continue to strive to provide high quality news to its readership.
Naming a legal newsmaker of the year for the 12 months that have just ended is easy. Naming the newsmaker of the year for a year that hasn't begun would normally be evidence of hubris or a touch of insanity.
But not this year.
The top legal story of 2007 was unquestionably the unraveling of support for the Bush administration’s expansive view of presidential power during wartime, and with it, the slow-motion destruction of Alberto Gonzales’ reign as U.S. attorney general. Add to that the controversy over whether the administration fired eight U.S. attorneys for political reasons, and no single lawyer made more news in 2007 than Gonzales.
And now, all of those problems have been dumped in the lap of the new AG, former federal judge Michael Mukasey. How he’ll deal with them—in the middle of a presidential campaign, no less—promises to make him the top legal newsmaker of 2008.
What follows is our opinionated look at those two attorneys and the cast of characters—prosecutors and defense lawyers, government lawyers and those in private practice, Republicans and Democrats—who made legal news in 2007, along with our predictions of who will take their places in the headlines of 2008.