The American Lawyer has named partner Lisa Blatt the grand prize winner of its coveted “Litigator of the Year” award for 2021. The award recognizes the industry-influencing victories won by Lisa and her team over the past two years, which have helped shape the legal landscape in areas as diverse as trademark, product liability, environmental, and commercial law. During the awards ceremony, Lisa was asked to comment on her career and what it takes to achieve success. Lisa spoke to the following principals:
“First, in my world, there are only winners and losers. I therefore frame every Supreme Court case I argue as—someone is going to die, and I don’t want it to be me. I never want to ponder whether there was something more I could have done to win.
Second, I never judge my client. My clients are always the victim of bullying by the other side. My job is act like a mother bear whose cubs are at risk—and to get rid of anything in their way.
Third, honesty is the best form of advocacy. Judges are not dumb, and when lawyers beat around the bush, they are just wasting the Court’s time. Confront your weaknesses head on. For instance, I said in my last argument to the Supreme Court: ‘I am not saying this case is easy. I am saying my case is better than the other side’s.’
Fourth and finally, I like to say that my success has been due to all the men who just got out of my way. So my wish is that, as leaders in the profession, we look for ways to get out of the way, so that younger lawyers, especially women and people of color, can have the same opportunities to succeed.”
Lisa's recent victories* have included:
- U.S. PTO v. Booking.com, 140 S.Ct. 2298 (2020), held that the addition of “.com” to a generic term can create a protectable trademark if consumers understand the combined term as potentially referring to a brand. Lisa successfully presented oral argument in May 2020—marking the first case in the Court’s history to be argued remotely. Recognized as one of the most important intellectual property decisions of the Term, the ruling had broad ramifications for a number of household names, as evidenced by the hundreds of trademarks that might have been invalidated had the government prevailed.
- Romag Fasteners v. Fossil, 140 S.Ct. 1492 (2020), held that a plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit is not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the trademark as a precondition to an award of profits. The decision represents important precedent concerning the substantive question of remedies in trademark litigation.
- Atlantic Richfield v. Christian, 140 S.Ct. 1335 (2020), held that Superfund site landowners cannot implement an alternative cleanup plan that the EPA has not approved.
- Glaxo Group Ltd., et al. v. DRIT, LP, 248 A.3d 911 (Del. 2021), reversed an adverse jury verdict in a patent licensing case concerning a purported breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, holding that the implied covenant cannot override the exercise of a contractual right. The opinion rejected the plaintiff’s expansive view of the implied covenant, safeguarding the stability of contracts governed by Delaware law.
- In re Mirena IUS Levonorgestrel-Related Product Liability Litigation, No. 19-2155 (2d Cir. 2020), affirmed the trial court’s award of summary judgment in an MDL asserting products liability claims related to Bayer’s Mirena birth control device, underscoring the necessity of trial courts’ role as gatekeeper when it comes to the admission of expert testimony.
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*All cases vary and none is predictive.