Three Jones Day partners named 2020 D.C. Rising Stars by National Law Journal
Jones Day partners Shirlethia Franklin, Yaakov Roth, and Sparkle Sooknanan were named "D.C. Rising Stars" for 2020 by the National Law Journal (NLJ). The Rising Star awards recognize the 40 most promising lawyers age 40 and younger in the Washington, D.C. area who have become influential in their areas of practice.
Ms. Franklin, a partner in the Firm's Business & Tort Litigation Practice, litigates complex civil cases and handles disputes and investigations involving the federal government. She joined Jones Day as of counsel in 2017 after serving in the Obama Administration, first as recipient of a White House Fellowship, one of the nation’s most prestigious fellowships for leadership and public service, and then as a high-ranking counselor to two successive Attorneys General: Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. After joining the Firm, she became partner in just two years. The NLJ noted that Ms. Franklin led the team, and served as first-chair trial lawyer, on an important matter representing four Charlottesville City Councilors who voted to relocate the Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson statues at the center of the violent rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. The Firm's victory on behalf of the City Councilors thwarted efforts to hold them personally liable, getting them dismissed from the suit and saving them from a maximum damages award of more than $1.3 million (plus three percent of their salaries). Ms. Franklin has demonstrated leadership both in and outside the courtroom. She is a leader of Jones Day's Constitutional Policing and Civil Justice Reform Task Force and the Firm's Hate Crimes Task Force. She is also the driving force behind the establishment of the Firm's Black Lawyers Group, which supports the Firm's larger diversity efforts by helping to attract, retain, and promote Black lawyers, and has contributed to a 30 percent increase in Black lawyers at the Firm in a two-year period.
Mr. Roth, a partner in the Firm's Issues & Appeals practice, has played a leading role in many of Jones Day's most high-profile Supreme Court matters, and has grown into a leader in his practice and the broader appellate community. Originally from Toronto, Mr. Roth left Canada to attend Harvard Law School. He clerked first for the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, then for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Roth is one of very few noncitizens to have served as a Supreme Court clerk. He joined Jones Day as an associate in 2009 and was invited to join the partnership effective January 1, 2017. The following December, he was elected to join the American Law Institute. While an appellate generalist, Mr. Roth has distinguished himself in a number of niche areas, including ERISA and white collar crime. This year, in his first appearance as an oralist before the Supreme Court, he won a sweeping, unanimous victory on behalf of client Bridget Kelly, whose convictions for federal property fraud in the Bridgegate case were reversed by the Court adopting precisely the arguments Mr. Roth advanced. Kelly will become a seminal precedent on the scope of the federal fraud statutes.
Ms. Sooknanan, a partner in the Issues & Appeals Practice, has been at the center of a number of the Firm's important engagements. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, she left home at 16 to attend college, and later business school, in New York, then earned her law degree at Brooklyn Law School at night while working full time. Upon graduation, she began four years of government service, including a year in the Civil Appellate Division at the Department of Justice, and clerkships with Judge Eric Vitaliano, Judge Guido Calabresi, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Ms. Sooknanan joined Jones Day in 2014 and became a partner in January of this year. One of her significant representations was leading the team representing a group of investors in bonds issued by Puerto Rico's pension system. Ms. Sooknanan spearheaded a unique litigation plan, including filing a constitutional "takings" claim to recover more than $1 billion from the United States for the confiscation of property. When the government sought dismissal, she presented oral argument and won a key jurisdictional ruling. Since then, other creditors have filed almost identical lawsuits. Ms. Sooknanan also played a significant role in the Firm's representation of the Charlottesville City Councilors, including helping to craft novel constitutional arguments that the Lee and Jackson statues violate the Equal Protection Clause. Those arguments received widespread notice in legal and academic commentary and have served as a model for parties in similar litigation.