Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is bringing on Washington litigator Michele Roberts as a partner, picking up a lawyer known for her skill and decades of experience in front of juries.
Roberts is leaving Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where she has been a partner since 2004. She specializes in white-collar defense, representing clients as varied as Covington & Burling in an ongoing racial discrimination suit and Washington real estate developer Douglas Jemal in a case of alleged conspiracy, bribery and fraud.
In a news release, she said Skadden would be a “terrific platform” to continue trying cases. “What I enjoy most is talking to juries,” she said, “and I look forward to this new chapter in my career.” Roberts was not immediately available for comment; her first day is Wednesday, a spokesman said.
Skadden’s white-collar practice in Washington has seen other changes recently. Robert Bennett left in 2009 for what is now Hogan Lovells, and former Williams & Connolly partner Gregory Craig joined last year after serving as White House counsel.
Roberts started her career with eight years in the D.C. Public Defender Service, building a reputation while representing alleged murderers and other criminal defendants, as a 2006 profile in Legal Times reported. She rose to become chief of the trial division. It was at the Public Defender Service that she met Charles Ogletree Jr., now at Harvard Law School, who recruited Roberts in 1991 to work with law professor Anita Hill during Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings.
“She becomes the 13th juror, capable of seeing the case as the jury sees it, and therefore able to revise strategy, as necessary, mid-trial to address the jury’s concerns,” Ogletree said then.
Roberts has tried more than 100 civil and criminal cases to jury verdicts, according to Skadden. “Her abilities before juries in high-stakes matters will be of extraordinary value to our clients,” said Clifford “Mike” Naeve, head of Skadden’s Washington office.