About James Walsh

James Walsh Articles written 6

Articles written by James Walsh

How The Soviet Union Helped Make a Great Family Law Attorney

After Marjan Shansab’s harrowing escape from Afghanistan, nothing seemed impossible

When Russian tanks rolled into Kabul in 1979, Marjan Shansab’s parents knew they would be watched. Her father was a professor at the police academy, her mother directed an accounting firm. A grandfather had been a general in the Afghan army. But their lives changed more drastically—and quickly—than they had imagined. First there were the 4 a.m. visits to her Kabul home by Soviet authorities. They pushed her father and mother to “choose” to support the Communist puppet government of …

They must be guilty; they can barely speak English!

After seven years and about $2.5 million, Sarah Teachout helps to free two innocent men

Eight years ago, criminal defense attorney Sarah Teachout was not yet 30, but she had already won the kinds of cases that make a much longer career look really good. Then another partner in her firm—Barry McNeil—came to her for help with a pro bono defense case. “It was the case of a lifetime,” Teachout says. An attorney working for the Mexican Foreign Ministry, looking for Mexican nationals who have been wrongly convicted of capital offenses, believed she had found a particularly …

Just a Closer Walk

After more than $250 million in wins, Ray Thomas found he was missing something—and it wasn’t success

There was a time, Ray Thomas acknowledges, when he was all about the “super successful lawyer” thing. What he was looking for—and what he achieved—was money, fame and access to the most challenging and lucrative cases. Over the years, Thomas, a partner at Kittleman, Thomas & Gonzales, has obtained more than $250 million in verdicts, judgments and settlements. He’s been named by his peers to the list of this magazine every year since 2006. Yet something, he admits, was missing. …

The Gold Standard

Capital One's John Finneran expects the best

When asked to identify his hometown, John Finneran can't name a single city. "I am from everywhere and nowhere," he says. That's what happens when you're a Navy brat. Finneran lived in 18 cities during his first 18 years, moving up and down the East and West Coasts with his parents, brother and three sisters. Most of the time his mom was really a single parent, he says, keeping the home and raising the kids. Every year it was a new school, different friends. But—like other trials of …


Patriotic clichés are easy to spout. But for three young Los Angeles-area attorneys, immigration to this country really did grant them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

KGB: Nyet! Olga: Da! Olga Berson came to America as part of the first bilateral U.S.-U.S.S.R. college exchange program in 1988. Before her semester at Dartmouth even began, however, the KGB warned her that her family would face problems if she was tempted to not return to Russia. Berson finished her semester and promptly headed home to continue her science education in Moscow. But as the Soviet Union crumbled, so did the Russian economy. There were lines in Moscow for milk and bread. Career …

The Deconstructionist

His clients — from Big Tobacco to nuclear weapons plants — aren’t always popular, but no matter: David Bernick knows how to win over a jury

If the sun was shining, a visitor to David Bernick’s 59th-floor office on downtown Chicago’s lakeshore would be treated to quite a view. But there is no sun on this late December day. A heavy fog shrouds the old Amoco building overlooking Lake Michigan and the rest of downtown, blanketing it in a mysterious white material as translucent as slush. No matter. Bernick, a small, fit, black-haired man who just turned 50 but probably still gets carded whenever he walks into a Loop pub, simply …

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