Lawyer of the Year | Patrick Fitzgerald (National Law Journal)

Relentless man on a mission

Leigh Jones
Staff reporter

No one else in 2005 roiled politics inside the Beltway and the media that feed on it like the prosecutor from Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald.

As special counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice, Fitzgerald has taken on some of the most influential people in the world by trying to uncover who in Washington divulged to the press the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

The list is long on powerful politicians, lawyers and journalists that his continuing investigation has touched so far. But the matter also encompasses the very reasons for the war in Iraq that has cost about 2,150 American lives, while at the same time striking at the heart of freedoms protected by the U.S. Constitution.

For those reasons, Fitzgerald is The National Law Journal’s 2005 Lawyer of the Year.

At 44, Fitzgerald is, to some, exacting and thorough. To others, he is perhaps obsessive and relentless. But it is this attention to detail and his formidable memory that many observers say make him a tough and level-headed adversary.