Law Firm: Hunton & Williams
Practice Area: Environmental, product liability and complex business litigation
Years in Practice: 18
Law School: USC Gould School of Law
Fighting mostly high-stakes environmental lawsuits in the past year, Belynda Reck has had more than $800 million at risk for her clients . She represented ConocoPhillips Co. in an environmental action alleging massive property and personal injury damage due to a gas spill from a petroleum tank farm and terminal in Los Angeles. She defeated a motion for preliminary injunction and obtained dismissal of the injunctive relief claims, successfully resolving the action. In another Conoco case, Reck successfully negotiated a $33.5 million settlement regarding costs associated with the remediation of contamination at the site of a former smelter in Northern California. Among Reck’s challenges in the coming year is an appeal to the 9th Circuit involving global warming. She represents fi ve companies, including Edison International, sued for allegedly damaging an Alaskan village. “It’s a huge issue that could have an impact on all other climate change cases,” Reck said.
Pretrial Ritual: “Often, you are running on two, three hours of sleep, and it tends to build up. You’re better off getting up and doing 30 minutes on the bike or yoga. You feel so much better.”
Biggest Career Break: Within a few months of joining O’Donnell & Mortimer in 1996, Reck was running a trial in federal court, representing Lockheed Martin Co. in an environmental impact case against Pacifi c Airmotive Corp. “We obtained a very good result for Lockheed,” she said. “And we pierced the corporate veil between PAC and the parent and sister corporation.”