BEVO BEAT

Was Joe Jamail the ‘greatest lawyer who ever lived’?

Posted December 23rd, 2015

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Prolific University of Texas donor Joe Jamail, who died Wednesday at 90, was known outside the Forty Acres as a fiery attorney with a flamboyant manner. As a matter of fact, a January profile from Texas Monthly, which has started spreading on social media in the wake of his death, called him “The Greatest Lawyer Who Ever Lived.”

Joe Jamail, attorney for Pennzoil, shows his obvious pleasure here Friday, Dec. 11, after learning that Texaco has agreed to a $3 billion settlement with his client. (AP Photo)
Joe Jamail, attorney for Pennzoil, shows his obvious pleasure here Friday, Dec. 11, after learning that Texaco has agreed to a $3 billion settlement with his client. (AP Photo)

From Texas Monthly:

No lawyer has ever known the kind of success Jamail has. His $10.5 billion verdict in Pennzoil v. Texaco in 1985—still the largest jury award in history—was merely the most famous. He’s had five verdicts for over $100 million and more than two hundred for at least $1 million. Forbes has repeatedly declared him the world’s richest practicing attorney and estimates his net worth at $1.7 billion, a particularly staggering figure when you realize that most of it came from contingency fees from settlements and jury awards. That record has created a mystique around Jamail.

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The article also touches on, among other things, Jamail’s love of scotch, F-bombs and former UT football coach Mack Brown.

The university itself also paid tribute to Jamail’s courtroom prowess in a video from 2012. Watch for kind words from Brown and Willie Nelson, among others.

(For a look at the saltier side of Jamail, a YouTube video titled “Texas Style Deposition” offers a look at a litigation style that could almost veer into pugilism.)

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