Debevoise & Plimpton LLP litigation partner and former judge John Gleeson will receive The American Lawyer’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual The American Lawyer Industry Awards on November 15 in New York City. The annual award honors lawyers who have had extraordinary careers at some of the country’s most prominent law firms and other legal institutions, and whose public service contributions have had far-reaching impact on the profession.
A partner in the firm’s White Collar & Regulatory Defense and Commercial Litigation Groups, Judge Gleeson is a trial and appellate lawyer and company advisor whose practice focuses not only on white collar defense and complex civil litigation, but also on internal investigations, dispute resolution, and the provision of expert testimony in international and foreign tribunals. Judge Gleeson is a Commissioner on the United States Sentencing Commission. He has taught law for 34 years, principally at New York University School of Law. Before joining the firm in 2016, Judge Gleeson was a United States District Judge in the Eastern District of New York for 22 years. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the same district for ten years, rising to Chief of the Criminal Division. His ten-year effort to dismantle organized crime is depicted in his book The Gotti Wars: Taking Down America’s Most Notorious Gangster. Judge Gleeson is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the American Law Institute.
Judge Gleeson is also Co-chair of Debevoise’s Pro Bono Committee. He founded and runs The Holloway Project, a pro bono project dedicated to obtaining sentencing relief for inmates who were subjected to what the Chair of the Criminal Law Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States called in 2009 one of the “most egregious mandatory minimum provisions” in the federal system, which produced “the unfairest, harshest, and most irrational results” mandated by 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). As of August 2023, more than 70 Debevoise lawyers working with the Project have obtained sentence reductions for 46 clients, with an average sentence reduction of 36 years, totaling more than 1,600 years off the prison terms of the Project’s clients.