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Sybil L. Dunlop, Greene Espel PLLP
Sybil L. Dunlop, Greene Espel PLLP

The POWER 30: Sybil L. Dunlop

Working at Emily’s List in Washington, D.C., was more about politics and less about making policy, so Sybil Dunlop went to law school at Vanderbilt where a professor put her in contact with U.S. District Court Judge James Rosenbaum.

After clerking for Robins Kaplan, and then Rosenbaum, she joined Greene Espel PLLP, where she could start practicing right away. On her first day, she took a deposition in New York.

Now she has a wide-ranging practice that includes 3M’s fraud litigation over fake COVID-19 masks. She also includes Disney, Cargill and Target on her client list, along with some political campaigns. She also advises on intellectual property disputes.

In addition, Greene Espel has developed a national practice around diversity, equity and inclusion issues.

“There is a huge need for [it] and it’s a real skill for a litigator,” she said. It’s not that attorneys are racist, but getting through implicit biases is the ultimate litigation challenge, Dunlop said. “To change the world, we have to get the best ideas on the table,” she said.

Greene Espel also advises boards and businesses on creating and supporting goals for the company including diverse recruitment, hiring and retention. Dunlop is also working with organizations in anticipation of several U.S. Supreme Court cases that may change the DEI landscape for the country.

Dunlop is reputed for her client care, probably because she focuses on the client’s goals. “I try to figure out the path out,” Dunlop said. “I think if you get fixated on a problem and lose sight of the path out, it’s like getting lost in the maze at IKEA. I lead every conversation with, ‘What is your goal?’”

When the client’s goals change, a lawyer can still aim the ship in the right direction, she continued. “We’ve got a plan, and we’ve got a way out.”

Dunlop said she is a lawyer for feminist reasons: “I want interesting cases and I want to lead them. I want to change what our profession looks like. I want to be a powerful person who can change the profession.”