Bloomberg Law
July 27, 2023, 9:00 AM

They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40 - Mattie Hutton of O’Melveny & Myers

Lisa Helem
Lisa Helem
Executive Editor
MP McQueen

Please describe two of your most substantial, recent wins in practice.

I coordinated defense of a pharmaceutical company in West Virginia state court opioid proceedings for many years—through a full range of motions practice, discovery, trial preparation, and trial. This extensive work led to a favorable midtrial resolution of the West Virginia Attorney General’s claims against my client in April 2022. Then, in May 2023, we prevailed in motions to dismiss follow-on personal injury cases, resolving the remaining cases in that longstanding coordinated proceeding.

For nearly a decade, I have defended pelvic mesh consumer fraud and products liability litigation, at both the trial and appellate levels. Many of these cases were state attorneys general actions, with significant resolutions including a 40-plus state settlement in 2019, and an appellate write-down of a trial-court award in 2022. In February 2023, we resolved the last outstanding attorney general action against my client, a trial-set case against the Kentucky Attorney General.

What is the most important lesson you learned as a first-year attorney and how does it inform your practice today?

Don’t wait for permission to take the first step. In my first year, I saw an email solicitation for help from a pro bono organization and pursued taking on a case, even though I was sure someone would notice that I was unqualified and tell me so.

Nobody did—I ended up handling a daylong contested hearing, including witness examinations, all by myself. But nobody would have offered me that experience—I had to take that first step myself. That case ended up being so important: it gave me a sense of ownership over my legal career and a deep sense of my responsibility as a lawyer.

The same lesson holds now. Not every idea works out, not every pitch succeeds, not every person I call wants to talk to me. But I have found there is very little downside to at least taking the first step toward an idea that seems worth suggesting, or relationship you’d like to have.

If you wait for someone else to offer you an opportunity, or ask for your input, you may be waiting for a very long time!

How do you define success in your practice?

The first definition of success in litigation is winning: the dismissal, the summary judgment, the trial verdict, the appellate vindication.

There is a second definition of success, however—one that views good lawyering and client service from a perspective that goes beyond any one case. That definition asks, for any given case or project: did we have the best possible process here?

In turn, that means asking: Were we optimally engaged with the client and their needs? Did we build trusting relationships with their stakeholders, such as potential witnesses? Did we bring in the right team members and technologies?

Did we establish credibility with the court and opposing counsel? Did we find growth opportunities, especially for diverse and junior attorneys? Have we counseled the client on issues or opportunities that might extend to other cases, or to non-litigation aspects of their operations?

This kind of success means you are serving your clients well, regardless of any outcome. And it’s a kind of success that goes beyond any individual case—like when another attorney decides to adopt your thoughtful approach in their next case, or when a client feels supported and seeks you out for another matter.

What are you most proud of as a lawyer?

It’s hard to choose one answer. I am proud of working at one of the best firms in the world, on major cases for the companies that embody American industry and innovation. I am proud of my pro bono work, especially with detained individuals. The absolute privilege of holding a law license is never clearer than when using it on behalf of someone whose liberty is at stake.

I am also very proud of being held in high regard by my colleagues, in particular my more junior team members. I bring my whole self to work – which, especially during Covid-19, has included a very visible role as a mother to two young children. I am totally and openly enthusiastic about that role—and also about my legal work.

I frequently tell attorneys starting their parenting journey that there is not yet a solution to the tension between litigation and parenting—but that we are all in the process of creating it, by communicating our experiences, asking for support, and staying confident that the legal field can make room for people who have families and other significant personal commitments.

Who is your greatest mentor in the law and what have they taught you?

I learned so much about being a lawyer, and a human, from the judge I clerked for, District Judge Robert C. Chambers in Huntington, West Virginia. Before law school, I had seen a lot more lawyers on television than I had ever seen in “real life.” And I learned from Judge Chambers that there is a lot of power in not just what you do, but how you do it.

I saw, in action, that it is entirely possible to be patient and respectful even when disagreeing with someone or making a decision they don’t like—even a lengthy criminal sentence. I absorbed that personal warmth, and interests outside of work are actually compatible with success in the legal field—not an impediment to success. And I learned to triple-check every assumption and every piece of research—continually asking whether you may be wrong, is the best way to end up being right.

Tell us your two favorite songs on your summer music playlist.

Any two songs from Florence + the Machine’s “Dance Fever—Live at Madison Square Garden.” The entire album is a visceral celebration of live music, and the grief of losing it during Covid-19 closures.

Mattie Hutton of O’Melveny & Myers with cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.
Mattie Hutton and Jonathan Hurtarte /Bloomberg Law

Mattie Hutton is a key member of O’Melveny teams defending Johnson & Johnson in public nuisance opioid cases, including the team that took on the West Virginia attorney general’s public nuisance claims at trial in 2022. She has been appellate counsel for the pelvic mesh litigation in the federal MDL and state courts. Hutton is the D.C. office liaison for the firm parent employee network. She was awarded the highest firmwide award, the Warren Christopher Values Award in 2020 in recognition of her dedication to firm culture.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Helem at; MP McQueen at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lisa Helem at; MP McQueen at

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