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ICON Awards 2021: James C. Martin, Dowd Bennett

As a federal prosecutor of more than two decades, Jim Martin directed investigative operations in the probe of the 1993 Branch Davidian James C. Martinraid in Waco, Texas under former Sen. John Danforth, and later served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri from 2004 to 2005.

In both cases, Martin followed in the footsteps of good friend Ed Dowd Jr. — so few were surprised when Martin joined Dowd Bennett as a partner in 2014, making him the fourth member of the Office of Special Counsel for the Waco investigation to join the firm.

Now a specialist in white-collar criminal defense, corporate governance and compliance and complex business litigation, Martin spent five years in a similar capacity as an Armstrong Teasdale partner.  That experience working on the other side can often make a difference, he said.

“Understanding how a prosecutor thinks and evaluates the evidence — and evaluates their targets — is extremely valuable, and has made me a much better defense attorney,” he said.

“If it’s a white-collar investigation, my main goal is not to win at trial, but to stop the case from ever reaching an indictment,” Martin added. “We’re trying to keep companies out of trouble before they get to court. So, it’s a matter of moving early. And the only way you can stop the train is to understand the thought process of the government’s side.”

A Webster Groves High School graduate, Martin credits a semester working in the office of former St. Louis County Prosecutor Sam Bertolet while in high school for sparking his interest in the law. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Notre Dame and received his law degree from the University of Michigan, graduating first in his class.

Among his career highlights, Martin counts the 2010 dismissal of a Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit alleging stock option backdating against defendant Michael F. Shanahan Jr., the son of a CEO who along with two other ex-company executives had pleaded guilty to similar charges.

“It was nice to beat the government,” he said. “And it was the right decision, because my client was innocent of wrongdoing.”

“Prosecutors are perceived as seeing the world as very black and white, and nothing in between,” he continued. “My own children would have accused me of having that same perspective. Once you’re on the other side, though, you develop a better perspective … sometimes things that look black and white aren’t inherently evil, or motivated by bad motives.”

At 63, Martin remains active with two community organizations, serving as a board member for the Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater St. Louis, where he’s a longtime volunteer mentor. Martin also was named to Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s POWER List in November 2020.

ICON Awards 2021