A special edition of the legal newspaper included Sungaila's profile as one of 75 litigators and 25 corporate transactions and regulatory specialists who exemplify excellent lawyering and leadership skills in California, and whose work is having a broad impact on the legal community, the nation and society. To make the selection, editors reviewed hundreds of nominations from law firms, public agencies, nonprofits and universities.
This latest honor comes on the heels of Sungaila's second straight California Lawyer of the Year Award for her work on a Ninth Circuit asylum appeal for a transgender woman. The awards, previously awarded by California Lawyer magazine, this year were given by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journal newspapers.
Sungaila has repeatedly been named a “Notable Appellate Practitioner” by Chambers USA, Chambers & Partners (2013-2016). Clients described her in one Chambers listing as a “gifted appellate lawyer who consistently delivers bottom line results” and praise her for her “great practical sense,” “laser” focus on key issues, and ability to “advise on the business side just as well as she does on the legal side.”
For this year's Top Women Lawyers profile, Sungaila described three successful impact litigation cases that stood out. In addition to the transgender Ninth Circuit matter, she noted her work on behalf of the chairman of Jimmy John's Sandwich Shops, for whom Sungaila obtained his dismissal from a potential class action alleging wage-and-hour and non-compete claims.
The editors also noted that Sungaila was the lead appellate lawyer for intervening parents in the first state appellate case in the U.S. to decide that a school district's fitness yoga program, scrubbed of spiritual references, did not constitute an impermissible establishment of religion under the U.S. and California constitutions.
It was one of the few cases to interpret the California constitution's establishment clause, setting important precedent for yoga and meditation programs in public schools. "Some parents held that yoga is a gateway to Hinduism, and they believed very strongly in their position," Sungaila told the Daily Journal.
At Haynes and Boone, Sungaila is a litigator in the Appellate Practice Group. She has briefed and argued appeals raising cutting-edge and core business issues, and helped secure important rights for women and girls nationally and internationally. Clients call on her to craft approaches to emerging legal issues across multiple cases and jurisdictions and to provide pretrial and trial consultations in cases where an appeal by either side appears inevitable or a “key case” outcome might impact a whole series of cases for a client. At the core of her broad appellate practice is Sungaila’s passion for the rule of law and for helping shape undeveloped areas within it.