In the 73rd-floor offices of the Buzbee Law Firm, Texas swagger prevails. The door handles are custom-made, foot-long silver sharks. The bar is stocked with expensive bourbon, and signed Houston Astros jerseys hang on the walls. Framed newspaper clippings celebrate multimillion-dollar verdicts and a successful defense of former Texas Governor Rick Perry against felony abuse-of-power charges. Marble floors lead to massive windows overlooking almost every building in the country’s fourth-biggest city and Buffalo Bayou curving below.

Tony Buzbee, a trial attorney of some 20 years, regrets only that he’s not on the top floor, right above. “They won’t sell to me,” he says with a puckish smile, leaning back in his chair. He’s in a checked, cornflower-blue blazer with a scarlet handkerchief stuffed in the pocket, explaining his confidence in the West Houston litigation. “It’s a humdinger of a case,” he crows. “We know when the decisions were made, we know who made them, and we know that when they made them they knew which subdivisions would flood.” A young lawyer handling one of the files is called in and excused. Buzbee watches him leave with a look of satisfied wonder. “He’s so nervous around me,” he says, laughing and taking a gulp of Muscle Milk.