Cravath Swaine Moore

Global

Review

United States (National)

Dispute resolution

Still operating out of only one office in Manhattan, Cravath Swaine & Moore once again remains the standard bearer as an entity that commands respect on the national stage for its prestige and unassailable brand in the legal community without expanding its physical geographic footprint. The firm is also revered for its elite position on the hiring and fostering of its talent, holding to its long-held protocol of not hiring associates laterally. Long considered a leader in the fields of securities, antitrust and general commercial litigation, the firm has made considerable strides in areas that are more recent developments, such as the white-collar and investigations and intellectual property capacities. Cravath has also established itself as a leader in trial law, with a presence at the center of trial activity that is noted as somewhat rare for a “white-shoe” firm. Also rare for a firm of its breed, Cravath boasts a diverse client base that is not exclusively beholden to financial institutions. 
     The star power of Cravath Swaine & Moore continues undiminished yet another year, a stature exemplified at both the senior and “next-generation” levels. Evan Chesler and Daniel Slifkin, two of the firm’s towering figures in the trial lawyer capacity, remain active and still generate acclaim. At a younger vintage point, Kevin Orsini has made an astonishing ascent in profile in recent years due to his increased presence as a first-chair trial lawyer. The co-head of litigation at the firm, Orsini attends to a remarkably diverse practice that touches on commercial, antitrust and the one-of-a-kind phenomenon of “event-driven” litigation, often of the most complex, contentious and highest-stakes variety. Most recently, Orsini, along with securities star Antony Ryanis representing Robinhood as lead counsel in dozens of lawsuits involving securities, antitrust and various other state and federal claims arising out of Robinhood’s controversial decision to temporarily restrict trading in certain securities, the most newsworthy of these being GameStopin the face of unprecedented market volatility. In February 2021, Robinhood successfully defeated a request for a temporary restraining order against the company that would have forced it to abstain from further trading limitations.  
     The firm has historically exhibited a stunning level of activity in the antitrust space, and this year was no exception. In what is arguably the firm’s most headline-grabbing appointment of 2021, a crackerjack Cravath team is representing Epic Games as plaintiff in two separate antitrust actions against Apple and Google, alleging that the companies are engaged in anticompetitive behavior in the distribution of apps on mobile devices and in the processing of consumers’ payments for digital content used within mobile apps. Epic, the creator of the popular game Fortnite, alleges that Apple and Google impose unreasonable and unlawful restraints on the app distribution market by placing restrictions on users’ ability to download apps from sources other than their own digital storefronts, the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, where the companies impose a 30% tax on every app purchased. The case, which was launched in August 2020, went to trial in May 2021, during which the Cravath team secured a milestone: an unprecedented deposition of Apple CEO Tim Cook, against tremendous resistance. The trial teams on both sides of this case were praised by a Northern California judge for their diversity, and indeed the Cravath team was composed of an impressive percentage of women – four to be exact: Katherine ForrestChristine VarneyLauren Moskowitz and Vanessa Lavely. Forrest, one of the noted team leaders and an established senior trailblazer at the firm, comes equipped with a keen level of experience and savvy in the tech and AI sectors as well as a fluency in antitrust, both of which doubtless proved invaluable in this case. This trial team is also noted for being composed of a cross section of generational talent at the firm, including one brand new partner, Justin Clarke. “Justin is incredibly knowledgeable and thoughtful – we’ve been doing a lot of work together in advising people on navigating the pitfalls of the current environment. He is very thoughtful and has a sober voice, he’s a great counselor and beautiful writer. I think in due course he will become an absolute rock of the Cravath practice. Gary Bornstein, another member of the team on the aforementioned Epic Games case, is also fresh off one of the biggest antitrust triumphs of the past year, a complete defense victory for Qualcomm in a unanimous Ninth Circuit decision in August 2020 that confirmed the lawfulness of Qualcomm’s business model in the face of claims brought by the Federal Trade Commission, who sought an injunction against several practices relating to Qualcomm’s patent licensing and modem chipset businesses. Bornstein’s team also included Yonatan Even. 
     Karin DeMasi and Ben Gruenstein represented Avon Products and certain of its officers in connection with putative securities fraud class-action litigation filed in New York federal court alleging defendants made false and misleading statements regarding Avon’s business in Brazil, its largest market, in violation of the federal securities laws. In particular, the complaint alleged defendants failed to disclose that Avon made changes to its credit terms for sales representatives in Brazil and failed to increase its allowance for bad debts to account for those changes. Cravath secured a favorable settlement of the action, which was announced in August 2020 and received final court approval in February 2021. “Karen is great,” cheers a peer on DeMasi’s behalf. “She is heading up their securities department and she’s tough but fair and honest. I know I’m not getting the runaround with her. 
     The firm’s burgeoning IP practice has seen a spike in activity and headcount as of late. A team composed of Richard Stark and Sharonmoyee Goswami won a favorable decision in an all-virtual ITC trial for Alarm.com in April 2021 initiated by EcoFactor, which sought an exclusion order to prevent certain products, among them Alarm.com’s smart thermostats, from entering the US.