Hunton Andrews Kurth, the product of a recent merger between two prominent firms (the Southeast institution Hunton & Williams and the Texas-centric Andrews Kurth), with the combined entity bringing together each firm’s strengths in a complementary fashion and doubles down on its comprehensive coverage regionally. Clients cheer the firm’s “expertise in our area and consistent excellence in client service and communications exceeded expectations,” calling out the individual lawyers’ “thorough, responsive and concise work product,” and testifying that they are “always available”.
Hunton’s concentration of litigation talent in its Richmond office is particularly notable. Mike Shebelskie garners praise from well beyond Virginia and is noted nationally for his presence in high-stakes matters often containing an environmental element, an area in which Hunton & Williams was particularly well versed. Shebelskie has cases with Elbert Lin, another Richmond partner who has been particularly visible as of late. Lin argued for Maui County at the Supreme Court in a case exploring the parameters of the Clean Water Act, Lin triumphed in a favorable decision that was rendered in April 2020. “This is a milestone,” claims a peer. “It’s time to recognize Elbert Lin!” Another environmental litigator (and leader of the practice) based in the DC office, Deidre Duncan led a team that won a significant victory for Mosaic Fertilizer in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a suit challenging the federal authorizations and reviews issued for Mosaic’s South Pasture Extension mine under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA.)The underlying suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups, raised more than a dozen claims under NEPA, CWA and ESA. The Hunton team defeated those claims in the district court in November 2018, and the environmental groups appealed. In a comprehensive opinion, a divided panel of the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision and, in doing so, established important precedent governing the scope of NEPA reviews.
Kelly Sandill in the firm’s Houston office led an all-female firm team that scored a milestone win in a hotly contested lawsuit for the Houston Police Officers’ Union when, in May 2019 after months of litigation, a Harris County District Court Judge awarded summary judgment in the client’s favor by ruling that Proposition B, which was a City Charter Amendment passed by the voters that tied firefighter pay to police pay, was preempted by Texas state law and unconstitutional. The ruling follows a year’s worth of contentious debate surrounding Proposition B and the financial effect on the City of Houston and Houston police officers. In the Miami office, all-purpose commercial litigator Sam Danon continues to be viewed as “a force,” with one local peer elaborating, “Sam is very savvy – he’s a native Spanish speaker, which you need to be around here, but Sam is particularly good at using this to his advantage not only in litigation but for building business.”
The firm’s geographic footprint is not limited to the South. Partners in the firm’s Boston office Harry Manion and Martin Gaynor led a team that won a June 2019 jury verdict of more than $20 million against the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center over dredging related to construction of a marine terminal.
Hunton Andrews Kurth is a full-service firm with a labor and employment practice that operates out of numerous offices across the country, including California, Virginia, Florida, and Texas, as well as District of Columbia. The firm is especially notable for handling wage-and-hour class and collective actions and its California is strategically suited for assisting clients with PAGA claims.
Brett Burns, based in the San Francisco office, leads clients in class and collective actions, as well as single-plaintiff lawsuits and arbitrations. Burns successfully took the lead in representing Nationstar Mortgage in one of the major wage-and-hour lawsuits to hit the mortgage professional industry. In August 2020, the team settled the case for an amount significantly less than the 54 million dollars in damages that the plaintiffs sought. In a parallel case to the wage-and-hour class action, Burns also managed a single-plaintiff case for Nationstar that ended in a summary judgment win.
From the Los Angeles office, Emily Burkhardt Vicente assists clients through complex class and collective actions in California. She recently defeated a class action attempted against a major company. Also operating out of the Los Angeles office is Michele Beilke who, along with Julia Trankiem has been arbitrating a disability discrimination and retaliation matter for Dunn-Edwards Corporation. The 6-day JAMS arbitration resulted in an interim award in favor of the client, and the team is awaiting final judgment. Roland Juarez of the LA office was retained to handle a novel donning-and-dotting class action that was related to usage of masks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The firm also has a strong office in the District of Columbia with co-chair Kevin White operating out of the strategic location. White recently partnered with Burns to handle a matter against one of the most prominent national plaintiff-side law firms in labor and employment. The northeast strength is further bolstered by Massachusetts-based partner Christopher Pardo is handling complex and high-stakes class actions for industry-leading clients. In May of last year, Susan Wiltsie obtained a dismissal of a federal lawsuit and a temporary restraining order filed by plaintiff “Jane Doe” against client Smithfield Foods. The plaintiff alleged that the COVID precautions were inadequate and constituted a nuisance. The matter garnered significant media coverage due to its COVID-related claims.
The firm maintains a deep team in the South as well. Juan Enjamio in Florida is a prominent litigator with extensive experience in class-action disputes. Partners Robert Dumbacher and Kurt Powell in Georgia are both experienced in traditional labor relations as well as employment disputes. The Texas team expanded last year to include Scott Nelson who recently favorably resolved a long-standing trade secrets dispute. Amber Rogers practices out of the Dallas office and has recently been involved in a bench trial which ended with a major win. In Virginia, Ryan Glasgow led the team in a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action that was resolved with a favorable settlement for the client.