King & Spalding is an internationally lauded law firm with a network of 22 offices worldwide, with 10 of these outside the US. Peers are quick to address the firm’s most obvious strengths; one being its global balance of power. “King & Spalding was way ahead of the curve in terms of establishing an international scope. That firm has as many tentacles internationally as it does in the US.” Another area in which the firm reigns supreme is the energy sector. One competitor confirms, “King & Spalding is very deep in the life sciences world, and in energy - forget it. No other big national firm can touch them on the litigation side.” The firm is also said to be “the best in the world when it comes to representing the ‘Big Four’ accounting firms.”
The firm’s global footprint is illustrated best by the firm’s international arbitration practice, considered one of the premier practices among domestically headquartered firms. “King & Spalding have really terrific bench strength in international arbitration, probably the broadest across offices,” declares a peer. Indeed, this practice formed the nucleus of several of the firm’s key engagements of the past year. In a novel matter demonstrating the intersection of international arbitration and construction litigation (another of the firm’s noted areas of strength), Austin-based construction specialist Mike Stenglein and Houston-based international arbitration luminary Doak Bishop represent Reficar in an ICC arbitration arising from the construction of the Cartagena oil refinery in Colombia, purportedly the largest project in the country’s history. The damages at issue are in excess of several billion dollars. Stenglein also partnered with another seasoned international arbitration practitioner and New York’s managing partner Edward Kehoe in representing Footprint in a matter involving a contractor’s failure to deliver a natural gas-fired combined-cycle electric power plant on time and within budget. The contractor sued Footprint for $569 million in damages in an ICDR AAA arbitration proceeding, claiming that Footprint improperly refused to approve change orders that would pay them additional monies and extend the due date for completion of the project. Footprint has counterclaimed for nearly $300 million in damages arising from the delay to complete the project on time and the contractor’s grossly negligent execution failures. Kehoe also has his own noted fan base; “I have enormous respect for Ed,” extols one peer, himself a fellow leader in the international arbitration space.
King & Spalding’s California operations have also seen a flurry of activity as of late. Los Angeles-based trial lawyer Joseph Akrotirianakis, a new addition to this year’s star rankings, represents international cybersecurity technology company NSO Group in defense of a groundbreaking lawsuit brought by Facebook and WhatsApp, brought under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and its California analogue, the Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act in the Northern District of California. Facebook and WhatsApp allege that NSO’s “Pegasus” technology, which NSO licenses to foreign governments to use in investigating and preventing terrorism and serious crime, illegally accesses WhatsApp’s servers. Plaintiffs assert a claim for the alleged breach of WhatsApp’s terms of service. Kenneth Steinthal, who works out of the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices, and Bruce Baber, who operates from New York and Atlanta, represented Dolby Laboratories in a copyright infringement and breach of contract action against Adobe in the Northern District of California. Before the dispute, Dolby Laboratories had provided its audio technologies to Adobe which decided to include Dolby technologies in many of its software products. In this action, Dolby claimed that Adobe failed to properly account for and pay royalties owed under several license agreements, that Adobe used Dolby technology in products that were outside the scope of the license agreements, and that Adobe continued to sell products with Dolby technology after the termination of the license agreements. Dolby sought damages totaling over $2 billion for these breaches and infringement under a damages model supported by substantial fact discovery and expert testimony. Adobe unsuccessfully attempted to reduce Dolby’s asserted damages through summary judgment motions, Daubert motions, and pretrial motions. Another Los Angeles star, Alexander Calfo secured a monumental victory on behalf of clients Halyard Health and Kimberly-Clark Corporation when in July 2020 the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and decertified a class of California hospitals and healthcare providers that purchased allegedly defective personal protective equipment, erasing what was once a $454 million verdict. Specifically, the case alleged that the clients’ MicroCool surgical gowns were unsafe and falsely advertised during the Ebola crisis.
Calfo’s teammate on the aforementioned case, Stephen Devereaux represented Yale University, securing a complete dismissal in two putative nationwide class actions arising from the highly publicized “Varsity Blues” college admissions bribery scandal. An all-purpose litigator with a specialized focus on class actions, Devereaux is domiciled in the firm’s celebrated Atlanta office, which local peers still view as the city’s stronghold, even as the firm has long since expanded beyond Georgia’s borders. Another Atlanta partner, David Balser led the defense of Delta Air Lines in one of several putative class actions against major US airlines that market third-party travel insurance on their websites. The plaintiff claimed Delta violated RICO, Florida’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act and was unjustly enriched by failing to disclose its financial interest in the policies.
In the New York office, intellectual property star Gerald Flattmann represented Galderma Laboratories in Hatch-Waxman patent infringement litigation in the District of Delaware against Sun Pharmaceutical Industries. The three-day bench trial resulted in a win for Galderma, with a September 2019 finding that Sun’s proposed competitor product infringed Galderma’s patents literally and under the doctrine of equivalents. Another New York partner, operating in the white-collar and enforcement field, Carmen Lawrence represented Kroll Bond Rating Agency in the investigation and settlement of the SEC's enforcement proceeding finding that the client had inadequate internal controls relating to its ratings on commercial mortgage-backed securities.