Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel has been a mainstay of the New York legal community since its inception and, while it has since opened offices in the Silicon Valley and in Paris, that continues today. While a full-service firm, its litigation bench has been consistently championed as a small but powerful and dynamic group. “What’s interesting about Kramer Levin is the way they just keep reinventing and reinvigorating themselves,” observes a peer. “There are people at that firm who are still legends, but they are bringing up new legends-in-waiting all the time.” The firm has historically been known for its commercial, securities, bankruptcy and white-collar work, and is also identified as one of the few leaders in the false advertising/Lanham Act space.
Kramer Levin has recently doubled down on the “hard” intellectual property capacity, emphasized by the recruit of patent star Dr. Irena Royzman, who is noted by peers to “occupy a definite presence in the pharma patent space.” Royzman represented Janssen, who sued eight generic manufacturers under the Hatch-Waxman Act for infringement of patents protecting Imbruvica capsules, a breakthrough treatment for certain B-cell cancers and chronic graft-versus-host-disease. Royzman obtained a favorable Markman ruling on all claim terms and conducted intensive expert discovery remotely. The IP area is bookended on the West Coast by Lisa Kobialka in the Silicon Valley office that opened in 2011. Kobialka, whose practice is primarily devoted to the tech space, brought patent infringement actions against Xerox and Ricoh relating to systems and methods covering various aspects of printers and/or copiers as well as their processes, performance and maintenance and workflow management. The firm’s celebrated false advertising and Lanham Act area, historically dominated by Harold Weinberger, has more recently seen Norman Simon taking on a leading role. Simon represented The Procter & Gamble and Company in several National Advertising Review Board actions, one concerning “non-toxic” labeling on Windex with Vinegar and once concerning labeling of “100% Natural,” “clinically proven to curb cravings,” and “helps you feel fuller longer” on Metamucil dietary supplements.
The firm’s securities practice is spearheaded by Sean Coffey, a lauded authority in the field, with a history on both the plaintiff and defense sides of the “v.” Coffey represents VimpleCom in a consolidated securities fraud class-action lawsuit relating to allegations that former VimpleCom officers participated in a conspiracy to bribe a government official in Uzbekistan between 2006 and 2012. Coffey also represented Burford Capital in a purported federal securities class-action suit alleging false statements concerning Burford’s performance. The plaintiff withdrew its complaint even before a motion to dismiss was filed. Peers also stress the prominence courtroom acumen of the firm’s bankruptcy practitioners, particularly Kenneth Eckstein. “Kramer Levin is a Tier 1 bankruptcy firm,” insists a fellow bankruptcy leader. “They are one of the few that actually litigate! Ken Eckstein sure has a lot of teeth.” Eckstein is leading the charge for Purdue Pharma as lead bankruptcy counsel to represent the Ad Hoc Committee of 10 states’ attorneys general, six municipalities, the Plaintiffs Executive Committee in the multidistrict litigation and a federally recognized Native American Tribe. Eckstein also successfully represented Bluestem Group, the non-debtor parent company and largest unsecured creditor of retailer Bluestem Brands in connection with Bluestem Brands’ bankruptcy filing in the District of Delaware in March 2020.
Kramer Levin is also home to a prized white-collar crime group, of which Barry Berke is an undisputed leading presence. Berke was recently thrust into the limelight when he was called into service as special counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives in connection with its investigation and impeachment proceedings of Donald Trump, and as of February 2020 Berke returned to Kramer Levin with newly burnished credentials. Not that he needed them; even before this engagement, Berke has been routinely identified by peers as “absolutely one of the best,” with one elaborating, “Especially at his age point, he has some of the best experience you could ask for and credibility beyond question.” Clients agree; one calls Berke “a counselor, a litigator, and a strategist,” and goes on to assert, “No one is better.” While Berke’s profile in the community is undisputed, others in this group are making their mark. Paul Schoeman acted with Berke in representing Michael Cohen, formerly of Och-Ziff, in a criminal prosecution on charges relating to allegedly corrupt investments in Africa. Schoeman also represented Stephen Calk in a criminal prosecution in the Southern District of New York on charges arising from $16 million in loans made by Calk’s bank to Paul Manafort. Dani James is acting with Berke in representing Theodore Huber, a partner and analyst at Deerfield Management, in parallel actions brought by the US Attorney’s Office in the SDNY and the Securities Exchange Commission arising from Huber’s trading based on purportedly confidential government information relating to Medicare reimbursement for healthcare services. A newly listed star in this edition of Benchmark, Daniel Goldman, who typically operates in the securities and antitrust capacities, is representing funds managed by EIG Global Energy Partners in a $660 million RICO suit filed in New York federal court against Keppel Offshore & Marine. The suit was filed over Keppel’s role in the Petrobras Brazilian bribery scheme, in which Keppel reached a $422 million criminal FCPA settlement with US prosecutors.
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel maintains a labor and employment practice that has a particular specialty in handling complex and sensitive single-plaintiff employment disputes. The practice maintains a long list of high-profile clients that require litigators with deep experience in court and in handling media and public attention.
Kevin Leblang leads many of the most publicly litigated employment disputes. He is currently representing CBS in a dispute that has garnered press coverage. The action was filed by a former CEO of the company, Leslie Moonves, who has alleged claims of defamation and breach of contract following their termination. The firm is well-known for handling employment disputes for clients in banking and finance. Leblang is representing Morgan Stanley in a federal court action arising from a former employee who is alleging discrimination based on military status and race.
Robert Holtzman’s employment practice focuses on resolving disputes between high-ranking employees and employers. His courtroom expertise goes beyond the bounds of New York; Holtzman recently settled a non-compete and non-solicitation dispute that involved actions in New Jersey, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
Eliza Kaiser maintains an active employment litigation practice representing industry-leading companies through disputes with employees. She has represented Sirius XM in multiple disability discrimination cases that arose out of the companies’ transaction with Pandora. One matter resulted in a favorable settlement for the client. In the second matter, Kaiser has filed a motion for summary judgment following several favorable court decisions.