Historically recognized and revered as one of the largest and most comprehensive global players in the corporate and transactional capacity (a position it still enjoys), Latham & Watkins has also proven itself to be an equally dominant presence on the litigation stage. “Latham has always been a litigation powerhouse,” sums up one peer. “This might not have been mentioned as much before because their corporate practice is so celebrated, but it was always had a deep and broad litigation team, with some serious star players. And they just seem to keep getting more of them!” The firm’s expansive US footprint covers a host of major markets, all staffed with partners deemed as “top class” in practices spanning antitrust, white-collar crime, securities, M&A litigation, intellectual property and even more niche practices like environmental law (an area the firm is said to have a higher-than-average concentration in compared to other firms its size.)
While it is enjoying what peers acknowledge as “a real moment” across several practice areas, Latham has been notably “on a tear” in the IP capacity. Further amplifying what is already considered one of the strongest patent litigation groups in the country, the firm added Anthony Sammi, formerly the head of IP litigation of Skadden, to its New York bench in August 2021. Sammi adds balance to the firm’s presence on the East Coast, coming hot on the heels of several key augmentations to the DC-based IP team last year, when Latham lured IP partner Adam Perlman and all-purpose commercial litigator Nicholas Boyle, both from Williams & Connolly. Perlman, a patent trial lawyer who is said to have “probably made a living beating another top IP firm in ANDA cases,” augments an already highly successful build-out in the IP area. Boyle meanwhile attends to a niche in trade secrets. “These are great hires,” offers a peer. “Williams & Connolly breeds stellar litigators and it’s not a firm people just walk away from for just anything, so clearly Latham had the ‘mojo’ to attract these two. They are both fairly young too, which is an added bonus.”
Also in DC, Andrew Clubok is the co-chair of the firm’s securities practice and is unanimously revered as “very skilled and very successful” by peers in this capacity. Clubok led a team that secured a $1 billion judgment in January 2020 on behalf of UBS Securities in a long-running contract dispute against bankrupt hedge fund manager Highland Capital Management, which dates back to the early days of the financial crisis. Elizabeth Deeley, who resides in the firm’s San Francisco office, was also part of the team on this matter. Other luminaries in the securities space include New York’s Jamie Wine and James Brandt. A peer at another of New York’s top securities firms confides, “Jamie was against me in a case, and she has a really nice demeanor. [She is] not super-aggressive, which gives her a lot of credibility.” Wine scored a June 2020 win for information technology entity DXC Technology when Virginia federal judge dismissed a $2 billion proposed securities class action accusing the client and its executives of making misleading statements about revenues, causing its stock to drop by up to 16%. Another peer testifies, “I’ve been working with Jimmy Brandt a lot, and it’s rewarding to work with someone who’s been around along as he has. He’s seen everything!” Fellow securities leader and global chair of the firm’s litigation and trial department, Michele Johnson in the Orange County, California office lays claim to a win for Puma Biotechnology in a rare securities class-action case to actually wind up at trial in a literal “bet-the-company” matter. Johnson and her team managed to whittle down initial claims of $1.1 billion to just a fraction of those costs. More recently, Johnson scored a motion to dismiss in a substantial securities case for Twitter, which was argued remotely. The case involved Twitter’s mobile application software that had a bug in it that allegedly shared too much data with advertisers. The case was brought by plaintiffs in the wake of a revenue drop following Twitter’s public apology, with the allegations being that Twitter was aware of the glitch and thus could have quantified the impact. Another securities star, San Francisco’s Peter Wald is heralded as “a national level securities lawyer.” Among his notable victories, Wald scored an August 2021 win in a fraud case, valued at $400 million, on behalf of NextGen Healthcare and several of its officers. The claim was initiated by a shareholder who alleged he was planning to sell his shares but changed his mind and held them in reliance on false statements made by the defendants. Johnson and Wald make their debut appearances on this year’s prestigious “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” list.
In Chicago, Sean Berkowitz is a near-unanimous recipient of acclaim in the white-collar field. “Sean has long been known as one of the best,” confirms a peer. “He is one of those white-collar people who would actually try a case!” A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Berkowitz also manages a robust commercial litigation practice, is the global chair of the commercial litigation practice, and just completed a five-year stint as the global head of the litigation and trial practice. Latham’s antitrust practice is also considered “premier league,” with Daniel Wall in the firm’s San Francisco office pointed to as a noted standout. Wall has represented a “who’s who” of industry-leading clients, including Apple, American Airlines, LiveNation and Genentech, to name a few, in investigations, class-action litigation and trials. Also in this office, Christopher Yates is said to have “really made a name for himself in the antitrust and sports areas.” A San Francisco future star partner, Melanie Blunschi is emerging as a star in the class-actions capacity. “We are seeing her name come up a bit,” confirms one opponent. “She’s been up against us a bit.”