Susman Godfrey

United States (National)

Review

Dispute resolution

Historically known as an “old-line Houston firm,” Susman Godfrey has, within a relatively short period of time, reinvented itself as a litigation juggernaut with national ambitions, which it has fulfilled through its offices in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. These offices, while newer, have quickly become key players in their respective markets due to them each being populated by high-level trial talent juggling a hybrid of plaintiff and defense commercial, antitrust, securities and intellectual property litigation with exceptionally high stakes. Susman is universally revered for its dedication to a prized culture – developed and fostered by founding partner and (since-deceased) trial lawyer extraordinaire Steve Susman – that grooms the “elite corps” of litigation. Eschewing market trends, the firm marches to the beat of its own drum. “Susman is an unusual firm, maybe a unicorn! I’m not sure that there’s another firm operating the way they do. They are the best of breed in so many ways.” A source within the firm confirms that its multi-pronged practice is booming to the point where further growth expected to absorb all the work, but in a measured fashion. “We don’t just hire the cream of the crop, we hire the cream of the cream! We don’t hire people out of judicial clerkships that would be the Top 5 draft picks at other firms.”
     Bill Carmody, domiciled in New York but universally recognized and nationally hired, receives unanimous support as a trial lawyer. “Bill Carmody is the real deal,” insists one peer. “He is pretty creative and gets success fees even on the defense side.” Carmody led a team that was co-lead counsel to some of the largest political subdivisions in California— including the University of California system, the California State University System, and the County of Los Angeles—in a ground-breaking California False Claims Act lawsuit against wireless carriers. The carriers were alleged to have fraudulently overbilled the government for wireless services by failing to provide contractually required “lowest cost available” service by means of “optimization reports.” The Susman team was also co-lead counsel to the whistleblower who initiated these lawsuits. Settlements were announced in June 2020 in which four telecommunications giants will pay a combined total of $138 million to the government plaintiffs in California and Nevada. Carmody also led a team that was co-lead counsel to Adam Neumann—the founder of WeWork—in his billion-dollar lawsuit against SoftBank Group and SoftBank Vision Fund resulting from SoftBank’s failure to pay Neumann as agreed by contract after his ouster from the company. The case settled in 2021 on confidential terms. Carmody also works with Los Angeles stalwart Marc Seltzer in lead a Susman team that serves as court-appointed co-lead counsel in this consolidated antitrust proceeding arising out of the LIBOR-rate fixing scandal. Notably, the class was certified by the court—which was the only one of several proposed classes to receive certification. So far settlement recoveries from four of the 16 defendants in the case amount to more than $590 million. Another top trial lawyer within the firm, Houston-based Neal Manne triumphed on behalf of a man who, in 2005, was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death, despite having a plausible alibi that was proven via telephone records that were obtained, and then hidden, by prosecutors. The client spent more than 12 years in prison before his habeas petition was granted, his conviction reversed, and all charges against him were dismissed. Manne represented the client in his efforts to win compensation from the state of Texas for his wrongful incarceration, litigating the issue to the Texas Supreme Court, which in December 2020, unanimously ruled that the client was entitled to compensation. New York’s Jacob Buchdahl receives accolades as a “thoughtful” litigator by one peer, who confirms, “I send him work all the time.” Buchdahl acted pro bono on a matter in which he secured a motion to dismiss all claims for New York University Law Review against FASORP, a Texas-based organization that alleged the university discriminates against white men. Another routinely championed partner, Los Angeles’s Kalpana Srinivasan served as counsel to Sol IP in an action asserting key standard essential LTE and WiFi patents against the major telecommunications carriers Sprint, AT&T and Verizon. Sol IP received a favorable Markman order in 2019. The case settled in 2020 a month before trial. At the future star level, Los Angeles’s Meng Xi is cheered by a peer as “a technical patent star,” who goes on to extrapolate, “I wanted to hire her at my previous firm! She is a Stanford undergrad, educated at Berkeley Law School, who clerked on the Federal Circuit Court. She is legit, she’ll be at the top of the game in another 10 or 15 years max.”
     In the firm’s Seattle office, Parker Folse, another all-purpose commercial litigator, remains a revered presence, who generates plaudits from peers well outside the city. “Oh man, this guy is just ‘King Cool,’” quips one peer. “Great lawyer – has the skills and the polish. He is so good that they basically set up the Seattle office of the firm just to accommodate him when he decided to relocate there. How cool is that? That’s how you know you’re good.” Folse defended Expedia in a breach of contract and trade secret misappropriation case. After the plaintiff filed suit in Utah, the team successfully achieved a complete stay of that litigation and moved the claims to arbitration. Peers also advise, “Also look more into [Houston-based all-purpose commercial trial lawyer] Geoffrey Harrison – he’s the guy with the Grateful Dead T-shirt in every picture! Have you seen it? Look it up, it’s incredible. He’s the only lawyer I know doing this!” Harrison acts on a team that is co-lead counsel to over 20 companies in their allegations that the four largest US railroad companies violated US antitrust laws, conspired to fix the price of rail freight services through coordinated fuel surcharges and caused the companies to pay billions of dollars more for rail shipments than they would have paid in a competitive market.