Weil Gotshal & Manges

New York

Review

Dispute resolution

Weil Gotshal & Manges enjoys a reputation as a firm whose litigation bench is one of the most comprehensive in terms of practice depth. “They have all the bases covered,” confirms a peer. “A nice wide spectrum. And they have the depth and breadth in their personnel to cover it.” The firm’s national reach is spread among offices on the East Coast in New York and DC, throughout several locations in California, two locations in Texas, one in Boston and a location in Miami. Its practice area portfolio also covers a lot of ground, with product liability, bankruptcy, antitrust, commercial, intellectual property, securities and white-collar crime all playing prominent positions in the overall composition of the firm’s litigation service offerings. Going from strength to strength, the firm recently amplified its star power in DC, adding all-purpose commercial litigator Drew Tulumello to its bench from Gibson Dunn. Tulumello, a respected player in the field, joined Weil in June 2021 as the firm’s new commercial litigation co-head. 
     New York-based litigation co-chair David Lender is another all-purpose commercial trial lawyer that seems to be on the radar of many peers, all of whom view him favorably. “I’m seeing just a ton of him,” confirms one peer. “He’s a great lawyer and person, and it’s no surprise for me to see him continue to skyrocket. Lender was part of a team (which also included Gregory Silbert and Eric Hoschstadt, two other New York star players) that triumphed for C&S Wholesale Grocers as lead trial counsel in a significant antitrust class action after the court granted plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Plaintiffs, encompassing more than 300 retail grocers alleged that the New England-based C&S and a Midwest-based competitor entered into a conspiracy to allocate the New England and Midwest territories between themselves for a period of five years, resulting in inflated grocery prices. The other defendant settled before trial. At the 2018 trial, the jury returned a complete defense verdictAfter winding its way through appeals stages, the case was finally laid to rest when, in December 2020, the Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition for certiorariSilbert meanwhile did appear at the Supreme Court, where he successfully argued an appeal on behalf of Hungary and the Hungarian State Railways in a case testing the reach of U.S. jurisprudence over foreign sovereigns. Silbert sought to resolve a circuit split between the Seventh and DC Circuit Courts of Appeal involving the question of whether the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act’s treaty exception precludes US jurisdiction in two disputes surrounding efforts to seek recovery for misconduct occurring in Hungary during World War II. In February 2021, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court vacated the DC Circuit decision and remanded the case. 
     Another unanimously revered New York-based trial lawyer, one with a noted securities and white-collar and enforcement focus, Jonathan Polkes has been particularly active of late as well. Polkes and Silbert secured a complete victory for global insurance broker Willis Towers Watson when the Fifth Circuit affirmed a crucial $120 million settlement resolving allegations that legacy Willis (pre-dating its 2016 merger with Towers Watson) fraudulently induced investments in the R. Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme – the second biggest Ponzi scheme in history after Madoff. In June 2020, plaintiffs filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court requesting that the Court review the Fifth Circuit’s decision. The Supreme Court denied this petition in December 2020. In May 2020, Weil team including PolkesSarah Coyne (a recent future star recruit from Debevoise & Plimpton), Christopher Garcia and Caroline Zalka resolved an SEC investigation into claims that from 2012 to 2017, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney was negligent in not offering complete information about the actual cost for trades and transactions to clients who had “wrap-fee” accounts. Also in May 2020, Polkes and Zalka scored a resounding victory on behalf of Carlyle Group. The billion-dollar litigation in Delaware Chancery Court arose out of a proposed purchase of a stake in AmEx Global Business Travel by a Carlyle-led group from a group of current shareholders. In the wake of COVID-19, the AmEx travel division experienced significant losses and became a much less-attractive investment, so Carlyle invoked a material adverse effect (MAE) clause to abandon the deal, triggering the suit from the selling shareholders. The Weil team argued by telephone to convince the court to deny the sellers’ motion for an expedited trial that sought to force Carlyle to close, and to clarify whether the deal contract permitted an MAE based on the pandemic. Yet another New York trial star, product liability and commercial luminary Diane Sullivanacted with Lender representing Exxon in connection with a lawsuit filed against it by BP Products North America claiming that Exxon Mobil is obligated to indemnify BP in connection with a settlement agreement between the parties, related to defending against third-party environmental contamination lawsuits, and seeks damages for alleged breach. Peers also voice support for Adam Hemlock, whose practice is antitrust-focused and uniquely encompasses both criminal and civil elements.With big firm lawyers, it can often be like lemmings off a cliff, but not with Adam,” observes a peer. “He does his own thing and it works, [it’s] impressive.” Hemlock represents Torrent Pharma, a generic drugs manufacturer, in defense of multiple antitrust class and direct actions in a consolidated multi-district litigation in which plaintiffs allege that Torrent conspired with other generic drug makers to fix prices and allocate markets. 
     Intellectual property is another area in which Weil has seen a steady ascent, with twin pillars of star power on both coastsElizabeth Weiswasser in New York and Edward Reines in Silicon Valley. Both are co-heads of the firm’s national patent litigation practice. Weiswasser won a critically important victory before the ITC for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals when competitor Novartis withdrew its patent infringement case seeking to prevent Regeneron from selling a novel biologic to treat macular degeneration and other serious eye diseases. Reines meanwhile boasts a streak of impressive wins for biotech innovator Illumina.