United States (National)

Review

Dispute resolution
Akerman

Ackerman has a comprehensive network of offices along the East Coast ranging from its focal point in the Southeast region, where it remains one of the dominant forces in the litigation market, to New York and the Northeast. The firm’s principal areas of practice include commercial, labor and employment, appellate, and securities litigation.  

The firm’s Florida offices house many of its key litigators, including Tallahassee’s distinguished litigator Kathi Giddings who has been lead appellate lawyer working with Fort Lauderdale trial attorney Jonathan Robbins representing Florigrown, a local player and market-leader in the up-and-coming medical cannabis industry, against the Florida Department of Health and the Legislature. Giddings challenged the state’s efforts to subject all licensed medical marijuana businesses in the state to mandatory full vertical integration, which without the team’s lawsuit, would mean that eaclicensee is solely responsible for all aspects of the medical marijuana supply chain, from the time that it originates as a seed until the time it is sold or delivered to the patient, as well as the state’s imposition of a strict limit on the number of medical marijuana businesses operators in the state. This integration would effectively shut out new entrantsIn July 2019, Giddings secured a victory at Florida’s First District Court of Appeal which issued a decision upholding all key aspects of a temporary injunction. The state requested a review of the decision by Florida’s Supreme Court and it has recently heard two oral arguments on the matterMiami commercial litigator Michael Marsh recently secured a summary judgment win for Broken Sound Club at the Fourth District Court of Appeals. The country club originally sued a member for unpaid dues; however, the member filed counterclaims alleging that the client engaged in ultra vires acts when it changed its membership due structure and amended its Bylaws. Marsh obtained a summary judgment decision in the client’s favor on both the counterclaims and the claims regarding the member’s unpaid dues. The member filed an appeal, and the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s decision, agreeing that the client acted in good faith in amending the membership due structure and the club’s Bylaws. Jacksonville’s Christian George and Miami’s Brian Millehave been representing financial institutions. George defended South State Bank in a class action lawsuit filed by plaintiffs alleging that the financial institutions failed to properly pay agent fees under the Paycheck Protection Program and its implementing regulations. Miller obtained an early dismissal of claims against the client  

The New York office expanded its bench with the addition of Craig Weiner who came from Robins Kaplan in February of this year. Weiner recently represented Agency Within LLC, Joseph Yakuel, and Get Things Done LLC in a matter regarding Andrew Gluck’s repurchase of minority interest in Agency Within. Prior to litigation, the parties contracted for a final and binding appraisal of the opposition’s shares, which was completed by an accounting firm. Gluck then challenged the appraisal in an arbitration that awarded him a higher appraisal of his shares. Weiner moved to vacate the arbitrator’s award as the original final and binding appraisal was contracted by an accounting firm. The New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of the client, agreeing that due to the specific appraisal clause, the arbitrator does not have jurisdiction when reconsidering or adjusting an appraisal. The arbitrator’s award was vacated in part and the matter is to be decided by an accounting firm pursuant to the agreement.  

Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider

Operating out of New York; D.C.; San Francisco; and Hartford, Connecticut, Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider dedicates the talent of its litigators largely to intellectual property and antitrust disputes. The team has led clients through trial proceedings and other manners of dispute resolution in a diversity of industries, including pharmaceutical, technology, biotech, medical device, diagnostics, and consumer products companies 
     Managing partner Matthew “Matt” Becker of Hartford boasts over 25 years of experience representing clients in intellectual property disputes largely relating to the chemical and electrical arts. Specifically, Becker often guides his clients, numerous of international, industrial prestige, in matters including patent infringement, trade secret litigation, patent inventorship and ownership disputes, breach of contract and business torts, as well as breach of license agreements. Becker currently co-leads the firm in the regard of its representation of Norwich Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of multinational conglomerate Procter & Gamble, in a patent infringement dispute with its rival, Salix Pharmaceuticals, arising from allegations that the client has infringed upon 23 patents held by Salix in its attempts to develop a generic alternative to the competitor’s irritable bowel syndrome and hepatic encephalopathy medication, Xifaxan, which sees over $1.3 billion in sales annually. Joining Becker as co-lead in Norwich is Chad Landmon, who serves dually in the roles of chair of the firm’s intellectual property and its Food & Drug Administration litigation practice groups. Hailing, too, from the firm’s Hartford office, Landmon’s practice focuses chiefly on life sciences disputes. California’s Jeannine Sano has generated her own accolades, and thus heightened attention on the firm’s West Coast operations, through a range of patent dispute work (some of it confidential) largely devoted to the tech industry. Axinn’s strength in litigation matters outside of IP is also increasingly on display. Tom Rohback, a New York- and Connecticut-based trial lawyer, is representing Reed Smith in a malpractice case brought by the rapper Curtis James Jackson, III (a.k.a. “50 Cent”), arising from a high-profile, multimillion-dollar New York jury verdict against "Fitty” for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and violation of New York’s Civil Rights Law based on his posting of a private sex tape video which was edited to include commentary by 50 Cent. Claiming that he was forced to file for bankruptcy because of the jury’s verdict, 50 Cent objected to Reed Smith’s fee petition and filed claims of malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty under New York law against Reed Smith in federal bankruptcy court in Connecticut. In 2019, Rohback and his team secured dismissal of virtually all of 50 Cent’s legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty claims. The court substantially limited 50 Cent’s sole remaining claim, requiring 50 Cent to prove Reed Smith’s alleged failure to develop the testimony of three witnesses who were not called at trial caused the damages he allegedly suffered. Rohback presented oral argument for summary judgment in April 2021. 

Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg

Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg is a Chicago-based firm equipped with a team of more than 30 trial lawyers. The team actively represents some of the largest corporations and institutions at both the local and national level. “Barack Ferrazzano is an exceptional litigation firm whose attorneys are skilled litigators. I have consistently found someone at the firm with the experience that I need and the skill set to handle my dispute/issue. Not only are the attorney’s top-notch, but I have also found all of them to be nice people as well,” voices a client. 

Roger Stetson serves as practice chair of the firm’s commercial litigation group, as well as a partner of within the commercial competition, real estate, financial institutions, and manufacturing, distribution and franchising groups. Stetson’s recent expertise includes defending GreatBanc Trust Company in a putative class action brought by eight individuals, most of whom sold stock in EYP in 2015 and 2016 in exchange for promissory notes. The plaintiffs allege that GreatBanc conspired with certain EYP directors and the equity firm Long Point to overvalue EYP’s stock in connection with the 2016 Employee Stock Ownership Plan transaction. This matter represents over $20 million in exposure to the defendants in an action before the District Court for the Southern District of New York. Assisting on the matter is future star and highly regarded litigator Nicholas CallahanOne peer declares, “Nick Callahan at Barack Ferrazzano – [has] really proven himself in real estate cases and structured finance.” Callahan also advocates alongside Stetson in another recent putative class action brought by a member of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) who alleges that GreatBanc, as trustee of the ESOP, violated ERISA by allowing the ESOP to overpay for EYP’s stock in the 2016 transaction that created the ESOP, thereby harming members of the ESOP, who are the putative class members. Callahan, who splits his time between the Chicago and Minneapolis offices of the firm, has garnered significant first-chair trial experience over the years. Seasoned litigator Robert Shapiro remains active in commercial, international property, retail, antitrust, and class action litigation. He is active on the team representing two of six defendants, Louis Vuitton and Loro Piana, in a putative class action that alleges the defendants entered into “no-hire agreements” with the purpose and effect of restraining competition and compensation in the purported market for luxury retail employees.  The matter is currently pending. 

Bartlit Beck

Bartlit Beck is celebrated among peers for forging a template of what many aspire to. One peer declares, “They set the standard for litigation boutiques in the US. Most people setting up litigation shops owe at least some debt to Bartlit Beck, whether they know it or not.” Ironically, the runaway success that the firm has experienced with its business model has caused it to outgrow its “boutique” status; the firm now has over 40 partners practicing in its offices in Chicago and Denver. “Yes, they’re like a boutique on steroids now,” sums up one peer. Clients are equally impressed. One commends the firm’s “outstanding trial prep and presentation of evidence and arguments,” while another cheers individual counsel at the firm as “incredibly responsive, practical and solution oriented.” 
     Few would argue that the firm’s most venerated figure remains Chicago trial icon Phil Beck, who boasts a decades-long series of appearances as lead counsel on precedent-setting cases in a wide variety of forums to his credit. “Phil is still ‘the man,’” confirms one peer, elaborating, “but the firm has done great in alleviating the ‘what’s after Phil Beck?’ question. They have groomed powerhouse people from top to bottom.” Rebecca Bacon, another frequent mention who enjoys her sixth consecutive appearance as one of Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation, was retained by FedEx Ground to serve as lead trial counsel in an action in the Western District of Pennsylvania brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC brought its action on behalf of over 300 hearing-impaired package handlers from across the country. They alleged that FedEx Ground violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to provide needed accommodations, such as American Sign Language interpretation and closed-captioned videos, to both deaf package handlers and deaf applicants for the package handler position. In addition to monetary relief, the EEOC sought a broad, nationwide injunction that would have significant impacts on FedEx Ground’s operations. Carefully crafted strategy led to the matter being settled favorably in May 2020 before any depositions were takenBacon also represents USG, a drywall manufacturer, and its former distribution company against Sherman Act and state price fixing claims related to its drywall business. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring to fix, raise, maintain, and stabilize prices for gypsum drywall. The case settled favorably in April 2021. Jeffrey Hall provided lead counsel for several investment funds in fraud actions in Circuit Court in Chicago arising from pharmaceutical giant AbbVie’s failed $50 billion acquisition of Shire in 2014. The fund clients, who invested in Shire and suffered substantial losses after AbbVie aborted its merger, filed this action in Cook County in 2016. Summary judgment briefing is ongoing. Sean Gallagher is lead trial counsel for Pratt & Whitney in environmental tort cases involving more than $1 billion in alleged property damage and personal injury claims arising out of the declaration of a “cancer cluster” by the Florida Department of Health in a neighborhood near Pratt & Whitney’s West Palm Beach facility. Over 20 individuals who claim to have cancer as a result of environmental exposures brought personal injury claims, alleging water and soil contamination with radionuclides and other contaminants. Several hundred property owners sued individually and on behalf of a putative class of many thousands of plaintiffs. The first of these cases is otherwise set for trial in January 2022. 

     The firm’s intellectual property prowess has been increasingly on display, and peers are taking notice, as one declares, Bartlit Beck are doing more patent litigation! We have a great deal of respect for their IP people.” Scott McBride is lead trial counsel for Bayer in Hatch-Waxman litigation against three generic drug makers in a case relating to Bayer’s soluble guanylate cyclase stimulator, riociguat, a drug used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, and marketed as Adempas. The case settled favorably after two days of trial in December 2020. In the product liability space, Kaspar Stoffelmayr serves as lead and coordinating counsel and trial counsel for Walgreens in nationwide litigation relating to the distribution and sale of prescription opioids, including a federal MDL in the Northern District of Ohio, related state court cases, and appellate proceedings. The litigation currently involves over 2,400 cases against Walgreens in which states, cities, counties, Indian tribes, and private parties assert claims against manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of prescription opioids. Stoffelmayr also acts as national counsel and lead trial counsel for Bayer in product liability litigation, including approximately 20,000 lawsuits and claims alleging that the oral contraceptives YAZ and Yasmin (and related products) carry an excessive risk of blood clots and other injuries. Various cases are currently at all stages of litigation, from early motion practice to discovery to trial-ready.   
     In the Denver office, Sean Grimsley is lead counsel for Arconic and its US subsidiary AAP in a case currently pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in which survivors and the estates of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire have brought product liability and wrongful death claims against various US companies regarding products used in or on the Grenfell Tower. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that the Reynobond PE cladding sold by Arconic’s French subsidiary for installation on the Grenfell Tower was defective and that the clients should be held strictly liable under Pennsylvania law for any damage caused by the cladding. Grimsley has filed various motions to dismiss, including for failure to state a claim and forum non conveniens. Grimsley also serves as national counsel for ConocoPhillips in a series of cases brought by states and municipalities across the US seeking damages and injunctive relief related to climate change from the sale and marketing of petroleum products.  

Berman Tabacco

Berman Tabacco has been referred to by peers as “one of the premier plaintiff shops.” One such peer, speaking to the San Francisco office where the majority of its litigation stars are housed, as “sort of the ‘Bernstein Litowitz of the West.’” While this comparison to one of the country’s other top securities class-action plaintiff shops is meant to be a flattering one, it is not entirely accurate, as Berman Tabacco also operates out of a Boston office. And while Berman is engaged in its fair share of securities class actions, its reach is broader and more diverse; one peer observes, “I’m actually seeing Berman Tabacco more in the antitrust space these days! They get in a decent amount of cases – I think they are a fourth lead in a Eurozone bonds case.” Lending weight to this claim, San Francisco’s Todd Seaver filed a class action in April 2020 accusing Juul and Altria of illegally monopolizing the market for electronic cigarettes in violation of federal antitrust laws, a result of Altria’s 2018 agreement to acquire 35% of Juul and subsequent exit from the e-cigarette market. This class action is one of several filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of a nationwide class of Juul purchasers, after the Federal Trade Commission in April filed an administrative complaint against both companies for violating federal antitrust laws through two agreements in 2018 and an amended agreement in 2020. Seaver also, in February 2019, filed the first complaint in what is now the consolidated action against over a dozen large US and international banks which serve as dealers of bonds issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Defendants were the largest players in the process that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used to issue these bonds, which gave defendants control over the supply of bonds ultimately available to investors.  Plaintiffs alleged that the defendant banks colluded on the price at which to offer bonds on the secondary market after they were declared “free to trade” post-syndication. The case was settled during discovery for a total amount of $386.5 million and the court granted final approval of the settlements in June 2020I work with Todd Seaver on the antitrust cases,” confirms one peer. “He’s got some good clients in that space.” Senior partner and firm namesake Joseph Tabacco also remains active in the antitrust spacemost notably on actions allege that several major automakers unlawfully conspired to stop the export of less expensive new Canadian vehicles from entering the United States. Although the federal action has ended, the California-related matter continues. To date, the firm has achieved settlements totaling over $55 million for class members in this case.   
     In the securities space, the firm is continuing to evolve and expand into areas, such as health, considered outside of its “usual” industries. The firm is also examining an increasing amount of opt-out opportunities for its clients, in addition to the class-action work. A peer notes, “They are getting fewer settlements, but they are getting bigger ones!” San Francisco’s Nicole Lavallee is cheered by a client for her “communication, strategy and expertise in the field.” A peer notes, “I’m seeing her on more securities fraud cases, making motions for lead plaintiff.” Lavalee and Boston-based future star Nathaniel Orenstein act on a derivative action involving AmerisourceBergen Corporation that was commenced following successful books and records litigation.  In 2017, Amerisource entered a guilty plea related to an alleged illegal Personal Finance Safety (PFS) scheme and has paid more than $875 million in penalties and fines to settle related civil and criminal claims. After a successful trial in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, the court held that facts discovered in the case were a proper purpose for shareholders to inspect Amerisource’s books and records. After review of the documents, the firm pair filed a derivative action with its co-counsel, alleging that certain of the company’s officers and directors breached their fiduciary duties to the company in connection with the PFS scheme.  
     Another Boston-based partner, Patrick Egan led a securities fraud class-action lawsuit against Sterling Bancorpcertain of its current and former officers and directors, and the underwriters for the company’s IPO. The case was brought on behalf of investors who purchased or otherwise acquired Sterling common stock during a specified class period, and investors who purchased or otherwise acquired Sterling common stock in, or traceable to, the company’s IPO, and the matter alleged that throughout the class period, defendants made misleading statements of material fact and failed to disclose material facts that ultimately led to its banner residential loan program being pulled, which coincided with a precipitous stock dropThe parties reached a $12.5 million settlement, which was approved by the court in April 2021.   

Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann

Bernstein Litowitz is an undisputed leader in the securities-focused plaintiff arena. Peers on both the same and opposite sides of the “v” offer plaudits and admiration on a near-unanimous basis. A plaintiff peer endorses the firm’s standing as “the cream of the crop,” while a defense-side peer quips, “I see more of Bernstein Litowitz than I would care to. But you can’t argue with their quality and their market share. In the 10-B(5) securities class action space, their results speak for themselves.” 

     Historically a New York-based institution position as “an attack dog for Wall Street,” the firm has also attended to a Delaware practice as well, a position that the firm cemented when it recently opened an office in Wilmington and installed recruit Greg Varallo to run it. Varallo, long known to the Delaware Chancery community as a defense lawyer at a Wilmington institution, raised eyebrows and had the legal market talking when he “flipped sides.” One peer observes, “Greg joining them was a very interesting development! He was at one of the classic white-shoe Delaware firms and then one day, hey-ho, you wake up and he’s a plaintiff with Bernstein. It was a bit of a head-scratcher but I’m sure they know what they’re doing, they both are great in their respective roles.” A local peer confirms, “Greg is well known and well-liked by everyone in the Chancery community. He’s got a certain charisma and credibility.” 
     In the New York flagship, Mark Lebovitch is also known for a Delaware element to his practice, which frequently involve derivative actions and often find him teaming up with Varallo“Mark and Greg are all over the place,” quips one peer in this space. “They’re like soulmates now, they sign every complaint together in Delaware. In a recent example of this tag-team approach, the pair took on a stockholder class action challenged a highly aggressive shareholder rights plan adopted by the board of directors of pipeline giant The Williams Companies in March 2020 at the outset of the COVID pandemic and the ensuing volatility in the energy marketsA three-day trial in this matter began in January 2021 and in February, the court issued a post-trial memorandum opinion declaring the plan unenforceable and permanently enjoining the continued operation of it due to the opinion that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties when adopting it due to a number of factors concerning the nature of the plan. It is also noted that Lebovitch “is all over the SPAC space, he is really trying to make name for himself there. He’s doing this in Delaware too!” Peers also note that one of the firm’s younger partners, Jeremy Robinson, “really has stepped forward as a true first-chair litigator.” One peer elaborates, “For someone at that age bracket at that firm to forge their own practice is very, very difficult. He is now the number two guy on their Facebook case that’s been pending – dealing with the effects of privacy matters on shareholders. He’s got the aggressive, front-facing style that Bernstein likes.” Robinson led a securities fraud class action that arose from the rapid decline and ultimate implosion of Adeptus, formerly the largest operator of freestanding emergency rooms in the US. The complaint asserted claims under the federal securities laws concerning misstatements made by Adeptus, its executives, underwriters, and the private equity fund that controlled the company that overstated the company’s profitability and concealed a number of serious strains on its liquidity. In May 2020, the court granted final approval of a $44 million settlement for the defrauded investors. A newly ranked partner this year, John Rizio-Hamilton led a securities fraud class action asserted claims on behalf of investors in diamond jeweler Signet arising from the company’s fraudulent course of conduct. The action alleged that, throughout the class period, Signet and its senior officers made a series of materially misleading statements and omissions about the strength of its in-house customer financing credit portfolio, and an alleged culture of severe sexual harassment at the company which, when made public, caused the company’s stock to drop precipitouslyIn March 2020, the parties disclosed that they reached a proposed settlement of $240 million, which was granted approved by the court in July. Another newly ranked partner, John Browne led a securities fraud class-action that asserted claims on behalf of investors in energy entity SCANA arising from false and misleading claims regarding construction on a failed multibillion-dollar nuclear power plant. IDecember 2019, the parties reached a settlement of $192.5 million which consisted of $160 million in cash and $32.5 million in freely tradeable stock from Dominion Energy, which acquired SCANA during the course of the litigation. The settlement was approved by the Court in July 2020. 

Blackwell Burke

Blackwell Burke is one of Minnesota’s premier litigation shops, one of the few in Minneapolis exclusively dedicated the disputes practice. The firm is the recipient of universal acclaim from all peers familiar with it and is equally cheered by its clients. One raves, Blackwell Burke takes the time to learn my company's business and is expert at synthesizing complex information into consistent and easily-communicable themes. The firm enlists confidence with my company's legal leadership team and does so at rates and under fee arrangements that work well with a law department's budget.” The firm is equally appreciated for less easily quantified aspects of its approach, particularly the diversity of its partner mix. “Blackwell Burke is comprised of a diverse bench, in terms of gender, sex, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicityand, most importantly, it provides significant responsibility and client contact to its diverse team members, testifies a client. 

     Few would argue with the contention that the firm’s center of gravity remains founding partner, CEO, chairman and all-purpose trial lawyer Jerry Blackwell. In addition to scoring a recent landmark win for locally based but globally recognized 3M in its “Bair Hugger” forced-air warming blanket product liability litigationin 2021 Blackwell was thrust onto the national stage as trial counsel during what could easily be considered as one of most controversial, widely broadcasted, closely watched and intensely debated cases of the past year, or even of recent times: that of the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with (and eventually convicted of) the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. This incident, and its aftermath, has become a flashpoint for a reassessment of racial and social justice worldwide, particularly as it pertains to policeBlackwell joined the prosecution team on a pro bono basis, delivering impassioned and critical arguments and earning near-universal applause for his efforts. It is also worth noting that this case comes hot on the heels of another milestone victory for racial justice – sadly, another one that came posthumously – in the securing of an acquittal for Max Mason, a black circus worker that was wrongly accused (and convicted) of rape of a white woman over 100 years ago. 
     Beyond its unquestioned dedication to social justice matters, the firm is also a noted champion in the product liability arena, with many appointments by clients that have become local industry brand names. Jamal Faleel was retained by pet food manufacturer Blue Buffalo as lead litigation counsel and trial counsel in a case in which the defendants, an ingredient supplier and an ingredient broker, engaged in a scheme to defraud Blue Buffalo and other premium pet food manufacturers by passing off readily available, cheaper, inferior ingredients for harder to find, more expensive, premium ingredients. As a result of the defendants’ illegal scheme, Blue Buffalo was sued by one of its chief competitors and faced seven consumer class-action lawsuits, claiming it falsely advertised its products as free of poultry by-product meals. Prior to Blackwell Burke’s involvement, Blue Buffalo paid almost $90 million in settlement amounts and attorney fees. The US federally prosecuted the civil defendants and several of their employees in six separate criminal cases, alleging that the defendants sold adulterated and mislabeled food ingredients. The defendants all pled guilty and were ordered to pay millions of dollars in criminal restitution to Blue Buffalo. Mary Young is defending a Fortune 500 packaged foods company in high-profile cases across the US in which the plaintiffs claim burns and other personal injuries resulting from alleged defects in cooking spray aerosol cans. In January 2020, Young won complete summary judgment in one case involving allegations of design defect and failure to warn. Mary is expert at managing her team to meet my needs,” confirms a client. She is highly responsive and is constantly looking for solutions that fit within her understanding of our risk profile. Geraldo “Jerry” Alcazar serves as national product liability counsel defending a Fortune 100 conglomerate’s fall-protection equipment, currently defending several cases in jurisdictions across the country. Alcazar also works with Blackwell in defending Delta Dental against a group of dental services providers across the nation who sued more than 50 Delta Dental members and entities and the Delta Dental Plans Association. Plaintiffs allege that the Delta Dental entities engaged in an unlawful market allocation conspiracy, a price-fixing conspiracy, and an unlawful revenue restriction conspiracy.  

 

Blank Rome

Over 75 years of honing the abilities of generations of talented litigators to their maximal potential and expanding into key jurisdictions have earned national law firm Blank Rome the well due distinction of being among the United States’ highest grossing firms. With 13 offices in the US and Shanghai, including locations in D.C., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, Chicago, and L.A, the crowning achievement of the firm’s litigation team is the prolificacy of its insurance recovery practice group. A notably rare trait among US based firms, the group does not represent insurers, but rather fully directs the trial-tested expertise of its 35 insurance litigators to representing insurance policyholders in disputes of all varieties involving insurers. The litigators of the insurance recovery group have been described by esteemed clients as having, “[A] very good understanding of the industry and good relationships with other lawyers and insurance professionals.” 

Serving as chair of the insurance recovery practice, James “Jim” Murray is, in addition to playing the role of being one of the firm’s most vital leaders, among the nation’s most skilled insurance litigators with extensive experience representing policyholders in widely spectated sexual abuse liability disputes. In fact, it is in no small part due to Murray’s leadership and high-level familiarity with the insurance industry that the firm has cemented its preeminence in the sexual abuse liability space, having recovered over $1 billion for policyholders in related disputes. Among Murray’s current matters, he co-leads the firm as it serves as lead insurance coverage counsel to six of the eight Catholic Dioceses of New York State, including the Archdiocese, in liability proceedings arising from allegations of long-standing sexual abuse of minors on the part of multiple individuals among the dioceses’ priests and negligent hiring and supervision of the alleged perpetrators.  

Linda Kornfeld of Blank Rome’s Los Angeles office is also a key member of the firm’s leadership and contributes her erudite mastery of cutting-edge corporate crisis and coverage law in her role as vice chair of the firm’s insurance recovery practice. In addition to her regular representation of global powerhouses of numerous industry sectors in highly sensitive insurance disputes, Kornfeld is among those spearheading the firm’s representation of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles in a business interruption dispute arising from allegations on the part of the client that its property insurer, Factory Mutual Insurance, wrongfully denied it coverage following the team’s massive, COVID-19-related, financial losses. Kornfeld, along with fellow litigation star John Heintz, is also a founding member of the firm’s recently formed severe weather emergency recovery team which works with policy holders in navigating the ramifications of historically intense wildfire and hurricane seasons.  

Further fortifying the remarkably capable team of the firm’s litigators are Grant PalmerMary Craig CalkinsJohn Gibbons and Barry Levine. 

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings

Headquartered in Birmingham, Bradley has emerged as a dominant player in the legal services industry in the Southeast, boasting an ever-expanding network of offices throughout the region (in Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and Washington, DC, as well as its native Alabama.) The firm has doubled down on its surge into Texas as well; most recently the firm lured a celebrated local “trial lawyer extraordinaire,” Richard “Dick” Sayles, to the firm’s Dallas office. Sayles, an all-purpose commercial litigator who once headed his own litigation boutique, Sayles Werbner, is viewed by all as a particularly auspicious addition. “With that hire, Bradley certainly made a splash in Texas,” testifies one local peer. “That is basically kicking the doors open, yelling ‘Hey Dallas, we’re here!’ Dick Sayles was one of those people who owned the city when I was a young local lawyer, and he continues to do amazing things.” As a bonus, the firm also scored Sayles’ son, Robert Sayles, a noted future star. The elder Sayles is representing JPMorgan Chase in a $220 million qui tam action arising out of mortgage modification program.
     In the firm’s flagship Birmingham office, Mike Pennington is lead counsel defending Ocwen and PHH in four class action and over a dozen individual cases alleging that convenience fees charged for use of optional same-day telephone and online payment and processing methods violate the FDCPA and various state laws. The cases are pending in Florida, California and New Jersey. A prior similar class action in Alabama was settled and received final approval in 2019. Pennington was also, along with Scott Smith and Leigh Anne Hodge, retained as ERISA class-action counsel to defend BBVA against challenges to its 401(k) defined contribution plan. The lawsuit putatively covers all participants in the BBVA 401(k) plan nationwide and seeks over $40 million in damages. Specifically, the suit claims BBVA violated its fiduciary duties to plan participants by including a money market fund in its plan and by failing to control the costs and expenses of several actively managed mutual funds and target date funds in the plan. Beyond commercial litigation, “Bradley’s life sciences team is nationally known,” according to a peer. Tripp Haston, Kim Martin and Lindsey Boney have represented Bayer in multiple Xarelto litigation matters. A mass tort litigation recently settled for $775 million in the aggregate, after six bellwether trials, all of which were defense wins. Seasoned partner David Hymer is noted for his nationwide representation of CVS in the opioid litigation. In the Montgomery, Alabama office, Charles “Chuck” Stewart has an ongoing relationship with Textron and is representing this client in a case filed by a plaintiff that was rendered crippled by a golf cart.
      In the firm’s Nashville office, Lela Hollabaugh serves as Tennessee counsel for Amazon.com, in a $30 million product liability litigation against it arising from the sale of hoverboards by third-party sellers on the Amazon Marketplace. The allegations in the complaint seek to hold Amazon liable as a seller of the products that are sold by others on its Marketplace.

Cahill Gordon & Reindel

Cahill Gordon & Reindel remains a favorite with its stable of loyal long-time clients, which include global cornerstones of the financial industry, as well as embattled individuals who turn to Cahill practitioners for counsel but probably hope to never see the firm (or any litigator) again. One of Cahill’s clients voices appreciation for the “comprehensive advice, with excellent strategic game plan” that the firm has become known for. Cahill is best known for its concentration in the commercial, securities, antitrust and white-collar crime capacities.
     Operating from both the firm’s New York flagship as well as its DC location, Brad Bondi has become known as a trusted advocate for white-collar and securities enforcement matters. Bondi leads a team that 
is representing five large hospital funds as plaintiffs in connection with potential claims against Allianz Global Investors arising from the catastrophic implosion of Allianz’s Structured Alpha investment products. The allegations concern violation of federal securities laws and state common law claims. Total losses claimed exceed $10 billion. Bondi also represents former a KPMG senior partner and executive who is charged, along with four others, in a high-profile case with wire fraud and other offenses relating to the misappropriation by the defendants of confidential inspection information from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. “Over the years I have some to know Brad well and have trusted him on several important projects,” testifies a peer. Bondi is not the only partner in this group earning acclaim; Nola Heller represents a former asset manager who is charged for her alleged role in a $63 million scheme to place fraudulent bonds in discretionary client accounts. In March 2020, Heller served as lead trial counsel in a four-day evidentiary hearing regarding the client’s motion to withdraw her guilty plea. The response is also strong for Anirudh Bansal, a younger partner who is making a swift ascent. “I think Anirudh is first-rate,” opines a peer. “He was a junior to [celebrated former Cahill partner] David Kelley so he got excellent training and then had big shoes to fill, which he did. He stepped up in a big way, and I expect you’ll see more of him.”
     In the commercial capacity, Tammy Roy is another younger partner making a rapid rise. A client addresses Roy as “a rock star” who “[has] command of facts without getting lost in details. [She has a] bright future.” Roy has taken the lead on several notable engagements as of late. She represents S&P Global in five related actions alleging that S&P made reckless misrepresentations in connection with the rating of a life settlement securitization. In March 2019, several claims were dismissed but others were allowed to proceed and are now in discovery. Roy also represented UBS in connection with a defamation claim filed by a former UBS employee-turned-whistleblower after UBS publicly refuted the plaintiff’s claims, which were published in a book, regarding the details of his role in a tax-evasion scheme allegedly implicitly endorsed by UBS. UBS also denounced the plaintiff and highlighted lapses of credibility in his story. 
The parties settled the matter in September 2020. Roy also represented UBS Financial Services in a putative class action filed in the Southern District of New York in October 2020.  The named plaintiff sought to represent an alleged class of US citizens living abroad who she claimed had their UBS investment accounts frozen, converted to cash or closed without timely notification. At a pre-motion conference that was filed for in January 2021 in anticipation of UBS’s motion to dismiss, the plaintiff conceded that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and subsequently filed a stipulation of voluntary dismissal of all claims.
     Cahill has long serviced Credit Suisse in cases straddling an intersection of securities and antitrust issues. Joel Kurtzberg, a recent addition to Benchmark’s litigation stars, has proven his mettle in having taken the lead on several of these matters. “Get Joel on your radar,” advises a peer. “He has earned it.” The team also includes long-time stars Herb Washer and Elai Katz, the latter known primarily for his antitrust acumen and the former frequently pivoting between securities, antitrust and commercial cases. “Elai is an antitrust secret weapon,” confides a peer. “He comes on like a bit of a street fighter, but you can tell by his writing – and he does a lot of it – that he is really studious and geeks out on this stuff.” Washer is said to be able to “do it all, while all the while being one of the more pleasant and well-spoken litigators you’ll encounter.” Others servicing Credit Suisse in various capacities include Sheila Ramesh and future star Jason Hall, as well as David Januszewski, a seasoned partner who receives near-universal acclaim from peers in the market. “David is fantastic, he should get national recognition,” insists a peer. Beyond his work for Credit Suisse, Januszewski also acts for Deutsche Bank. On behalf of this institution, Januszewski led a team (including Ramesh) that 
litigated a six-day bench trial in Connecticut seeking to enforce a judgment, secured by the bank in a UK court in 2013, against Alexander Vik and his offshore investment entity Sebastian Holdings, seeking to hold Vik liable personally as the Sebastian Holdings’ alter ego in Connecticut. Januszewski also prevailed on behalf of Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, securing a July 2020 dismissal in the Northern District of Illinois for a suit filed in March of that year in which plaintiffs filed their complaint against the bank, asserting claims for negligence, conversion, and contribution in connection with the transfer of securities alleged to have been funneled among various entities as part of a third-party’s long-running Ponzi scheme.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton stands out for its impressive global footprint – one of the most expansive in “big law,” with more offices located outside the US than within. Proudly bold in its international aspirations, its domestic-domiciled practitioners in New York and DC routinely attend to matters that cross borders. One peer offers in summation, “Cleary has distinguished itself by being more than just a group of servicers of the standard Wall Street crowd, even though their [New York] office is right there [in the Financial District.]” The firm excels in antitrust, white-collar and investigations work, securities, bankruptcy, commercial and even some intellectual property, and, unsurprisingly, it is also known as being one of the dominant forces in the international arbitration arena.   
     Cleary’s antitrust capacity benefited from the March 2020 recruit of Bruce Hoffman, a former leader of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, to its DC group. While this hire is viewed as significant benefit by a pronounced group of peers, one speculates, “It’s not like they needed any additional boost. That is already one of the strongest antitrust groups in the country.” A DC-based Cleary antitrust team scored a landmark win when secured federal merger clearance and won an unprecedented multistate lawsuit brought by 17 Attorneys General as lead antitrust counsel to T-Mobile and parent company Deutsche Telekom in connection with T-Mobile’s historic merger with Sprint Corporation. A peer marvels, “They wonto everyone’s surprise! The conventional wisdom in the press was that they were going to lose. There were betting pools that they were going to lose.” Peer praise is particularly strong for lead counsel Mark NelsonOne enthuses, I saw him cross-examining an engineer on the other side and Mark ripped him apart! The guy was literally babbling by the end, he was flustered!” The team also included antitrust authorities David GelfandJeremy Calsyn and George Cary. The latter is a perennial favorite among fellow antitrust practitioners. “He is just a master and has unquestioned credibility with the bench and the bar,” sums up one peer, who goes on to insist, “but he is not the only one doing great things there. George has a great team working with him. Leah Brannon for instance has really come up.” Cary and Brannon represent Keurig in massive multiparty monopolization litigation in the Southern District of New York. The litigation involves five complaints brought against Keurig by two individual competitors, two purported classes (direct and indirect purchasers), and an individual purchaser. Among other allegations, these cases allege that Keurig has unlawfully monopolized a market for Keurig-compatible single-serve coffee through a wide range of actions, from Keurig’s design and advertising of its 2.0 coffee brewer and related coffee to its contracts with suppliers, distributors, and other partners. In 2020, Keurig entered into a settlement agreement with the putative indirect purchaser class for $31 million.  
     Another area in which Cleary is routinely praised is the white-collar and enforcement area. “They have a good nucleus of a practice in DoJ and SEC and in DC and NY,” confirms a peer. Another elaborates, “When I have a huge case that I need to refer, I need the breadth and the depth, not just one star player. The Cleary team is smart, knowledgeable and experienced, and there are a bunch of them: David BrodskyJoon KimBreon PeaceLev DassinVictor Hou – these people are all a solid team.” Peace, Jennifer Kennedy Park and Lisa Vicens are representing Vale in an SEC investigation into securities disclosures related to the company’s dam safety in the wake of the 2019 Brumadinho dam collapse in Brazil. Peace and Vicens are also leading an internal investigation on behalf of Brazil’s national development bank, BNDES, of allegations of corruption in connection with a major Brazilian bribery investigation, and related US investigations, concerning BNDES’s extension of financing to certain companies related to the Brazilian conglomerate, J&F Investimentos, in relation to its acquisition of several foreign companies, including in the US, which Brazilian authorities alleged resulted in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds. Vicens is viewed as particularly instrumental in pushing this Brazilian agenda. “Lisa has developed a fabulous South American practice,” confirms one competitor. “She is a homegrown talent, an unusual person in that respect.” Kim and Hou represent Nissan in regulatory investigations relating to executive compensation issues arising out of the arrest of the company’s former CEO, Carlos Ghosn. The Cleary duo assisted with the investigation and negotiated the settlement with the SEC, in which Nissan agreed to pay a $15 million civil penalty, and the SEC alleged that Nissan failed to disclose more than $140 million to be paid to Ghosn in compensation and retirement benefits. This same pair is also representing the former CEO of a publicly traded real estate investment trust in defending against criminal charges and SEC securities fraud charges.  
     A particularly versatile litigator with a diverse practice encompassing commercial and securities work as well as white-collar and enforcement, Hou is viewed as a standout by a near-unanimous level of peers. In an example of his securities acumen, Hou is representing Synchrony Financial, several of its officers, and its board of directors in a putative securities class action in the District of Connecticut against allegations of misleading statements and omitting material information. After a March 2020 dismissal in the client’s favor, plaintiffs appealed to the Second Circuit, who affirmed the dismissal in February 2021. Acting with Hou on this matter, Jared Gerber is a securities-focused star that has been similarly active of late. Gerber acted with Roger Cooper in representing the Hong Kong-based energy company Sky Solar and certain officers in another securities class action alleging material misstatements. Cooper also, along with Vicensrepresents International Flavors & Fragrances, Frutarom Industries and two of IFF’s officers in a putative securities class action alleging that the defendants made material misstatements and omissions concerning IFF’s acquisition of Frutarom, the integration of the two companies, and IFF’s and Frutarom’s financial reporting and results.  

 

Cohen Milstein

Cohen Milstein covers the Eastern seaboard with offices in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York, Palm Beach Gardens and Raleigh, and services the Midwest through a Chicago office. Peers on both the defense and plaintiff sides of the “V” have voiced appreciation for the firm’s zealous approach. “I have always regarded them highly,” declares one plaintiff peer. “They have been mainly regarded as an antitrust firm, but they also so some work in securities and appear to be doing more of this. We happen to have a case where we are co-lead with them. They are smart lawyers.” The firm also has a noted employment, civil rights and ERISA practice. The firm made news in 2019 when a federal judge in Illinois to co-lead shareholder litigation against money transfer entity MoneyGram International, who, in November 2018,  agreed to pay $125 million to resolve allegations that it failed to crack down on fraudulent money transfers.
     The majority of Cohen Milstein’s star power is concentrated in its DC home base. Managing partner Steven Toll is a celebrated figure among the plaintiffs bar and a “feared but respected adversary” of defense lawyers. Toll has been at the helm of several recent milestone wins, including securing a ruling from the DC Circuit Court of Appeals that reinstated a suit against electronics maker Harman International Industries. A $28.25 million settlement was achieved in this action in 2017. Toll was also co-lead counsel in the BP Securities class action securities fraud lawsuit that arose from the Deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the certification of the class of investors alleged to have been injured by BP’s misrepresenting the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, and thus minimizing the extent of the cost and financial impact to BP of the cleanup and resulting damages. In February 2017, the court granted final approval to a $175 million settlement reached between BP and lead plaintiffs for the “post-explosion” class. Julie Reiser attends to a practice that straddles antitrust, securities and ERISA matters. Reiser has led litigation teams in several major class actions and has secured landmark settlements, including a $500 million settlement related to Countrywide’s issuance of mortgage-backed securities and a shareholder derivative suit against Wynn Resorts, with a net settlement value of $90 million. More recently, Reiser made news in September 2020 as co-lead counsel in negotiating a settlement with Google parent company Alphabet regarding credible claims of a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination within the company. Reiser's efforts precipitated a $310 million settlement that Alphabet pledged to commit to diversity efforts.
     While the DC partners are some of the firm’s most established, partners in other offices, particularly on the younger end of the spectrum, are also moving to the fore and garnering peer attention. Lauren Posner in the New York office is tipped by peers as a future star. “I’m sure she’ll be put in charge of many of their high-end cases,” forecasts a peer.

Cravath Swaine Moore

Still operating out of only one office in Manhattan, Cravath Swaine & Moore once again remains the standard bearer as an entity that commands respect on the national stage for its prestige and unassailable brand in the legal community without expanding its physical geographic footprint. The firm is also revered for its elite position on the hiring and fostering of its talent, holding to its long-held protocol of not hiring associates laterally. Long considered a leader in the fields of securities, antitrust and general commercial litigation, the firm has made considerable strides in areas that are more recent developments, such as the white-collar and investigations and intellectual property capacities. Cravath has also established itself as a leader in trial law, with a presence at the center of trial activity that is noted as somewhat rare for a “white-shoe” firm. Also rare for a firm of its breed, Cravath boasts a diverse client base that is not exclusively beholden to financial institutions. 
     The star power of Cravath Swaine & Moore continues undiminished yet another year, a stature exemplified at both the senior and “next-generation” levels. Evan Chesler and Daniel Slifkin, two of the firm’s towering figures in the trial lawyer capacity, remain active and still generate acclaim. At a younger vintage point, Kevin Orsini has made an astonishing ascent in profile in recent years due to his increased presence as a first-chair trial lawyer. The co-head of litigation at the firm, Orsini attends to a remarkably diverse practice that touches on commercial, antitrust and the one-of-a-kind phenomenon of “event-driven” litigation, often of the most complex, contentious and highest-stakes variety. Most recently, Orsini, along with securities star Antony Ryanis representing Robinhood as lead counsel in dozens of lawsuits involving securities, antitrust and various other state and federal claims arising out of Robinhood’s controversial decision to temporarily restrict trading in certain securities, the most newsworthy of these being GameStopin the face of unprecedented market volatility. In February 2021, Robinhood successfully defeated a request for a temporary restraining order against the company that would have forced it to abstain from further trading limitations.  
     The firm has historically exhibited a stunning level of activity in the antitrust space, and this year was no exception. In what is arguably the firm’s most headline-grabbing appointment of 2021, a crackerjack Cravath team is representing Epic Games as plaintiff in two separate antitrust actions against Apple and Google, alleging that the companies are engaged in anticompetitive behavior in the distribution of apps on mobile devices and in the processing of consumers’ payments for digital content used within mobile apps. Epic, the creator of the popular game Fortnite, alleges that Apple and Google impose unreasonable and unlawful restraints on the app distribution market by placing restrictions on users’ ability to download apps from sources other than their own digital storefronts, the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, where the companies impose a 30% tax on every app purchased. The case, which was launched in August 2020, went to trial in May 2021, during which the Cravath team secured a milestone: an unprecedented deposition of Apple CEO Tim Cook, against tremendous resistance. The trial teams on both sides of this case were praised by a Northern California judge for their diversity, and indeed the Cravath team was composed of an impressive percentage of women – four to be exact: Katherine ForrestChristine VarneyLauren Moskowitz and Vanessa Lavely. Forrest, one of the noted team leaders and an established senior trailblazer at the firm, comes equipped with a keen level of experience and savvy in the tech and AI sectors as well as a fluency in antitrust, both of which doubtless proved invaluable in this case. This trial team is also noted for being composed of a cross section of generational talent at the firm, including one brand new partner, Justin Clarke. “Justin is incredibly knowledgeable and thoughtful – we’ve been doing a lot of work together in advising people on navigating the pitfalls of the current environment. He is very thoughtful and has a sober voice, he’s a great counselor and beautiful writer. I think in due course he will become an absolute rock of the Cravath practice. Gary Bornstein, another member of the team on the aforementioned Epic Games case, is also fresh off one of the biggest antitrust triumphs of the past year, a complete defense victory for Qualcomm in a unanimous Ninth Circuit decision in August 2020 that confirmed the lawfulness of Qualcomm’s business model in the face of claims brought by the Federal Trade Commission, who sought an injunction against several practices relating to Qualcomm’s patent licensing and modem chipset businesses. Bornstein’s team also included Yonatan Even. 
     Karin DeMasi and Ben Gruenstein represented Avon Products and certain of its officers in connection with putative securities fraud class-action litigation filed in New York federal court alleging defendants made false and misleading statements regarding Avon’s business in Brazil, its largest market, in violation of the federal securities laws. In particular, the complaint alleged defendants failed to disclose that Avon made changes to its credit terms for sales representatives in Brazil and failed to increase its allowance for bad debts to account for those changes. Cravath secured a favorable settlement of the action, which was announced in August 2020 and received final court approval in February 2021. “Karen is great,” cheers a peer on DeMasi’s behalf. “She is heading up their securities department and she’s tough but fair and honest. I know I’m not getting the runaround with her. 
     The firm’s burgeoning IP practice has seen a spike in activity and headcount as of late. A team composed of Richard Stark and Sharonmoyee Goswami won a favorable decision in an all-virtual ITC trial for Alarm.com in April 2021 initiated by EcoFactor, which sought an exclusion order to prevent certain products, among them Alarm.com’s smart thermostats, from entering the US.  

Davis Polk & Wardwell

While Davis Polk & Wardwell houses one of the smaller litigation groups among firms of a similar stature, it has secured a notable presence at the forefront of some of the country’s most high-stakes securities, commercial, antitrust and white-collar matters. The firm has also displayed renewed vigor in the bankruptcy and intellectual property arenas. The litigation group is still decidedly compact but actually exhibiting signs of steady growth, now up to 38 partners in total distributed among several strategic locations: New York, Washington, DC and Silicon Valley, CA.  

     The New York office houses the firm’s highest concentration of star power and is not surprisingly the epicenter of its securities practice. In this capacity, James Rouhandeh is an established and longstanding peer favorite. “We see him pretty often, and he is a real go-to for Morgan Stanley work.” However, others are more recently making their mark. Several peers weigh in for Andrew Ditchfield, with all of them of the consensus that “we’re seeing a lot more of him.” One extrapolates, “I’m seeing Andrew all the time now, and it’s kind of out of nowhere. He suddenly has become the go-to guy for all of Davis Polk’s M&A work.” In this capacity, Ditchfield led the firm in securing a victory for Exxon Mobil Corporation, InterOil Corporation and InterOil’s former directors in one such lawsuit, and represents Citibank, N.A.  and Citigroup Global Markets in another. Another New York-based securities star with a rapidly rising profile, Dana Seshens also lays claim to several wins over the past year; in one, she led a team that secured a July 2020 victory for Livent, certain of its officers and directors, and FMC Corporation in a putative securities class-action lawsuit. While Seshens has been particularly active in her securities practice, she also attends to a wider variety of work that encompasses general commercial litigationbankruptcy and intellectual property.  

     In the bankruptcy space, Elliot Moskowitz has emerged as Davis Polk’s key partner. “He is one of those rare bankruptcy lawyers who is also really a litigator, not just a restructuring partner,” confirms another bankruptcy leader, who also speculates, “In the wake of COVID and its effect on certain business sectors, I expect him to be very busy.” Moskowitz represents Uniti Group in connection with the bankruptcy cases initiated in February 2019 by a provider of advanced network communications and technology concerning a spinoff of assets to the client. In March 2020, on the eve of a trial, the two parties reached a settlement. 
     Paul Spagnoletti and future star Antonio Perez-Marques represent oil exploration entity EnVen Energy Corporation and certain affiliates in litigation between the company and its co-founder and former president, who sued the companyalleging that the company had breached his employment agreement by diminishing his role and reducing his relative equity compensation. The company sued the individual in Delaware Chancery Court alleging that he breached his duty of loyalty to the company by failing to disclose his father’s financial interest in one of the company’s major suppliers. The Delaware litigation is currently stayed pending the outcome of the Texas litigation, which was set for trial in June 2021. “If you have a sticky professional liability issue that you want sorted, you look up Paul Spagnoletti,” asserts a peer.  

     While considerably smaller in size, the firm’s West Coast operations have also been particularly active, thanks largely to the firm’s California commercial litigation practice leader Neal Potischman. Boasting a diverse practice that encompasses securities, antitrust, commercial litigation, consumer class actions and even white-collar criminal matters, Potischman lays claim to a total victory for Verisk Analytics in a case filed in federal court in Northern California arising from the 2017 wildfires in Sonoma County. Plaintiffs were Sonoma County residents whose homes were destroyed. Their complaint alleged that their insurance carrier had sold them policies that undervalued the replacement costs of their homes, leaving them underinsured. They claimed that the client—which makes software tools used by insurance companies in estimating replacement costs—was also liable, based on theories of antitrust, fraud and negligence, as well as under California consumer protection laws. In March 2020, the court granted a motion to dismiss, with prejudice. Potischman also, along with Rouhandehsecured a victory for Novo Nordisk in two actions brought by consumers with diabetes and by certain health plans; both groups claim that they paid excessive prices for insulin manufactured by Novo Nordisk and other pharmaceutical manufacturers. The theory of the cases is that prices paid at the pharmacy counter are deceptive because they do not properly reflect the value of rebates that manufacturers pay to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to ensure that the manufacturers’ products are made available to consumers on drug formularies. Plaintiffs in both cases alleged that each of the manufacturer defendants was involved in a conspiracy with different PBMs to inflate the price of insulin in violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Plaintiffs also brought claims under the consumer protection laws of various states. In February 2020, the court granted Davis Polk’s motions to dismiss all of plaintiffs’ RICO claims. Potischman is also working with another star in the New York office, Edmund Polubinskirepresenting Block.one, a blockchain technology company, in putative class actions alleging securities violations. The plaintiffs, purchasers of cryptocurrency tokens, allege that Block.one unlawfully sold the token without registering the sale as a securities offering and that Block.one and the individual defendants made fraudulent statements in connection with the sale of the token. Also based in the Silicon Valley office, Ashok Ramani heads the firm’s intellectual property capacity. A former partner with an esteemed California litigation boutique and a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Ramani juggles patents, trademarks and trade secrets in his practice. In the trademark capacity, Ramani represents data analytics firm Splunk in a declaratory-judgment action seeking a determination that Splunk’s three-color gradient marketing design does not infringe Deutsche Telekom’s US trademarks to the use of the color magenta (and alternatively that the marks are invalid).  

 

Debevoise & Plimpton

Debevoise & Plimpton has etched itself a position of prestige in the legal market among peers, many of whom laud the firm’s approach as well as its practitioners’ proven skills across the board. “Debevoise is a very classy bunch,” opines one peer. “Always has been. The lawyers there all are very respectable.” It is also noted that Debevoise “has one of the more genuinely diverse benches around,” and that the firm “is not just playing catch-up. They put their money where their mouth is a long time ago.” Indeed, the firm has one of the highest percentages of women appearing as lead counsel on matters and nominated as star players, a metric that has quantified since Benchmark’s first edition in 2008. “It’s pretty remarkable,” observes a peer. “You can look at pretty much any department over there and find it’s populated by women leaders.” 
     Several sources credit Mary Beth Hogan with fostering this dynamic atmosphere, particularly in its New York office, the larger of the two. A commercial litigator who is also recognized for her investigations work, Hogan is also the co-chair of litigation. “Mary Beth deserves a lot of praise for making Debevoise what it is today.” Maeve O’Connor is an authority in nuanced issues involving the intersection of insurance and securities law. In this capacity, she lays claim to a triumph on behalf of MetLife and certain of its present and former officers in connection with a putative shareholder class-action lawsuit pending in Eastern District of New York asserting claims under the Exchange Act based on allegations that MetLife’s practices and procedures used to estimate its reserves for group annuity payments were inadequate, and that MetLife had inadequate internal controls over financial reporting. The lawsuit arises from MetLife’s 2018 announcement that it would increase reserves by as much as $575 million pre-tax to account for anticipated payments to annuitants and that it had identified a material weakness in internal controls. In January 2021, the court granted O’Connor’s motion to dismiss on all claims, with prejudice. In another matter involving securities and insurance, O’Connor and a quickly emerging securities star, Susan Gittes, are also representing Prudential and several of its officers in connection with a securities class-action and related matters arising from a charge taken in 2019 following the company’s annual review of its actuarial assumptions underlying its life insurance reserves.   
     Debevoise is lauded nationwide for its white-collar and enforcement practice, considered one of the deepest and most diverse. White-collar stalwart Bruce Yannett has been advising Royal Dutch Shell and serving as global coordinating counsel in connection with a criminal prosecution of the energy giant in Milan, Italy, and related matters. In March 2021, Yannett triumphed for the client when Shell was acquitted by the Criminal Division of the Court of Milan. Andrew Ceresney, a celebrated securities and enforcement presence represents Ripple, a private technology company developing virtual currency payment solutions in connection with ongoing civil litigation in the Southern District of New York against the SEC. “Every inch of Andrew is brains,” comments a peer. “He was the understudy of [another famed white-collar luminary and Debevoise partner] Mary Jo White, where he got great experience and now shines completely on his own.” A rapidly rising presence in the enforcement capacity, Helen Cantwell represented Toyota in a resolution with the DoJ and EPA regarding its emissions reporting practices made under a 2014 monitorship mandated by a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, without any criminal charges being filed. Cantwell, along with David Sarratt, also represented Capital One in a resolution with Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for a payment of $290 million (and no criminal charges being filed) for errors the bank made in scrutinizing its now-defunct portfolio of check cashers. 

     Another area in which Debevoise is regarded as indisputably dominant is the international arbitration arena. Longtime stalwart Donald Donovan, along with “next-generation” stars Dietmar PragerMark Friedman and Natalie Reid, represented Tethyan, a company jointly owned by Antofagasta Minerals S.A. of Chile and Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada, in a multibillion-dollar investment dispute arising out of a mining project in Pakistan, winning nearly $6 billion in a July 2019 decision, the second-largest award ever rendered from a World Bank arbitration tribunal. Donovan and Catherine Amirfar prevailed on behalf of Qatar with respect to two proceedings against the United Arab Emirates on provisional measures before the International Court of Justice in a high-profile and complex set of international disputes arising out of manifold coercive measures imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on Qatar. As a result of these coercive measures, Qataris have been suffering grave human rights abuses. Friedman also represents Gramercy Funds Management and an affiliate in a US $1.8 billion UNCITRAL arbitration against the Government of Peru under the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, arising out of Peru’s efforts to evade payment of agrarian bonds issued in exchange for property expropriated by the government in the 1970s. Also acting on this matter is Ina Popova, one of the firm’s most enthusiastically received young stars. “Debevoise has a reputation as being internationally ingrained but Ina really raises the stakes further,” extols a peer. “At her young age, she speaks several languages and has a résumé that would just make you cry.”  
     Another niche area Debevoise lays claim to is the trademark-focused intellectual property practice, helmed by David Bernstein. Bernstein represented digital travel entity Booking.com B.V. in Supreme Court case, where the Court ruled 8-1 that Booking.com’s eponymous domain name is not generic and could register as a trademark. Bernstein also represented Costco Wholesale Corporation in a successful appeal before the Second Circuit that reversed a lower court decision granting summary judgment to Tiffany & Co. on its claim that Costco willfully infringed and counterfeited the TIFFANY trademark.

DiCello Levitt Gutzler

Plaintiff specialty shop DiCello Levitt Gutzler enjoys its second year as one of Benchmark’s Top Plaintiff shops, an impressive accomplishment considering that the firm itself is only four years old. The firm has made considerable waves in a short period of time. This momentum could be attributed to the background of its founding partners – Adam Levitt was previously with securities plaintiff shop Grant & Eisenhofer, and Mark DiCello was formerly a prosecutor – but it could also be due to the firm’s business model. Eschewing the singular approaches employed by many other plaintiff firms, such as a class actions or a single-incident personal injury, the firm has remained dedicated to a variety of strengths across a number of different areas, with a particular concentration in the consumer class-actions area as of late. Several of its cases have made headlines. Ostensibly a boutique, the firm operates out of offices in Chicago, Cleveland, New York and St. Louis. “You MUST know Adam Levitt,” insists a peer. “He has [been] around and is fabulous.” Levitt was appointed to the plaintiff steering committee in a class action on behalf of consumers affected by a 2014 a defect in the ignition switch installed in nearly 10 million GM vehicles that was tied to over 100 deaths and countless other injuries. Levitt also represents plaintiffs who brough claims against ComEd under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, the Public Utilities Act, and for unjust enrichment to remedy the harm caused by defendants, who bribed Illinois elected officials for the passage of legislation that guaranteed defendants billions of dollars in ill-gotten profits to the detriment of plaintiffs. The lawsuit was filed in late July 2020 in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division.   

     The firm’s star power extends beyond its name partners. In fact, a pronounced level of peers point to Amy Keller as one of the most quickly rising names in her field. “Amy has proven herself in fairly short order,” insists one peer who goes on to testify, “Over the past two years, we’ve really had the opportunity to get to know each other, and she is a tireless, fabulous lawyer. I have great expectations as to the work she’ll be doing in her future. Another peer extols, “DiCello are making a name for themselves and it’s really smart of them to be promoting Amy,” insists one peer. “She was appointed lead on the Equifax case, and she was the youngest lead on that, certainly the youngest female lead. [She is] Really impressive. The referred-to litigation stemmed from Equifax’s ineffective handling of a massive 2017 data security breach that exposed the Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and – in some cases – the driver’s license and credit card numbers of 147 million American consumers. Keller played a pivotal role in securing the latest settlement in a data breach to date, including a cash fund of up to $505 million, and a commitment from Equifax to invest $1 billion in security changes. In another data breach-related matter, Keller is acting on an ongoing class action in which over 300 million customers were impacted by a data breach announced by Marriott in 2018. In early 2020, the trial court largely upheld plaintiffs’ lawsuit against Marriott’s motion to dismiss, rejecting Marriott’s arguments concerning standing for consumers to sue and finding that consumer data has value. 

Durie Tangri

Although California-based Durie Tangri is a litigation boutique with practices and lawyers dedicated to white-collar crime, commercial, appellate and class action litigation, the firm is most widely known for its highly respected intellectual property practice. Name founders Daralyn Durie and Ragesh Tangri are both renowned IP litigators who have worked with some of the largest industry-leading companies in technology and pharmaceuticals. Durie is nationally recognized as one of the top IP litigators with a diverse practice that involves patent, copyright, and trademark litigation. As a fierce advocate for clients, she is routinely retained to handle the most complex and contentious matters.  

Recently, in the first in-person jury trials after COVID-19, Durie obtained back-to-back wins for clients Plexxikon, the developer of the first FDA-approved targeted therapy for metastatic melanoma, and Activision Blizzard. Representing Plexxikon against Novartis in a patent infringement case in the Northern District of California, Durie scored $178 million for the client, along with a finding of patent infringement, in July 2021. She also scored a win for Activision Blizzard in a copyright infringement case against over Call of Duty Black Ops 4, which garnered a significant amount of attention. The case was litigated in the Northern District of Texas and Durie obtained a complete defense verdict for the client.  

Tangri’s practice expands beyond intellectual property to include legal malpractice litigation that arises from professional negligence claims. His intellectual property practice has involved numerous trade secret cases, as well as copyright infringement disputes, particularly on behalf of start-up companies. He is also a patent litigator with a number of patent infringement cases under his belt.  

Fellow founder Mark Lemley is a seasoned litigator with decades of experience in intellectual property, antitrust and internet law. He is widely recognized for his expertise in all three areas of law and litigation. Joseph Gratz is most distinguished for his copyright litigation, handling some of the biggest cases that often garner media attention. Gratz represents both individuals against major companies in addition to the industry-leaders like Google.  

 

Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett and Dunner

Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner is an intellectual property boutique with the breadth and capability (as well as the nationally recognized status in the practice) of a full-service law firmThe firm maintains one of the leading and most active practices dedicated to PTAB disputes and has been especially noteworthy for its handling of appeals. In addition to its heavy-hitting patent practice, the firm also remains highly regarded for trademark and copyright litigation as well. DC-based Douglas Rettew is one of the go-to litigators for trademark litigation. He has represented some of the largest brands in the world, including Capital One, a client that he has recently been representing in several actions in courts throughout the US. Over the last year he has obtained two permanent injunctions against companies in trademark infringement cases. Other major worldwide clients he has represented in the last year include Nestle, Combe, and Under Armour.  

In the life sciences space, the firm is highly regarded, earning top-tier standings in patent litigation and Hatch-Waxman cases for leading industry leading companies in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries. The DC office also houses Paul Browning and James Monroe who are two patent litigators with extensive experience in Hatch-Waxman disputes. Reston-based partner Charles Lipsey is also deeply involved in patent related litigation and acts as one of the lead partners representing AstraZeneca in its Hatch-Waxman dispute against Zydus Pharmaceuticalregarding the client’s billion-dollar drug FARXIGA.  

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus & Deringer is well-established as a strategically connected legal force around the globe, most notably for its international arbitration practice group. It is the only one of the London-headquartered “Magic Circle” firms to have established itself as a powerhouse in litigation, as opposed to just the corporate and transactional work that is the primary driver of this prestigious group. “[There is] extensive depth and breadth of talent in the organization,” testifies one client. “[They are] sophisticated and savvy practitioners capable of giving down-to-earth advice; their knowledge of the law is vast, and their connection to many jurisdictions is a plus.” Bringing new meaning to the phrase “long corridors” as it applies to larger firms, Freshfields has further extended its reach into the US litigation space with the addition of a securities and shareholder litigation practice, which, entering only its second year, has already demonstrated aptitude for complex bet-the-company disputes on both the East and West Coasts. The firm’s domestically domiciled general commercial litigation practice is also generating traction as well. Clients cheer the firm’s “creative solutions to and in-depth understanding of complex legal issues, litigation/arbitration strategy, and understanding nuances across borders,” particularly in one matter regarding “an international arbitration of significant value, with multiple legal specialist areas and very tight timelines.” Another client confirms, “The firm provided first-rate defense, but they also translated the learnings in the litigation to actionable business items that we can implement to minimize business and legal risk in the future.” 
     Much of the success of the securities and shareholder group is attributable to its co-head, Meredith Kotler of the New York office. Kotler is regularly entrusted by global institutions and corporations for her keen, sophisticated representation in financial securities-related disputes that often involve class actions as well as shareholder derivatives. Clients calling upon Kotler for counsel include Tyson Foods, AstraZeneca and 3M, the last of which Kotler triumphed for with the complete dismissal of a class action in September 2021. Another New York-based securities partner (and newly listed star in this edition) Mary Eaton currently represents Citigroup in numerous high-exposure securities derivative actions and related class actions, filed following Citigroup’s erroneous wiring of $900 million to lenders, arising from allegations that the board consciously allowed the company to maintain insufficient operational control and to violate regulatory settlement terms. The securities group has also been built out on the West Coast, with Silicon Valley partners Doru Gavril and Boris Feldman bookending the firm’s domestic securities operations. Feldman also spearheads the firm’s US-based technology group. New York’s Aaron Marcu is also among the firm’s key litigators, specializing in defense of clients in regulatory enforcement investigations and white-collar criminal proceedings. He recently negotiated a $24.86 million settlement in his lead role as counsel to the special litigation committee of Sinclair Broadcasting Group in three derivative suits seeking damages exceeding $500 million dollars from the company’s executives and directors relating to allegations of misleading federal regulators regarding the company’s failed $6 billion merger with Tribune Media Company. Other keystone members of the firm’s litigation team include New York’s Noiana Marigo and Adam Siegel, and DC’s Nigel Blackaby. 
     The firm’s general commercial team is making strides as well. New York’s David Livshiz, who handles a range of commercial and bankruptcy disputes, is a client favorite. “David is extremely dedicated and committed to getting the best result for his clients,” extols one. He digs into the issues, leaving no stone unturned. His legal intellect and ability to understand the commercial import to his clients sets him apart from others.” Another insists, “He has broad knowledge of the law, the ability to connect to others at his firm with special expertise, and is not afraid to take a position. He keeps in regular contact, and offers candid and thoughtful advice.” Also based in New York, Linda Martin is also a recipient of accolades from clients. “Linda not only leveraged significant litigation expertise but also took the initiative to learn about and closely understand the nuances of our business and industry. She used this expertise to be an effective and forceful advocate on our behalf.” One of Martin’s blue-ribbon clients is PepsiCo and Bottling Company, for whom she provides counsel in antitrust and breach of contract matters. 

Gibbs & Bruns

Based in Houston but nationally recognized for its litigation and trial prowess, Gibbs & Bruns is a boutique that continues to reinvent itself while remaining one of the most venerated firms of its variety. Recognized by Benchmark Litigation as one of the Top 20 Trial Firms in the country for the fourth consecutive year, the firm has continuously obtained favorable results on behalf of its clients in high-stakes business and complex commercial disputes. 
     Former managing partner Scott Humphries has retired, and in his place Mike AbsmeierAshley Kleber, two younger emerging stars, have stepped in to share co-managing partner duties. Both operate largely in the commercial litigation space, with an emphasis on the energy industry. Absmeier and Kleber are involved in three matters, valued in total at $5 billion, for Trustmark National Bank related to the collapse of the ill-fated (and ultimately exposed as fraudulent) Stanford Financial Group, for whom the client provided routine banking servicesLead counsel in thcasesveteran trial lawyer and firm figurehead Robin Gibbs has more than 45 years of litigation experience under his belt. His practice is dedicated to business and commercial litigation pertaining to contract, energy, oil and gas, antitrust, trade secret, legal malpractice, securities, director liability, intellectual property, construction, and partnership issues. Gibbs still draws accolades as being one of the “finest trial lawyers in Houston, a town that has many of them.” Another perennial favorite, Kathy Patrick is helming a case for 17 opt-out plaintiffs against VISA/Mastercard concerning claims that the card entities violated antitrust laws by imposing supracompetitive interchange fees on merchants accepting Visa and Mastercard payment cards. This sprawling case is valued at $20 billion. “There could even be treble damages there,” marvels one peer. “This is a massive deal.” Barrett Reasoner, yet another firm evergreen, acts on this matter as well. “Barrett Reasoner might be one of the best trial lawyers I’ve ever seen,” extols a peer. “He got a take-nothing judgment in the Natural Resources v. Anadarko case against Susman Godfrey, which is a great firm!” Patrick is also part of the lead counsel team representing OxyChem in a New Jersey federal lawsuit over cleanup costs allegedly related to a stretch of the purportedly polluted Passaic River. 

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher continues to enjoy a coveted position as one of the nation’s strongest and most in-demand litigation institutions. “We view Gibson Dunn as our biggest and most formidable competitor,” confides one peer. Another offers in agreement, “I think these days you are seeing a ‘flight to quality,’ and Gibson Dunn really exemplifies that. They just get better and better.” Indeed, the firm’s star litigators, already one of the highest concentrations of any listed firm, seem to swell in number annually, and it is worth noting that these partners are distributed evenly throughout its offices and practice areas. “It’s hard to find an Achilles’ heel there! There are just no weak links,” confirms a peer, speaking to the firm’s balance of talent. That said, the firm is particularly celebrated in the fields of antitrust, white-collar crime, intellectual property, securities and commercial litigation, and its appellate and Supreme Court practice is regularly viewed as the most active and experienced in the country. 
     Gibson Dunn’s star practitioners have regularly appeared as counsel on cases that have made national headlines, and this past year – despite a global pandemic – was no exception. “Gibson Dunn is just everywhere,” confirms a peer. “If you want to know what they’re up to, just look in the news.” Indeed, one such newsworthy matter includes defending Apple against Epic Games, developer of the popular “Fortnite” game, in a massive showdown involving antitrust claims concerning Apple’s alleged enforcing of App Store policies in a monopolistic fashion. The California judge presiding over the case publicly praised the diversity represented on the teams on both sides of this case, and Gibson Dunn’s Dallas-based Veronica Moye was one such example of this. In a trial that concluded in May 2021, Moye directly handled the questioning of Apple CEO Tim Cook. In another matter that made the headlines, a team consisting of Los Angeles partner Ted Boutrous and New York’s Anne Champion successfully represented Mary Trump in a First Amendment case dealing with the Trump family’s attempt to halt the publication of her book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Boutrous, a noted First Amendment specialist, also handled another newsworthy matter of this variety, representing the New York Times in a case in which the DoJ sought information about the email accounts of four Times journalists in investigations about potential leaks of confidential government information. Along with Alexander Southwell, a New York white-collar star who has a niche in privacy and cyber-security, Boutrous secured a reversal in this decision from the DoJ in June 2021, protecting the confidentiality of the journalistic sources.  
     In the firm’s famed appeals practice, partners such as Ted OlsonMark Perry and Miguel Estrada are considered “pretty much brand names at this point” in the eyes of peers. “That is basically like the Mount Rushmore of the Supreme Court practice.” Indeed, each of the aforementioned partners has been at the forefront of a staggering number of game-changing appeals that have forged new law and made national headlines. A name that is generating an increasing level of profile, Helgi Walker is commended by peers and clients. One such client testifies, “Helgi and [newly listed DC future star] Lucas Townsend are on par with the finest appellate lawyers in DC. They bring a thoughtfulness and expert caution to drafting creative and effective briefs.” Walker successfully represented petitioners, the National Association of Broadcasters and served as lead counsel for the broadcast and newspaper industry group before the Supreme Court in a case concerning the proposed elimination of media ownership restrictions that saddle the entities’ ability to efficiently consolidate. In April 2021, the Supreme Court handed Walker’s clients a unanimous victory. Perry, along with Los Angeles life sciences patent specialist Wayne Barsky, secured a huge patent infringement victory at the Federal Circuit on behalf of EMD Serono and Pfizer in a case involving a patent on a multiple sclerosis medicine for which the plaintiff sought more than $5.4 billion in damages.  
     Elsewhere in Gibson Dunn’s patent litigation gallery of IP litigation wins, New York’s Josh Krevitt scored a complete trial victory in February 2021 for Fitbit, in a patent case brought by Philips against Fitbit and Garmin in the ITC.  Philips’ complaint asserted three patents against virtually all of Fitbit’s smartwatch and tracker products and sought an exclusion order to stop Fitbit from importing or selling the products anywhere in the US for the life of the patents.Krevitt also led a team that logged a complete defense victory on behalf of EMC (now part of Dell) in patent litigation that spanned seven years and in which the plaintiff originally sought nearly $1 billion in damages. Another New York partner with a particular flair for in intellectual property and entertainment, Orin Snyder leads a team that was retained by AMC to defend against two cases, each valued at $280 million, concerning the hit TV show The Walking Dead filed by former showrunner Frank Darabont and his agents at Creative Artists Agency as well as some other profit alleging that they are owed monies in connection with AMC’s accounting of the television series. Los Angeles entertainment authority Scott Edelman and New York-based future star Brian Ascher are also part of the team. Snyder also defends longtime client Jerry Seinfeld, whose hit Netflix show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee was targeted in a copyright lawsuit. Snyder secured the dismissal of the lawsuit and subsequent affirmance by the Second Circuit.   
     The firm’s white-collar and enforcement group is also considered one of the most power-packed among national firms. In particular, DC’s Joseph Warin is a peer favorite. “In the anticorruption area, if we’re conflicted out, we refer to him, because he has a really experienced team,” testifies one peer. Another insists, “If I was a GC in trouble, Joe would be on my speed-dial, certainly in the FCPA world, but he’s terrific with everything. Gibson has a ton of great people, but Joe is really the essence.” New York-based white-collar defense and investigations practice group member Matthew Biben, who also co-chairs the financial institutions group, was a former large bank general counsel before pivoting to private practice. His diverse practice includes advocating for clients in matters related to financial institutionscivil disputes, securities and bankruptcy litigation, and government actions. 

Glaser Weil

Los Angeles-based full-service firm Glaser Weil boasts a diverse crop of clients in capacities including business litigation, intellectual property, corporate securities, international business transactions, real estate/land use/government relations, green building, taxation, trusts/estates/corporate fiduciaries, environmental and energy, and entertainment. The firm’s clients include movie studios, public utilities, the largest title insurance company, real estate developers, IT companies, investment firms, banks, performing artists, manufacturing and distribution companies, and gaming and hospitality enterprises.  
     Patricia “Patty” Glaser, arguably the firm’s most celebrated figure and a “fearless” trial lawyer, is considered a first-call among her wide-ranging client base, which includes an enviable roster of entertainment industry mainstays. However, others are also emerging as leaders. Garland Kelley is an all-purpose commercial litigator and “crisis-management” specialist. Kelley lived up to this designation in his representation of John Schnatter, aka “Papa John,” namesake of the pizza franchise, in numerous lawsuits, including class-action litigation. Kelley also acts for Dubai-based NMC Health in an investigation that was initiated by the board of directors in the wake of comments made by short sellers, which prompted a sharp decline in the share price of NMC Health. The team also engaged former FBI Director Louie Freeh and his team to assist in the investigation. Ultimately, the investigation identified significant issues related to NMC’s financials, including inflated cash balances, understated debt, and other governance-related issues at the companywhich led to the termination of the CEO and the resignation of several members of the Board. Jill BasingerAmin Al-Sarraf act with Kelley on this matter. Basinger is also increasingly attracting her own entertainment-related matters for industry clients. She represents ICM Partners and agent Rob Prinz in dispute for non-payment of commissions by Celine Dion. After a multi-day evidentiary hearing, the California Labor Commissioner found in favor of clients, stating that despite Dion terminating the clients, they are entitled to be paid commissions on all shows performed under Dion’s agreement based on the rates the clients and Dion had previously agreed on. Basinger is also becoming a go-to for #MeToo-related matters; a recent client is the first woman to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, and retaliation, against Andrew Cuomo, the embattled former Governor of New York. Kerry Garvis Wright, whose practice is dedicated to high-profile cases at the intersection of entertainment and employment law. Wright has earned her stripes as a “warrior in court and therapist out of court” with a portfolio of clients including household names in the entertainment elite. “Her clients are coming to her with their hair on fire, which is really a problem, as so many of them have such great hair!” Garvis Wright represents a whistleblower in connection with highly publicized termination of the CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Garvis Wright also represented a strategic communications executive in litigation against a prominent Silicon Valley founder and former C-suite executive of one of the tech industry’s most common household names and his related entities. The client had a longstanding personal and professional relationship with the executive, which resulted in a series of settlement agreements and, ultimately, a consulting agreement 

  

Goodwin Procter

Goodwin has steadily expanded from its Boston roots, arriving at its current status as a national player in several key markets and industries, most notably the finance and life sciences sectors. It now houses litigation stars in nearly every one of its offices on the East and West Coasts. The firm receives resounding applause from clients, as well as peers, some of whom have worked alongside the firm on matters. “I was co-counsel with Goodwin on pro bono federal immigration litigation,” testifies one such peer. “The team of Goodwin attorneys who worked on the case were phenomenal. [They brought] great analytical, research, writing and oral advocacy skills.”

     Boston’s Christopher Holding is the co-head of the firm’s antitrust practice and manages a practice largely devoted to the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry. In a case illustrative of the link between antitrust issues regarding patents, Holding represents Actavis in a challenge to the settlement of patent litigation between Shire and Actavis about the drug Intuniv. The plaintiffs assert that the agreement contained an implicit reverse payment that delayed generic entry. Holding also represents Teva in a pharmaceutical antitrust case raising reverse-payment allegations. The litigation was mostly settled after years of litigation, but a number of indirect purchasers who opted out of the settlement challenged the opt-out procedures set by the district court, and that challenged was briefed and argued in the Second Circuit in 2019. Anthony Fiotto, the Boston-based co-chair of the firm’s securities and white-collar capacity, recently achieved significant New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division and Court of Appeals victories on behalf of The Pyramid Companies, a developer of shopping malls with 16 properties that are separately owned by partnerships, with Pyramid being the majority partner in each. The dispute began when a minority partner sought to dissolve and force the liquidation of one of the partnerships on numerous grounds.
     The securities practice is also exemplified by Richard Strassberg in the New York office, whose practice also crosses over into more of a white-collar crime element, an area in which is revered by many other leaders in this practice. “Rich Strassberg is very smart and great with clients,” enthuses one peer. Another confirms, “We worked side-by-side with Richard on a large securities class action -- we represented the company and he represented an individual -- securing dismissal of all counts.” Other New York-based securities partners include Marshall Fishman, who represents Citibank and multiple affiliates in connection with a number of lawsuits that have been brought by the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Board Special Claims Committee, and Brian Pastuszenski, who is called out as “fantastic,” with one peer testifying, “I see him in a ton of work. He should be on your national securities list for sure.”

     In the firm’s DC office, Thomas Hefferon is nationwide litigation and trial counsel to Think Finance, a provider of technology, analytics, and marketing services to financial businesses in the consumer lending industry. Hefferon has coordinated the simultaneous defense of three major litigation matters: a lawsuit by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a lawsuit by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and a substantial number of coordinated consumer putative class actions—all in separate federal courts across the country.  All three controversies concern the alleged improper issuance of consumer loans, allegedly in violation of state usury and licensing laws. Also in DC, Willy Jay is a unanimously revered appellate practitioner. One peer, also one of DC’s leading appellate lawyers, raves, “I’m a HUGE fan of Willy. Clients love him, he’s like a walking encyclopedia of the law. He’s just awesome, very charming.” Jay is equally celebrated for his demeanor as well as his acumen; one peer testifies, “We co-wrote briefs with Goodwin, and we have a great relationship with them. Willy Jay in particular is just personally a very good guy and is a team player and not about trying to take all the credit for anything. He was very gracious in recognizing the contribution that we made to the briefs in a way that frankly you don’t always see.” In one recent matter, Jay represented the Town of Aquinnah, Massachusetts, in successfully reinstating its injunction against a Native American tribe seeking to build a casino in the Town without obtaining local permits. Jay was retained after the Town (and other parties) lost an appeal on the issue. 
     Goodwin has become a notably strong player in the intellectual property capacity as well, a status recognized by both peers and clients. One such client testifies, “Goodwin handled a patent infringement suit against Apple in the Eastern District of Texas on encryption/decryption technology. Their handling of the matter was outstanding and resulted in a $308 million verdict.” One celebrated practitioner in this area, New York’s Elizabeth Holland represents plaintiff Novartis in a patent infringement action filed in June 2020 against Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in the District Court for the Northern District of New York. Novartis seeks damages and an injunction for Regeneron’s sales of its newly-launched EYLEA Pre-Filled Syringe (PFS) product. Holland also represents this client as co-counsel as a defendant in an antitrust-oriented action filed by Regeneron in the Southern District of New York. Regeneron’s suit is based on the allegation that Novartis sought to hamper Regeneron’s ability to bring its EYLEA PFS to market through assertion of a patent that Regeneron argues is unenforceable. In addition, Regeneron argues that Novartis worked together with another company to impair Regeneron’s ability to market this product. The IP capacity is also bookended on the West Coast by Neel Chatterjee, a Silicon Valley-based star who not surprisingly attends to a largely tech-based practice. Chatterjee represented the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, a public higher education and research institution in India. After 11 years of litigation, the Northern District of California definitively rejected the plaintiff's claims that the client breached an oral joint venture agreement, breached a nondisclosure agreement, and misappropriated the plaintiff's trade secrets. Chatterjee also represents Facebook, recently obtaining dismissal of a multi-patent case brought against the social media behemoth.

Greenberg Traurig

Greenberg Traurig is an expansive full-service law firm with a global presence in a variety of practice areas. The firm hosts more than 2,000 attorneys in 41 offices across the world, which positions them to effectively serve both domestic and international clients. One of these clients appreciates the firm’s “quality of team; knowledge of law but also practical approach to the development of the defense” and addresses the team as “thorough in preparation, with good relationship management of the client.”
     The firm is highly regarded for its product liability capabilities, largely attributed to the efforts of Lori Cohen, who chairs the pharmaceutical, medical device and health care litigation practice, in addition to serving as co-chair of the global litigation practice group. Cohen has the distinct honor of consistently ranking as a litigation star who also enjoys a multi-year run as one of Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation as well as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the US. Domiciled in the firm’s Atlanta office but recognized on a coast-to-coast basis for her appearance in matters of national magnitude, Cohen has wowed both peers and clients from a diverse range of industries and jurisdictions. An all-purpose trial lawyer by training and temperament, Cohen’s aptitude and gravitas has been particularly evident in the product liability capacity, where, often appearing as lead trial counsel, she has displayed an enviable streak of wins on behalf of clients in the pharmaceutical and medical device field concerning products ranging from pelvic mesh to contact lenses. Cohen is national trial counsel, national coordinating counsel, and national settlement counsel for all claims concerning pelvic mesh against C. R. Bard. Over the last year, she has solidified two significant victories as well as other additional dismissals in what has been described as one of the largest and most complex mass torts in history. Cohen is also a member of Novartis’ PF3.0 panel counsel program, which includes representation of subsidiaries Sandoz, Eon Labs, and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. Cohen is national counsel for Sandoz and its subsidiary Eon in the national amiodarone litigation. She also represents Bausch Health subsidiary Bausch + Lomb in product liability litigation relating to the Trulign Toric intraocular lens, a Class III medical device approved by FDA pursuant to the Premarket Approval process. In March 2020, she secured the complete dismissal of all of plaintiffs’ claims in a closely watched case in the District of Connecticut.
     Based in the firm’s Dallas office, Karl Dial was sole defense counsel for a group of foreign defendants that were sued in a mass action by 44 plaintiffs alleging securities fraud and breach of fiduciary duties related to securities sold in Canada to invest in real estate in the US. This cross-border dispute was the first case filed by more than 200 investors who have threatened suit against the Canadian issuer. This case has ramifications as to under what circumstances a foreign issuer may be hauled into court in the US on claims made by investors outside the country.

     Operating out of both the San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, Robert Herrington focuses his practice on class actions, with this practice touching on a wide spectrum of industries. Herrington is a new star addition to this year’s edition of Benchmark, propelled on the strength of vibrant peer and client review. One client asserts, “In the consumer protection context--both in class actions and mass consumer arbitrations--Greenberg does an absolutely fantastic job. Rob Herrington, in particular, is an exceptional advocate. Day or night, he and his team respond in a timely fashion, providing top-drawer work. In addition to the quality of their work and exceptional client service, they are very price-competitive. Robert is a great communicator, innovative and strategic thinker.  He's my favorite class-action lawyer.” Herrington and New York’s Richard Edlin won significant motions to defeat a class action alleging that Samsung’s Galaxy S7 series phones are falsely advertised as “water resistant.” The case began in 2016 in the Central District of California, asserting claims for common law fraud, violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law and False Advertising Law, and unjust enrichment. The Greenberg pair obtained a multi-year stay of proceedings pending appeal of a motion to compel arbitration under California law, resulting in the sole named plaintiff losing interest in the lawsuit. Another class-action authority, New Jersey’s Philip Sellinger represents Marriott and Ritz-Carlton entities in a putative class action brought on behalf of approximately 1,000 owners of fractional interests in The Ritz-Carlton Club, St. Thomas who are alleged to have paid an average price of $150,000 for their respective fractional interests.
     Miami’s Elliot Scherker represents the Government of the Virgin Islands in an appellate matter concerning the alleged 20 years’ worth of unpaid employer contributions into the Government Employees Retirement System, totaling more than $63 million. Another Miami-based star, David Coulson currently defends Champion Petfoods USA in a suit filed in the Federal Court in the Eastern District of Wisconsin alleging the client's dog food was tainted with dangerous levels of heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury which in turn rendered some of the statements on Champion's packaging misleading. The plaintiff asserted claims for breach of express and implied warranties, unjust enrichment, and alleged violations of state consumer protection and unfair competition statutes. In February 2019, the District Judge granted summary judgement and dismissed plaintiff's complaint with prejudice on the basis that the small amounts found in Champion's dog food were naturally occurring, safe, and did not render any of Champion's statements on its packaging misleading or deceptive. Shortly after, consumers in 15 additional states, including another in Wisconsin, filed suits against Champion making similar allegations – for a total of 17 matters now being litigated state-by-state, rather than in a multi-district litigation proceeding. In October 2019, the Greenberg Traurig team won the denial of class certification in the Central District of California.

 

Hausfeld

Hausfeld has emerged as a plaintiff-side firm to be reckoned with in several specific categories. Unlike many other firms of its ilk, however, the firm has not opted for taking the “boutique” route and has instead embedded itself globally with 120 litigators practicing in 12 offices throughout the US and in Europe. Primarily in the antitrust capacity, Hausfeld is an undisputed trailblazer, identified as a ubiquitous presence by peers on both the plaintiff and defense sides of the “V.” One major defense peer confirms, “Hausfeld is who we almost always see on the plaintiff side if there is antitrust class-action. Even it’s not exclusively them, they are always somewhere in the mix.” Another frequent opponent notes, “They have a wide scope regarding antitrust actions, and they are also huge in sports! I do a great deal of this work, and it’s nearly always against Hausfeld, at least in the biggest and best cases.” Still another sums up the firm’s stature by saying, “Many firms try to do what they do, but Hausfeld is one of the only ones that gets it right and one of the ones we take the most seriously.” Over the past several years alone, the firm has landed national headlines for its dogged pursuit of antitrust and sports claims. This past year was no exception: the firm was plucked by the DC Attorney General’s office in May 2021 to spearhead its efforts in a massive antitrust case against online retail juggernaut Amazon. Peers voice their impressions: “This is huge. Watch this space for the progress on this but just the fact that Hausfeld were chosen tells you something about how seriously they are taken.”

Few would contest that the firm’s legacy is credited to firm founder and visionary Michael Hausfeld, the nationally recognized name partner who is credited for entrepreneurially building his firm into a zealous plaintiff empire. Hausfeld made news in 2019 as one of the key plaintiffs behind a class-action matter against several railroad entities, claiming that from 2003 to 2008 these entities conspired to increase revenue by imposing a fuel surcharge. More recently Hausfeld scored big as co-lead counsel in a major case alleging that over 30 Blue Cross/Blue Shield entities across the country have entered into agreements not to compete with each other for customers of health insurance. The litigation sought damages on behalf of a proposed class of over 100 million subscribers, along with injunctive relief that would increase competition in the market for health insurance. After eight years in litigation, the plaintiffs scored a $2.67 billion settlement in October 2020. In addition to monetary relief, the settlement proposes systemic injunctive relief that will change the landscape for competition in healthcare. Hausfeld also was chosen to represent a proposed class of American Express-accepting merchants who have challenged American Express’s anti-steering rules that allow the credit giant to raise and maintain high merchant fees, stifling price competition among credit card networks.

While the DC office, where Michael Hausfeld is based, has long been viewed as the firm’s center of gravity, several California-based partners are tipping the scales to a more balanced footprint. Megan Jones in the San Francisco office has been identified by several peers as “a leader at Hausfeld now,” and Bonny Sweeney, also based In San Francisco, is also a recipient of accolades. In addition to antitrust, Sweeney also attends to niche practices in sports and entertainment law as well as consumer protection and pro bono matters. In addition to acting on the plaintiffs’ steering committee on the aforementioned Blue Cross/Blue Shield case, Jones serves as co-lead counsel in a multidistrict litigation representing a proposed class of direct purchasers of the industrial chemicals methylene diphenyl diisocyanate and toluene diisocyanate in claims against major industrial suppliers for conspiring to artificially inflate prices in violation of federal antitrust law. Sweeney meanwhile was scheduled to head to trial in June 2021 as co-lead class counsel in a class action that alleges CVS violated six states’ consumer protection laws by overcharging insured consumers who purchased certain generic prescriptions at CVS pharmacies.

Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney

Operating for over a quarter of a century, Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney now occupies a unique space in the crowded New York market, taking on cases spanning several practice areas and servicing them with a more personalized, hands-on approach. While the firm’s founding partners come armed with “big law” credentials – “they were all at White & Case back in the 1970s” – the firm is a maverick boutique, not, as one partner insists “a small firm masquerading as a big firm.” One peer notes, “they are making a mark as ‘giant killers.’ They go up against, and beat, some of the big brand-name shops all the time.” The firm is noted especially for its commercial, insurance and labor and employment capacity, and the cases it takes on are often of a novel nature. 
     One such example involves an ownership dispute concerning New York’s iconic Palm steakhouse, in which firm founder Fredric Newman scored several consecutive wins. An all-purpose commercial trial generalist, Newman won a $120 million award at trial in a dispute over the iconic Palm steakhouse. Newman represented the plaintiffs, who own a 20% stake in the entity and alleged that the grandsons of the founders, who own the other 80% of the entity, cheated the plaintiffs out of the financial rewards of the Palm's expansion by creating a series of companies, which the two grandsons own exclusively, to hold the new restaurants. In December 2019, a judge ordered defendants in the long-running battle to pay $4.6 million in attorney’s fees and expenses to HNRK for its successful prosecution of the case and, in May 2020, the New York Appellate Division, First Department unanimously affirmed the February 2019 judgment. Dorothea Regalattends to a robust insurance coverage practice that includes ongoing representation of Syngenta Crop Protection in insurance coverage disputes. Another partner actively involved in disputes for Syngenta, Joshua Blosveren is emerging as one of the firm’s busiest and most visible litigators. In addition to his Syngenta work, Blosveren serves as insurance counsel to the Board of Directors of Tesla in connection with their pursuit of insurance coverage under D&O insurance for an underlying litigation pending in Delaware Chancery Court relating to the compensation of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Blosveren also represents Cox Enterprises and Cox Radio in connection with their pursuit of coverage arising out of the high-profile defamation and invasion of privacy claim brought by Terry Bollea (also known as the wrestler Hulk Hogan). In a favorable ruling for Cox, a US district judge denied Hiscox’s motion to dismiss Cox's breach of contract and bad faith claims in July 2020. Damian Cavaleri, who attends to a hybrid commercial and employment practice, represented RAK Tourism in a case brought by a plaintiff to enforce a foreign judgment in New York state court through motion for summary judgment in lieu of complaint. The court granted Cavaleri’s motion to dismiss, and The First Department affirmed the lower court’s decision. Cavaleri also acts for individual clients; one voices appreciation, stating, “Damian counsels his clients, and helps with perspective when clients are upset. [He worked on a] separation agreement after I was terminated. He drove the conflict to conclusion, explained everything, and kept me realistic.” 

Holwell Shuster & Goldberg

New York litigation boutique Holwell Shuster & Goldberg has, since its inception in 2012, forged a reputation as one of the city’s most esteemed legal shops. Its partners, which span a comprehensive range of senior partners and younger talent, have received near-unanimous acclaim. “It’s a great boutique composed of smart and aggressive people, some of whom actually got their start at some of the best ‘bigger law’ firms out there.” Holwell Shuster is particularly adept at cases featuring an intersection of commercial and securities or antitrust, and it has afforded itself the opportunity to take on cases in the plaintiff role as well as defense.    
     Arguably the firm’s busiest and most visible partner, Michael Shuster continues to lead the charge, appearing in a lead role on a staggering number of matters attended to by the firm over the past year. “Michael Shuster is a trial lawyer! Look closer at him for some trial awards,” advises a peer, who concedes, “I went against him a couple of times and by the second time I was ready to cry ‘Uncle!’” Among the many residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) “putback” actions the firm has been engaged on are multiple cases in which it represents HSBC Bank USA as plaintiff trustee, against financial institutions that securitized residential mortgage loans. The cases collectively seek billions of dollars. Other partners involved in these matters include Daniel GoldbergAvi Israeli, and Daniel Sullivan, all of whom also receive the nod from peers. Shuster and Goldberg also were brought in to represent first US Bank, and then Wilmington Trust, as trustees to serve as lead trial counsel in the prosecution of RMBS “putback” claims against Lehman Brothers across more than 150 RMBS trusts. The claims are for breach of contractual representations and warranties concerning tens of thousands of defective mortgage loans that Lehman securitized before it imploded at the outset of the financial crisis. Shuster also is lead counsel for Visa, a mainstay client, in several key matters. In one, he and future stars Demian Ordway and Blair Kaminsky represent the client in a putative nationwide class action and dozens of individual antitrust actions in multiple jurisdictions brought by some of the largest retail merchants in the world. These merchants claim that Visa, among other parties, conspired to impose rules and fix fees governing credit and debit card transactions in violation of antitrust laws. Visa denies all liability. In September 2018, the parties reached a settlement for $6.26 billion with one of the putative classes of merchants, which is subject to possible reduction of up to $700 million in the event opt-outs exceed a certain threshold and is believed to be the largest-ever antitrust class-action settlement. Final approval of the settlement was granted in December 2019 and is currently being fought by objectors on appeal. That settlement aside, this team continues to defend Visa in the dozens of cases brought by individual merchants as well as in a class action seeking injunctive relief (where plaintiffs seek changes to the fundamental rules underlying the Visa network). Goldberg, Israeli and Dorit Black represent AIMCo, an investment fund owned by a foreign sovereign, and also Wells Fargo, as a securities intermediary, in nine-figure multi-district litigation against insurance carriers alleged to have improperly increased premiums on “universal life” insurance policies. The team has secured several important early wins in these high-profile cases, ensuring that the defendants’ alleged abuses will be adjudicated on the merits. Vincent Levy represents Aenergy S.A., an energy and transportation company doing business in Angola, in connection with various proceedings arising out of the termination of 13 contracts worth $1.1 billion between Aenergy and entities owned by the government of Angola. In May 2020, Levy filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York on behalf of Aenergy and one of its wholly owned subsidiaries against Angola and General Electric, asserting that Angola unlawfully repudiated its commercial contracts with Aenergy and expropriated Aenergy property, and that GE tortiously procured that unlawful repudiation and aided and abetted the expropriation. Aenergy seeks compensatory damages from Angola and GE in excess of $500 million for lost profits (before interest), as well as punitive damages.  “Vince is fantastic and has a bright future ahead of him. He used to be at [a competitor], where he got some superb training, and he knows!” Levy worked with Shuster representing Travelport, a travel technology company that was unsurprisingly roiled by the COVID pandemic, in a dispute with its lenders under a $3 billion credit agreement. Levy, Shuster and Ordway represent Valassis, owned by Ron Perelman’s private equity fund MacAndrews & Forbes, in a massive antitrust action against News Corp. and affiliates over practices in the “in-store promotions” market. Valassis claims that News has taken a host of actions, including strategically staggering the expiration dates of its long-term exclusive contracts with retailers, to prevent Valassis from gaining access to a significant share of the ISP market at any given time. The action in which Valassis is seeking approximately $700 million in damages as well as injunctive relief, was scheduled to go to trial in June 2021. A firm team composed of Shuster, Kaminsky and Sullivan were called into service in late 2020 to represent Chubb as nationwide lead trial counsel and appellate counsel in Chubb’s docket of opioid coverage cases regarding whether certain insurance policies cover opioid manufacturer, distributor, and retailer’s liability in connection with the opioid epidemic.

Hueston Hennigan

Since its genesis in 2015, Los Angeles litigation boutique Hueston Hennigan has seen as ascent that can only be described as astonishing. Formed by a group of commercial litigators who peeled off of California institution Irell & Manella to launch this venture, Hueston Hennigan has forged itself a coveted position as a local litigation shop that has achieved statewide and even national prominence. The firm is noted for its mission of putting a premium on trial work, a mission that has been fulfilled with rapid momentum on several high-level appointments. “They have just been massively successful,” sums up one East Coast litigator, stating a consensus shared by many. The firm’s client base is remarkably diverse, ranging from individuals to a variety of entities encompassing tech giants, Native American tribes, the Boy Scouts and the California State Bar (to name but a few), with very little repeat business and virtually no “routine” cases. “Hueston Hennigan doesn’t do the ‘cookie-cutter.’ They do really cool, cutting-edge work,” declares a peer, who goes on to confide, “I admit it makes me jealous, and I’m sure I’m not alone!”
     The firm’s figurehead is John Hueston, a trial trailblazer who has carved himself an enviable position even among others in the elite trial lawyer circuit. “I’ve seen trial lawyers rise and fade but John is young and vibrant enough to be in this for the long haul,” opines one peer. Hueston’s proven activity as lead counsel on a number of high-level appointments more than supports this near-unanimous acclaim. Hueston is not alone in his trial prowess and activity, however. Moez Kaba has staked himself a position as another of the firm’s lead trial counsel, acting in tandem with Hueston or on his own on some of the firm’s most high-stakes disputes, and he has accomplished this still well before his fortieth birthday. Kaba makes his debut as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the US in this edition of Benchmark, a coveted status made all the more impressive by the fact that he is the youngest appointee to this prestigious list by some distance. Indeed, over the past year alone, Kaba has earned his stripes on multiple occasions. Continuing a multi-year streak of trial wins, Hueston and Kaba secured a victory – on all claims – for Amazon in a case in which eBay attempted to publicly accuse the online retailer client of poaching eBay employees via the eBay messaging system. The Hueston pair moved to compel arbitration and, after succeeding in this capacity, in November 2020, Amazon triumphed before an arbitrator panel on every last claim for which eBay sued. Hueston and Kaba also prevailed for PwC in a federal bench trial in a whistleblower case concerning a former auditor who confidentially approached the SEC, accusing the company promoting the opportunities to bring in corrupt business at the behest of management as well as take a more lenient approach to audits in order to keep clients happy. The auditor was terminated shortly thereafter and thus also claimed that his actions led to him unjustly being removed. The Hueston team succeeded at trial in July 2021. “These cases are just ‘WOW!’ factor all the way,” enthuses one peer. “Even by [Hueston Hennigan’s] usual standards of trial breeding, this is exceptional, and even though John appears to be the dominant force publicly, Moez’s contribution is not to be underestimated.” It is also worth noting that the cases referenced are just two examples of Hueston’s and Kaba’s remarkably sizable catalogue of wins.
     Beyond Hueston and Kaba, others at the firm are starting to emerge as stars in the own right. Douglas Dixon makes the leap from future star in this year’s edition. “He’s a spectacular lawyer,” insists a peer. “He leads the firm’s efforts on the fire cases that they do for Edison, where the client has been exuberant. That is a tough case! Doug has also been involved in some really cutting-edge tech issues for clients such as the entity that owns Match.com.” Enthusiasm is also strong for new future star appointees Allison Libeu and Vicki Chou. “They both have really positioned themselves as key counsel on a number of issues,” confirms a peer. Libeu acted with Hueston and Kaba on the aforementioned case for Amazon. Chou, a white-collar-focused practitioner, is said to have “put more than 10 trials under her belt while she was at the US Attorney’s office [in the Central District of California, in both the Criminal and National Security Divisions.]”

Hueston Hennigan

Since its genesis in 2015, Los Angeles litigation boutique Hueston Hennigan has seen as ascent that can only be described as astonishing. Formed by a group of commercial litigators who peeled off of California institution Irell & Manella to launch this venture, Hueston Hennigan has forged itself a coveted position as a local litigation shop that has achieved statewide and even national prominence. The firm is noted for its mission of putting a premium on trial work, a mission that has been fulfilled with rapid momentum on several high-level appointments. “They have just been massively successful,” sums up one East Coast litigator, stating a consensus shared by many. The firm’s client base is remarkably diverse, ranging from individuals to a variety of entities encompassing tech giants, Native American tribes, the Boy Scouts and the California State Bar (to name but a few), with very little repeat business and virtually no “routine” cases. “Hueston Hennigan doesn’t do the ‘cookie-cutter.’ They do really cool, cutting-edge work,” declares a peer, who goes on to confide, “I admit it makes me jealous, and I’m sure I’m not alone!”
     The firm’s figurehead is John Hueston, a trial trailblazer who has carved himself an enviable position even among others in the elite trial lawyer circuit. “I’ve seen trial lawyers rise and fade but John is young and vibrant enough to be in this for the long haul,” opines one peer. Hueston’s proven activity as lead counsel on a number of high-level appointments more than supports this near-unanimous acclaim. Hueston is not alone in his trial prowess and activity, however. Moez Kaba has staked himself a position as another of the firm’s lead trial counsel, acting in tandem with Hueston or on his own on some of the firm’s most high-stakes disputes, and he has accomplished this still well before his fortieth birthday. Kaba makes his debut as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the US in this edition of Benchmark, a coveted status made all the more impressive by the fact that he is the youngest appointee to this prestigious list by some distance. Indeed, over the past year alone, Kaba has earned his stripes on multiple occasions. Continuing a multi-year streak of trial wins, Hueston and Kaba secured a victory – on all claims – for Amazon in a case in which eBay attempted to publicly accuse the online retailer client of poaching eBay employees via the eBay messaging system. The Hueston pair moved to compel arbitration and, after succeeding in this capacity, in November 2020, Amazon triumphed before an arbitrator panel on every last claim for which eBay sued. Hueston and Kaba also prevailed for PwC in a federal bench trial in a whistleblower case concerning a former auditor who confidentially approached the SEC, accusing the company promoting the opportunities to bring in corrupt business at the behest of management as well as take a more lenient approach to audits in order to keep clients happy. The auditor was terminated shortly thereafter and thus also claimed that his actions led to him unjustly being removed. The Hueston team succeeded at trial in July 2021. “These cases are just ‘WOW!’ factor all the way,” enthuses one peer. “Even by [Hueston Hennigan’s] usual standards of trial breeding, this is exceptional, and even though John appears to be the dominant force publicly, Moez’s contribution is not to be underestimated.” It is also worth noting that the cases referenced are just two examples of Hueston’s and Kaba’s remarkably sizable catalogue of wins.
     Beyond Hueston and Kaba, others at the firm are starting to emerge as stars in the own right. Douglas Dixon makes the leap from future star in this year’s edition. “He’s a spectacular lawyer,” insists a peer. “He leads the firm’s efforts on the fire cases that they do for Edison, where the client has been exuberant. That is a tough case! Doug has also been involved in some really cutting-edge tech issues for clients such as the entity that owns Match.com.” Enthusiasm is also strong for new future star appointees Allison Libeu and Vicki Chou. “They both have really positioned themselves as key counsel on a number of issues,” confirms a peer. Libeu acted with Hueston and Kaba on the aforementioned case for Amazon. Chou, a white-collar-focused practitioner, is said to have “put more than 10 trials under her belt while she was at the US Attorney’s office [in the Central District of California, in both the Criminal and National Security Divisions.]”

Hunton Andrews Kurth

Hunton Andrews Kurth, the product of a recent merger between two prominent firms (the Southeast institution Hunton & Williams and the Texas-centric Andrews Kurth), with the combined entity bringing together each firm’s strengths in a complementary fashion and doubles down on its comprehensive coverage regionally. Clients cheer the firm’s “expertise in our area and consistent excellence in client service and communications exceeded expectations,” calling out the individual lawyers’ “thorough, responsive and concise work product,” and testifying that they are “always available”.
     Hunton’s concentration of litigation talent in its Richmond office is particularly notable. Mike Shebelskie garners praise from well beyond Virginia and is noted nationally for his presence in high-stakes matters often containing an environmental element, an area in which Hunton & Williams was particularly well versed. Shebelskie has cases with Elbert Lin, another Richmond partner who has been particularly visible as of late. Lin argued for Maui County at the Supreme Court in a case exploring the parameters of the Clean Water Act, Lin triumphed in a favorable decision that was rendered in April 2020. “This is a milestone,” claims a peer. “It’s time to recognize Elbert Lin!” Another environmental litigator (and leader of the practice) based in the DC office, Deidre Duncan led a team that won a significant victory for Mosaic Fertilizer in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in a suit challenging the federal authorizations and reviews issued for Mosaic’s South Pasture Extension mine under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA.)The underlying suit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups, raised more than a dozen claims under NEPA, CWA and ESA. The Hunton team defeated those claims in the district court in November 2018, and the environmental groups appealed. In a comprehensive opinion, a divided panel of the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision and, in doing so, established important precedent governing the scope of NEPA reviews.
    Kelly Sandill in the firm’s Houston office led an all-female firm team that scored a milestone win in a hotly contested lawsuit for the Houston Police Officers’ Union when, in May 2019 after months of litigation, a Harris County District Court Judge awarded summary judgment in the client’s favor by ruling that Proposition B, which was a City Charter Amendment passed by the voters that tied firefighter pay to police pay, was preempted by Texas state law and unconstitutional. The ruling follows a year’s worth of contentious debate surrounding Proposition B and the financial effect on the City of Houston and Houston police officers. In the Miami office, all-purpose commercial litigator Sam Danon continues to be viewed as “a force,” with one local peer elaborating, “Sam is very savvy – he’s a native Spanish speaker, which you need to be around here, but Sam is particularly good at using this to his advantage not only in litigation but for building business.”
     The firm’s geographic footprint is not limited to the South. Partners in the firm’s Boston office Harry Manion and Martin Gaynor led a team that won a June 2019 jury verdict of more than $20 million against the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center over dredging related to construction of a marine terminal.

 

Husch Blackwell

Husch Blackwell is a Midwest powerhouse firm headquartered in Missouri, with expansion offices in Arizona, Illinois, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The team of 300-plus trial and appellate attorneys are known for achieving favorable results for clients inside and outside the courtroom. 

Omaha, Nebraska’s Marnie Jensen led the team that prevailed in August 2020 before the US Court of Appeals on behalf of Farmobile in trade secret litigation initiated by a competitor in 2016, leading to the Nebraska Firm of the Year award at the 2021 Benchmark Litigation Awards. She routinely handles breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract claims, trade secret claims, intellectual property issues, unfair competition allegations and shareholder disputes.  

Seasoned St. Louis trial counsel Joseph Orlet is active on toxic tort and mass tort litigation, as well as in product liability disputes. He serves as lead counsel to Bayer in an action alleging the defendant misappropriated confidential information in violation of company policies, employment agreement, and federal and state lawFellow partner JoAnn Sandifer focuses on real estate, commercial and appellate litigation. As lead partner to the St. Louis County Council, Sandifer secured a victory in expedited proceedings before a St. Louis County judge on behalf of three St. Louis County Council members sued by the St. Louis County Counselor in a dispute over leadership of the County Council for the 2021 calendar year. Christopher Smith is a skilled litigator who is recognized for his work in class actions and bet-the-company cases. Smith is lead counsel to Centene Corp. in an action that alleges the defendant made false and misleading statements and omissions in connection with the purchase or sale of the company's stock both by the company itself and by the defendant. The Court granted Centene’s motion to dismiss, which was dismissed with prejudice for plaintiffs’ failure to make a demand upon Centene's board of directors before pursuing this derivative action. Rudy Telscher is a revered intellectual property litigator whose expertise spans district and appellate courts across the country, including arguments before the US Supreme Court. A testament to Telscher’s success is the securing of a recent victory for Sotera Wireless before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the US Patent and Trademark Office resulting in PTAB precedent when the Board decided to institute an inter partes review of a patent that is the subject of a pending, parallel lawsuit in US District Court regarding an alarm system for medical monitoring equipment. The Board found Husch Blackwell’s arguments and methods so useful that it marked this decision precedential to help future IPR parties in navigating PTAB procedure. Jefferson City managing partner Lowell Pearson is a trusted litigator who is active in government actionsemployment, and constitutional cases. Pearson successfully intervened as lead counsel in two lawsuits, and secured placement on the August ballot for an initiative petition to expand eligibility of Medicaid in Missouri. 

Jeffrey Simon, the Kansas City managing partner, is an experienced litigator with a diverse practice. He is active in a host of business disputes, including prosecuting and defending intellectual property cases, antirust actions, securities fraud, class actions, breach of contract, among other areas. Simon represented Farm Journal in prosecuting a trade secrets claim against a former employee and defending counterclaims for advancement of legal fees. The matter recently settled on favorable terms. 

Chicago-based litigator Don Mizerk is a distinguished intellectual property advocate who was part of the lead counsel team that recently secured a victory for TruPharma in its federal court litigation brought by a competitor alleging false advertising and unjust enrichment, among other counts, in connection with the manufacture and sale of a medical cream. 

Kaplan Hecker & Fink

Litigation boutique Kaplan Hecker & Fink is viewed by peers as “the place to be” at the moment. “They chose the right moment to form that firm,” opines one. “Their model is superb, and their approach dovetails perfectly with so the issues of this time in history.” The firm’s partners continue to demonstrate the fierce commitment to social justice that has been in its DNA since its 2017 founding, and its partners, all formerly with “big law” firms, boast a remarkably trial-tested résumé for their relatively young vintage. Historically a New York-based shop, the firm recently expanded, opening a DC office and welcoming back Joshua Matz, who is returning to the firm after serving as counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee, as a partner in February 2020. The New York office also got an infusion of talent in 2020 with the recruit of Marshall Miller, a white-collar star who joined the firm from a competitor. “That’s a great addition,” offers a peer. “Marshall is a capable lawyer with a stellar track record.” More recently, the firm welcomed Mike Ferrara, a former prosecutor who attends to a white-collar focus, to the partnership in its New York office. “He’s wonderful,” raves one peer on Ferrara’s behalf. 
     Founder and all-purpose trial lawyer Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan continues to earn plaudits for her role as a mentor and driver of the firm’s culture as well as for her unwavering commitment to pursuing cases dedicated to progressive causes. “Robbie Kaplan is our adversary most of the time,” testifies one peer, conceding, “and it’s tough to be on the other side of her.” Kaplan triumphed for Airbnb, a longtime client of hers, in challenging a New York City Council law that, if passed, would have required the client to produce massive amounts of private business records to city officers with no procedural or privacy protections, doing irreparable harm to Airbnb’s business in New York City. In June 2020, Airbnb reached a highly favorable settlement with New York City, resolving the matter. Kaplan also led a team (which included Matz) that represented Brown University in expedited litigation brought by plaintiffs alleging violations of a 1998 agreement that requires Brown to satisfy certain gender proportionality requirements in its varsity athletics programs. In September 2020, the firm team reached a proposed class settlement in the suit on behalf of the client that was then approved by the court in December 2020.  
     The firm has also been observed to have “gotten much more into white-collar work now!” In this capacity, Sean Hecker is a unanimous favorite of peers. “He is just a total mensch and also a fantastic lawyer, with great trial skills in the white-collar world. Hecker and Jenna Dabbs represent Gregory Dwyer, who was indicted by the Southern District of New York for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. Dwyer is an executive of BitMEX, a cryptocurrency exchange and derivative trading platform and was charged alongside the three co-founders of the company. The matter is also the subject of a parallel CFTC investigation. Hecker and Ferrara meanwhile represent John Patrick Gorman III, who was sued by the CFTC for allegedly manipulating the prices of US dollar interest-rate swap spreads while working as the head of non-yen rate trading for Nomura. This same firm pair also represent the former chief investment officer of New York-based investment firm Infinity Q Capital Management. In February 2021, the SEC informed Infinity of alleged evidence that the client had made improper changes to a pricing model used to value the fund’s investments. At that time, the firm halted redemptions to investors, and has since liquidated its hedge fund. 

Kasowitz Benson Torres

Kasowitz Benson Torres is a New York-headquartered trial firm with nine additional offices sprinkled across the continental United States. Known for its complex commercial litigation prowess, the team is known to represent clients on both sides of the “v”. Clients describe the firm as “outstanding” and “having superior trial experience who can resolve your most complex legal issues.” Another client specifies, “for plaintiff's structured finance litigation representing bondholders (i.e., hedge funds), they are one of the top 3 firms in the United States. [They are] also good at commercial litigation across the board. 

The firm has been successful in a wide variety of litigation actions and trials, including a recent triumph by founding partner Marc Kasowitz in his representation of one of the largest monoline insurers MBIA in a victory capping 10 years of litigation. The Supreme Court of New York found that the Kasowitz team proved that Credit Suisse breached its representations and warranties, one of the very few such actions to go to trial.  Following the victory, MBIA secured a $600 million settlement from Credit Suisse. Kasowitz and fellow partner David Rosner are members of the lead counsel team that represented Howard Meyers, the chairman of Eco-Bat Technologies, in defense of actions for purported breach of contract, fraud, racketeering, and other alleged misconduct brought by a number of investment funds concerning a €600 million payment in kind loan that later was securitized and sold to investors. The team reached a multi-phased settlement, which provided, in part, for EB Holdings to file a voluntary pre-packaged bankruptcy case, which resolved the state court lawsuit and enabled Meyers and his affiliates to receive a substantial portion of the reorganized equity. Revered trial lawyer Sheron Korpus represents the Herzog family in an ongoing lawsuit, seeking to recover the family art collection that was looted from its Jewish owners during World War II and displayed in Hungarian museumsKorpus defeated the motion to dismiss filed by the museums and the corporation managing the art. Jennifer Recine co-chairs the real estate litigation practice where is recognized for her work in real estate disputes, civil RICO and other securities actions, professional malpractice, tax, and other complex proceedings. Recine recently led the firm to success in a high-profile dispute real estate dispute against New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation Development for which the firm represented the owners of the city’s renowned Chelsea Hotel. Mark Ressler chairs the firm’s software litigation practice. Ressler represents Certified Collectibles, an entity comprising seven of the world’s leading collectibles service companies, in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against a publicly traded Argentinean technology firm that allegedly botched a software implementation. Stephen Tountas is lead trial counsel in a closely watched dispute relating to the Valeant securities litigation. The team, along with co-counsel, filed a direct securities fraud action on behalf of the Public Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Mississippi against Valeant Pharmaceuticals. The dispute arises from allegations that Valeant misled shareholders regarding its core business model, improperly accounted for the sales of certain unreported subsidiaries due to the alleged improper conduct of certain former officers and has materially defective internal controls. In an ongoing commercial and real estate action, Paul ‘Tad’ O’Connor represents JDS Development in several actions arising out of JDS’ development of the 90-story, luxury building at 111 West 57th Street in Manhattan. The New York Appellate Division unanimously dismissed claims against 111 West 57th Property Owner of breaches of fiduciary duty and constructive trust involving the 90-story luxury condominium located brought by AmBase 
     Beyond New York, the firm has made strides in California, specifically in Los Angeles, where Dan Saunders is regarded as a white-collar authority. A newly added star this year, John Berlinski mines a niche in entertainment law. A former in-house counsel at NBC Universal, Berlinski manages a practice that focuses on the talent side of entertainment disputes. Berlinski represented Aspire Records, original incubator of Canadian rapper Drake, in a matter in which the client alleged it was entitled to a third of Drake’s profits once he moved to Universal. Berlinski also represents Scarlett Johansson against Disney in a breach of contract dispute concerning the streaming of the release of  Black Widow.” 

Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick

Headquartered in downtown DC, Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick is a mid-sized law firm home to numerous trial-tested appellate and complex litigation lawyers.
       Founding and managing partner Michael Kellogg specializes in appellate, regulatory, and antitrust issues, many of which he has argued before the US Supreme Court. Fellow name partner Mark Hansen is a seasoned trial lawyer active in civil and criminal actions. As counsel, he has obtained some of the largest judgments in antitrust and unfair trade practice cases in recent history. David Frederick, a name partner, manages a diverse practice in the appellate arena. He has represented an array of individuals, classes and companies before the US Supreme Court, state supreme courts, and in every court of appeals across the country. Frederick serves as lead counsel for National Credit Union Administration in a lawsuit against numerous international and national banks. Aaron Panner is recognized for his work in the antitrust space. He is active representing clients in high-profile, high-stakes disputes in appellate and district courts across the country. He recently represented iPhone owners in one of the most considerable victories for private antitrust plaintiffs before the US Supreme Court. Andrew Shen is recognized for his breach of contract, securities, antitrust, health care, fraud, telecommunications, and whistleblower litigation practice. He recently represented an insurance company in a string of lawsuits related to the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities. Steven Benz is recognized as an antitrust and unfair competition expert, having represented clients in numerous complex commercial actions throughout his 25-plus year career. He is part of the lead counsel team representing Veeva in a suit filed by a rival life sciences giant which accuses the client of poaching an employee as part of an alleged practice that encourages competitors’ works to breach noncompete agreements. A Maryland federal judge determined the court had no jurisdiction over the matter.

Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check

Founded just outside of Philadelphia in Radnor, Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check stands as a nationally recognized heavyweight amongst plaintiffs-side law firms, especially in securities litigation. Peers on the defense side continue to commend the firm for its selective process, as one peer approves“[they’re] careful with the cases they pick.” In addition to its renowned reputation in the US market, the firm also carved a significant space in the European market, with litigators Stuart Berman and Darren Check widely recognized for their disputes practice outside of the US. “They really pioneered that,” testifies a peer. “They had the vision to see the demand for those services and they were quick to develop it.”   
     Lee Rudy and Sharan Nimrun recently secured a major victory for plaintiffs in a stockholder class action and derivatives litigation arising from the CBS merger with Viacom. The Delaware Chancery Court affirmed all but one of the claims alleged by the clients and other co-lead plaintiffs. Andrew Zivitz and Matthew Mustokoff continue to represent the lead plaintiff against Goldman Sachs executives in the massive 1MBD fund fraud scandal in Malaysia. Zivitz and Mustokoff recently prevailed against the defendants’ motion to dismiss which was granted in part and denied in part by the Southern District of New York. As co-lead counsel Gregory Castaldo obtained a $65 million settlement in a securities fraud class action against SeaWorld. The settlement came on the eve of trial early last year and the Southern District of California granted preliminary approval. 

 

King & Spalding

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 arbitrationprobably 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 natural gas-fired combined-cycle electric power plant on time and within budgetThe 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 equipmenterasing 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 caseStephen 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.

Kirkland & Ellis

Since its inception in Chicago in 1909, Kirkland & Ellis has steadily risen to become an international powerhouse. Kirkland is a very formidable firm – [they have] a lot of talent. They have a lot of really solid people. There’s just something ‘cool and tough’ about them that you just can’t touch.” One of the larger and more comprehensive litigation capacities, Kirkland stands out as a firm that that boasts bench strength and high-level appointments in virtually every area of practice it offers, which include (but are not limited to) securities, antitrust, product liability, appeals, intellectual property, white-collar and investigations, commercial litigation, and bankruptcy, with the last being an area in which the firm is particularly dominant. In bankruptcy, it’s Kirkland every day – they have to be at the top,” insists one peer, himself a leader in this practice. Kirkland is also noted for housing several leaders in the trial law specialty. 
     One such all-purpose trial lawyer, Chicago’s James Hurst is a respected authority in the field, who boasts an enviable streak of activity – and victories – in the courtroom over the past several years. Hurst is part of a team, which also includes Chicago-based white-collar and enforcement star Mark Filip as well as fellow Chicago commercial litigator Andrew Kassof, in defending Safeway, a subsidiary of Albertson Companies, in False Claims Act litigation alleging that defendants’ pharmacies misrepresented their usual and customary prices. The Kirkland team took over the case in 2019 after prior counsel lost a critical summary judgment motion. In 2020, the Kirkland team convinced the court to accept and then rule on a new summary judgment motion ahead of many other pending motions. Kassof also secured a victory for Abbott Laboratories and subsidiary St. Jude Medical when the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed a suit that suit arose out of St. Jude’s recall of implantable pacemakers and defibrillators in 2016. The plaintiff sued under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and other state statutes and sought reimbursement for tens of millions of dollars in healthcare costs. Kassof and his team won dismissal of the Florida case in 2019. The plaintiff refiled in Delaware where Kassof again won dismissal in 2020. In 2021, a second nearly identical Delaware action was also dismissed. 
     DC-based partners Craig Primis and Winn Allen, fresh off an August 2019 win for Facebook (and some would argue the internet) in which the pair defended the social media behemoth against a suit by victims of Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel alleging the client abetted terrorism, are now defending Accenture and its parent company Accenture plc in a putative consumer class action arising from a data breach involving Marriott’s guest reservation database. This is one of the first data breach cases to be brought against a third-party service provider of an entity that experienced a breach. The plaintiffs allege that Accenture’s negligent performance of its infrastructure and application outsourcing contract with Marriott caused or contributed to the breach. In 2020, the pair won dismissal of claims for negligence under Maryland law.  
     Showcasing the firm’s celebrated bankruptcy prowess, in August 2020, Kirkland team led by Mike Slade secured a major appellate victory when the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of client Westmoreland Coal Company and held that healthcare obligations mandated under the federal Coal Act may be modified. The decision permits Westmoreland to avoid liquidation, preserve the going-concern value of its operations, and preserve jobs. A fellow leader in the bankruptcy capacity testifies, “Mike Slade, he is the one who comes in in these [contentious bankruptcy] scenarios. [He is a] Real deal trial lawyer. 
     Kirkland has made notable strides in the securities capacity, primarily from its New York office, helmed by veteran Sandra Goldstein. “Sandra not only has a terrific reputation but also a sizeable book of business,” confirms a peer. Among Goldstein’s several key appointments, she is representing private equity firm 3G Capitalone of Kraft Heinz’s largest shareholders, in putative securities class actions and related shareholder derivative actions pending in federal court in Illinois and the Delaware Court of Chancery, alleging violations of federal securities laws and breach of fiduciary duty related to the $15.4 billion write-down of Kraft Heinz’s assets and the disclosure of an SEC investigation into Kraft Heinz’s accounting policies, procedures and controls. Goldstein is by no means the only securities star at Kirkland generating notice. Stefan Atkinson, who acts with Goldstein on the 3G case, is said to be “a leader in the SPACs area. He has done about five or 10 SPAC litigations already!” Another New York practitioner quickly making his mark, Matt Solum is regarded as one of the biggest up-and-comers of the securities bar right now” by a peer, who goes on to confirm, “He’s everywhere!” Another peer testifies, “Matt was my contemporary at the SEC, and he’s excellent. Give him another year or two and he’s going to be a superstar, being mentioned alongside all the older and more established people.” Exemplifying the “everywhere” descriptor, Solum acts with Goldstein in defending EQT Corporation and certain of its current and former officers and directors in a consolidated putative securities class action arising out of EQTs $6.7 billion acquisition of Rice Energy; acted with Jay Lefkowitz in defending ABM Industries against a stockholder derivative lawsuit concerning its cybersecurity practices (the Kirkland team won full dismissal in 2020), and acts with Yosef Riemer in defending Bristol-Myers Squibb and certain of its current and former officers in a putative securities class action arising out of a drop in the companys stock price following negative drug trial results for its flagship cancer treatment. The Kirkland team won complete dismissal in 2019 and had amended claims dismissed in 2020. A peer also insists, “a new name has to be Rachel Fritzlerwho has done a ton of work on the stock-drop side of securities. I’m terrified of how much she knows about accounting fraud! When it comes to that, she is your person. 

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

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-diseaseRoyzman 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 Groupthe 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 BenchmarkDaniel 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. 

Labaton Sucharow

Plaintiff shop Labaton Sucharow has been historically viewed, and still is primarily known, as a securities boutique, although the firm has broadened its scope to take on cases in the antitrust arena as well. Operating in the financial district of New York, as well as in Wilmington, Delaware and Washington, DC, the firm is well poised to feed heartily on a steady diet of corporate disputes arising on Wall Street and in the Delaware Court of Chancery. Peers also advise, “Look closer – Labaton is getting more into the consumer class actions space as well, particularly with privacy and data breach work.”
     A noticeable change of the guard has transformed the front lines of Labaton’s bench, with a host of younger partners making their mark with lead appointments on some of the firm’s biggest cases of late. Exemplifying this, as well as the observations about the firm taking on more privacy-related work, two New York future stars, Michael Canty and Corban Rhodes, provided co-lead counsel and secured an all-cash $650 million settlement from social media juggernaut Facebook in a case alleging Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology to extract and store user biometric identifiers without consent and as required by the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. “They were actually working this up for trial against Facebook’s very formidable team of lawyers and it settled,” testifies a peer. Another New York future star, Carol Villegas as lauded for her “grit and talent,” both of which were put on display in several cases in which she provided co-lead counsel. In one such case, and another involving privacy issues, she leads a securities class action related to a massive data breach that Marriott International disclosed in November 2018. The action, which has been consolidated with four other related actions, including the consumer class action, alleges that Marriott and certain of its executives made false and misleading statements about Marriott’s 2016 acquisition of Starwood and the security of customer data stored on the legacy Starwood guest reservation database. Villegas argued for an unsealing of a report revealing key details about the breach and triumphed in securing this in July 2020 against strong resistance from the defendants. Villegas also was appointed co-lead counsel in a securities class action lawsuit against AT&T and certain of its executives and directors. The complaint alleges that AT&T misled investors about the success of its video streaming product DirecTV Now and failed to disclose, that the product was supported by heavy promotional activity and by "ghost accounts" created by adding the product to AT&T's customer accounts without telling the customer, or without telling the customer it was a subscription product. James Johnson, a more senior partner in the New York office, lays claim to several key victories of his own. Johnson was co-lead counsel in a securities class action against regional electricity and natural gas supplier SCANA made false and misleading statements about the construction of two new nuclear reactors in South Carolina. Plaintiffs also alleged SCANA misrepresented it was acting prudently on the project when it successfully sought $1.7 billion in increased customer rates to offset construction costs. Defendants agreed to a settlement of $192.5 million in October 2019 after the court rejected SCANA’s motion to dismiss in March. Johnson is also lead counsel in a securities class action against Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, alleging that the defendant misled investors about having robust quality processes and systems in place at their manufacturing facilities. Dr. Reddy’s shares dropped after a series of disclosures by the FDA and other regulators revealed that conditions at three key Indian manufacturing facilities violated FDA regulations.
     One of Labaton’s biggest developments as of late has been the rising profile of the firm’s Delaware practice. This has largely been attributed to the efforts of Ned Weinberger, a partner who has the community talking. “Ned is one of the leaders,” confirms one Wilmington peer. “There are no shortcuts in Delaware – you have to earn your way up through the peers and judiciary. Ned has gotten appointed lead counsel on several cases, important cases, over people from several other plaintiff firms that are more established in Delaware!” Another peer adds, “Courts love him, he’s an aggressive litigator who gets results.” Weinberger scored a plum appointment in March 2019 when he was appointed co-lead counsel in a class-action against Dell Technologies stemming from a $14 billion share exchange transaction that closed in December 2018. The action alleges that the controlling stockholders of Dell breached their fiduciary duties and expropriated billions of dollars in value from Dell's Class V Stockholders. According to the complaint, Dell's controllers created a sham special committee that was riddled with conflicts, failed to obtain appropriate and independent advice, and ultimately aligned itself with Dell. “I think Ned is still under 40,” testifies a peer, who humorously quips, “which makes me sick to my stomach – the fact that he’s gotten so far so quickly and so much younger than me!”

Latham & Watkins

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 capacityClubok 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 caseand 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 departmentMichele 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 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.”

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein is coming up on celebrating 50 years and since its founding in 1972, the firm has steadily garnered national recognition as a highly respected plaintiffs’ law firm. It also stands among the Top 20 Trial Law Firms, with expertise in consumer protection, intellectual property, product liability, antitrust, and securities litigation. The firm continues to gain the attention of peers who say it “almost pioneered” no-poaching private class actions and has cornered the market for automotive and auto parts industry litigation.
     Elizabeth Cabraser is arguably the firm’s center of gravity practicing out of the San Francisco headquarters. Cabraser keeps a national profile, with a reputation spanning coast to coast, and in both the plaintiff and defense capacities, weighing in on her behalf. Cabraser represented a class of over 100 people injured nationwide, along with the families of loved ones who died, in accidents involving GM vehicles sold with a defective ignition switch which, without warning, which caused cause the car’s engine and electrical system to shut off, disabling the air bags. GM was allegedly aware of this defect and failed to inform government safety regulators and the public for over a decade. In December of last year, the court granted final approval of the settlement. Fellow name partner Richard Heimann is listed among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers and Top 20 Trial Lawyers in California. Last April, he obtained a $240 million settlement for plaintiffs in the Wells Fargo shareholder derivative litigation. It stands as the largest insurer-funded derivative settlement to date. Kelly Dermody was recently described as a “renowned, excellent lawyer” by a peer. She specializes in labor and employment litigation, bringing pay equity, #MeToo, and discrimination lawsuits challenging the policies and patterns of large companies. She continues to represent plaintiffs alleging claims of gender discrimination against Goldman Sachs in New York federal court. In addition, Dermody obtained class certification in the pay-equity and gender-discrimination case against Google.

 

Lightfoot Franklin & White

Lightfoot Franklin & White is a prominent defense litigation firm founded in 1990. With offices in Birmingham and Houston, Texas, the firm has established roots in litigation, compliance and investigations matters. In January 2020, the Houston law firm of Levinthal Wilkins merged into Lightfoot, adding two partners and an associate to Lightfoot’s growing Houston office.
     Managing partner Melody Eagan is specialized in high-stakes catastrophic injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, product liability and appellate actions. Her trial experience involves serving as lead counsel for product manufacturers in high-stakes catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases across the Southeast, including jury trials in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. Eagan has overseen hundreds of cases in 25 years of legal practice. She currently serves as co-lead counsel to Leigh Corfman in a case that alleges repeated and malicious defamation by Republican candidate for Senate and Judge Roy Moore. The defendants answered the complaint with several motions to dismiss, all of which were denied after extensive briefing by the parties. The case is in discovery with the client seeking a trial date in 2020. A trial-tested lawyer, Lana Olson focuses her practice on business litigation, contractual disputes, catastrophic injury cases and mass torts. She represents clients ranging from small, family-owned businesses to Fortune 100 corporations. She was lead counsel defending American Home Shield Corporation (AHS) in a dispute that began when approximately 90 former and present customers initiated arbitration proceedings against the home warranty company claiming breaches of contract, bad faith failures to pay, and violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The firm secured a greater-than-75% win rate and, because of that result, the claimants' attorneys agreed to settle all remaining cases for less than 20% of their initial settlement demand. As the firm’s hiring partner, Haley Cox is skilled in disputes that arise out of claims of personal injury, medical malpractice, and fraud. She has been responsible for hundreds of cases in 13.5 years, and she has overseen global and complex resolutions in a variety of disputes. Cox, along with Eagan and Olson, have been recognized on Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation list for 2020.
     Johnny Johnson is a founding partner of the firm. He has spent more than 30 years defending companies against environmental and mass tort litigation, including class actions and individual toxic tort lawsuits. He represented the city of Jackson, Mississippi in a suit against international company Siemens, along with several local subcontractors, bringing claims for fraud, declaratory judgment, and breach of contract. The suit sought more than $225 million in damages for a water meter and billing system designed and installed by Siemens and its subcontractors that failed, costing the city more than $20 million a year. Less than ten months after filing suit, Siemens agreed to pay the city $89.8 million to settle the case. As a result, the city was essentially reimbursed the full amount of the contract price while retaining the equipment installed, including the water treatment plant and sewer line repairs. Harlan Prater is active in high-stakes civil trials, and has developed an expertise in product liability, pharmaceutical, medical device, environmental and business litigation. Prater also frequently represents clients in consumer fraud, antitrust and patent actions. Enrique Gimenez is active in product liability and commercial litigation, as well as in collegiate sports law. Both Prater and Gimenez are currently representing BP Exploration and BP America Production in ongoing personal injury actions arising out of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Prater and founding partner Christian King are members of the trial team representing 3M Company in a series of class actions, mass actions, and single-plaintiff actions alleging that historical operations at the client’s manufacturing facility in Decatur, Alabama, have allegedly contaminated the local environment.  The various cases assert claims for personal injury, property damage, and violations of federal environmental law.

Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo

Over its many decades in operation, Mintz has grown well beyond its Boston roots, expanding both geographically and reputationally to hold a national profile in various areas of practice. The firm is equipped with nationally recognized litigators in white-collar, commercial and product liability.
     The Boston office remains a powerhouse, especially in the area of insurance litigation. The insurance practice group founder and current co-chair Kim Marrkand is representing Liberty Mutual in a complex matter arising out of the Northern California forest fire which caused $1 billion in damage. The insured company Trees and the additional insured company Pacific Gas & Electric filed proceedings separately against the client in California federal court. Each case alleges breaches of Liberty Mutual policies and bad faith claims. Since one of the lawsuits involves the additional insured company, the case raises several questions regarding the insurer’s obligations to the additional insured. Nationally ranked insurance litigator Nancy Adams is also representing Liberty Mutual in connection with the bankruptcy of the Diocese of Duluth after the 125 sexual abuse claims against the diocese’s parishes resulted in an $8 million jury verdict on one claim alone. Adams is lead coverage counsel for the client and, in a rare move, Adams successfully persuaded the bankruptcy court to remove the reference of the coverage action to district court. After briefing on the issues, Adams secured a settlement and she awaits the bankruptcy court’s decision to confirm the Plan of Reorganization as per the settlement agreement.
     Fellow Boston partner Adam Sisitsky and New York partner Frank Earley are defending PriceSmart and former executives against a securities class-action lawsuit. The plaintiffs alleged that the client misled the public about its performance and prospect in the Latin American and Caribbean warehouse store markets. Sisitsky and Earley secured a dismissal of the case in February of this year, avoiding settlement and further exposure, especially as the case garnered media and public attention.
     White-collar litigators Robert Popeo and Peter Chavkin are representing one of the defendants in the highly publicized nationwide college admissions indictment, referred to as “Operation Varsity Blues.” Boston prosecutors allege that over 50 defendants used bribes or falsified credentials for their children to be accepted into elite universities. The client is among the last to litigate against the claims, and Popeo and Chavkin are set for trial in September of this year.
     Boston’s Scott Ford obtained a complete victory on his motion for summary judgment for LBV Hotel in a matter that sought to challenge the client’s rights under a Right of First Offer (RFO) provision in a 100-plus year ground lease for a hotel property owned by Headquarters Hotel worth over $80 million. The complex commercial matter defined the rights obligations of a party making an offer in accordance with a ROFO provision. Ford is continuing to represent LBV on its counterclaims and damages.

MoloLamken

A litigation boutique with offices in New York, Chicago and DC, MoloLamken has quickly become a favorite among the crowded field of litigation shops. The firm earns rave reviews from clients and peers. One client succinctly sums up the firm’s appeal: “MoloLamken has a strong reputation as being effective litigators, without the inefficiencies of a large firm.”
     New York-based founding partner Steven Molo remains its most recognized and revered central figure. Peers stand united in their assessments of his profile and prowess. “Steven Molo is a trial lawyer!” exclaims one peer. “He has come in on cases as trial counsel when cases make it past motions to dismiss, and more often I’m seeing him on the plaintiff side!” Lending support to this specific assertion, Molo was brought in by two well-known plaintiff firms as lead trial counsel for a putative class of millions of Facebook advertisers who were deceived by Facebook’s claim that it could accurately target ads to specific audiences advertisers selected. The complaint alleges Facebook fraudulently misrepresented that its platform allowed advertisers to target particular audiences with “89%” accuracy.  That claim was false because Facebook’s data showed that fewer than half—40% or less—of their ads’ viewers would actually meet the targeting criteria they paid for. Actual damages are to be calculated after merits discovery but are estimated to exceed $1 billion. Molo also represents Contrarian Capital Management and certain funds and separately managed accounts for which Contrarian acts as an investment adviser in an ongoing breach-of-contract action arising out of Venezuela’s failure to pay principal and interest on nine series of bonds held by Contrarian with an original principal balance of over $575 million. Further illustrating his versatility, Molo represents Indeck, a  developer, owner, and operator of electric power plants that brought a breach-of-contract action against a Minnesota private equity firm and its affiliates who conspired with disloyal Indeck executives. The defendants misappropriated Indeck’s trade secrets and confidential information to develop competing power projects. After a 2018 summary judgment ruling, the case went to a week-long bench trial on damages in May 2019, and in October 2020, the court awarded Indeck over $25 million in lost profits and prejudgment interest. 

     In the DC office Jeffrey Lamken, an appellate specialist, has been in equal demand. Lamken represents VirnetX as lead appellate counsel in defending two judgments for patent infringement against Apple for $440 million and $500 million, respectively—which are on appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal circuit. Also in the DC office, Robert Kry is enjoying a steady ascent in profile. A peer insists, “You must list Robert Kry! He is absolutely going places.” Kry represents Carpatsky in a dispute with its former joint venture partner Ukrnafta concerning efforts to develop oil and gas fields in Ukraine. Ukrnafta is Ukraine’s largest oil and gas company and is indirectly majority owned by the Ukrainian government. After a dispute over profits from the joint venture arose, Carpatsky initiated arbitration proceedings in Stockholm that resulted in a $150 million arbitral award against Ukrnafta. In contested proceedings in federal court in Texas, Carpatsky obtained recognition of its $150 million award and defeated Ukrnafta’s claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and misappropriation of trade secrets that sought $80 million in damages from Carpatsky. In April 2020, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Acting in tandem, Kry and Molo represent Teleflex, a provider of medical technologies, in a contract dispute arising out of Teleflex’s acquisition of Essential Medical in 2018.

Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello

Despite operating from just one New York office, Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello’s reputation as a premier white-collar and investigations powerhouse transcends jurisdictions and its client base often traverses borders. “They don’t do everything, but they are the best at what they do,” sums up a peer. “And that word has gotten around well beyond New York.” One peer testifies, “I refer them work. They are an extremely adept and qualified firm for handling sensitive criminal defense matters for individual defendants and corporations.” Clients stand in agreement, also offering support. “Morvillo Abramowitz is among the most responsive firms in New York.  It's hard to imagine they could deliver more focused and effective client service,” extols one. Another confides, “I use other firms but, when I can get them, I appreciate the personal touch I get with Morvillo.” Although white-collar crime is the firm’s most celebrated business, the firm has expanded into cases that touch on high-end commercial and labor and employment issues, largely involving executives. The cases coming through the firm, while as sensitive, and often confidential, in nature as always, have become noticeably more centered around novel and cutting-edge issues such as #MeToo, cryptocurrency, politically motivated prosecutions and social protests. 
     Arguably the most celebrated name on the firm’s current roster is Elkan Abramowitza seasoned partner revered by peers and clients alike. “[He is an] extremely talented criminal defense attorney and an exceptionally gifted trial lawyer,” extols a peer. Abramowitz andRichard Albertled the representation of the CEO of American Media, publisher of the National Enquirer, in connection with a high-profile Southern District of New York investigation relating to the well-publicized Michael Cohen scandal. Albert has his own fan base, with one peer calling him “an heir apparent to the more senior level partners.”Robert Anellois also heralded for his “unflinching approach to highly sensitive individual matters.” A client addresses Anello as “the go-to advocate in New York for high-stakes white collar investigations.” This client goes on to add, “He also excels at handling complex commercial disputes, especially ones that touch on regulatory and white-collar issues. Anello leads the representation of a former Platinum Partners employee charged by the DoJ and SEC in connection with allegations that hedge fund assets were overvalued and that misrepresentations were made to investors. Anello resolved the criminal case by securing a deferred prosecution agreement with the government in which the government agreed to dismiss the indictment against the client with prejudice after the expiration of a two-year deferral period. Anello and Catherine Foti also handled a recent #MeToo-related case, which was particularly novel in that proceedings were conducted via ZOOM. The pair mediated the case and got it resolved. Foti is especially engaged in the #MeToo capacity, in which she acts on cases as plaintiff as well as defendant. Foti and Jodi Peikin, another practitioner operating in this space, are working together on a #MeToo case for a well-known newscaster. Foti’s practice also includes labor and employment matters. The firm is commended by peers for its development of its “next-generation” bench strength.Benjamin Fischer, a partner of younger vintage who has garnered a nearly annual increase in peer acclaim, is viewed as one whose profile warrants greater media attention. “You need to recognize Ben Fischer as a national white-collar star,” insists a peer. “He is my go-to when I need someone to represent an individual. I view him as the leader of the next generation there [at Morvillo.] He has an excellent bedside manner for senior executives. Fischer acts (with Jonathan Sack) in the representation of the Spanish media company Imagina Group, a leading global content, production, and sports media provider, in connection with the Company's resolution of a multi-year investigation by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York into improper payments made by one-time managers of the company to obtain media and marketing rights to certain World Cup soccer qualifying matches in the Central American and Caribbean regions. For his part, Sack is also championed by a client as extremely knowledgeable and experienced, someone who excels at representing corporate executives caught up in DoJ investigations.” Fischer also acts with another younger star, Brian Jacobs in advising more than 100 individuals addressing issues relating to undisclosed offshore accounts. The firm also got another boost of young star power in 2019 with a pair of recruits that have been dubbed “the Fraud Twins” by others within the firm for their specific focusTelemachus Kasulis, who joined the firm in January 2019 from his post at the Southern District of New York, has been attending to criminal matters primarily in the health care industry. Christopher Harwood, another relatively recent recruit, manages a diverse practice that includes commercial and civil fraud work, as well as the criminal work typical of the firm.

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough has expanded well beyond is Southeastern roots, venturing both west and north of its headquarters in South Carolina. The firm has focused on Baltimore in recent years and, attesting to the firm’s continued expansion in the citya peer mentions that Nelson Mullins is still grabbing attorneys from other firms.” In addition to its deepening bench, the firm’s reputation has grown parallel, especially in the product liability space where it remains nationally recognized for its litigation expertise.  

Michael Brown is recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer and among the firm’s luminaries in product liability and commercial litigation. Based in Baltimore, Brown maintains a significant reputation as a trial lawyer. He is routinely retained to represent national, market-leading companies in trial. He is currently handling a matter arising from asbestos exposure. Fellow Baltimore partner and commercial litigator Michael Blumenfeld has been engaged in several class-action lawsuits recently, particularly related to property management companies in litigation against current and former tenants alleging improper or excessive fees related to late or non-payment of rentLast year, in such a matter, Blumenfeld obtained a favorable ruling from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County on behalf of Morgan Properties Management. The court denied the plaintiffs’ request for class certification. Another Maryland partner, Towson-based commercial litigator Michael Sturtz is defending all the defendants against alleged violations of Maryland fraudulent conveyance statutes. The actual damages the plaintiff is seeking is more than $1.5 million. 

In the Southeast, the firm operates three offices in North Carolina and four in South Carolina. Raleigh-based Noah Huffstetler focuses his practice on healthcare litigation, as well as commercial and appellate-level disputes. He recently defended Wayne Memorial Hospital in litigation against a nephrologist who alleged that the client breached the settlement agreement previously reached, which included a change in the rotational policy to promote an equitable distribution of consultations. In early 2021, the parties settled the matter by improving the physician and patient referral choice policies, which included a recommendation that the medical staff repeal the consultation policy. The Columbia office houses Top 100 Trial Lawyer and nationally recognized product liability litigator David Dukes who represents nationwide, market-leading clients in complex class actions and multi-district litigation disputes.  

The West Virginia office features Marc Williams who has been acting as national trial counsel for American Optical in a series of product liability matters in West Virginia and Kentucky. The lawsuit was filed by underground coal miners who allege that they have suffered lung injuries due to dust exposure that should have been prevented by the client’s respiratorsHe is also handling several class actions for West Virginia University Hospital and affiliated medical centers in separate lawsuits – one alleging improper billing for patient medical records and the other involving a data breach of patient information. The former matter resulted in a reversal of the trial court’s class certification by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.  

The firm’s western presence is solidified by Mark Clouatre who serves as the managing partner of the Denver office. His commercial litigation practice remains highly active with an ongoing matter defending United Airways in a putative class action. The matter stems from an emergency landing made by Flight 328 which was bound for Honolulu. The plane experienced an engine blowout after takeoff and scattered debris in the Denver area. Although the landing resulted in no serious injuries, passenger filed a lawsuit against the client alleging claims of negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.  

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler

Patterson Belknap has been heralded as “perhaps the most underrated firm in New York” by a peer. “They should be referenced more often as one of the very best. They are very hard workers, and yet all pleasant, very ethical, just some really smart people who are also tough litigators.” The firm has its fans among former members of the judiciary as well. The firm’s practice offering covers a diverse spectrum, spanning commercial matters, white-collar crime, antitrust, intellectual property, securities and false advertising claims, an area in which the firm is said to be one of the few major players. The firm’s hybrid model also affords it the freedom to take on cases in the plaintiff and defense roles. Patterson Belknap has also made headlines as of late for matters involving a more novel nature.
     In one example of such uniqueness, Daniel Ruzumna made the news in March 2020 as one of the firm partners filing an audacious lawsuit on behalf of watchdog group American Oversight against Donald Trump and White House adviser Jared Kushner, alleging a private Trump advisory group on clemency is violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act by not filing a charter, and by keeping their meetings and documents concealed from the public. Ruzumna also represented a former trader at Premium Point Investments (PPI) who was charged by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the SEC with securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. The charges relate to the alleged mismarking of bonds in PPI’s portfolio of securities and other bond valuation practices. Trial in this matter began in June 2019 and concluded in July 2019, with a guilty verdict. Among Ruzumna’s fans in the community is a former judge [now a partner at a prestigious firm], who cheers, “Dan is phenomenal, he was the lead lawyer in the 650 5th Ave case. He was brought in at the time of trial. He had a hard case but he was always prepared, zealous and careful, just a terrific trial lawyer.” In another headline case of public interest, Muhammad Faridi has drafted amicus briefs on behalf of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council 119, a union of asylum officers in federal litigation in support of plaintiffs challenging the Trump Administration’s actions limiting asylum and refugee resettlement in the US. These filings argue that the measures promulgated by the government violate international and domestic law governing the treatment of refugees, require the union’s constituents to violate their oath to uphold the laws of the US and betray the US’ longstanding and defining tradition of providing safe haven to those who are persecuted at a time of unprecedented global displacement. Faridi is also part of a team, which includes Peter Tomlinson and Robert Lobue, representing Ambac who, in 2010, sued embattled mortgage originator Countrywide in New York Supreme Court alleging pervasive fraud and breaches of representations and warranties made by Countrywide relating to the mortgage loans underlying 12 RMBS transactions. Saul Shapiro represents Bravo Media and Realand Productions, subsidiaries of NBCUniversal, in an action brought by the former producers of the television show “Real Housewives of Orange County.” Steve Zalesin is the firm’s False Advertising authority, widely considered one of the most prominent in the field. A fellow litigator in this capacity observes, “Steve represents J&J and is constantly in these types of disputes.” Zalesin represents The Hershey Company in a putative class action in federal court in California alleging that the statement “No Artificial Flavors” on the packaging for Hershey’s Brookside Dark Chocolate products is false and misleading because malic acid, an ingredient in the products, allegedly functions as an artificial flavor. In November 2019, the court granted his motion for summary judgment dismissing the claims of the individual plaintiffs and denied plaintiffs’ class certification motion. Zalesin also represented Clorox in a Lanham Act suit against its chief competitor Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of Lysol products. The suit concerned a wide range of Lysol advertisements that contained false and misleading comparisons to multiple Clorox products, including Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner + Bleach and Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. The case settled on confidential terms. 

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison

Paul Weiss’s litigation department has seen no shortage of “good years” over the course of the past decade. However, it would not be an exaggeration to describe the past year as simply extraordinary. The firm has continued to go from strength to strength in building its profile through strategic hiring, mentoring and grooming of younger staff, and maintaining a level of prestige among its peers. Its stable of stars, already strong and comprehensive, got a substantial boost in 2020 when it lured two DC-based key players, antitrust specialist Bill Isaacson and trial luminary Karen Dunn, to its bench from Boies Schiller. These recruits are unanimously viewed by the community as a material coup and, coupled with a continuing amplification of talent in its flagship New York office, have built quite a buzz around the firm. “I have even heard rumblings about them opening an office in California, and I would be shocked if this didn’t play out.” The speculation proved to be correct; the firm launched an office in the Silicon Valley in July 2020, staffed with two more Boies Schiller recruits, securing a foothold on the West Coast. That office, and in particular the firm’s white-collar bench depth, was augmented further with a one-two punch of star power via the January 2021 recruits of Melinda Haag and Walter Brown, two universally beloved practitioners formerly with Orrick. This latest amplification firmly secures Paul Weiss’s standing in this capacity, bookending it with equal horsepower on both coasts. It would be somewhat of an understatement to mention that the firm has also done quite well in terms of taking on – and winning – landmark cases.      

      Indeed, the firm kicked of 2020 with a milestone win for ExxonMobil in its contentious climate change litigation. Suing under New York’s infamous Martin Act, a New York Attorney General wanted $1.6 billion in damages from ExxonMobil, alleging that the energy giant made material misstatements about how it accounted for climate-related risks, which in turn had a material impact on investors. In December 2019, after a 12-day trial, a New York State Supreme Court Justice sided with the defense. This landmark climate-change lawsuit in New York state court is believed to be the first such case ever to be tried to verdict. Ted Wells, not only the firm’s most recognizable trial lawyer but arguably one of the most celebrated trial lawyers in the country, and Dan Toal led the defense. This remarkable triumph landed the firm an “impact case” award at the 2020 Benchmark awards ceremony, and further cemented Wells’ prestigious position as a “hall of fame” award recipient at the same gala. Toal’s profile is gaining momentum as well; one peer confirms, “Dan has a bunch of work for MLB. He’s a trial lawyer in his late forties and really smart. I view him and Susanna Buergel as Paul Weiss’s superstar trial lawyers at relatively young ages. These people are really coming into their own.”
     David Bernick is representing Dow Chemical and its corporate parent DowDupont in defending numerous class actions alleging that Dow, together with several other manufacturers and sellers, conspired to raise prices for methylene diphenyl diisocyanate and toluene diisocyanate, chemicals primarily used in the production of polyurethane products. “David Bernick does incredibly complex tort litigation,” offers a peer. “He is representing Juul, which is facing a lot of litigation.” The aforementioned pair of Dunn and Isaacson is acting for Apple in defending against antitrust claims from Epic Games, maker of the popular Fortnite game, that Apple abused its position concerning the downloading of games through its app. Dunn and Isaacson also represent Amazon in a putative class action brought on behalf of consumers alleging that Amazon’s “fair pricing” policy, which requires third-party sellers not to use pricing practices that harm customer trust, has raised the prices of products sold by those third-party sellers, violating antitrust law.

     Brad Karp, who remains the firm’s Chairman (a post he has held since 2008) and the one many credit with the firm’s astonishing upward trajectory and strategic build-out, is also still a renowned securities advocate. Karp and Lorin Reisner achieved a landmark victory for Blackstone in July 2020 when the Kentucky Supreme Court unanimously held that beneficiaries of the state’s pension plans lacked standing to bring their claims on behalf of the fund or the Commonwealth. Participants in Kentucky’s public pension fund had sued Blackstone’s alternative asset management unit and other hedge funds, claiming that they unlawfully encouraged the pension fund to invest in inappropriately risky funds of hedge funds while the state fund’s financial condition was deteriorating. Their lawsuit sought damages of $50 billion—equal to the entire funding deficit accrued over two decades. Reisner also represents former CEO of Iconix Brand Group in a pending criminal securities fraud trial as well as a parallel SEC litigation. The charges involve certain accounting and financial reporting issues at Iconix. Dan Kramer is also acknowledged by a peer as “the stock-drop king!”
          In the intellectual property capacity, a more recently developed practice within the firm, patent specialists Nicholas Groombridge and Eric Stone receive numerous peer plaudits. One IP contemporary testifies, “There are only so many firms that do biologics work on any serious level, literally a group of about five, and Paul Weiss always seems to be in there as one of them. Nick Groombridge is their show horse and the charming trial lawyer, but Eric has also really come up. He is really a workhorse and deserves more credit.”

     In the firm’s DC office, Kannon Shanmugam, an appellate authority who has argued a near-record number of cases before the Supreme Court for someone of his relatively vintage, has notched yet another appearance through his representation of Goldman Sachs and former executives as petitioners in a matter in which the respondents allege that the client violated securities laws by making a series of generic and aspirational statements such as “our clients’ interests come first.” After several decisions at lower courts, the Supreme Court granted Goldman Sachs’s petition for certiorari.

Perkins Coie

Initially headquartered in Seattle and still considered a dominant force in that city’s legal community, Perkins Coie is unique in its ambitious strategic expansion. Its West Coast origins have enabled to establish a considerable footprint in the western half of the US as well as in Asia, specifically China and Taiwan. Perkins Coie is also somewhat unique in its distribution of litigation talent; rather than clustered in one specific city or metropolis, the firm has stars in a variety of disciplines throughout its offices in more recently developed offices such as Madison, Wisconsin and Anchorage, Alaska. One peer notes, “Perkins Coie is still the big brand name in Seattle – they get all the Boeing work! – but some of their best litigators are actually spread throughout its other far-flung offices.”
     Perkins Coie scored a considerable coup, and immediately established a burgeoning New York presence, with the recent absorption of the entire litigation team of the former Richards Kibbe & Orbe firm when that firm decided to divest itself of its litigation practice in 2020. In doing so, Perkins Coie also received a significant augmentation to its securities and white-collar operations on the East Coast. Lee Richards, a seasoned star in this capacity, is revered by all peers in the white-collar and enforcement field who are familiar with him. Richards remains an active force in this field, with several high-level appointments to his credit in just the past year alone. He represented Liberty Health Sciences in a securities class action alleging that Liberty made materially false and misleading statements about certain of its policies. In March 2020, the court granted Liberty’s motion for leave to file a motion to dismiss the class-action complaint. Richards is also counsel for the former director of CBS, Charles Gifford, in a federal class action against CBS and various officers and directors alleging violations of the securities laws related to #MeToo allegations against former CBS CEO Les Moonves and other CBS employees. The motion to dismiss filed by Gifford and the other director defendants was granted in January 2020. Richards also represents ICAP in a settlement with US and UK regulators over its alleged role in Yen LIBOR rate manipulation. Another former Richards Kibbe partner, Shari Brandt, acts on this particular matter. Brandt, a consistently recognized nominee in Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation over the past several years, is also counsel to a (confidential) company as well as to former senior executives involved in a federal class action alleging antitrust violations arising out of a claimed conspiracy among bank defendants to stymie the growth of open access markets for interest rate swaps on swap execution facilities following implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act. Other former Richards Kibbe stars acquired include James Walker and Daniel Zinman.
     Beyond its recent buildout in securities and white-collar, Perkins Coie has also established itself as one of the leaders in insurance coverage cases, particularly through its DC office where Selena Linde is a noted standout. A peer observes, “Shadow insurance suits are becoming a real phenomenon, and Perkins Coie is really becoming a leader in this space, on the plaintiff side.” The firm is also a noted contender in the intellectual property arena. A peer in this space confirms, “We recently tried a really hard case against David Anstaett, who is kind of Mylan’s trusted counsel. It was a three-ring circus, all remote, with witnesses all over the world. We won, but Dave is a very skilled lawyer who managed the case very effectively.”

Polsinelli

Polsinelli has grown beyond its Kansas City roots to inhabit various strategic locations throughout the country, often attracting local talent in the surrounding area. The firm’s aggressive expansion over the years has equipped it with breadth and depth in many areas of litigation.  
     Bouncing between Seattle and Chicago, Gary Hood maintains an intellectual practice touches on all facets of patent, trademark and trade dress IP litigation. Chicago’s Mary Clare Bonaccorsi serves as Polsinelli’s Cross-Department Litigation Chair. She is entrusted to map the overall litigation strategy for the firm.  Bonaccorsi’s practice mainly focuses on the healthcare industry, routinely leading high-stakes corporate internal investigations for clients in healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. Additionally, her casework often involves false claims act litigation before judges and juries in both state and federal courts throughout the country and she has several high-profile cases under her belt. New additions from the Chicago office include Thomas Gemmell and Daniel ReinbergGemmell’s practice mixes IP and business litigation. He leads several industry-specific practices, serving as lead of the unmanned systems and advanced robotics practice and co-lead of both the aviation practice and the transportation and logistics practice. Reinberg like Bonaccorsi concentrates his practice on the healthcare industry. He represents organizations, corporations, and providers in a variety of cases, including civil and criminal matters, healthcare and securities fraud, and lawsuits arising under the False Claims Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  
     John Peterson, a new addition to this year’s rankings, bridges a geographic and practice divide. Based in Nashville but also operating out of Chattanooga as well as Los Angeles, Peterson is a commercial litigator with vast experience in securities as well as real estate, and he is yet another Polsinelli partner devoted to healthcare litigation, an industry essential to Tennessee's economy. In Atlanta, Brian McEvoys white-collar practice is dedicated to fraud and abuse in the healthcare industry.  Farah Nicol operates out of the firm’s Raleigh and Los Angeles offices and serves chair of the firm’s litigation department -- the first leader to not be based in Kansas City, the firm’s mainstay. Nicol’s primary focus is on product liability and toxic tort litigation.  

Pomerantz

A plaintiff shop with offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, covering both coasts as well as the heartland, Pomerantz is known for its prodigious capacity for cases and its tenacity to keep pursuing them. “I feel like Pomerantz is everywhere right now,” declares one peer. “They are filing everything!” The firm made heads turn and landed on national headlines when, in January and February 2018, the firm, as sole lead counsel for the class, along with lead plaintiff Universities Superannuation Scheme Limited, achieved an eye-popping $3 billion settlement with Brazil’s energy giant, Petróleo Brasileiro S.A, otherwise known as Petrobras. “That Petrobras case was just huge,” testifies a peer. “Everyone was pretty blown away when they scored that.”  
     The partners responsible for the Petrobras case, including New York’s Jeremy Lieberman and Emma Gilmorehave kept exceedingly busy ever since. Gilmore secured an important precedential decision at the US Supreme Court in June 2021 for the benefit of shareholders in the closely watched Goldman Sachs Group Inc v. Arkansas Teachers Retirement System caseThe decision ensures investors are able to continue to aggregate their claims and pursue securities fraud violations as a class by safeguarding the vitality of the Basic presumption of reliance that the Supreme Court established decades ago. The ruling on the issue of evidence was in accord with arguments presented by Pomerantz, which had submitted the sole amicus brief on the contested issueGilmore secured a third big win in an action against Arconic, a case that arose from the deadly Grenfell Tower fires in London. In this action, the Western District of Pennsylvania sustained the majority of plaintiffs’ claims in a securities class action that arose from the deadliest fire in the United Kingdom in more than a century. Plaintiffs alleged that during the class period, Arconic’s stock price was artificially inflated by the company’s misstatements about the safety of the insulating panels that were later implicated in the Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 71 people in June 2017. Gilmore’s team convinced the Judge not only to change his mind on many of the claims he had previously dismissed, but to make new law in plaintiffs’ favor on a number of significant issues. 

Additionally, Lieberman set important, ground-breaking precedent for global investors in Perrigo with the first certification of parallel classes of investors, domestic and international, that purchased dually listed securities on the New York Stock Exchange and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Perrigo, a global manufacturer of over-the-counter consumer healthcare products, generic drugs, and branded pharmaceuticals, has been alleged to have made materially false and misleading statements regarding the company’s business and competitive environment, first to defeat a hostile tender offer from its competitor Mylan, then to stem the decline in its shares after the Mylan tender offer expired unsuccessfully in November 2015. More recently, Lieberman also led a group of opt-out investors from a class action in Pennsylvania to a 2021 victory against Israeli-based generic pharmaceutical giant Teva when the court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds and chose to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the Israeli law claims. Lieberman was also part of a team led by future star and new partner Austin Van representing five major Israeli pension companies as lead plaintiffs against Mylanalleging that Mylan misled investors about wide-ranging wrongful conduct, namely overcharging Medicare for the EpiPen by hundreds of millions of dollars, and engaging in anticompetitive activity to raise the price of the EpiPen. More recently, Lieberman led a team that, as of August 2020, has achieved $35 million in settlements in this ongoing antitrust litigation against multiple defendants on behalf of a class of U.S. lending institutions that suffered losses as a result of the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal, which impacted trillions of dollars in investments. This closely watched multi-district litigation alleges that the class suffered damages as a result of collusive manipulation by the LIBOR contributor panel banks that artificially suppressed the LIBOR rate during the class period, causing the class members to receive lower interest payments than they would have otherwise received. Van and Lieberman also triumphed on behalf of investors in TechnipFMC, an oil and gas services provider, who allegedly significantly overstated its net income in the registration statement issued in connection with its January 2017 merger because the company was using incorrect exchange rates in translating the financial statements of its foreign subsidiaries. The company also misled investors about its compliance with accounting standards. In March 2021, the district court granted final approval of a $19.5 million settlement. A newly listed star this year, Matthew Tuccillo led a team that acted as lead counsel for 35 institutional investors in individual lawsuits against energy juggernaut BP, securing confidential but favorable monetary settlements for clients on a global scale, including public and private pension funds, money management firms, partnerships, and investment trusts. Another new listing in this year’s edition, Murielle Steven Walsh scored a newsworthy corporate governance-related win in July 2021 when the District of Nevada court denied, in part, the defendants’ motions to dismiss the Second Amended Complaint ina securities fraud class-action arising from Wynn Resorts Limited’s concealment of a long-running pattern of alleged sexual misconduct by CEO and founder Steve Wynn against female employees of the company, which was confirmed by gaming regulators after a lightning-rod exposé via 2018 Wall Street Journal article. Murielle Steven Walsh also scored a win in January 2021 when she secured a nearly $4 million settlement on behalf of defrauded investors in Ormat, a US and Israeli-based renewable energy entity. 

Proskauer

With seven of its 12 global offices situated strategically throughout the US, Proskauer provides a wide range of services to clients across a broad spectrum of practices ranging from commercial to intellectual property to securities, to white-collar crime and investigations, as well as its near-unparalleled status in specialty areas of employment, entertainment and sports law.
     The firm has also seen a pronounced spike in its bankruptcy profile, solidly on the strength of its mammoth appointment as lead outside counsel to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, which was created to oversee the restructuring of Puerto Rico's finances, valued at $125 billion. The Board's mandate is to return Puerto Rico to fiscal health with access to the capital markets, and to initiate pro-growth reforms designed to generate a free flow of capital between Puerto Rico and the US. In January 2020, the Proskauer team notched a watershed win before the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. This action involved a team of Proskauer attorneys from numerous offices, including Boston’s Timothy Mungovan, New York’s Martin Bienenstock, Margaret Dale and Stephen Ratner, and Los Angeles’ Michael Firestein. Dale, a commercial litigator who has made a noted pivot to bankruptcy, is involved in several other Puerto Rico-related issues, primarily dealing with employee retirement issues.
     A newly listed star this year, New York’s Peter Sherwin heads up the firm’s burgeoning international arbitration practice and dedicates a high percentage of his practice to cross-border actions. Sherwin successfully represented Bed Bath & Beyond in an action in Delaware Chancery Court to enforce an agreement by 1-800-Flowers to purchase a business line for $252 million. 1-800-Flowers sought to void the agreement, pointing to the unexpected impact of COVID-19.  After engaging in discovery, 1-800-Flowers settled and agreed to move forward with its purchase for $245 million. Another newly listed New York star, Hadassa Waxman is championed by a competitor as “an absolute superstar, a true leader in the area of white-collar litigation.” Brad Ruskin, whose practice straddles a unique intersection of antitrust and sports litigation, is defending Major League Soccer (MLS) against a lawsuit brought by the North American Soccer League (NASL) against MLS and the US Soccer Federation following US Soccer’s decision not to sanction NASL as a Division II professional league for the 2018 season. NASL alleges that MLS and US Soccer are engaged in an antitrust conspiracy to ensure that MLS is the sole Division I soccer league in the US. Summary judgment briefing was completed in April 2021.
     Proskauer’s California presence has been steadily increasing and the local market is taking notice. “We never saw them on our radar before but now we are monitoring their progress closely,” admits a peer from a local competing firm. In another action exemplifying Proskauer’s dominant position in sports law, Los Angeles’s Bart Williams represented the “Power 5 Conferences” in the trial of a high-profile class action brought by current and former NCAA Division I football and basketball players. The players filed an antitrust lawsuit challenging the limits on compensation and benefits for student-athletes. Plaintiffs sought an order removing existing limitations on compensation and benefits available to class members from schools or conferences. Following a 10-day bench trial, the court held that the challenged rules promote consumer demand for college sports by recognizing the distinction between college and professional sports. The ruling was upheld on appeal in May 2020. Williams also, along with Mungovan, represents Shamrock Capital Advisors, a private equity firm that was one of the principal investors in FanDuel, a bookmaker and fantasy sports provider. The litigation was brought by FanDuel’s founders and other minority shareholders against the client after a merger and alleges breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment. Having scored favorable rulings for Johnson & Johnson in talc litigation, Williams’ product liability trial acumen (as well as that of Manuel Cachan) was called into service by Monsanto and its parent company Bayer, in a California case alleging that the use of Monsanto’s herbicide, RoundUp, caused the plaintiff’s nonHodgkin’s lymphoma. The case settled weeks before trial in January 2020. Williams is also lead counsel for toy company Mattel and their co-defendants in 23 separate product liability wrongful death cases in Delaware and California state courts related to the Fisher Price Rock-n-Play Sleeper. The cases allege that the toy in question was not safe for use as a sleeping device for infants. Williams is also defending Gilead Sciences in various Northern California state and federal product liability actions related to Gilead’s HIV prevention and treatment drugs. The cases allege that Gilead failed adequately to warn about the increased risk of potential kidney disease and bone injury that could result from its highly effective and FDA-approved HIV medications. The plaintiffs also allege that Gilead held back safer drugs that it could have brought to market sooner. Further exemplifying his all-purpose versatility, Williams represents Ellen DeGeneres and her loan-out company Monkey Business in connection with the investigation by WarnerMedia into work environment issues on the Ellen DeGeneres Show reported to involve claims that the show’s producers verbally abused staff and made racist and demeaning comments regarding the show’s guests. Williams is a universally revered trial lawyer, with peers offering unanimous support. “I have tremendous respect for him. He is one who just shines in front of a jury,” offers one peer.
     Proskauer continues to make strides in its intellectual property arena as well. The twin pillars of Los Angeles’ Sige Gutman and Boston’s Steven Bauer represent Amgen in a high-profile life sciences patent matter concerning Amgen’s development and commercialization of a biosimilar to Genentech’s Avastin, a monoclonal antibody cancer therapy. The trajectory of the case wound its way to the Federal Circuit, where the Proskauer team defeated Genentech’s motion for an injunction pending appeal and ultimately prevailed on the merits.

Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg

Intellectual property and commercial litigation boutique Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg has made a notable impression on the legal community in fairly short order. Formed as Reichman Jorgensen in 2018 upon the departure of trial figurehead Courtland Reichman from a competitor in order to launch this venture, the firm underwent a branding overhaul in 2021, continuing to build upon its pedigree and swiftly rising market profile. A peer marvels, “They started national! And yet they are still lean and nimble.” Another notes, “They are known for doing a lot of IP work but it’s more than just standard patent cases – it’s more diverse, with a lot of it crossing over into antitrust and even bankruptcy.”  

Despite a network of offices spanning four cities (Silicon Valley, CA; Washington, DC, Atlanta and New York) and measured headcount growth (expanding from nine partners to 11 within the past year, with further growth plannedthe firm is still a compact group. It is also a majority woman-owned firm, with only two male partners, and, most notably, it has focused on fostering a trial-forward agenda. Peers address the firm as “smart and hungry,” and a client testifies, “The firm does an exceptional job preparing complex technical cases for trial before a lay jury. The firm also uses technology, such as internal databases to disseminate relevant information to the entire team quickly, which is exceedingly important in a fast-moving yet complex case.” 

     Reichman, based in the Silicon Valley office and the firm’s Managing Partner, is revered by peers as “a trial veteran, which is unique at his relatively young age, but not that surprising, seeing as how he got his chops through his time at McKool. A client calls him “a strong advocate and a true trial lawyer,” and goes on to quip, “I only wish there more of him.” Reichman led a team that scored a $236 million jury verdict win in January 2020, less than two years into the firm’s existence. This victory, for Canadian client Densify against industry giant VMWare, concerned virtualization technology. Acting with Reichman on this matter was DC managing partner Christine Lehman, who has her own set of vocally appreciative clients. One calls Lehman “exceptional at separating the wheat from the chaff’ and applauds her laser-like focus on the important stuff without sweating the small stuff. Lehman also scored a win in a remote ITC trial for Corning that she co-led with DC’s Kellogg Hansen firm in which the team filed a patent infringement complaint asserting five patents. Lehman’s efforts sought an exclusion order against a large number of companies importing fiber optic equipment, with the exclusion order granted in October 2020 

Reid Collins & Tsai

Reid Collins & Tsai has crafted itself a niche as a true maverick trial boutique, even as it continues its measured expansion. In addition to its two Texas locations (Dallas and Austin) and outposts in New York and DC, the firm boldly added a fifth office – among the crowded Wilmington, Delaware scene – this past year, bringing its total headcount tally to 37 lawyersThe firm is often the fortunate recipient of cases that other, usually larger, firms refer or are conflicted out of, and these cases fall primarily on the plaintiff side of the ‘V.’ “These guys are definitely purveyors of an increasingly lost art,” offers one peer. “But they are not just ‘cowboys,’ they are strategic. They prepare incessantly and they are not just looking to do ‘the settlement dance’ and get out.” Another peer – and frequent opponent – quips, “They are a pain to go up against because they’re so good! They’ve gotten very good at figuring out where money should come from when business deals fall apart. They approach litigation like businessmen and know quite a bit about bankruptcy!”  
     Austin-based (but nationally known)Bill Reid is an architect of the firm and an all-purpose commercial trial lawyer. “Bill is a survivor!” insists a peer. “He is hard-nosed but fair. We throw bombs at each other and then settle up afterward.” Reid represented Claymore Holdings in a long-running lawsuit, with its genesis in 2013, against Credit Suisse stemming from an allegedly fraudulent appraisal in connection with a 2007 loan that grossly overvalued a Las Vegas development project, which in turn induced Claymore to invest more than $250 million. After winning a $40 million dollar jury verdict in 2014 and after securing a judgment from the Texas state court, Reid argued and won multiple appeals on multiple issues in the Texas Court of Appeals and before the Texas Supreme Court. After over ten years of negotiation, litigation, and appeals, Dallas County Judge Dale Tillery rejected Credit Suisse’s argument that Claymore should receive none of the original $40 million jury verdict because Claymore had recovered a fraction of its losses in prior settlements with the appraisers. At a hearing in January 2021, Reid argued that Credit Suisse should pay Claymore $171.9 million in out-of-pocket damages and prejudgment interest. Credit Suisse is now liable for fraud having lost the issue for good. Reid also led a team that in September 2020 scored a $1 billion judgment for affiliates of Highland Capital Management from high-profile pharmaceutical investment fund and its principals in case involving complex issues regarding the use of a web of entities to avoid paying over $500 million in contractual obligations. Eric Madden, a bankruptcy-focused partner, sued certain directors and officers of Patriot National in a matter related to over $100 million in related-party transactions with its former chairman and his affiliates. The company collapsed into bankruptcy in early 2018 in the wake of an SEC investigation and a series of class-action lawsuits. Madden successfully negotiated a $44 million settlement of its client’s claims. 

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd is one of the biggest and most recognized names in the arena of plaintiff-focused litigation shops. It could hardly be pigeonholed as a “boutique,” however; it is one of the largest plaintiff firms in terms of geographic footprint as well, with offices on both East and West Coasts as well as in more exploratory locales such as Nashville, Tennessee and Boca Raton, Florida. “Robbins Geller is certainly one of the ‘biggies,’ the plaintiff firm everyone has heard of,” confirms a peer. Another peer, and frequent opponent in the defense capacity, testifies, “Robbins Geller file a lot of cases, and obviously I’m not going to agree with all of them but there are definitely some that you can’t deny, and they also have a few people who would actually try these cases if it came down to it. You don’t see too many of those in the plaintiff role, especially in class actions.”
     San Diego’s Darren Robbins is considered one of the firm’s central figures. As sole lead counsel, Robbins led a team that obtained final approval of a $1.2 billion settlement which resolves claims that defendants made false and misleading statements regarding Valeant’s business and financial performance during the class period, attributing Valeant’s dramatic growth in revenues and profitability to “innovative new marketing approaches” as part of a business model that was low risk and “durable and sustainable.” Also in San Diego, Debra Wyman secured a landmark $1.025 billion settlement in January 2020 in a case against American Realty Capital Properties after that entity’s 2014 admission of intentional wrongdoing and manipulative accounting practices.  Wyman prosecuted nine different claims for securities violations, involving seven different stock or debt offerings, and two mergers. The case immediately propelled Wyman’s stature; she was recognized as with multiple awards at the West Coast edition of the Benchmark awards in San Francisco in March 2020, including the case itself generating an ”impact case award,” and Wyman also landed a prestigious spot as one of Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation, one of the few in the plaintiff capacity to claim this honor. Another San Diego partner, Randall Baron secured a remarkable $60 million partial settlement in a case against Tesla concerning the company’s controversial takeover of SolarCity, which was rapidly being viewed as financially unsustainable and possibly even insolvent. The partial settlement squares the claims with the Tesla directors who approved the company’s acquisition of SolarCity; the claims against Elon Musk are proceeding to trial.

     In another case in which the firm took on brand-name behemoths of the tech world, Paul Geller in the firm’s Boca Raton office led a team that brokered a milestone $650 million settlement with Facebook that resolved claims that Facebook used facial-recognition technology to extract and store users’ biometric identifiers without the written consent of Illinois Facebook users required by the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act. This case also involved Boca Raton’s Stuart Davidson, who is also praised by peers. “I think he’s great,” declares one. “He is very effective and very busy. He was on the executive committee of a case against Yahoo!”

Robins Kaplan

Robins Kaplan is equipped with a team of trial lawyers who have the resiliency to take on high-stakes casesThe firm’s reputation has mostly been rooted in its intellectual property and antitrust capabilities; however, in recent years its recognition has expanded to becoming well-known in commercial litigation and securities class actions. Although the firm is often seen representing plaintiffs in litigation, its securities practice is defense-oriented. The firm’s Minneapolis and New York offices are the primary forces behind the firm’s recognition in litigation.  

     Several of the firm’s intellectual property litigators practice out of the Minneapolis office and are recognized nationally in the practice areaChris Larus is the chair of the intellectual property and technology group. He recently obtained a complete dismissal with prejudice on behalf of KVP International and Caerus Corporation in a patent infringement matter. The case involved alleged infringement of patents related to pulsed electro-magnetic field (PEMF) medical and veterinary devices. In addition to patent cases, Larus also has copyright and trademark infringement matters that are pending. He is representing FurnitureDealer.net in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Amazon after the client’s product descriptions were being used on Amazon’s website. The lawsuit also alleges a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and breach of contract claims. Larus represents Hubbard Media Group and ReelzChannel in a trademark infringement case against Facebook and Instagram challenging Instagram’s use of Reels on its platform. Jake Holdreith represented Collegium Pharmaceutical in its Hatch-Waxman lawsuit against Teva. The lawsuit arose following Teva’s announcement that it sought to market a generic version of the client’s XTAMPZA, a brand-name abuse deterrent of oxycondone. Originally, Holdreith alleged 12 Orange-book patents were infringed which increased to thirteen in the case. Last September, Holdreith obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of Collegium, which included a consent judgment confirming that Teva’s generic products infringed the asserted patents and that the client would grant Teva a license to market its generic Xtampza ER in September 2033. Ronald Schutz has been representing Chloe Coscarelli, known as the first vegan chef to win the Food Network’s top prize in “Cupcake Wars”The lawsuit erupted after former business partners ESquared Hospitality and its restaurant group BC Hospitality Group obtained a favorable arbitration decision in 2017 that removed Coscarelli as the namesake and identity for the business which include 10 restaurants. The lawsuit Schutz filed in 2018 alleged several claims, both commercial and intellectual property based, mainly asserting that the defendants exploited the client’s name, fame and image for their own benefit. On behalf of Coscarelli, Schutz sought compensatory damages, punitive and exemplary damages and disgorgement of profits, as well as a judgment that ESquared infringed her company’s trademark. The matter was litigated in the Southern District of New York in addition to the arbitration proceeding which granted a complete and final victory for Coscarelli. The client was reinstated as a 50% owner and the restaurant group BC Hospitality was enjoined from selling retail products using the “By Chloe” trademark. In addition, the client received a $2.2 million award in attorneys’ fees. The award was affirmed in district court in January 2021. Schutz also represented Coscarelli in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding investors of BC Hospitality Group filed. The matter additionally ended favorably with an order preventing the group from selling products with the “By Chloe” trademark without her consent.  

     The firm has been active in LIBOR-related litigation recently. Stacey Slaughter and Craig Wildfang represent the principal entities as direct-action plaintiffs in the BBA LIBOR rigging scandal against the rate-setting panel banksOn behalf of their clients, Slaughter and Wildfang have resolved cases against two of the banks, and other cases were transferred to Multi-District Litigation, including the “other-the-counter” class case, the “exchange-based” class case, and numerous other DAP cases. Thomas Undlin is lead partner as co-lead counsel representing plaintiffs in civil actions against bank defendants, including major financial institutions like Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan and Barclays. The suit alleges that the defendants conspired to suppress one- and three-month US dollar-denominated ICE LIBOR rates and returns. The matter is on appeal at the Second Circuit.  

     Wildfang and New York-based partner Kellie Lerner serve as co-chairs of the antitrust and trade regulation group. Lerner is the lead partner serving as court appointed co-lead counsel on behalf of a proposed class of direct purchasers of Merck’s mumps vaccine. The class alleges that the defendant monopolized the US market in a scheme to exclude competitors, in part by alleging an efficacy rate of 95% or higher. Merck filed a motion for summary judgment, which Lerner filed a sur-reply in oppositionThe parties completed their briefings on the motion in May 2020 and the court granted Lerner leave to file a second sur-reply to further oppose the motion. 

Schulte Roth & Zabel

With offices in New York and DC, Schulte Roth & Zabel is praised by peers for its “very high-quality” work, primarily in the financial services sector. The firm is noted for its novel mix of practice concentration, its cutting-edge client base and its approach to cases. “Schulte has really come to dominate in certain areas,” observes one peer. “They have always been a go-to for private equity and hedge funds, and now they have cornered the market in areas like cryptocurrency as well.” Cases in these areas are noted often for imposing “steep learning curves that demand a fast-moving and forward-leaning approach to litigating them effectively,” in the words of one peer, concluding “Schulte delivers.” The firm’s demonstrated strengths in the securities and white-collar areas have been prominently on display in a number of matters for a diverse spectrum of clients. A peer testifies, “I've worked with SRZ litigators on a variety of litigation matters over the years. Most recently we've been looking at cross-border securities litigation matters. The partners there have a range of skills that range from litigation to structuring and tax.” 
     The alluded-to “forward-leaning” approach is reflected in the firm’s star roster; peers make note of a “generational shift.” With the departure of two senior stars in the firm’s white-collar department, the New York group has been augmented with the recent addition of Gayle Klein, an all-purpose commercial litigator. This addition is viewed favorably by peers and clients. “Look more into Gayle, she is a major star,” advises a peer. A client meanwhile confirms, “Gayle is extremely effective in understanding her clients' needs and executing plans to effect those both in the courtroom and outside.” Exemplifying her own, as well as the firm’s, versatile caseload, Klein is attending to a trademark infringement case brought by a shareholder activist investment firm against a multi-strategy investment firm seeking to preclude it from using its chosen name. In April 2021, the court found that the plaintiff is unlikely to succeed on its claims and denied the motion for preliminary injunction, thereby allowing the client to continue to use its name in the proxy contest. Michael Swartz, who several peers view as the “heir apparent” to the firm’s securities practice and certainly one of the visibly active within the practice, has emerged as one of the foremost authorities on the cryptocurrency litigation that has occupied a lot of the firm’s time as well as Swartz’s own. He has also secured multiple hard-fought victories for venBio Select Advisor in a proxy campaign that was subject to an unusual level of litigation over many novel issues. Robert Ward, another New York stalwart, is attending to two actions relating to the property located at 520 Fifth Avenue in New York: one involving claims of breach of contract, fraud, and promissory estoppel, and the other involving a recovery sought for a borrower’s failure to repay principal and interest due under a promissory note.  
     In the smaller DC office, Pete White spearheads the firm’s white-collar practice, acting for a wide range of entities and individuals. In a new high-profile case, White is advising prominent Baltimore attorney Ken Ravenell, who has represented some of the city’s highest-profile defendants. Ravenell was arrested and charged following a years-long investigation by the government. “This is a fascinating case,” marvels one Baltimore peer. “Ken Ravenell is a fantastic trial attorney in his own right and so his case is getting a lot of attention.” 

Selendy & Gay

Founded in 2018 and operating out of a single location in New York, Selendy & Gay is a litigation boutique that spans well beyond the city’s borders and has generated buzz among fellow litigators from all corners of the country. This is undoubtedly due to the star power of its personnel; partners Philippe Selendy and Faith Gay were both “dynamos” at their former firm  Quinn Emanuel before decamping to forge what peers now address as “one of the most talked-about litigation shops.” The firm’s compact size and lack of bureaucracy allows it freedom to experiment with “cases that fall outside the boundaries of the ‘traditional’ cases that bigger firms deal with” as well as greater flexibility on rates. “They have been taking on some interesting work, like public interest cases, which they couldn’t have done before,” observes a peer.
     Gay, known for a diverse practice that combines commercial and white-collar matters, is representing a class of public servants in a sweeping federal class-action suit against the student loan servicer Navient for misleading borrowers as to their eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a federal program adopted in 2007 to help bridge the gap between the cost of higher education requirements for public service positions and the lower salaries those positions offer. Since then, 28,000 public servants have applied under the program, but only 96 people have actually received loan forgiveness. Effectively, according to recently released data, 98% of borrowers who submitted applications for this program have been rejected since October 2017.

     Selendy, who generated celebrity status through his nearly uninterrupted series of eye-popping settlements with a “who’s who” of banks while at his former firm, has continued to enjoy a strong profile as a “creative and forward-thinking securities and commercial litigation star,” particularly on the plaintiff side of the “V.” Supporting this claim is Selendy’s prominence in the burgeoning cryptocurrency area, a field in which he  is engaged in several cases. In one, he represents National Public Finance Guarantee against eight major banks to hold them accountable for alleged inequitable conduct in Puerto Rico's municipal bond market, which  contributed to Puerto Rico's economic collapse. The clients, bond insurers that have been presented with, and fully honored, over a billion dollars in claims after the municipal debt underwritten by the banks became unsustainable on their terms for the Commonwealth and its agencies and they defaulted on their obligations. In another case, Selendy represents cryptocurrency investors in a putative class action alleging that the controllers of the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex falsely represented that their purportedly “stable” cryptocurrency Tether was backed by US Dollars in order to control the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in an elaborate market-manipulation scheme that cost investors hundreds of billions of dollars. Working with the latter case with Selendy is Caitlin Halligan, an appellate star formerly with Gibson Dunn who peers view as a significant augmentation to the firm’s bench. Halligan handled an appeal in a lawsuit filed by a former New York police officer on behalf of hundreds of thousands of New York City public employees and retirees, alleging that health insurance company Group Health Incorporated violated New York’s consumer protection law by disseminating marketing materials that misrepresented critical aspects of out-of-network coverage. The New York Court of Appeals found in Halligan’s client’s favor, a significant victory for consumers. Halligan also, along with David Elsberg, represents the BVI Liquidator of the Fairfield Funds, the largest feeder funds into the Madoff Ponzi scheme, in prosecuting over 250 clawback actions in the Southern District of New York commenced against Funds’ redeemers, including many major financial institutions. The clawback actions, pending in the Bankruptcy Court, seek the return to the Funds of over $6 billion in overpaid redemptions. In December 2018, the Bankruptcy Court dismissed claims seeking restitution under BVI common law and contract theories. Halligan and Elsberg are in the process of appealing those decisions in the District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Shearman & Sterling

A fully integrated international conglomerate, Shearman & Sterling has been at the forefront of some headline-making litigation on a global basis and is routinely recognized as a leading legal entity by disputes lawyers from such locales as Europe and Southeast Asia. With most of its 20 offices being based in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, some would even argue that the firm is too globally integrated to even be relegated to assessment on just a one-country level. Nonetheless, within the States the firm is called upon most often for its experience and acumen with matters of the securities and white-collar and FCPA enforcement variety and is quickly developing a leading profile in the antitrust space as well.
     New York’s Adam Hakki remains a perennial peer favorite, with glowing reviews offered on a unanimous basis. Hakki’s practice is largely focused on, but not limited to, the securities, antitrust and governance fields, with experience in both the criminal and civil capacities. Hakki scored a victory for Sundial Growers by securing a unanimous affirmance of the dismissal of a putative securities class action after the client experienced stock price declines after its IPO. The litigation alleged, among other things, that the offering materials failed to disclose a purported product return and allegedly deficient quality control processes. In May 2020, the court granted the clients' motion to dismiss, which was unanimously affirmed in February 2021. Hakki and Richard Schwed achieved a victory on behalf of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch Commodities in a putative class action alleging that the clients, along with two of their former traders, were liable for "spoofing" trades (an order placed by a trader that intends to cancel) in the precious metals markets. This case was originally filed in 2019 the wake of a regulatory settlement between the clients and the DoJ/CFTC resolving an investigation into alleged spoofing by the traders in question. In March 2021, the motion to dismiss the class-action complaint was granted. Agnès Dunogué is called out by peers as “someone who is coming up fast and deserves more notice. She is very sophisticated in securities and does a lot of work with Adam Hakki.” In one such example, and a matter involving an intersection of antitrust and securities, Hakki and Dunogué achieved a victory for BNP Paribas in connection with a long-pending antitrust class action involving the market for US Treasury securities. Another frequent teammate of Hakki’s, Jeffrey Resetarits, is also generating a good deal of traction. “Keep your eye on him,” advises a colleague at one of New York’s top firms. “We’ve been seeing more of him lately and we are very impressed. He and Adam Hakki had a nice win [in March 2019] in a matter involving CDOR [Canadian Dollar Offered Rate.]”
     The firm’s white-collar criminal practice has remained equally active, logging favorable results for both individuals and entities. New York’s Stephen Fishbein obtained a victory on behalf of a former employee of a federal agency accused of leaking information that was then used by a hedge fund for securities trading. He was charged along with three other defendants and went to trial in the spring of 2018. The client was acquitted of 14 out of the 16 counts against him, including all of the conspiracy and securities fraud counts. Fishbein, along with John Nathanson, also represents longtime client SS&C Technologies in a number of litigations arising out of antitrust-related claims concerning certain software licenses. In another antitrust-related matter, Fishbein is defending 1-800 Contacts, an online retailer of contact lenses, against claims the client unlawfully orchestrated a web of anticompetitive agreements with rival online contact lens sellers that suppress competition in certain online search advertising auctions and that restrict internet advertising to consumers. Acting with Fishbein on this matter is Todd Stenerson, a DC-based antitrust practitioner that is steadily gaining more notice. One fellow leader in the antitrust space enthuses, “Todd is a very creative and out-of-the-box thinker. He will just generate idea after idea in a very thought-provoking way that benefits all involved.” A noted trial lawyer first and foremost, Stenerson represents clients – many of them being in the healthcare industry – on both the plaintiff and defense sides of the “V” in antitrust cases, occasionally crossing over into the RICO space and also occasionally incorporating elements of intellectual property.
     Shearman has been steadily gaining traction in its San Francisco office as well, and peers credit this largely to Daniel Laguardia, head of the firm’s Bay Area office (although also occasionally domiciled in the New York office as well.) Laguardia is another multifaceted litigator who primarily operates in the securities, regulatory and commercial litigation spaces. “He should get more notice,” insists a peer. “He is great to work with.”

Sidley Austin

International law firm Sidley Austin is home to lawyers across 20 offices worldwide. Headquartered in Chicago, the firm has a widespread footprint in the states with offices in Boston, Los Angeles, Century City, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Houston, Washington DC, and New York – hubs with significant authority in both litigation and corporate practice. Clients sing the firms praises on a multitude of areas: “What do they do well? Everything,” states one client in particular, adding, “Legal and technical expertise and client-friendly approach, by which I mean advice offering practical solutions, explained in a non-technical manner, executed promptly, with a minimum of management input, and cost-efficient.”

      A notable standout and co-lead of the Supreme Court and appellate practice is Peter Keisler, who clients describe as being “among the foremost litigators in the country” adding, “you could deduce that fact merely based on his team's remarkable clarity in written work and Peter's calm and compelling simplicity in oral argument. He is one of the only lawyers I have met that can effortlessly sound like a helpful advisor to the court, and at the same time a peer to the bench.” Clients also praise the team, declaring “The whole team is utterly humble and kind, and they approach their work with reverence, similar to how a concert pianist would approach a Steinway in a packed concert hall.” Another proclaims, “Mr. Keisler and his appellate group set the bar by which other firms are measured.” Fellow DC litigators Marinn Carlson and Jennifer Haworth McCandless are lead counsel in five large, ongoing investor-state arbitrations defending the Republic of Peru. Karen Popp and Kristin Graham Koehler are members of the lead counsel team representing a leading global network of higher education institutions in conjunction with False Claims Act allegations regarding one of their universities. Joseph Guerra, Carter Phillips, and new litigation star Virginia Seitz were members of the team that secured a significant high-profile victory on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives in its challenge to the Trump administration’s diversion of $8.1 billion for construction of the southern border wall — billions of dollars more than Congress had appropriated for that purpose. The team represented the House in its appeal from a district court decision dismissing the House’s suit. Paul Kalb is defending Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in False Claims Act litigation filed by a former sales representative related to the drug Integrilin, alleging that defendants engaged in improper marketing of the drug, thereby causing false claims for reimbursement to be filed with the government. After a multistate investigation, the district court dismissed the case, which prompted appeals and cross-appeals. The Ninth Circuit affirmed all but one issue for the district court to reconsider. In April of 2020, the complaint was again dismissed. The decision is currently on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Paul Zidlicky is representing the North American Meat Institute in its challenge under the Commerce Clause to California’s Proposition 12, which seeks to impose California’s animal confinement standards for pork and veal outside of California’s borders, and that allegedly discriminates against out-of-state competitors and imposes substantial burdens on interstate and foreign commerce. Mark Hopson is lead trial counsel for FleetCor Technologies in its litigation with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction and hundreds of millions of dollars in consumer redress. The case is currently pending in the Northern District of Georgia and trial is expected.

      Appellate litigator Tacy Flint is an experienced Chicago-based trial lawyer in matters related to commercial, intellectual property and constitutional actions. Flint was a member of the lead counsel team who successfully defeated two preliminary injunction motions at both the U.S. district court and court of appeals on behalf of the Barack Obama Foundation against an attempt to block the imminent construction of the Obama Presidential Center. Five years after the Foundation announced the plan to build the Obama Presidential Library Center, construction finally began in August 2021 as a result of these victories. Tom Rein and Connie Trela are part of the lead council team defending CalAmp Corporation in a case that alleged infringement on four Omega patents. After unfavorable trial, the judgement was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the decision was vacated and remanded for a new trial on infringement, willfulness, and damages. After a retrial in 2019, the case remains on appeal.

      Dallas based partners Yolanda Garcia and Angela Zambrano were lead counsel to Forterra Inc. in a complete victory in a $100 million dollar “earn out” arbitration arising from the acquisition of certain building products companies by a private equity firm. Penny Reid leads the charge in representing the official committee of unsecured creditors of Highland Capital Management’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Yvette Ostolaza serves as the managing partner of the Dallas office, and global co-leader of the litigation practice. She is lead counsel in an ongoing action on behalf of Airbus Helicopters Inc., and Airbus Helicopters S.A.S. in connection with a helicopter accident in the Grand Canyon on February 2018 that gained national attention. The team removed the case to federal court under a novel theory of federal officer jurisdiction that had been the source of a circuit split and untested in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. After the case was remanded then stayed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals pending an appeal by Airbus, the Ninth Circuit issued a 2-1 decision affirming the district court’s order. The case is now proceeding in the District Court of Clark County, Nevada.

      Joan Loughnane of the New York office represents one of the largest U.S. banks in an internal review and multiple parallel investigations concerning fraud in unemployment benefits applications and payments post-COVID through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This includes dozens of state and federal investigations being conducted by the Department of Labor, the U.S. Secret Service, and over a dozen states’ U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. Andrew Stern achieved an important victory for Tavistock Group, the owner of RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corp. after a trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery. The team represents the client in expedited litigation arising out of a merger agreement between RoundPoint and Freedom Mortgage Corp.

      San Francisco partner Sara Brody served as lead partner representing the former Officers and Directors of SunEdison, Inc. in defending securities, shareholder, and other related litigation arising initially out of a dramatic decline in the company’s stock price and liquidity issues that culminated in the largest renewable energy company bankruptcy in 2016. After five years of litigation, in February 2021, the final set of securities claims against Sidley’s clients were dismissed with prejudice pursuant to a settlement. The team was able to negotiate the resolution of all of these cases within the available insurance. Century City partners Chad Hummel and Jack Yeh are co-lead trial counsel in defending a case brought by the California Attorney General alleging under California’s Unfair Competition and False Advertising laws that Ashford University, and its co-defendant parent company, defrauded students into enrolling in their online degree programs. This first-of-its-kind-in-California case is scheduled for trial in October 2021.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett boasts a long history as one of New York’s, and the country’s, most esteemed full-service legal brands. Its litigation and disputes capacity enjoys access to a blue-ribbon client base that is generated entrepreneurially as well as spun off from the firm’s globally ranging corporate stock, which runs the gamut of everything from brand name pharmaceutical entities to online giants to hedge funds. Simpson Thacher is also noted as being one of the classic white-shoe firms that is more comprehensive in terms of national coverage, with partners in its DC and Palo Alto offices playing increasing roles in litigation individually or in tandem with the New York team. A dominant presence in the areas of securities, antitrust and insurance, the firm has also made more recent entries into other areas, such as intellectual property, with proven success.

     An area of particular note that the firm has doubled down on as of late is its white-collar and investigations area, a relatively recent development that has taken root with astonishing momentum. One client sums up the general consensus: “Simpson Thacher is one of the elite litigation shops in [New York] City and the country. They are especially impressive on white collar and agency enforcement work.” Several peers credit this invigoration to recent arrival of Stephen Cutler, the global head of the government and investigations practice. Clients also weigh in on Cutler’s behalf; one insists, “He is one of the very best lawyers in the area of securities litigation and especially SEC enforcement work.” A peer also declares, “With his boardroom experience, Steve is bound to impress. But make no mistake, he has a strong team  with him, and all have their individual talents that contribute to a collective strength.” One peer enthuses, “I think Michael Osnato is awesome.” Cutler and Osnato represented BlueCrest Capital Management in a $170 million, non-fraud settlement of a wide-ranging SEC civil investigation focused on disclosure, quantitative trading strategies, and cross-fund trader allocation related to the existence of a proprietary fund. Other peer favorites in this capacity include Brooke Cucinella and Nicholas Goldin, both of whom are identified as “the actual trial lawyers in the group.”
     The firm’s insurance capacity is routinely referenced as one of the strongest and most prominent in the area, with this view shared by both peers and clients. “[They are] Exceedingly great and effective at handling all aspects of complex big-dollar litigation. [They are] Experienced, savvy partners,” emphasizes a client. The firm, and in particular Bryce Friedman, is acting as national litigation counsel to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association to challenge as “unconstitutional” legislation and regulation that retroactively changes insurance contracts to require the insurance industry to pay COVID-19-related insurance claims that are not covered or excluded from coverage. Friedman has been busy servicing several other clients in the insurance and reinsurance industry on similar claims. “Bryce is everywhere these days,” observes an adversary, humorously adding, “I talk to him more often than I talk to my wife!” Andrew Frankel also receives enthusiastic praise as “a very good coverage lawyer” from peers, one of whom testifies, “He argued a case before the New Jersey Supreme Court that was the precursor to a case I argued in Connecticut Supreme Court, so I drove to Jersey to watch him argue it. Suffice to say, I was impressed.” Other luminaries in the insurance capacity include Mary Beth Forshaw, an evergreen peer and client favorite, as well as Michael Garvey and Lynn Neuner, both of whom also attend to practices outside of insurance – Garvey in securities and an international arbitration focus, and Neuner in securities, commercial and a niche practice in false advertising.
     Among her broad cross section of engagements, Neuner’s securities acumen was called into service in the defense of TD Bank, one of several entities to have been ensnared in class claims brought by plaintiffs alleging that the banks aided and abetted Robert Allen Stanford’s Ponzi scheme fraud by allowing billions of dollars to be wired through their correspondent banking accounts and failing to detect Stanford’s misuse of funds and money laundering. Acting with Neuner on this matter is Peter Kazanoff, who is singled out by a peer as “one of those rare securities people who does both M&A and stock-drop cases.” Jonathan Youngwood continues to generate acclaim for his securities-focused practice. “He is really a fine lawyer,” insists a peer who goes on to confirm, “I have a close relationship with him and have worked with him a bunch." Youngwood is active as lead counsel in securities class actions for a broad and diverse variety of clients, including Chinese online auction giant Alibaba and ubiquitous social media entity Twitter, but also takes on the occasional non-securities matter. He recently triumphed for Hilton in an ERISA-related class action and also has pursued a zealous pro bono agenda, which recently saw him scoring a milestone win in a landmark matter concerning racial profiling among police in Mississippi. The firm’s securities capacity is not limited to the New York team; James Kreissman and Stephen Blake in the Palo Alto office have also kept busy with a host of shareholder and M&A-related litigation.
     The firm’s antitrust practice, largely based out of DC, has also seen a spike in prominence as of late. The bulk of this work falls into the buckets of cartel work, regulatory defense and criminal matters, and also includes a good deal of work in the class-action space, in which John Terzaken, the global co-chair of the practice, dedicates a good deal of his time. Terzaken recently triumphed for Covestro in multiple class actions alleging a conspiracy to fix prices for methylene diphenyl diisocyanate and toluene diisocyanate. Sara Razi is known for attending to deals for private equity clients in strategic transactions, many of which are outside the US, as well as clients in industries ranging from energy to healthcare. Razi has been particularly active in the life sciences space as of late, representing entities such as McKesson and CSL Behring.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom has etched itself a coveted position as one of the nation’s most ubiquitous, recognized and prized legal brands. Having already firmly entrenched itself a dominant position in the New York legal market, Skadden has since expanded to penetrate the West Coast as well as markets like DC, Boston and Wilmington, Delaware. “Skadden is clearly everywhere,” sums up a peer, “and they are pretty universally recognized as best-in-class. They deserve it, though. In my experience with their lawyers as part of teams, they always just seem to be a notch above the rest.”
     In the firm’s flagship New York office, Skadden hosts a securities team that is namechecked on a near-unanimous basis by peers in the field. Indeed, in early 2020 alone, the firm lays claim to an eyebrow-raising number of headline wins in this area. Seasoned partner Jay Kasner, named as a first-call securities leader for decades, is still a prominent figure. However, it is noted that others are stepping up to take the baton. Most notably, Scott Musoff is championed on a near-unanimous basis. “Scott is kind of ‘the man’ at Skadden in this space now,” observes a peer, who goes on to call Musoff a “class act.” Another peer confides, “I cleaned Scott Musoff’s clock one time…but I was very lucky, and I knew it. He was great, fought hard, was prepared and thoughtful. I went in fully preparing to lose.” Musoff represented certain subsidiaries of BlackRock in obtaining a Third Circuit affirmance of a favorable post-trial decision dismissing all counts of an excessive fees claim. The case was brought by investors in two of BlackRock’s largest mutual funds. The plaintiffs alleged that the funds paid BlackRock excessive compensation for its services as their investment manager. Musoff and Kasner also represent CIBC, securing a series of vital wins on the client’s behalf, including fending off summary judgment and most recently defeating a sweeping attempt by the plaintiff to compel production of all of CIBC’s privileged communications regarding the contracts in question. The latter action was decided in the client’s favor in March 2020, capping off what was an already extraordinary month for the Skadden securities team. That same month, Musoff and Kasner prevailed before the Second Circuit in March 2020 on behalf of the management and directors of Republic Airways, which operates flights on behalf of several major airlines, including Delta. The regional airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2016, which allowed it to negotiate new arrangements with its airline partners including. Two distressed debt funds that had invested in Republic objected. They argued that Delta’s unsecured claim was an overpayment. The Second Circuit disagreed, handing a victory to the Skadden team. Musoff was also part of a multi-office team (which also included John Carroll in the firm’s Boston office) that won dismissal of a securities fraud class action on behalf of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company sued in the Southern District of New York by shareholders who claimed Intercept made material misrepresentations and omissions about its drug Ocaliva, a medication is used to treat a rare liver disease. In 2017, the FDA issued a safety alert warning about the drug in the wake of a number of patients having died after taking it, after which the company’s share price took a precipitous drop and plaintiff firms moved in to file suit. The case was dismissed in March 2020. Musoff was also part of team that secured yet another win for Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company that, along with some of its officers were sued in the District of Massachusetts, is alleged to have made false or misleading statements about the efficacy and marketability of a new drug to treat a rare condition known as hereditary ATTR amyloidosis. The gene mutation causes a potentially harmful build-up of certain proteins in the body’s nerves and organs. The case was tossed in, you guessed it, March 2020. Susan Saltzstein is another routinely acknowledged securities star. “She is really tremendous,” insists one, who goes on to opine, “There are still not nearly enough elite women securities lawyers, but the number is growing – but even among that growing number, Susan really stands out.” Another peer observes, “Something I’m seeing more of right now is new 10b-5 securities class actions that are not your standard stock-drop cases and RMBS type work from the 2008 era. These are more cases alleging that a company failed to disclose #MeToo issues at the management or executive level, issues with individuals that would clearly have a material impact on the company’s value. When these things go public and people demand scalps to be claimed, and those scalps are of the guys who publicly run the company…there are allegations of failure to have policies in place, proper compliance, etc. Susan Saltzstein is someone I know that has had a bunch of these cases in the defense role.” Skadden’s well documented prestige in the securities area, exemplified by the staggering streak of recent wins, facilitated it handily securing the “Securities Firm of the Year” position at the 2021 Benchmark awards.

     Beyond securities, the firm is also a considered a go-to for antitrust matters. “I got to see a lot of big firms in the rate cases,” states one antitrust peer. “They were all good but the Skadden team really impressed me as being a cut above.” Kasner made news in this capacity as well when he was part of a team that secured a March 2020 (yes, again) dismissal of an antitrust class action in the Southern District of New York against Citigroup and three affiliates. The lawsuit alleged a conspiracy between several major banks to restrain trade in the US dollar-denominated market for supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Boris Bershteyn is also noted as a “real up-and-comer in the antitrust space” by a peer, who goes on to insist, “He does a lot of litigation, he’s very active and he’s fabulous, a very smart guy.” Bershteyn partnered with Saltzstein on defending HSBC Holdings PLC and affiliated entities in a putative antitrust class action alleging a conspiracy by 10 banks to manipulate the market for debt securities issued by the Mexican government. The plaintiffs — eight US pension funds — alleged that the defendant banks rigged the auction process by which the Mexican government issued the bonds and conspired to manipulate the pricing of the bonds in the secondary market. The Skadden pair secured the dismissal.

     The firm made a considerable augmentation to its product liability bench recently when it recruited Allison Brown to its bench. Brown, a noted standout trial lawyer in the product liability space, brings a wealth of experience in talc litigation and a client relationship with Johnson & Johnson. Brown has scored numerous wins for this client in 2019 alone. Another seasoned product liability mainstay, John Beisner, acted with international arbitration specialist Julie Bédard representing Vale in connection with the collapse of Dam I of the Corrego de Feijão iron ore mine in Brazil. Bédard is especially fluent with matters concerning a Latin American element.

Sullivan & Cromwell

Founded in 1879, Sullivan & Cromwell has grown from a small firm in New York’s Financial District to a 12-office international powerhouse routinely sought by clients for their most complex and pressing cases. Peers address the firm in tones of reverence. “They are a terrific firm with a deep bench. We view them as our primary competitors,” confirms one peer. A client cheers, “S&C simply has the best bench strength of any law firm supporting financial institutions in the myriad matters in which they become involved, and this has been the case for a long time. The level of service, in terms of expertise, efficient use of partner/associate/other professionals for tasks, cost, responsiveness and client management is unparalleled in my 35 years of litigation management.” Boasting a decades-long pedigree in the securities, commercial, white-collar and antitrust areas, Sullivan & Cromwell has recently doubled down on the bankruptcy capacity, luring New York’s James Bromley to its bench from Cleary Gottlieb in 2019. Bromley comes equipped with a considerable level of experience as of late; while at his former firm, he held a lead position in the complex and novel cross-border bankruptcy proceedings concerning now-defunct Canadian legacy telecom giant Nortel. More recently, the firm welcomed back Steve Peikin and Karen Seymour back to its bench in the white-collar capacity after their stints at the SEC and as Goldman Sachs’ in-house counsel, respectively. “Those are HUGE augmentations,” extols one peer, who insists, “Sullivan & Cromwell are back in the white-collar game in a big way. They need to be ranked Tier 1!” The firm also brought in James “Jamie” McDonald, formerly an enforcement director with the CTFC, to its commodities enforcement and investigations practice.
     The firm’s recruiting strategy extends beyond already-established stars; it has notably doubled down on hiring in developing talent as well. “They hired new partners Jonathan Carter and Leonid Traps as new partners,” observes one peer of a younger vintage. “They are excellent lawyers and these are great promotions. They saw talent there and they recognized it and did the right thing. I have unlimited respect for them.”
     Robert Giuffra remains one of the firm’s most established talents in the securities and class actions arenas. In one of the most closely watched securities class actions in recent years, Giuffra represents Goldman Sachs and its former senior executives in an ongoing case stemming from the SEC’s highly publicized lawsuit filed in 2010 alleging that Goldman Sachs and an employee misrepresented conflicts in the Abacus CDO. Giuffra secured Supreme Court review of a Second Circuit decision affirming class certification in December 2020 when the Supreme Court granted Goldman Sachs’ certiorari petition. The Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case in March 2021, and a decision is expected by July 2021. A peer insists, “Bob Giuffra knows how to try a case! That’s not always his clients’ M.O. for sure but he can handle it if it came down to that.” Giuffra also had a leading role in the massive class action concerning Volkswagen’s well publicized use of emissions “defeat devices,” which sparked global litigation on a civil and criminal scale and found Giuffra brokering a milestone settlement several years ago.Other claims continue, however, and after more than three years of litigation, Giuffra obtained dismissal of all claims in a class action brought on behalf of almost 150,000 consumers alleging damages against Volkswagen and Audi of up to $325 million. Plaintiffs, former owners who both bought and sold their Volkswagen or Audi cars before the scandal became public, filed suit in the Northern District of California alleging that they overpaid for their cars because they were promised an environmentally friendly vehicle. Sharon Nelles has represented Standard Chartered Bank for more than a decade defending against numerous lawsuits arising from the failed brokerage firm Bernard L. Madoff Securities LLC including in Chapter 15 adversary proceedings brought by foreign liquidators of the largest feeder fund to BLMIS, Fairfield Sentry, seeking claw back more than $330 million in redemption payments. Through several motions to dismiss, Nelles obtained a series of landmark decisions from the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on the permissible scope of foreign-law claims brought under Chapter 15. The Bankruptcy Court’s most recent decision, issued in December 2020, resulted in dismissal of all remaining claims against Standard Chartered. Nelles and Matthew Schwartz represented Revlon and certain current and former executives in a putative securities class action brought in the Eastern District of New York on behalf of individuals or entities that purchased or acquired publicly traded Revlon securities from 2015 through 2019. The plaintiffs alleged that defendants made materially false and misleading statements regarding Revlon’s Internal Controls over Financial Reporting. In September 2020, the court dismissed all claims against all defendants. Schwartz has cultivated his own fan club as well. “He does a lot of preemption work, dealing with bank powers,” observes a peer. “He frequently represents associations, on the front lines of following some of the big issues in this area.” Richard Pepperman successfully represented Tiffany & Co. as plaintiff in litigation against LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton stemming from LVMH’s $16.2 billion acquisition of Tiffany. As relations between the parties turned less than productive. The firm also logged a novel appointment in the area concerning the intersection of antitrust and patent law, when Garrard Beeney and Marc de Leeuw where chosen to represent 15 of the nation’s leading universities in obtaining a favorable business review from the Antitrust Division of the DoJ in connection with the University Technology Licensing Program, a first-of-its-kind patent pool of non-Standard Essential Patents.

Susman Godfrey

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.

Thompson Hine

Full-service law firm Thompson Hine is equipped with a team of litigators who routinely represent clients in some of the most complex product liability and business disputes. With offices in Georgia, Illinois, DC, and New York, along with a significant footprint in Ohio via four distinct locations, Thompson Hine has developed a reputation of obtaining favorable results throughout the region. 

Cleveland-based product liability litigator Elizabeth ‘Missy’ Wright is national counsel for a major commercial food equipment manufacturer, a major power tool manufacturer, an aviation component manufacturer, and an automotive manufacturer, and also serves as national lead trial counsel for a pharmaceutical manufacturer in hormone replacement therapy litigationTimothy Coughlin is a fellow Cleveland partner who chairs the mass & toxic tort group and leads chemical industry group. He is lead counsel to BASF Corporation in a product liability litigation related to a railcar release of a chemical compound toluene diisocyanate, allegedly causing pulmonary issues in a claim brought by a vendor employee. New to the litigation star list is Jennifer Roach who, along with Robert Ware, make up the lead counsel team representing a manufacturing company in a business litigation originally filed back in November 2020 in Delaware.  

Dayton-based Christine Haaker serves as the vice-chair of the group for the office. Haaker serves as defense counsel to several high-profile entities in numerous business disputes. Fellow Dayton partner Scott King focuses on representing financial corporations and institutions in a wide range of actions. He most recently represents a private investment company in an ongoing consumer finance dispute that has garnered national attention. 

In the group’s DC office, Eric Heyer has emerged as one of that office’s brightest younger stars. Heyer represented Vapor Technology Association, for whom Heyer triumphed in obtaining a temporary restraining order after, in September 2019, New York then-Governor Cuomo directed his Department of Public Health to publish an emergency rule banning the possession and sale of flavored vaping products. The restraining order was granted one day before the ban was due to take effect and was entered in January 2020. 

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz operates out of its one and only office in New York, but the firm’s prestige is undeniably national, and increasingly, international in scope. “Everyone knows Wachtell, or knows about them, and for very obvious reasons. They are masters at what they do.” The “what they do” is a reference to the firm’s famed M&A dispute practice, which, coupled with its transactional corporate practice, has allowed Wachtell do nothing short of corner a market. “Wachtell has decided that they want to pivot to doing work that is strictly focused around public company M&A work – that is where you get the premium work.” One peer marvels, “Increasingly, when I look at Wachtell, I am stunned by the growing level of diversity. I’m seeing a lot more international arbitration, which was never considered Wachtell’s forte, but with cross-border deals falling into dispute, [the firm’s services] are more in demand.” The firm has also been particularly active in the bankruptcy space (for which Emil Kleinhaus receives near-universal plaudits) and remains busy in the white-collar and investigations area as well (which has historically been the domain of John Savarese, still the firm’s dominant partner in this area.)
     Wachtell has seen increased activity in antitrust work as of late, mainly related to deals. The most recent and most public of these concerns the firm’s representation of Altria in the wake of an April 2020 complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concerning formerly competing vape entities Altria and Juul. The FTC viewed Altria’s exit from the e-cigarette market and subsequent 2018 investment in 35% of Juul as anticompetitive and brought a suit to undo the deal. At trial, Jonathan Moses and Kevin Schwartz presented a straightforward defense: Altria made the decision to exit the e-vapor market following decades of difficulties in developing a product that would be both attractive to consumers and less harmful than cigarettes. The proceeding, which commenced in early June, was conducted remotely as the FTC’s first fully virtual administrative trial. Moses and Stephen DiPrima are also defending Altria in securities and derivative litigation connected with its JUUL investment after stockholder plaintiffs subsequently filed securities and derivative lawsuits, in the Eastern District of Virginia and in Virginia state court. The securities case survived a motion to dismiss and is proceeding through discovery, class certification, and summary judgment briefing on an expedited timetable.
     A unanimously revered practitioner, William Savitt has emerged as Wachtell’s central figure in the M&A litigation capacity. “Bill Savitt is better than everyone in M&A,” sums up one peer. “He is all over it and everyone loves him. [He is] Head and shoulders above everyone else.” Indeed, Savitt provides substance to this adulation with a lead appearance in a number of the firm’s key matters within the past year. One of these involves a $5.8 billion merger agreement deal entered in April 2020 by Dajia, the successor to Chinese insurance company Anbang, to sell 15 luxury hotels in the US. The other party to the deal refused to close, citing, among other things, changes in Anbang’s operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the purported failure of certain title insurance conditions. After an unfavorable ruling from the Delaware Court of Chancery, Dajia switched counsel to Savitt to represent them on appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court. Savitt also represents Dyal Capital Partners in litigation against Sixth Street Partners and Golub Capital. Investment funds affiliated with Dyal made minority equity investments in Sixth Street and Golub. In December 2020, Dyal announced a SPAC-related merger transaction valued at $12.5 billion. In February 2021, Sixth Street and Golub brought actions in the Delaware Court of Chancery and New York Supreme Court, respectively, seeking to block the transaction. In both cases, the preliminary injunctions moved for by the plaintiffs were denied and the transaction closed in May 2021. While peers are in agreement that “Bill Savitt is leading the charge,” it is also noted that “he has a great team around him that is also getting more prominent, and deservedly so.” In particular, Ryan McLeod, who acted with Savitt on the aforementioned Dajia matter, is singled out. McLeod also worked with Savitt on litigation concerning the merger of two satellite companies. The firm’s client was in the business of providing in-flight internet service, the business of which was severely interrupted during the height of the COVID pandemic, leading the other party to attempt to exit the deal. After the parties submitted dueling complaints in July 2020, in October, less than 48 hours before trial, a settlement was reached pursuant to which the parties mutually agreed to terminate the merger a $70 million cash payment was made to the client for the economic injury to its shareholders. An all-star firm team composed of Savitt, Jeff Wintner and Elaine Golin, as well as future stars Anitha Reddy and Lauren Kofke, acts as overarching strategic counsel, as well as resolution and corporate governance counsel, to Cardinal Health in connection with matters related to the opioid epidemic, as well as guiding the client through associated shareholder derivative litigation. In July 2021, the client agreed to pay up to $1.179 billion in a settlement agreement with the State of New York and its participating subdivisions to resolve opioid-related claims. A new partner at the firm, Sarah Eddy is working with Savitt in representing a special committee of independent directors formed to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct at Victoria’s Secret. “Sarah had a very senior role at the SDNY and is off to a very good start at Wachtell,” states a peer. A team composed of Marc Wolinsky, DiPrima and Carrie Reilly represents Match Group and IAC/InterActiveCorp in a $2 billion suit brought by a group of former employees of the dating app Tinder. The plaintiffs allege that the clients wrongfully interfered with a contractually established process for the independent valuation of Tinder by two national investment banks, resulting in a substantial undervaluation of Tinder and a consequent underpayment to the plaintiffs upon exercise of their stock options.

 

Weil Gotshal & Manges

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. 

 

 

Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell
Operating two offices in Denver and St. Louis, Wheeler Trigg & O’Donnell is recognized for having an established footprint in the Midwest. The firm hosts a number of highly skilled litigators skilled in a number of complex civil and commercial matters. Managing Partner Carolyn Fairless, one of Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation, won a complete defense jury verdict for a leading auto parts maker in federal court in Kentucky in a nine-year-old breach of contract claim brought by a sub-subcontractor—a third-party beneficiary to the contract in question. The suit alleged the client’s termination of the contract entitled the plaintiff to millions of dollars in damages and penalty payments per the terms of the agreement. The firm was hired just six months prior to the trial, which the Court had twice dismissed in separate rulings, only to see the plaintiff successfully appeal to the Sixth Circuit. After the firm’s intervention, a successful defense verdict was rendered. John Fitzpatrick is highly regarded for his mass tort practice. Fitzpatrick served as lead counsel for Intermountain Power in highly complex litigation, successfully negotiating a settlement on favorable terms for his client concerning a consortium of 18 dairy farmers who alleged that stray electricity from the client’s power system depressed dairy herd production in excess of $1 billion in damages. Firm president Hugh Gottschalk successfully represented IBM in a Denver court in a dispute involving tax assessments by the City of Golden, with the court invalidating previous penalties levied against the company. Habib Nasrullah is lead counsel to long-time client McKesson, the largest pharmaceutical distributor in North America. The firm was hired as national settlement counsel to handle all litigation involving its subsidiary Northstar Rx and its chemotherapy drug Taxotere. The cases were consolidated in federal multidistrict litigation in New Orleans, and Nasrullah was able to prove Northstar Rx was not liable for the alleged damages, and plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the subsidiary without any payment by the client. Michael O’Donnell is lead counsel to Skyjack, who hired the firm to take over its entire portfolio of U.S. product liability litigation including over 20 active matters with the vast majority involving claims resulting from lift accidents. The firm has resolved most of the original portfolio and is handling all of Skyjack’s new cases going forward. High-stakes litigator Theresa Wardon Benz obtained a complete defense verdict for client Michelin in a product liability lawsuit that received national attention. Michael Williams currently represents Whirlpol in a multistate consumer class action lawsuit involving allegations of defective dryers. A new addition to this year’s list is Kathryn Reilly, who focuses her practice on complex commercial and antitrust litigation. Among her current matters, Reilly is representing clients in a federal class action lawsuit involving alleged collusion to keep au pair wages artificially low.
Whiteford Taylor Preston

Whiteford Taylor Preston has deep roots in litigation, dating back to its inception in 1933. “The firm is outstanding regarding its expertise, efficiency, responsiveness and strategic thinking,” a client lauds about the firm. Another client highlights its bankruptcy practice, saying Whiteford Taylor Preston is “my go-to bankruptcy litigation firm,” characterizing the group as “highly efficient, incredibly responsive” and displaying “cutting-edge awareness of specialized bankruptcy-related issues.” In addition to its strong bankruptcy practice, the firm also handles business, product liability, intellectual property, labor and employment, construction, real estate, e-discovery, health care, administrative law and regulatory litigation. 
     While the firm operates from a network of 16 offices, it is best known for its Maryland footprint, particularly in Baltimore, where it hosts its highest concentration of litigation talent. Kevin Hroblakis the subject of much praise from clients and serves as co-chair of the firm’s litigation department. An authority in bankruptcy and general commercial litigation, Hroblak is currently representing mineral rights owners of over 143 million tons of coal reserves in West Virginia in claims arising out of the breach of a coal mining lease against the largest privately held coal mining company in the US. The lawsuit, valued at $42 million, sought accrued and lost royalty damages, transfer of mining permits and specific performance for sale or lease of surface rights, and other monetary damages. A week-long trial in the District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia was completed in April 2019. Hroblak also represents a party in a $10 million suit for breach of contract and related causes of action arising from the purchase and liquidation of numerous nursing comes and senior care facilities contained within the two individuals' investment venture. The initial trial took place in January 2019 in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County to recover damages due to non-payment of the defendant's share of the partnership debts. The initial case was nonsuited under Virginia rules during trial, and the subsequent case was scheduled to be filed in April 2019. The matter was refiled in the Maryland District Court, where discovery is proceeding. Hroblak is also, along with Paul NussbaumAaron Casagrande, litigation counsel for two bankruptcy trusts established by the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. In this capacity, the firm team is investigating claims against former directors and officers of various debtor entities pursuing those claims relating to breach of fiduciary duty. Another frequently mentioned all-purpose commercial partner and fellow of the American College of Trial LawyersWilliam Ryanrepresented Landry’s in commercial litigation against a subsidiary of Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, a commercial property/shopping center owner, obtaining a verdict in Landry’s favor following two-week trial in Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland and defending subsequent appeal before Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, which affirmed in part and remanded in part the verdict in December 2019. Ryan is also defending direct and derivative action shareholder claims filed in October 2020 in the Delaware Chancery Court against consulting services entity Percona regarding open-source software and databases. The case involves alleged claims of breach of contract and fiduciary duty against corporate managers and concerns Delaware’s developing law regarding the management of limited liability companies governed by Delaware law and management’s potential liabilities to nonvoting shareholders, as well as valuation standards for emerging companies. In a matter exemplifying the intersection of commercial and employment law, Ryan is also part of a team representing Medical Transportation Management, a nationwide transportation broker for non-emergency medical transportation services for Medicaid recipients, in defense of a collective class action under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act as well as a federal Rule 23 class action with respect to putative wage claims brought under federal and District of Columbia laws on behalf of employees of transportation companies providing Medicaid transportation services for the District of Columbia’s Medicaid program.  

 

Wilkinson Stekloff

While it operates from offices in Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles, Wilkinson Stekloff (re-branded this year after the departure of Alexandra Walsh) remains as the essence of “litigation boutique.” More specifically, one with a uniquely pronounced emphasis on high-end trial work. Formed in 2016 by veteran DC trial celebrity Beth Wilkinson, the firm has been arguably the most buzz-worthy of law firms, and the appearance of Wilkinson and other firm partners at the forefront of a series of high-stakes trials has more than justified the hype. The departure of Walsh (for a solo practice) and Tamarra Matthews Johnson (for government) and the obvious impact of COVID-19 on jury trials (the firm’s go-to calling card) have done little to affect either Wilkinson Stekloff’s internal mojo or dim the firm’s luster in the eyes of peers. Indeed, opportunities have arisen for other partners to take charge, and swiftly rising future star nominees such as DC partners Rakesh Kilaru and Kosta Stojilkovic have done so with aplomb, regularly appearing as support or lead counsel on some of the firm’s most high-profile engagements. 
     Wilkinson remains the one of the most in-demand trial lawyers in the country. “Beth has to be the top female trial lawyer of her generation, sums up one peer. Wilkinson’s dance card has been consumed with cases ranging from antitrust to white-collar to bet-the-company commercial cases but most recently, Wilkinson has been in demand for crisis management on a political level. In May 2020, she led a team, which included Kilaru and Stojilkovic, that was retained to help guide US District Judge Emmet Sullivan as a federal appeals court questions his plan to probe the US DoJ’s decision to dismiss the case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, despite his admission that he lied to the FBI. Wilkinson and Stojilkovic represented pharmaceutical founder and philanthropist Dr. John Kapoor, the lead defendant in a four-month criminal trial in which the government charged the client, along with other executives from the company Insys Therapeutics, with operating a nationwide racketeering conspiracy related to Subsysan FDA-approved opioid pain medicine. The government sought more than $420 million in financial penalties from Dr. Kapoor, which Wilkinson persuaded the trial court to reduce to roughly $60 million. Stojilkovic is leading the appellate arguments. In another pharmaceutical-related case, WilkinsonStojilkovic and Brian Stekloff are representing Glenmark Pharmaceuticals in defending criminal antitrust charges brought against the company by the DoJ for allegedly conspiring to increase prices for a popular cholesterol medication. The DoJ alleges that Glenmark and its co-defendant gained over $200 million in gross gains from their alleged conspiracy, potentially subjecting Glenmark to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, as well as substantial collateral consequences. Independent of Wilkinson, Kilaru and Stojilkovic represent the members of the Executive Council of the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake, a federally recognized sovereign Indian nation, in a putative class action in which plaintiffs are seeking treble damages and injunctive relief based on allegations that the Tribe’s online consumer lending operation violates Virginia law and RICO. The case is currently awaiting decision in the Fourth Circuit, where Kilaru recently argued the appeal. 

Williams & Connolly

Williams & Connolly, long considered the “crown jewel” among DC firms, continues its hold on its status as a top-tier litigation shop. The firm is revered by peers and clients alike, and its case work has regularly found its practitioners in some of the nation’s highest courts, as well as in the media. Its array of services encompasses securities, antitrust, white-collar crime and investigations, product liability, intellectual property, commercial litigation. Despite being domiciled in DC and a dominant force in the District’s legal community, the reputation of the firm as well as that of its individual partners extend to national and even international levels, particularly in the case of its burgeoning international arbitration practice. It’s also worth noting that the firm holds a pride of place for the depth of actual trial lawyers on its bench; indeed the firm has enjoyed four consecutive years as one of Benchmark’s Top 20 Trial Firms, a status that remains secure in this edition. 
     The firm’s status as a trial powerhouse is embellished further by its appellate capacity, spearheaded by Lisa Blatt, a no-nonsense appeals specialist who brings a fearless verve to the practice that is more commonly attributed to trial lawyers. Blatt is no stranger to the Supreme Court, and she recently triumphed in this venue (albeit remotely due to the pandemic) on behalf of Booking.com in a case addressing the question of whether the addition by an online business of a generic top-level domain (in this case, “.com”) to an otherwise generic term can create a protectable trademark. Blatt presented oral argument in May 2020, and the court ruled in her client’s favor in June of that year. Mainstay trial luminary Dane Butswinkas scored a win for AstraZeneca in a case in which former shareholders of an entity acquired by the client sought $275 million in milestone payments they alleged were owed from the 2013 merger of the two companies. As lead counsel, Butswinkas secured a complete trial victory after a February 2020 bench trial before the Delaware Court of Chancery. The firm also triumphed for this client in the intellectual property capacity, concerning a patent on the client’s asthma inhaler product. Patent specialist David Berl, one of the leaders of the team responsible for this victory, chalked up a favorable ruling on claim construction in late 2020 before appearing in a bench trial held virtually in October 2020. In March 2021, the District of West Virginia issued a ruling that granted AstraZeneca a complete victory. Adding to the firm’s bulging list of high-level appointments in the pharmaceutical industry, Enu Mainigi continues to serve as lead and national counsel for Cardinal in all claims related to opioids, including civil litigation, Attorney General litigation and investigations, Congressional investigations, and other matters relating to the client’s distribution of opioid medications. Mainigi is scheduled to serve as lead counsel for Cardinal in a bellwether MDL trial in West Virginia as well as additional trials expected to be held in 2021-2022. Mainigi also represents Omnicare and CVS Health in a False Claims Act investigation and subsequent litigation by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York regarding the company’s practices with respect to refilling prescriptions for individuals residing in long-term care facilities. In yet another score in the drug industry, a team led by Heidi Hubbard and including Ana Reyes successfully represented Pfizer-subsidiary Hospira in a antitrust-tinged commercial dispute brought by Apotex over a supply agreement in the Southern District of New York, in which Apotex sought over $300 million in damages. In January 2020, the trial court granted Hospira’s motion to dismiss Apotex’s antitrust claims. Beyond the pharmaceutical realm, Robert Van Kirk, fresh off an earlier triumph for The Carlyle Group in which he successfully closed the door on a long-running series of cross-border matters, was retained by this client again in breach of contract action in Montana state court. The matter concerns a simmering dispute between the client and the City of Missoula concerning a privately held water system.  

Willkie Farr & Gallagher

A global business firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher has been steadily increasing its litigation profile in both a market share and a literal headcount/geographic footprint sense. While its core strength in the US has historically been New York (and remains so), the firm has branched and out developed other domestic locations as well; it now has an office in San Francisco and has also been making strategic recruits to enhance its DC bench as well. The firm lured Michael Gottlieb to its bench from Boies Schiller and also recently added commercial litigator Mark Stancil (who also is equipped with a sub-specialty in appeals) from DC mainstay firm Robbins Russell. “Twenty years ago, I would have thought of Willkie Farr as a top-notch law firm with litigation services, but that model has changed,” insists a peer. 
     Willkie made news in late 2019 when two partners on its New York white-collar and enforcement team, Michael Schachter and Randall Jackson, triumphed on behalf of shipbuilding executive Jean Boustani in a case in which the client was accused of paying millions of dollars in kickbacks tied to $2 billion in loans to Mozambique-owned companies. After a six-week trial, the Willkie pair won a full acquittal for their client. In addition to making a media splash (including logging an “impact case” award at the Benchmark 2020 awards ceremony), the case drew attention to Schachter’s trial acumen (he was appointed the honor of appearing as one of the Top 100 trial lawyers in Benchmark that year as well) as well as to Jackson, a quickly rising future star. “Pay more attention to Randall,” advises a fellow star in the white-collar capacity. “Willkie should be given credit for displaying that kind of diversity in a case like that. That shouldn’t really matter but it does, because, sadly, you just don’t see much diversity in the white-collar bar. So kudos must be given in this case, and Randall is fantastic – he has skills and experience beyond his years.” New York securities star Tariq Mundiya and the aforementioned Gottlieb obtained a victory on behalf of the board of directors of a group of CITGO entities, all of which are owned (directly or indirectly) by Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. Upon the ouster of former President Nicholas Maduro and Juan Guaidó’s subsequent appointment by the Venezuelan National Assembly, the US government recognized President Guaidó and his government as the legitimate Venezuelan government and supported the National Assembly’s efforts to take control of PDVSA’s US subsidiaries through the passage of legislation and subsequent appointment of a board of directors for an ‘Administrative Board.’ That board then appointed new directors to all of the US subsidiaries, including CITGOIn an effort to fight back against the Guaidó government, the Maduro regime challenged the legality of these appointments. In June 2019, the ousted directors who had been appointed by the Maduro regime filed an action in Delaware Chancery Court seeking a declaration that they are the legitimate boards of the CITGO entities. Willkie represented the Guaidó directors. The parties filed competing motions for judgment on the pleadings and engaged in several rounds of expedited briefing. Mundiya also secured a resounding victory for Innoviva, an LLC manager and minority owner, in an arbitration proceeding filed by the majority owner concerning a dispute about distribution of royalties from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. One peer, a star player in the insurance litigation field, testifies, “I think Willkie is doing a lot more insurance-side work, which is a big upgrade for them!” This same peer advises, “Look into Christopher St. Jeanos – ask around about him! He’s a stand-up lawyer, and I think he’s only in his mid-40s! My litmus test when it comes to dealing with counsel is ‘Are you just a paper tiger?’ And Chris is not – he’s the real deal.” St. Jeanos represents Willis Management Vermont, Willis Limited, and Willis Re in a coverage matter arising from a complex and highly bespoke insurance and reinsurance structure established in 2012 and early 2013.  

 

WilmerHale

WilmerHale is a global legal powerhouse that hosts a network of five international locations in addition to its eight domestic offices. Originally headquartered in Boston, the city in which it still enjoys near-unanimous recognition, Wilmer has since expanded its footprint to encompass offices in New York, DC and California, as well as offices in Dayton, Ohio and Denver, Colorado. In keeping with its geographic presence, the firm offers a comprehensive array of litigation services, several of which feature litigation stars of national-level status. Wilmer boasts brand-name talent in the antitrust, white-collar, securities and appellate practices, and its intellectual property roster, particularly in the patent arena, is considered unrivaled by some.
     In this last area, Bill Lee is a unanimously regarded national star, with an enviable streak of milestone patent wins to his credit. Lee not only earns plaudits for his prowess is with IP generally but is also considered one of the strongest trial lawyers in the area, with an uncanny ability to translate his encyclopedic knowledge into arguments that sway judges and juries and log historic wins. “Bill Lee is still trying the biggest IP cases in America,” confirms one peer. “He just got a huge win for Intel!” This referred-to victory, secured in April 2021, was a patent win in Texas worth nearly $2.2 billion. A previous multi-year candidate on Benchmark’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America list, Lee makes a return to this coveted status in this year’s edition on the strength of this win. Acting with Lee on this matter were Boston’s Joseph Mueller and Denver’s Mindy Sooter, both of whom make their debut appearance as litigation stars in this edition. Other nationally recognized stars in this area include Palo Alto-based Mark Selwyn, who attends to a largely tech-oriented practice, and Lisa Pirozzolo, who resides in the firm’s Boston office and has a more life sciences-focused practice. Pirozzolo is also a member of the firm’s appellate practice, another area in which the firm shines with national star talent.
     Seth Waxman in the firm’s DC office is the chair of the firm’s appellate practice and one of the firm’s, and the country’s, most highly regarded Supreme Court specialists. “Seth Waxman is just the best of the best,” chirps one appeals-focused peer. “He is right up there with the likes of [Kirkland & Ellis appellate practitioner and former Solicitor General] Paul Clement, although their styles are very different.”  
     Wilmer has also built out an impressive presence in the securities and financial services space, particularly through its New York office. Noah Levine, a new appointee to the Benchmark litigation stars list this year, is noted for his banking-related practice. A peer testifies, “This is his SWEET SPOT! Noah handles the alphabet soup of consumer lending litigation: Truth in Lending Act, Electronic Transfer Act, and the unfair and deceptive state practices area. These tend to be class actions!” Alan Schoenfeld is also a recipient of accolades. One peer insists, “You must rank him! He’s too modest to make a pitch for himself. He won three major cases in the mortgage field.” Lori Martin, a securities enforcement and litigation specialist, is called “tough as nails,” by one peer, an opponent, who bemoans, “She puts you through the paces. She has made things a REAL pain for me when I was against her, which is her job.”

Winston & Strawn

Winston & Strawn has blossomed into one of the nation’s most prominent and prolific litigation hubs. It is also recognized as one of the country’s most trial-centric. “Of all the ‘big-law’ firms, Winston really seems like the one that is focused on building out a bench stocked with true trial lawyers,” observes a peer. “They are also attracting stars in the making, undoubtedly with the agenda of giving them the platform to hone their trial skills further.” The firm has also chosen wisely with its expansion strategy, shying away from going all-in with any particular market and instead maintaining a geographically even roster of trial talent, which is spread among its offices in New York, DC, Texas, Illinois and California.
     New York’s Jeffrey Kessler attends to a unique hybrid of sports and antitrust law. While his work in the latter practice often depends on keeping his clients out of the limelight, the former practice lands Kessler squarely in the headlines. This year found him there yet again with a groundbreaking case in sports law when he logged another milestone triumph against the NCAA and its most-significant sports conferences in a long-running litigation that has seen Kessler and his clients, a class of current and former Division I college basketball and FBS football players, emerge the victors at every turn. The case alleges that the NCAA violated antitrust law by limiting amount of compensation that the athletes could receive. In March 2019, after a 10-day bench trial, the Northern District of California ordered a permanent injunction against the NCAA’s limitations on colleges and universities providing education-related benefits beyond tuition. In May 2020, a Ninth Circuit panel unanimously affirmed the favorable ruling, which was challenged by the NCAA and wound up before the Supreme Court, where Kessler presented oral argument in March 2021. In June, the Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit decision, bringing this hard-fought litigation to an end and wowing the legal community. “Jeff Kessler, boy, is he ever ‘having a moment!’” marvels one peer in summation. While the sports practice finds Kessler acting as a plaintiff, in antitrust he is strictly defense. A plaintiff-side antitrust practitioner testifies, “Jeff is pretty much our mirror in antitrust cases. We can pretty much count on him turning up on the other side of us when we bring a big antitrust case, especially if it’s one where there is a possibility of it going to trial.” Beyond Kessler, Susannah Torpey is emerging as another antitrust partner to be reckoned with. Unlike Kessler, however, Torpey is noted as someone who is “getting a lot more active on the plaintiff side of antitrust. She just filed two major cases in this capacity. Keep an eye on her.”
      Two other Winston trial stars, Chicago’s George Lombardi and San Francisco’s Sandra Edwards led a team that represented Monsanto in the first, high-stakes Roundup product liability jury trial in the US, defending against allegations that the herbicide causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Following an eight-week jury trial, the trial team successfully reduced a punitive damages award by $211 million, which was further reduced on appeal. In January 2020, Winston went on to serve as lead trial counsel for Monsanto in another jury trial in Contra Costa Superior Court against similar allegations regarding Roundup. That matter settled before trial.      

      Still another of the firm’s marquis trial lawyers, DC’s Abbe Lowell represented Rafael Ramirez, the former UN Ambassador to Venezuela, former Minister of Energy for Venezuela, and former head of PDVSA, in private civil litigation regarding alleged corruption at PDVSA. Ramirez was sued by energy company Harvest alleging injury through a Ramirez-involved bribery scheme, which prevented the plaintiff selling its assets in Venezuela from 2012, causing $472 million in losses. The plaintiff accused Ramirez and others of seeking a $10 million bribe to approve the transaction. In February 2019, plaintiff obtained a $1.4 billion default judgment against Ramirez. Lowell and his team persuaded the court, via a June 2020 hearing, to open the default judgment and to vacate the default judgment so that Ramirez. On the eve of a scheduled court conference regarding additional discovery and hearing and trial dates, Harvest simply gave up and dismissed the lawsuit voluntarily.
     Chicago’s Linda Coberly and Los Angeles’s John Schreiber are defending Medtronic and certain of its current and former officers and directors in a putative shareholder class action challenging  Medtronic’s $50 billion acquisition of Covidien in 2015, which was structured as an “inversion” in which Medtronic adopted Covidien’s Irish domiciliary. A putative class of Medtronic shareholders challenged the deal on the grounds that they were required to pay capital gains taxes as a result of the inversion structure, as well as on disclosure and dilution theories. In April 2020, the court denied class certification, a rarity in class actions of this nature.
     The Dallas office hosts another of the firm’s often-mentioned partners and yet another trial star, Tom Melsheimer. “Tom is just awesome,” chirps one peer. “He is a true trial lawyer.” Another peer marvels, “I’ve seen Tom just devastate opponents at trial, and he seems to do it so naturally.” Melsheimer’s practice frequently touches on the commercial, antitrust and intellectual property capacities. The Dallas office also houses intellectual property star John Keville, who represents Contour IP Holdings in a competitor patent case brought by GoPro involving Contour’s patents directed to recording high-resolution video content while streaming a lower-resolution video in real-time to a controller.  
     The firm’s IP prowess is also exemplified by New York-based Michael Elkin, who, along San Francisco’s Jennifer Golinveaux, is representing Cloudflare, which provides essential security and content delivery services for the Internet, against RICO and copyright infringement claims brought by online model Deniece Waidhofer against Cloudflare, as well as the owners and operators of a website, and several online advertisers. Waidhofer alleges that Cloudflare infringed Waidhofer’s copyrights in certain images available on websites that used Cloudflare’s services and that Cloudflare’s agreement to provide its services also constituted participation in a racketeering enterprise with the website and third-party advertisers.

Labor and employment
Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher is a full-service firm with a labor and employment practice that is nationally recognized by peers and clients, often for its class action expertise. One peer says, “They’re really outstanding in what they do. They play in all spaces very well. They’ve got a terrific employment practice.”

The firm’s roster includes two of this year’s Top 20 Lawyers in Labor and Employment. Jason Schwartz is noted for having “a very big litigation practice,” representing clients like Amazon, Lowe’s and UBS over the past year. Although he is recognized for his well-established wage-and-hour practice, Schwartz has also handled numerous discrimination cases as well as a workplace-safety matter during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another top litigator is Joshua Lipshutz who has secured several victories for Uber in ongoing misclassification lawsuits. His recent win successfully transferred the case from the District Court of Massachusetts to California, which was followed by a rejection of the plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motion to reclassify Uber drivers as employees. Lipshutz additionally secured a motion to compel arbitration. The plaintiffs have appealed the decisions to the First Circuit. In recent years, the firm has attended to matters for several law firms that have faced labor and employment claims. Michele Maryott and Catherine Conway are representing Morrison & Foerster in a discrimination case. The team successfully evaded a class certification and are litigating the individual claims of two plaintiffs. Recently, former US Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia returned to the firm. Harris Mufson also recently joined the firm's New York office. The former Proskauer partner defended the National Bank of Pakistan in a whistleblower retaliation matter that was dismissed in district court. Mufson defended the dismissal at the Second Circuit, which affirmed the lower court’s ruling and rejected the plaintiff’s arguments during the appeal.

Hunton Andrews Kurth

Hunton Andrews Kurth is a full-service firm with a labor and employment practice that operates out of numerous offices across the country, including California, Virginia, Florida, and Texas, as well as District of Columbia. The firm is especially notable for handling wage-and-hour class and collective actions and its California is strategically suited for assisting clients with PAGA claims.

Brett Burns, based in the San Francisco office, leads clients in class and collective actions, as well as single-plaintiff lawsuits and arbitrations. Burns successfully took the lead in representing Nationstar Mortgage in one of the major wage-and-hour lawsuits to hit the mortgage professional industry. In August 2020, the team settled the case for an amount significantly less than the 54 million dollars in damages that the plaintiffs sought. In a parallel case to the wage-and-hour class action, Burns also managed a single-plaintiff case for Nationstar that ended in a summary judgment win.

From the Los Angeles office, Emily Burkhardt Vicente assists clients through complex class and collective actions in California. She recently defeated a class action attempted against a major company. Also operating out of the Los Angeles office is Michele Beilke who, along with Julia Trankiem has been arbitrating a disability discrimination and retaliation matter for Dunn-Edwards Corporation. The 6-day JAMS arbitration resulted in an interim award in favor of the client, and the team is awaiting final judgment. Roland Juarez of the LA office was retained to handle a novel donning-and-dotting class action that was related to usage of masks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The firm also has a strong office in the District of Columbia with co-chair Kevin White operating out of the strategic location. White recently partnered with Burns to handle a matter against one of the most prominent national plaintiff-side law firms in labor and employment. The northeast strength is further bolstered by Massachusetts-based partner Christopher Pardo is handling complex and high-stakes class actions for industry-leading clients. In May of last year, Susan Wiltsie obtained a dismissal of a federal lawsuit and a temporary restraining order filed by plaintiff “Jane Doe” against client Smithfield Foods. The plaintiff alleged that the COVID precautions were inadequate and constituted a nuisance. The matter garnered significant media coverage due to its COVID-related claims.

The firm maintains a deep team in the South as well. Juan Enjamio in Florida is a prominent litigator with extensive experience in class-action disputes. Partners Robert Dumbacher and Kurt Powell in Georgia are both experienced in traditional labor relations as well as employment disputes. The Texas team expanded last year to include Scott Nelson who recently favorably resolved a long-standing trade secrets dispute. Amber Rogers practices out of the Dallas office and has recently been involved in a bench trial which ended with a major win. In Virginia, Ryan Glasgow led the team in a Fair Labor Standards Act collective action that was resolved with a favorable settlement for the client.

Polsinelli

Polsinelli is a full-service firm with a labor and employment team notable for its national class- and collective-action capabilities. The seasoned litigators within the practice uphold the firm’s presence on a national scale. The practice defends clients that are facing all types of labor and employment battles. The Missouri office of the firm houses one of the strongest labor and employment groups at the firm. Chairing the firm’s labor and employment practice is Denise Drake, who, from the office in Kansas City, maintains a significant reputation for defending clients in labor and employment matters. Drake’s caseload routinely includes discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wage-and-hour matters. Eric Packel chairs the restrictive covenant and trade secrets practice, but his expertise in labor and employment encompasses all types of claims. He has previously assisted large healthcare institutions with discrimination claims. A significant portion of Robert Hingula’s practice is devoted to representing employers in collective actions. His client roster includes school districts and private companies in a wide variety of industries. Hingula assists clients through employment law matters, wage-and-hour actions, and against discrimination allegations as well as wrongful termination and retaliation cases.

Newly added labor and employment stars Jay Dade and Karen Cain are formidable in labor and employment litigation. Dade has successfully resolved several labor and employment disputes over the last year. He defended Wilson Logistics in a misclassification and wage and hour case that resulted in a win for the client on summary judgment in District Court. The plaintiff appealed in October 2020. Dade also obtained a favorable settlement for Apogee Enterprises after setting the client up to prevail on a summary judgment motion. The settlement agreement was significantly less than the amount the plaintiff sought in damages. Cain has been litigating several cases for clients over the last year. She is actively litigating in Nebraska, Missouri and Washington, handling wage-and-hour class actions, discrimination cases, and a whistleblower retaliation matter, which she was retained to handle mid-case.

In addition to Missouri, the labor and employment practice includes two stars, Sean Gallagher and Donald Samuels, who are based in Colorado. Gallagher brings more than 25 years of experience litigating on behalf of his clients. His multi-decade practice has included noncompete covenants, wage and hour violations, breach of fiduciary duty and discrimination actions. Samuels is a seasoned trial lawyer with over 30 years of experience in employment law. He brings a unique expertise after serving as an employment law arbitrator. He is active representing employers facing class and collective actions in the wage and hour arena, as well as single and multi-plaintiff disputes arising from allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

Proskauer

Full-service firm Proskauer is nationally recognized for its deep bench of labor and employment lawyers. The firm is lauded by peers as “one of the great law firms” and “obviously [a] terrific labor and employment focused firm”. The labor and employment practice handles some of the most complex disputes for high-profile clients. The team is capable of handling all types of employment matters from single-plaintiff disputes to class and collective actions that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars for clients. In addition to its prominent litigation practice, one peer says that the firm’s internal investigations team “stands out in my mind as very prominent”.

The New York office houses several heavy hitters in labor and employment litigation. Bettina Plevan and Elise Bloom are highlighted in this year’s edition as Top 20 Lawyers in Labor & Employment. Plevan is a master at handling high-stakes employment disputes that often play out beyond the walls of the court room. In a recent contentious matter for Charter Communications, she faced additional litigation in the press and media where plaintiffs sought political and public support in their case. She successfully resolved the matter, both in court and publicly, and obtained a settlement following a partially granted motion to dismiss in favor of the client.

Bloom is also an expert at handling high-profile matters. In a case of first impression for the Court of Appeals, she successfully defended Michael Bloomberg against plaintiffs who argued that the client was vicariously liable as an “employer”.

Neil Abramson handled one of the first matters that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The New York State Nurses Association [NYSNA] filed a motion for injunctive relief at the Southern District of New York against Montefiore in April of 2020. The NYSNA sought the court’s assistance in compelling the hospital to take steps to mitigate the nurse’s risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. However, Abramson obtained a motion to dismiss and continues to represent the hospital in an ongoing bargaining agreement.

Joseph Baumgarten and Adam Lupion are representing two major sports leagues. In one case, the team (along with Bloom) is defending the MLB in a racial-bias case brought by a current umpire for the league. At the Second Circuit, the team successfully won the case on summary judgment in its entirety for the league. Lupion and Baumgarten are also defending the NHL in a lawsuit filed by two former players who alleged that the client negligently increased their risk of brain damage, drug addiction and depression by permitting and promoting fighting during games and additionally misrepresented and failed to warn the effects of concussions over time. The firm’s employment practice has previously and successfully represented the NHL in similar cases that straddle tort law and federal labor law.

Lloyd Chinn defended Macquarie Holdings against an employee alleging hostile work environment and quid pro quo harassment in relation to a sexual relationship with a former manager. Chinn favorably resolved the matter in a AAA proceeding. The arbitrator rejected all claims filed by the plaintiff, awarded monetary sanctions and damages, and confirmed the breach of contract counterclaim filed by Chinn against the plaintiff. 

California-based partner Anthony Oncidi has been involved in employment matters for clients in the entertainment industry. In a dispute that was closely watched by the entertainment industry,Oncidi represented Viacom in dispute with Netflix, asserting claims against the competitor for poaching high-level executives and interfering with employment contracts. Earlier this year, he obtained an injunction against Netflix that enjoined the competitor from interfering with the client’s employment agreements. Kate Gold is also in California and in November of last year, at the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, she obtained a published, favorable decision on behalf of Aerospace Corporation ending an age discrimination matter that involved both class and individual litigation. The appellate court affirmed the summary judgment ruling obtained by Gold and affirmed her argument that plaintiffs failed to administratively exhaust class and disparate impact claims.

Boston’s Mark Batten handles employment litigation that involves class and collective actions and complex multi-plaintiff disputes. He recently represented Planet Fitness, as well as the current CEO and the company’s General Counsel, in a 16-day jury trial in Massachusetts Superior Court. After obtaining a settlement agreement in a previous lawsuit, the former CEO sued again, claiming that she was fraudulently induced into the original settlement agreement. Batten had several motion wins prior to trial, thus limiting the company’s possible exposure. The trial resulted in a verdict that was less than the plaintiff’s high-dollar settlement demands.

In Illinois, Nigel Telman is representing McDonald’s in multiple lawsuits. One is in the Northern District of Illinois in which plaintiffs, senior leaders and senior managers, allege that the company engages in a pattern and practice of racial discrimination, among other claims. Additionally, Telman and the team also represent the company against franchise employees who are asserting that McDonald’s should be considered a joint employer that can be held liable for race discrimination and sexual harassment at the franchise establishments.

Sanford Heisler Sharp

Sanford Heisler Sharp is considered one of the preeminent plaintiffs’ firms in labor and employment. The firm is nationally recognized for bringing sophisticated cases against major companies and big law firms. Opposing counsel praise the firm for its work in the labor and employment area. One lawyer describes the firm as an “excellent plaintiff side firm” and another states, “They’ve got bright and talented lawyers.” The firm is actively engaged in a wide-variety of single- and multi-plaintiff matters. Often, the high-profile matters that the firm handles influence and change policies and practices in the industries the defendants operate.

Firm co-founder David Sanford is lauded as one of the Top 20 Lawyers in Labor and Employment in this year’s guide. As with the firm, Sanford receives high praise from lawyers that have been up against him in litigation. “I think he really does a lot of trial work,” says an employer-side lawyer. “He really has done some remarkable stuff.” He has recently obtained multimillion-dollar settlements for plaintiffs, including a $7.75 million dollar settlement in a class and collective action that brought allegations of gender discrimination against Western Digital. Fellow top lawyer Deborah Marcuse has been engaged in a dispute against Morrison & Foerster, bringing claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act and gender discrimination claims under Title VII against the big-law law firm. Marcuse is gearing up for trial later this year and has been a high-profile case for law firms.

Sanford is not the only partner at the firm who is obtaining high-dollar settlements for clients. Kate Mueting recently received a final approval from the Southern District of New York for a 10-million-dollar settlement against KPMG. The case was filed in 2011, alleging systemic discrimination in promotion and pay, pregnancy discrimination, and failure to investigate and resolve complaints of harassment and discrimination. Tennessee-based former judge Kevin Sharp recently resolved a discrimination case against Volkswagen. The plaintiffs brought suit against the German company alleging discriminatory practices specifically arising from the Pact For The Future, which included a initiative to phase out older workers. Sharp obtained a settlement that was approved last May by the Eastern District of Tennessee. Russell Kornblith obtained a settlement on behalf of General Counsel and Executive President Nancy Saltzman who alleged gender discrimination claims against EXL Service Holdings, where she served as the first and only woman on the company’s Executive Committee.

In addition to many successfully resolved matters, the firm’s partners continue to be actively litigating numerous lawsuits for clients. Alexandra Harwin is currently litigating a dispute against Robert De Niro and his corporate alter ego, Canal Productions, alleging that both De Niro and his corporate entity allegedly subjected the client to a hostile work environment and retaliated against them. Michael Palmer has been engaged in two litigations against Oracle. One matter is a PAGA case that recently completed the first two of three phases of trial of the class action. The second matter is a single-plaintiff case that is also alleging wage-and-hour claims against the multi-national company. In 2019, the Ninth Circuit approved the plaintiff’s motion to arbitrate the claims, and the case is being actively arbitrated as well. Andrew Melzer is actively representing the plaintiff Teresa Brooks against Aurora Behavioral Healthcare – Santa Rosa in a lawsuit alleging numerous claims, including wrongful termination in violation of public policy and claims under PAGA. On behalf of the plaintiff, Melzer seeks monetary damages that include PAGA penalties, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees.

Weil Gotshal & Manges

Weil Gotshal & Manges houses a labor and employment practice with a nationally known reputation for handling complex cases. The firm is equipped with “fantastic litigators” as noted by a peer in the practice area. Another peer regards the firm’s labor and employment practice as “always strong” and “always recognized” for having a “great group”. Although the firm’s base is in New York, the practice operates on a national scale, taking on cases in major hubs for labor and employment litigation. The firm’s reputation has garnered major market clients like Goldman Sachs, Discovery and Country Fresh.

The firm recently expanded their bench to include John Barry as the head of the employment litigation practice. Last year, he represented a client in a non-compete lawsuit filed against a former senior executive who was the founder of the company the client acquired. Barry secured an injunction and successfully negotiated a settlement.

Gary Friedman is a seasoned litigator with ample experience in employment litigation. Friedman is in the trenches of handling a complex wage and hour case filed in Superior Court in Los Angeles by plaintiffs who are seeking to include the client, Community Brands, as a liable employer based on joint employment and misclassification theories. The plaintiffs were hired by subsidiaries of the cloud-based software solutions company.

Friedman also recently prevented a high-stakes wage-and-hour class action that would have sent ripples through the air medical industry. The firm was retained to address losses on significant issues at trial court that were being appealed. The client was exceptionally satisfied with the favorable settlement that Friedman and his team obtained after the appeal and they retained the firm for several other wage and hour cases in the District of Arizona, the District of Colorado, and the Southern District of Illinois.

Nicholas Pappas is highly experienced in resolving complex employment cases, particularly in the area of restrictive covenants and trade secrets. The cases that he works on are often dealing with high-ranking individuals and major market companies. Recently, Pappas successfully represented global restricting consultancy AlixPartners in a cross-border restrictive-covenants case involving former Managing Directors from the Paris and Milan offices of the company. In the case related to the Paris office, the conflict resulted in a favorable settlement. Pappas and the team filed suit in the Delaware Chancery Court against the Managing Director in the Milan-based case. After significant wins at court, including a denied motion to dismiss by the defendant, the team is preparing to handle some claims in Delaware court while others are stayed due to claims filed in Italy. In addition to his significant restrictive covenant and trade secrets practice, Pappas is also experienced in handling other employment claims. He has recently been involved in a sexual harassment case as well.