With offices in New York, Washington, DC; Hartford, Connecticut and San Francisco, Axinn maintains a specialty focus on litigation, particularly of the antitrust and intellectual property varieties. One appreciative client addresses the firm as “excellent, very accessible, responsive and reasonably priced.” This client goes on to note that “Axinn is also more diverse than most IP firms. ‘More diverse’ meaning not all white men and women.”
Operating in the DC office, Aziz Burgy defended Par Pharmaceutical in four separate suits filed by Horizon Therapeutics in various jurisdictions involving a generic version of the drug Ravicti. Collectively, the cases involved six different patents. The four lawsuits and inter partes reviews have all been dismissed and/or terminated in light of a favorable settlement, which grants Par a non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free license to manufacture generic Ravicti after July 1, 2025 or earlier under certain conditions. The July 2025 License Effective Date represents allows Par to enter the market nearly a decade before the latest expiring patents directed to Ravicti. Burgy also acts for Par in several other patent matters.
With outfits throughout the nation and beyond, the practitioners of Blank Rome are revered most notably for their activity in the insurance recovery space. The crown jewel of the firm, the insurance team takes on cutting-edge matters on behalf of leading corporations and institutions, distinguishing itself from its peers by providing counsel exclusively to policyholders. Members of the insurance group are acclaimed by clients for the laudable breadth of their expertise in, among other matters, complex insurance litigation and disputes arising from manuscript policies, and are additionally recognized as “responsive and providing sound advice.” Clients go on to praise Blank Rome’s insurance specialists for being “abreast of the latest commercial developments.”
The firm, and particularly D.C.-based future star Omid Safa, scored big in September 2022 when the Safa-led firm team secured a favorable jury verdict in favor of asset-based lender The CIT Group / Equipment Financing in an aviation insurance case involving a complex dispute over coverage for multimillion-dollar losses resulting from the confiscation of an aircraft by Brazilian tax authorities. The jury found that CIT had met its burden to establish coverage for involved a complex dispute over coverage for multimillion-dollar losses resulting from the confiscation of an aircraft by Brazilian tax authorities.confiscation by the Brazilian government. As a result, CIT will be awarded the full amount of its multimillion-dollar damages (which were established on summary judgment) and statutory interest. The current value of the award is currently $5 million.
The insurance recovery group finds the fount of its vigor largely in its co-chair, D.C.’s James Murray. A force both in litigation and at trial, Murray garners continuous and well-due praise for the deep insurance knowledge that he makes available to leaders in the corporate space, government entities, and religious institutions, among others, in their most sensitive and critical matters, often pertaining to sexual abuse liability and COVID-related coverage claims. Murray currently serves in the role of lead insurance counsel to real estate developer Combined Properties as the company seeks over $100 million in coverage following the destruction of a mixed-use development in connection with a recent and catastrophic fire in Fairfax County, VA. Murray is joined at the helm of this matter by his fellow star and D.C. partner John Gibbons.
Murray is additionally working alongside his fellow insurance recovery co-chair, Los Angeles-based Linda Kornfeld, who continues to demonstrate her recovery prowess and maintains the position of being among the firm’s most active and capable practitioners. Kornfeld and Murray boast recent heavy involvement in the COVID-19 business interruption space, leading more than a dozen recovery actions each seeking hundreds of millions of dollars.
Also recognized are several others among Blank Rome’s insurance recovery group, including John Heintz, Mary Craig Calkins, and Deborah Greenspan.
With origins in Boston and New York dating back to the 1940s, Brown Rudnick has since blossomed from a key player throughout New England into a strategically cultivated mid-Atlantic shop. Litigators within the firm are recognized for an aggressive, creative and indeed unconventional approach. A peer insists, “These are trial lawyers! They have guts and take bold positions. Now I may not always agree with these positions, but I’m impressed with them.” While it hosts attorneys attending to a broad range of commercial litigation, several star players have emerged as leaders in some rather novel areas.
The firm, and Washington, DC-based Ben Chew, landed squarely in the headlines for the representation of Johnny Depp in a massively publicized defamation case against his ex-wife Amber Heard. A Virginia jury unanimously ruled in favor of Depp following a six-week trial, finding that he had proven all elements of defamation. The seven-member jury awarded him $15 million, as well as $2 million to Heard on account of her counterclaim. Chew, a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, notches himself a coveted position on this edition’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers list.In another controversial and highly public matter, New York’s Michael Bowe and Lauren Tabaksblat are representing more than 50 victims of child pornography, rape, and trafficking in a landmark lawsuit against MindGeek, the parent company of tubesite Pornhub, a dominant entity in the industry. The lawsuit alleges claims under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizationslaws and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 and seeks damages for MindGeek’s exploitation of child sexual abuse materials and non-consensual content. Among other objectives, the lawsuit seeks to require MindGeek to impose stringent policies and procedures that ensure only legitimate, legally compliant consensual content is permitted on its platform. The complaint also asserts claims against Visa for knowingly participating and profiting in a human trafficking venture. The pursuit of claims against Visa is in clear recognition of the important role that banks and other institutions play in facilitating human trafficking and the unique role they each can play in bringing an end to these illegal activities. A peer marvels, “This is a really big step in making a difference. You might think, ‘It’s porn – who cares?’ right? But this really exposes just how shady some of it is and is forcing the industry and the public to confront it. It’s been reported that some 60% of Pornhub’s content has since been removed – that’s huge.” The same Brown Rudnick pair also represents Blueprint Capital Advisors, the only African-American asset manager in New Jersey, and one of the few in the country, in a landmark racial equality case against several governmental and business entities in the state, alleging the illegal misappropriation of a proprietary investment model Blueprint developed for public pensions and delivering the program to a rival investment firm. In response to Blueprint’s public challenges to defendants’ misappropriation, the client suffered a years-long and ongoing campaign of retaliation involving “blatant, aggressive, and unapologetic racist abuse.”
Brown Rudnick has also emerged as one of the most unflinching players in the bankruptcy litigation arena, specifically on behalf of creditors. “These are the bomb throwers,” observes one peer. “These are the people who you think about when you wonder, ‘Who do I call if I need a rabid dog?’” In particular, Robert Stark is identified as a leader. “Robert Stark thinks outside the box and helps drive a deal,” testifies a client. “He helped protect my interests and drive [a] positive outcome.” Stark, David Molton and Jeffrey Jonas (all based in New York) represented the Official Committee of Talc Claimants in the wake of Johnson & Johnson’s controversial October 2021 corporate transaction, colloquially referred to as a “Texas Two-Step,” dividing the company’s consumer products division into two companies and transferring all of the company’s talc-related tort liabilities to a newly created entity, which was then put into bankruptcy, with J&J demanding that the court extend all bankruptcy protections to the entire company conglomerate. “I love Jeff Jonas, he’s the best,” raves a peer. “There are some wonderful court illustrations of him just excoriating a witness on the stand who is just lying through their teeth!”
Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft is known as an historic New York full-service firm that is, in the words of several peers, “undergoing a renaissance in litigation. They are recruiting wisely and growing.” The most visible evidence of this assertion is the recent headline hires of former Boies Schiller commercial litigators Nick Gravante and Helen Maher. Gravante, formerly the managing partner at Boies during a transitional period for that firm, is a trial veteran and a dyed-in-the-wool commercial generalist. He represented Ashford Trust in a proxy contest, filing a motion for preliminary injunction, temporary restraining order and expedited discovery. Upon obtaining expedited discovery, the defendants voluntarily withdrew their director nominees before the preliminary injunction hearing, resulting in complete victory for Ashford. Gravante has also teamed up with fellow erstwhile Boies colleague Phil Iovieno on several antitrust matters in the plaintiff capacity, including one in which the duo represents more than a dozen opt-out plaintiffs alleging that the leading suppliers of broiler chickens participated in a multi-faceted price-fixing scheme, one of the largest and most sprawling antitrust matters of late. This same pair, along with Maher, represents medical device provider AngioDynamics in a lawsuit originally filed in 2017 alleging that competitor C.R. Bard and Bard Access Systems engaged in anticompetitive behavior by scheming to tie the sales of Bard’s tip location systems to the sales of its peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs). AngioDynamics alleges that Bard has a policy of refusing to sell its tip location systems separate from its PICCs, despite customers’ requests. Longtime Cadwalader mainstay Jason Halper has been particularly active with a spate of securities cases, primarily in the M&A capacity, as well as general commercial matters. In a commercial/estate hybrid case, Halper represents Janus Henderson entities as defendants in a lawsuit concerning allegations that the defendants unlawfully took over the finances of the plaintiff’s father and stole money that his sister – the plaintiff – expected to inherit upon their father’s death. Over two years after the plaintiff filed suit, she added various financial institutions, including Janus Henderson. Halper also is active in the securities stock-drop class-action space, exemplified by his representation of Mizuho, the co-manager for the Viacom Class B Common Stock offering that occurred in March 2021. Within days of the offering, Viacom’s stock fell from $85 to $45 per share.
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 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 boasts a particularly strong foothold in Latin America, a presence that is acknowledged by all peers and clients familiar with it. “Nobody can touch Cleary in that market,” concedes one peer. “They have such a deep concentration there, and they have relatively young partners who are also fluent Spanish speakers.” New York’s Lisa Vicens is frequently referred to as an example. “Lisa has developed a fabulous South American practice,” confirms one competitor. “She is a homegrown talent, an unusual person in that respect.” Vicens, a white-collar and investigations-oriented practitioner who also has grasp of rudimentary Portuguese, is representing Brazilian mining entity Vale in connection with investigations of allegations that the company failed to conduct appropriate diligence in advance of a strategic transaction with an entity that subsequently was discovered to have engaged in corrupt payments. Ari MacKinnon is another New York-based partner who exemplifies the firm’s dedication to this region; he is also a bilingual investigations and international arbitration specialist and is noted for “cultivating that market at an early age.”
Antitrust has long been one of the firm’s top calling cards, with a deep and established team in its DC office consisting of seasoned partners such as David Gelfand, and younger stars, including Leah Brannon and Jeremy Calsyn. The team got a boost in March 2020 with the addition of Bruce Hoffman, a former leader of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, to its DC group. A year later, the firm’s antitrust department benefited further still, with Heather Nyong’o brought in to develop the firm’s California presence through the establishment of a San Francisco office. Nyong’o, a former prosecutor with the antitrust division in California, joined the firm from WilmerHale in November 2021 and has since kept busy with a string of civil and criminal antitrust matters, brought by plaintiffs and the government, respectively. The civil matters include many “no-poaching” cases that have been a noted antitrust bugaboo all across the country but especially in California.
The firm’s white-collar and investigations capacity has also been consistently recognized as best-in-class, as well as one of the deepest. “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 Brodsky, Joon Kim, Lev Dassin, Victor Hou – these people are all a solid team.” Hou, who straddles this practice as well as several others, is particularly a favorite of peers. “Victor has gotten some fantastic results for companies that were involved in some difficult straits.” Hou acted as trial co-counsel in representing the former CEO of a publicly traded real estate investment trust in one of the few criminal cases involving non-GAAP financial measures. In March 2021, the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York sought to dismiss the indictment against the client and his co-defendant, which was granted in April. The Securities and Exchange Commission dropped its suit in July. Hou successfully identified substantive errors in the government’s materiality analysis and investigation, which led to the ultimate dismissal. Hou, along with Jonathan Kolodner, is representing multiple financial institutions in connection with the various criminal regulatory inquiries in the US, including the Department of Justice, and around the world related to the multi-billion-dollar meltdown of the family office of Bill Hwang, Archegos. The Cleary team is conducting the internal investigation of the events and responding to regulatory inquiries. In an example of his general commercial litigation prowess, Hou also leads a team acting as counsel to National Amusements (NAI) and owner Shari Redstone in lawsuits in the Delaware Court of Chancery challenging the fairness of the $30 billion merger of CBS and Viacom in 2019. Following the merger, multiple lawsuits were filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery by former stockholders of both Viacom and CBS. Those lawsuits were subsequently consolidated into two separate actions – one challenging the fairness of the merger to the former Viacom stockholders, and the other challenging the fairness of the merger to the former CBS stockholders. NAI, which was the controlling stockholder of both companies, and Shari Redstone, who was a director and vice chair of both companies, are named as defendants in both actions.
Roger Cooper, a New York-based securities practitioner, represented T-Mobile in a shareholder derivative action in the Western District of Washington, in connected with an August 2021 data security incident. A T-Mobile shareholder alleged violations of Section 14(a) of the Exchange Act, breaches of fiduciary duties, and other corporate mismanagement, and that they resulted in damage to T-Mobile and its stockholders. As a result of Cooper and his team’s efforts, the plaintiff eventually voluntarily dropped the suit.
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.
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.
One of the most notable firms in intellectual property, Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner is top tier in IP litigation, known for its active Patent Trial and Appeal Board practice, as well as its expertise at the International Trade Commission and in district courts. Even as an IP boutique, the firm’s depth is tantamount to that of a full-service law firm, especially as it maintains a national presence with offices coast to coast. While the firm has a reputation in patent litigation, it also keeps a vibrant trademark litigation practice, with District of Columbia partner Douglas Rettew at the helm of the firm’s activity in the space. Rettew has recently represented Under Armour in several matters involving trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution claims. In a matter that has amassed significant media coverage and social media attention, Rettew is defending Dean Guitars against Gibson, which claims that the client infringed the trade dress of several of its guitar body shapes and the “Dove Wing” headstock shape. Contentious discovery and depositions are in action, and the matter further involves survey issues that are cutting edge, related to the non-traditional shape marks including surveys on confusion, genericness, and fame.
For patent litigation, particularly in the life sciences arena, James Monroe and Paul Browning are two of the firm’s leading experts out of the D.C. office. Monroe has been representing Bial - Portela as lead counsel for plaintiffs in a multi-defendant Hatch-Waxman matter in district court. The case involves Bial and Sunovion’s anti-epileptic drug Aptiom® and the 11 patents covering the commercially successful drug. Seven of eight defendants settled before trial, but the eighth against Alkem went to a bench trial in June. Browning is also experienced in Hatch-Waxman litigation and specializes in chemical and pharmaceutical litigation.
The firm’s Reston, VA office houses another seasoned life sciences litigator, Charles Lipsey, who boasts a recent win for AstraZeneca in a Hatch-Waxman dispute against Zydus Pharmaceuticals involving the patents protecting AstraZeneca’s billion-dollar-a-year drug Farxiga®, which is part of a new class of diabetes drugs. The patents challenged in the matter provide over seven years of protection. After a bench trial, the District Court of the District of Delaware issued Lipsey a complete victory, finding that Zydus failed to prove that the patents at issue were invalid due to obviousness.
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. 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 third year, has already demonstrated aptitude for complex bet-the-company disputes on both the East and West Coasts. “Freshfields was able to pull a few great hires in,” observes a peer. “That firm has a huge footprint – they have a huge balance sheet so they can afford the talent.” A client describes the team as “forward-thinking and strategic,” going on to note, “Freshfields has team of first-rate litigators who frequently practice in the Delaware Court of Chancery. They give us options with good explanations of pros and cons of the choices.”
Much of the success of the securities and shareholder group is attributable to its co-head, Meredith Kotler of the New York office, who decamped from Cleary Gottlieb to build out the Freshfields team. Kotler is regularly trusted 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. “She did great,” attests one peer of Kotler’s incredible success with business development and recruiting. “She knew who she wanted and had the Freshfields machine supporting her.” A client raves, “Meredith is razor sharp and a master of the details. She can be both a tireless advocate for her clients and a wise counselor.” Another key member of this team, Mary Eaton, is also generating acclaim, further elevating the firm’s securities profile. “Mary is doing 3M cases, which are pretty messy,” confirms a peer. “She was building a strong following at Willkie [Farr & Gallagher] before she moved over [to Freshfields]. She and Meredith are a pretty strong duo.” This pair triumphed for the aforementioned 3M, and several of its executives and directors, in a federal securities class action, initially filed in New Jersey federal court and transferred to Minnesota, obtaining a rare writ of mandamus from the Third Circuit requiring transfer and then, in September 2021, obtaining full dismissal of the complaint with prejudice. The allegations related to the issue of disclosing contingent liability reserves and stem from 3M’s alleged failure to adequately reserve potentially billions of dollars to cover potential liability in environmental, mass tort, and other litigation based on 3M’s prior production of certain chemicals. Eaton also has historically represented Citigroup, a client that continues to call on her services.
Freshfields’ double-pronged securities offensive has been equally successful in California, where Boris Feldman, a “towering figure of the securities bar,” and Doru Gavril have established the firm’s foothold in that market. One peer testifies, “I know Boris Feldman very well – he was my mentor at Wilson Sonsini! He has such a big name, that anchor will drop deep in the [Silicon] Valley. He is a legend out here; I’ll be on a bus and talk to someone about him and they’ll know him! He’s also just a social animal, so he gets around. I also know Doru, who is great. The market out here is so huge and crowded already, but with those two at the helm, it’s a cinch for them to break into this market.” Gavril is specifically championed by a client for his “strong subject-matter knowledge,” and for “proactively keeping me informed of developments in relevant case law or practice. He understands legal issues well and did a good job of laying out alternative strategies and reasons for recommending one over another. [His] Writing is also well done.” The California team (along with Eaton) secured a complete victory in a putative securities class action for Pinterest, its CEO, and its CFO in the Northern District of California. Plaintiffs alleged that the defendants made false and misleading statements in the first and second quarters of 2019 about Pinterest’s future growth, purportedly knowing that there were limited opportunities for such growth due to allegedly increasing market saturation in the US. The truth was allegedly revealed when the company announced its results for the third quarter of 2019 and its stock prices fell. In September 2021, the court granted a motion to dismiss, holding that all the allegedly omitted information was disclosed, and distinguishing the allegations from those in other user metrics cases. The case was then dismissed with prejudice in October 2021. The Freshfields team also secured a successful settlement for Pinterest and several of its directors in three related shareholder derivative actions filed in the Northern District of California and the Delaware Court of Chancery, based on allegations of gender and racial discrimination at the company.
Formidable in a myriad of practice areas, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher remains one of the most in-demand and influential firms in litigation. With offices across the country, especially in major markets, there is no shortage of nationally recognized litigators who dutifully uphold the firm’s exceptional reputation. One former co-counsel with the firm raves, “I cannot speak highly enough of Gibson Dunn. [They were] terrific partners to us.” Another peer in the market confirms, “Gibson is one of the leading firms in the country.”
The firm’s antitrust team has garnered praise, as one peer voices, “On antitrust [side] I have been overwhelmingly impressed with Gibson Dunn.” The firm is seen as having “historically been very strong” in the practice area, and the depth of the team exemplifies its reputation. A diverse team that included Dallas-based partner Veronica Moyé and California’s Daniel Swanson and Richard Doren defended Apple in a high-profile and historic antitrust lawsuit filed by Epic Games, challenging the client’s business model and practices relating to its App Store and alleging violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and the California Unfair Competition Law. Following a 16-day bench trial last May, the team secured several victories. The District Court upheld Apple’s core design choices at issue, and while the court imposed an injunction after agreeing with the unfair competition claims, the team successfully appealed that decision, and the Ninth Circuit Court stayed the injunction. The court also ordered the plaintiff to pay damages equivalent to 30% of the revenue it received from an unauthorized payment mechanism implemented in its Fortnite app without Apple’s consent. Both parties appealed the decision. Doren was specifically mentioned for his work and demeanor as an opponent in the Epic case. “I found him incredibly easy to deal with – he was a gentleman,” they said. “He tells a story, keeps his eye on the ball, and lets things go when you should let them go – really enjoyed being in the courtroom with him every day.” Two of the other partners on the case are nationally recognized for their antitrust expertise: Swanson is a national antitrust star and Moyé continues her reign in the Top 250 Women in Litigation. Rachel Brass out of the California office secured an industry-important victory for McDonalds in a “no-poach” putative class action. The decision denied class certification of millions of current and former restaurant employees. Plaintiffs in the case alleged that the client suppressed wages and restricted worker mobility in violations of antitrust laws. Brass’s win for McDonalds was the first of many to reach a decision on class certification, as many of the lawsuits filed against franchisors are still pending. Scott Hammond of the DC office is another of the firm’s antitrust specialists, known especially for his unique ability to “[play] both roles” as an investigator and litigator in cases, according to one peer familiar with his work.
The firm’s capabilities beyond the antitrust space are similarly well-known and established. The D.C. office houses Patrick Stokes, one of the firm's white-collar lawyers, known as someone who “really stands out” in the D.C. white-collar crime market. The firm’s practice as a whole is distinguished, as the peer goes on to say, “Gibson Dunn is one that is pretty well-known and who I come across regularly.” Helgi Walker is another of the firm’s revered women listed on Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation, and a member of the firm’s preeminent appeals practice. In April 2021, Walker secured a key victory at the US Supreme Court representing petitioners the National Association of Broadcasters in a consolidated matter that also included the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against Prometheus Radio Project. The matter was significant to the broadcast and newspaper industries – who Walker was lead counsel for – and the unanimous decision allowed the FCC to eliminate outdated media ownership restrictions. Richard Parker is famed as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in Benchmark Litigation.
Orin Snyder, another Top 100 Trial Lawyer, is widely recognized for his mastery of trial litigation. “He certainly knows how to try a case,” says an opposing counsel on a matter. As co-counsel, a peer speaks to his collaborative demeanor in sharing, “Orin constantly complimented what we did. We didn’t have to fight for the opportunity to take an important role.” Snyder and California-based partner Scott Edelman have obtained several wins defending AMC in litigation against executive producers of the show The Walking Dead. The producers allege that AMC failed to pay millions of dollars in “profit participation” according to their contracts. Following a two-week bench trial in March 2020, the court ruled in favor of AMC on all issues presented during the trial, and in 2021 granted a demurrer to the remaining claims. Snyder and Edelman filed a motion for summary judgement, and in March 2022, the court tentatively dismissed the implied covenant and tort claims, which narrowed the case significantly. Edelman is one of the top entertainment lawyers with “a deep team that is generationally diverse” behind him. Edelman, Ted Boutrous, and Theane Evangelis represented Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, NBCUniversal and Comcast in a defamation lawsuit filed by Herring Networks, owner of One America News. The team's anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint with prejudice was granted in district court and confirmed by the Ninth Circuit panel on appeal. Based in the Los Angeles office, Boutrous has a well-renowned reputation for his appeals practice, giving him his National Practice Area Star title in Benchmark Litigation. In June 2021, he argued before the California Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District and secured a major win for Hewlett-Packard in its long-standing contract dispute with Oracle. The appellate court affirmed the over $3 million verdict, making it one of the largest single-plaintiff verdicts. Evangelis is especially well-known for her successful employment and appellate litigation practice.
Wayne Barsky is an eminent intellectual property litigator based out of the Los Angeles office. He has recently worked with New York partner Josh Krevitt defending fitness product developer Fitbit in a patent infringement matter in the International Trade Commission (ITC). Industry rival Philips filed patent infringement claims against nearly all of the client’s products. In February 2021, following one of the first remote ITC trials, the judge issued a complete victory finding no infringement against Philips’ products. In another major victory, Barsky obtained the largest defense victory in a patent infringement case in EMD Serono’s and Pfizer’s history. In 2018, a jury unanimously found in favor of the clients, but the district court reversed the verdict and awarded judgement in favor of Biogen. The Federal Circuit then reinstated the jury verdict and, to secure the win, the Supreme Court denied Biogen’s petition for certiorari. Deborah Stein of the Los Angeles office led the team in one of the first COVID-19 business interruption and insurance matters at the Ninth Circuit. She defended Travelers in the case against Mudpie, which sought coverage for business interruptions related to the pandemic. The Ninth Circuit published its opinion in favor of Travelers, holding that Mudpie was not covered by the client. The firm’s San Francisco office features Brian Lutz, who obtained a dismissal with prejudice of the securities fraud class action against HP.
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 litigators practicing in 11 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 if 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.”
More recently, Hausfeld scored big as co-lead counsel in a major case alleging that more than 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 firm founder and former name partner Michael Hausfeld is based, has long been viewed as the firm’s center of gravity, with his transition to a “Chairman Emeritus” role, several California-based partners are tipping the scales to a more balanced footprint. “It’s more about the team now,” observes one peer. Megan Jones in the San Francisco office has been identified by several peers as “a leader at Hausfeld now,” with one peer testifying, “I have been very impressed with her, she has been leading quite a few cases.” 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.
Haynes and Boone is a multi-discipline outfit that emerged as a regional player in the Southeast and South Central US. The firm maintains a network of 17 offices with 40 practice areas spreading across its locations. Historically a revered legal brand in its native Texas, the firm has more recently expanded into markets like Washington, DC, largely on the strength of a rapidly burgeoning insurance coverage practice. The firm has won the praise of multiple peers; one testifies, “We are very often in the same sandbox as them, we see them often.” Another peer, based in Houston, extols, “They are really in the mix now, great people. [They have] Quite a bit of action in Dallas, too.” Clients voice their appreciation for the firm’s approach and prowess. One describes Haynes and Boone’s litigators as “aggressive and thoughtful, with an excellent understanding of the law,” and states that they are “good at keeping client focused, thoughtful with billing and credits, excellent at strategy, trustworthy and empathetic.”
The DC office in particular features trial lawyer Barry Buchman who is a leading policyholder insurance litigator with a specialty in complex insurance coverage, general liability coverage disputes and other cutting-edge insurance coverage matters. “Barry and his team are active in the sexual abuse coverage disputes area,” notes one insurance-focused peer. “When people ask for referrals, he’s always 1, 2 or 3 on the list.” Additionally, Buchman’s practice also touches on commercial disputes that include business torts and representing private equity firms and automotive companies especially. Most recently, Buchman served as lead litigation counsel representing Lionsgate and Starz in a Directors & Officers insurance coverage case that arose out of Lionsgate’s acquisition of Starz and a subsequent shareholder class action that was filed by Starz shareholders. They alleged they were underpaid for their shares compared to the price Lionsgate paid for the shares of another group of shareholders. The insurers for Lionsgate and Starz denied coverage, claiming the “Bump-Up Exclusion” clause in the policies, and after the class action settled for $92.5 million, the clients filed a lawsuit against the insurers for their denial of coverage. One of the insurers for Starz filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the client improperly compromised the insurer’s subrogation rights against a Starz shareholder, John Malone, who allegedly played a significant and improper part in the Lionsgate’s acquisition. The matter became an issue of first impression regarding whether Malone was considered an “insured person” as he was not a director or officer of Starz. Buchman successfully persuaded the court to consider Malone an “insured person” and the court ruled in the client’s favor based on the policies that prevent insurers from asserting subrogation rights against an insured.
Haynes and Boone is also a noted powerhouse in the specialty area of appeals. “In appellate work, they are a premier firm,” raves a peer. “Nina Cortell [now Senior Counsel status] is still active but her protégé Anne Johnson is just tremendous. I would love to hire either of them away but I doubt we could ever get them!” Johnson, domiciled in the firm’s Dallas office, has indeed emerged as a star in this space. She made headlines with her representation of BBVA, on behalf of whom she persuaded a Texas appellate court to overturn a $110 million fraud verdict against the client. The suit was brought against BBVA by a borrower who claimed that a BBVA employee made misrepresentations during loan renewal negotiations. The plaintiff alleged that, at the time the employee represented that his loans were not being sold, the bank was in the process of selling them—an action permitted by the loan documents. The plaintiff claimed that the employee’s representation caused him to lose out on various business opportunities. Johnson and her team were called into action after an unfavorable verdict in 2017. In December 2020, a three-justice panel of the appellate court unanimously reversed the judgment and ruled that the plaintiff take nothing on his claim. Johnson is also lead counsel on appeal for Toyota North America in an appeal stemming from a $242 million verdict against the manufacturer in August 2018. Johnson makes her debut appearance as one of Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation in this edition. Houston’s Mark Trachtenberg also notched an appellate win when he persuaded the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a summary judgment in favor of client Caterpillar. In the suit, AIG Europe asserted negligence and product liability claims against Caterpillar, which manufactured an engine used in pumping units at an oil-and-gas well site in Texas. A 2016 fire at the site led to millions of dollars in damages, which AIG sought to recover from Caterpillar and another defendant. Haynes and Boone was retained after a judge in the Eastern District of Texas denied AIG’s motion for partial summary judgment and granted Caterpillar’s motion for summary judgment on each of AIG’s claims.
Recognized in jurisdictions around the country for its litigation aptitude in labor & employment, data privacy, and a litany of other practice areas, Hunton Andrews Kurth continues to build a legal footprint of much further reach and wider renown.
Hunton's Richmond office is a central firm stronghold, remaining among the most active of its regional practices, and is home to former Solicitor General of the State of West Virginia and issues & appeals practice chair Elbert Lin. Lin recently achieved an appellate victory on behalf of Oath, Inc. – the name under which the combined entities of AOL and Yahoo! were known during the period when they were owned by Verizon prior to a recent acquisition by Apollo Global Management – in a federal defamation suit brought by former Trump advisor Carter Page who filed claims concerning a series of articles published by Yahoo! News and HuffPost regarding the US investigation into his contact with Russian officials, was initially met with a federal court decision dismissing his case on jurisdictional grounds. Page then engaged in a series of appellate attempts to have the decision overturned – Lin and the team fending off the appeals at every turn – until the matter was wrapped up once and for all with a final affirmance from the Delaware Supreme Court. Also hailing from the Richmond outfit, George “Trey” Sibley’s practice emphasizes matters of environmental permitting, while in D.C., environmental practice head Deidre Duncan focuses on compliance in addition to permitting. The two are often active in these regards on high-stakes proceedings with the potential to markedly reshape the landscape of EPA regulation. Michael Shebelskie of Richmond is also noted for his expertise in litigation in the environmental sphere, year after year garnering national praise.
The firm’s network of Texas-based offices is also recognized as a critical pillar of its formidable litigation power. Hailing from the Houston office, perhaps the most notable of offices in the state, Cameron Pope is an appellate-oriented practitioner with experience in toxic torts, labor & employment, and oil & gas litigation. Pope is currently involved in a theft of trade secrets matter on which a team of the firm’s litigators serves as lead counsel to the plaintiff and major oil & gas PVT software provider Calsep. The team has been successful in securing the approval of both a $10 million damages award and rare “death penalty” sanctions against the defendants, who were found to have destroyed evidence during litigation.
Also Houston-based, Thomas Taylor, who serves as litigation co-head, maintains the distinction of being among the firm’s most vital and active of practitioners. Working in both trial and appellate regards, Taylor’s practice centralizes multidistrict litigation and multi-part matters, emphasizing disputes arising in the oil & gas sector.
In Austin, Scott Brister serves as issues and appeals practice co-head and enjoys a broad assortment of litigation capabilities. Brister recently represented Sirius XM in a matter in the Texas Supreme Court which provided critical clarification as to the Texas Tax Code. Sirius, filing suit seeking a $2.5 million refund of franchise taxes paid under protest, interpreted the statute in question in the matter as looking to the location of a taxpayer’s personnel and equipment to establish where a business is to be taxed, whereas the Comptroller’s interpretation was that taxation occurs in the location of the end-product act. Brister, who served as lead on all briefs and co-counsel in the preparation of oral argument, was crucial to Sirius’s reading of tax law being adopted by the Texas Supreme Court.
The DC-based boutique outfit of Ifrah Law, under the guidance of its namesake and central leader Jeff Ifrah, deals in white-collar criminal defense, commercial litigation, class-action defense, and federal agency litigation. The most unique of the firm’s features, however, is its online gaming & sports betting practice. Indeed, Ifrah and the firm’s involvement in this regard has propelled the team to considerable renown in this burgeoning practice area, wherein the team also attends to such cutting-edge matters as cryptocurrency disputes and issues arising in connection with social media.
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 the issues of this time in history.” Another states, “They’re in a different space than we are but we still see them on occasion and hear a lot about them. They seem to be growing!” A client testifies on the firm’s behalf: “They are incredibly detailed, exhaustive in the options presented to us in litigation strategy, responsive, and understanding of the mental and emotional toll that this type of litigation takes on clients.” 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 returned to the firm after serving as counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee, as a partner in February 2020. The firm also 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. The firm’s one personnel loss, former prosecutor Marshall Miller, comes only because Miller was tapped for a senior role within the Department of Justice.
Founder and all-purpose trial lawyer Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan, who earned her stripes at Paul Weiss before initially launching this firm as Kaplan & Company, 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 grabbed headlines in October 2017 when she was one of two partners retained by non-profit Integrity First for America to represent 11 plaintiffs from Charlottesville against 26 defendants implicated in the white nationalist/neo-Nazi rally that took place in Charlottesville that August and culminated in violence and other shameful turns of events. The defendants include named people and several organizations, such as the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and Nationalist Front. This case set precedent at the 2018 Benchmark awards ceremony as being the only case to be acknowledged with a prestigious “impact case” recognition well before a favorable decision was reached, simply on the strength of the principles and audacity of the case. The case set further precedent when it became the only case to receive the “impact case” honor twice, when it was recognized once again at the 2022 ceremony after jurors in the November 2021 trial found that more than a dozen white supremacist and hate groups were liable under state law for injuries to counter-protesters and ordered them to pay the plaintiffs more than $25 million in damages. A peer observation that “Robbie Kaplan has been doing a lot of work for universities” has certainly been on display this past year, with representations for institutions such as Brown and Columbia. The former concerned allegations regarding the school’s athletics programs and the latter involved a putative class action (filed in April 2020) demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition refunds in response to the public health necessity of Columbia moving its classes online amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Kaplan enjoys yet another year as one of Benchmark’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers in this edition.
The firm has also etched itself a sterling position in the eyes of the white-collar community, particularly through its representation of high-profile individuals facing some manner of criminal imbroglio. In this capacity, Sean Hecker is a unanimous favorite of peers. “Oftentimes if I’m representing the company and I have an individual executive that needs his or her own counsel, I would call Sean Hecker,” confirms a peer. “He’s terrific, he has quite a reputation that’s still growing!” More remarkably, Hecker is known by all for being “willing to take cases to trial,” keeping his spot on Benchmark’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers list secure yet another year.
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 Commodity Futures Trading Commission (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 represents the former chief investment officer of New York-based investment firm Infinity Q Capital Management. In February 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission 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.
Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick is a mid-sized trial and appellate powerhouse firm headquartered in downtown DC. Aaron Panner is an antitrust authority who frequently appears before the US Supreme Court and appellate courts around the country. Peers celebrate Panner’s courtroom efforts, stating, “One guy who is just amazing is Aaron Panner at Kellogg Huber. He specializes in antitrust. [He] Clerked on the [Supreme Court]” adding, “He is truly one of the most amazing litigators I’ve come across. His mind is unbelievable. He would be on the top of my list. I refer him to my own clients and they’re always happy. That guy, boy, just a dynamo!” Seasoned litigator and name partner Mark Hansen obtained some of the largest judgments in antitrust and unfair trade practice cases in recent history. Hansen continued his success when a federal judge threw out the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against client Facebook in June 2021. The case is pending after the FTC opted to try again its antitrust lawsuit with an amended complaint. Competitors also sing Hansen’s praises, declaring “He is low-key and humble so, it’s hard to even see him as the big dog that he is. He is one of the Top 5 trial lawyers in the US.” Founding and managing partner Michael Kellogg has built a reputable practice dedicated to appellate, regulatory, and antitrust issues. He has briefed and argued numerous cases before the United States Supreme Court. Steven Benz represents corporations as plaintiffs in antitrust, unfair competition, class action, and complex commercial cases. Benz is active as a member of the lead counsel team representing software supplier Veeva, which stands accused of stealing medical data belonging to IQVIA. Trial lawyer Andrew Shen has successfully represented clients at the trial and appellate levels in a range of areas and industries. Clients include anywhere from Fortune 200 companies and institutional investors to whistleblowers. Shen filed a notice of appearance on behalf of the Saudi Crown Prince before the District of DC in March 2021 in a federal lawsuit initiated by the pro-democracy group of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Appellate authority David Frederick is active in defense of Royal Dutch Shell against climate liability lawsuits. Frederick is also renowned for his advocacy in suits against the NFL on behalf of former players who suffered concussions and their families, as well as for his success last year in an antitrust case that allowed iPhone owners to sue Apple.
Internationally regarded for the breadth and depth of its global network, King & Spalding balances its force across 22 offices worldwide, giving the firm a strong presence in the markets in which it operates. The firm is nationally recognized in the US, especially for its litigation capabilities. The firm is most well-known for its expertise in international arbitration, product liability, and environmental litigation. One peer that brought the firm on a case describes them as “specialists in emissions regulations.”
One of the firm’s acclaimed environmental experts is Houston-based trial lawyer Robert Meadows, who holds a National Practice Area Star title for his work in commercial litigation. The Houston office also features two of the firm’s distinguished international arbitration lawyers who are nationally recognized in Benchmark Litigation. Doak Bishop focuses on handling matters for Latin American companies, particularly in the energy industry. He has recently represented: Reficar in a multi-billion-dollar International Chamber of Commerce arbitration arising from the construction of the Cartagena oil refinery in Colombia; Chevron and Texaco before the Court of Appeals at The Hague, which dismissed a renewed bid to overturn a treaty award against Ecuador; and Gente Oil in a separate case against Ecuador that resulted in a $10.7 million tribunal award. Craig Ledet is another international arbitration star with a focus on construction and environmental litigation. He has handled AAA and CPR arbitrations and has also been before the Dispute Adjudication Board in London, among many other venues. He also represents clients in federal and state courts.
The firm’s Atlanta office houses the product liability team’s authorities. Adam Spicer is a new addition to the firm’s list of litigation stars. A peer in the practice area considers Spicer to be one of the “dream people to try a case with.” He has represented medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson in product liability cases and is especially wellversed in handling State Attorney General actions. Richard “Doc” Schneider is one of several national practice area stars for product liability litigation. As a trial lawyer, Schneider is trusted to handle clients’ largest high-profile cases, including acting as lead counsel in one of the e-cigarette products putative class actions challenging their labeling. Andrew Bayman is another product liability expert who is nationally recognized for his work in the practice area. He is seasoned in representing clients in multi-district litigation (MDL), predominantly in the life sciences and healthcare industries. Outside of those areas, he is also involved in an MDL pending in the Northern District of California representing a Fortune 500 company in a matter related to the marketing and selling of defective e-cigarette products. The firm’s strength does not stop at product liability litigation. Joseph Akrotirianakis is a commercial litigator with a wealth of trial experience. Hecontinues to represent NSO Group in a matter of first impression filed by Facebook and WhatsApp under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and its California analogue, the Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act. The team has petitioned for writ of certiorari at the US Supreme Court, which is still pending. San Francisco’s Kenneth Steinthal is an intellectual property litigator lauded for his work in copyright-related issues. He represents internationally known industryleaders such as Google and Amazon. He represents the former in Copyright Royalty Board proceedings and the latter in five copyright infringement lawsuits filed in the Western District of Washington and the Southern District of New York.
The firm is recognized nationally as a top-tier resource for white-collar crime and investigations expertise, and the D.C. office has an established group of lawyers specializing in the practice area. Many have previously held government positions, including Rod Rosenstein, who is a former Deputy Attorney General and US Attorney for Maryland and now handles government investigations, cybersecurity and national security issues, and related litigation. Chair of the government matters group, Wick Sollers navigates high-profile investigations and litigation for clients in the public eye. Across the country in New York, Andrew Hruska specializes in white-collar crime and investigations along with Carmen Lawrence and William Johnson, who both mix white-collar crime and investigations and securities litigation in their practices. Lawrence has represented major financial institutions and C-suite executives in Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice investigations, as well as investigations by international commissions and entities. Johnson is also involved in securities-related investigations and has experience with cybersecurity-related government investigations. The firm has also recently expanded to include white-collar crime and investigations lawyer Matthew Biben, deepening its experience in the New York office.
The office also features co-head of the international arbitration practice Edward Kehoe, who represents clients in matters against republics globally, including the Republic of Ecuador, Republic of Peru, and Republic of Egypt. He handles commercial arbitration as well as investment-related disputes and is experienced in International Centre for Dispute Resolution AAA proceedings. Gerald Flattmann and Bruce Baber are intellectual property litigation authorities who are seasoned in both their specialties. Flattmann is the global chair of the life sciences patent litigation group and handles everything from abbreviated new drug application and Hatch-Waxman litigation to matters before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Baber is the founding partner of the IP, patent and trademark litigation group, and while he has handled all types of IP litigation, he is most known for his trademark expertise.
In addition, the firm has also brought on Miami-based securities litigator Brian Miller and Chicago-based trial lawyer Lazar Raynal, who focuses on commercial disputes.
Kirkland & Ellis has steadily risen from its roots in Chicago (where it remains a dominant brand) 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 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. Indeed, one of the firm’s marquis trial lawyers, DC’s Mike Brock (who has been consistently ranked as one of Benchmark’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers since its inception in 2014) led a team along with Chicago’s Leslie Smith and Anne Sidrys representing 3M Company and its subsidiary Aearo Technologies in product liability litigation concerning 3M’s allegedly defective dual-ended Combat Arms Earplugs. In 2021, the Kirkland team secured a complete defense verdict in the second and fifth bellwether trials in this massive and headline-grabbing litigation. Operating from the firm’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices, all-purpose commercial litigator Mark Holscher is another of the firm’s trial stars – one who makes his debut on the Top 100 list this year. A local candidate on this list testifies, “Mark is terrific. He’s now on the plaintiff’s side and become a thorn in the side of entertainment studios.” Holscher is representing Stable Road Acquisition in a purported consolidated securities class action arising from a merger, as well as a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) action involving the CEO and founder of the merger candidate entity.
Domestically, Kirkland has exhibited a remarkable level of growth in its New York office in particular. Many credit Sandra Goldstein, a litigation powerhouse and “straight shooter,” for this phenomenon. “Sandra has not only a terrific reputation but a sizeable book of business,” states one peer. “She has a carousel of securities and Delaware-related litigation on the go. But she also benefits from having the Kirkland machine and a great team that is coming under her and, at this point, with her – people like Stefan Atkinson, Rachel Fritzler and Matthew Solum. They are all junior to Sandra but absolutely critical and playing major roles. ”Goldstein and Atkinson are representing private equity firm 3G, one of Kraft Heinz’s largest shareholders, in putative securities class actions and related shareholder derivative actions 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. In 2021, Kirkland won complete dismissal of the Delaware derivative action. A peer insists, “You’ve got to look at Kirkland harder for securities work! Just at the moment they’ve got Grubhub. Jeld-Wen. Six Flags. Honeywell…shall I go on?”
Solum in particular is identified as “a securities star in the making,” with one peer stating, “We are seeing him everywhere and not just in one specific type of securities case, either. He’s got M&A work, derivative work, class actions, you name it.” Solum takes the leap from future star to full-fledged litigation star in this edition. Solum won dismissal in September 2021 for Hebron Technology, a Chinese pipe-and-valve fittings manufacturer, and certain of its officers, of a consolidated securities fraud class action for violations of sections 10(b) and 20(a) arising out of allegations of related party transactions and ineffective disclosure controls. Solum also played a role, along with New York’s Yosef Riemer and Devora Allon, representing Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and its subsidiary, Celgene Corporation, in antitrust litigation alleging that BMS’s acquisition of Celgene was a breach of the parties’ underlying commercial agreement to develop a Tyk2 inhibitor, for the treatment of psoriasis. In 2021, Kirkland secured a preliminary injunction, enjoining the plaintiffs from selling or transferring the intellectual property assets associated with the drug. A settlement was reached in 2022. Allon acted with another of the firm’s name-brand antitrust specialists, Jay Lefkowitz, representing Impax Laboratories and its parent company in antitrust litigation brought by the Federal Trade Commission challenging a 2017 pay-for-delay agreement between Endo and Impax. The Kirkland duo won dismissal in 2022. A Kirkland team led by Atif Khawaja (and also including Goldstein and Fritzler) represented real estate entity Urban Compass (doing business as Compass) and Robert Reffkin in a suit brought by an individual who claimed to have co-founded Compass and seeking an award of stock in the company. The Kirkland team successfully defeated the vast majority of the plaintiff’s claims, including atheft of trade secret claim. The remaining claims were successfully settled prior to trial in 2021.
While Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel has been a mainstay of the New York legal community since its inception, it has, in recent years, expanded in a modest and measured fashion, starting with an office in Silicon Valley. Within the past year, however, the firm did nothing short of reinvent itself, taking the DC market by storm with its auspicious acquisition of prized local shop Robbins Russell, incorporating a deep team of celebrated practitioners across several practice areas. “That’s a big deal,” sums up one local peer, voicing the general consensus. “Robbins Russell were a classic DC firm and now the platform has given both sides many new opportunities.” Key among these new recruits is appellate “dynamo” Roy Englert, a frequent visitor to the Supreme Court and an authority in the practice. Englert is “all appeals, all the time,” and respected by a vocal percentage of the leading figures in the DC appellate community. “Roy is fantastic,” testifies one peer. “He brought an amicus in a case we are working on, and we were very impressed.” Gary Orseck is another recruit with fluency in appeals, as well as a broad-based commercial, securities and white-collar practitioner. “Gary is a tremendous lawyer,” extols a peer. “He has a really good sense of judgment and is a great writer.” The DC group comes with some youth factor to balance out the senior talent; future star Ariel Lavinbuk comes equipped with a practice that encompasses commercial litigation as well as a bankruptcy element, an area for which Kramer Levin, through its New York office, has historically been seen as Tier 1.
The bankruptcy practice has earned plaudits from fellow leaders in the area. “It is run by Ken Eckstein and Tom Mayer, who are great in court, great at deals, and just great at bankruptcy everywhere,” declares one peer, who attests, “I see them all the time and they give me and anyone else a run for the money.” White-collar crime is another field in which Kramer Levin boasts a unanimously lauded roster. “The Kramer Levin team actually does trials! That’s rare in the white-collar world, and these are actually for some very high-profile individuals,” marvels one peer. Barry Berke is an undisputed leading presence. He 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 acted 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 Southern District of New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission arising from Huber’s trading based on purportedly confidential government information relating to Medicare reimbursement for healthcare services. A newly listed member of the team, Michael Martinez is “the most recent trial victor. He led an SEC enforcement case for an individual and won!”
Kramer Levin has also historically occupied a coveted space in the niche field of false advertising and Lanham Act cases, and as of late, Norman Simon has moved to the fore in this area, acting in both the plaintiff and defense roles. Simon is an authority in matters concerning the National Advertising Division and is also frequently involved in consumer class-action work, specifically in the defense capacity. The firm has recently developed a more “hard IP” practice, spearheaded by Dr. Irena Royzman, who is noted by peers to “occupy a definite presence in the pharma patent space.” Royzman represented Janssen, which 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-hostdisease. Royzman obtained a favorable Markman ruling on all claim terms and conducted intensive expert discovery remotely. The IP area is bookended on the West Coast by Lisa Kobialka in the Silicon Valley office (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.
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. 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 of similar 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 at Skadden, to its New York bench in August 2021. Sammi adds balance to the firm’s presence on the East Coast, coming on the heels of several recent key augmentations to the DC-based IP team, including 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. Beyond patent work, Latham’s IP group benefits from a strong copyright element as well. A peer states, “Andrew Gass in San Francisco is the head of the copyright practice there and is building a very cool group that has been getting more and more of the interesting copyright work, especially things that are better suited for a very big firm, things like the music rate-setting cases. He’s doing some work for Amazon. The expansion of their practice has been very impressive. Joe Wetzel, who was a King & Spalding copyright guy, joined their group as well, and he’s great.”
Latham’s securities practice is another capacity in which the firm has seen a staggering streak of victories. The firm boasts leading litigators in this practice in nearly every one of its domestic offices. In DC, Andrew Clubok is the co-chair of the firm’s securities practice and is unanimously revered as “very skilled and very successful” by peers in this capacity. A frequent opponent testifies, “I have a great relationship with him. He’s one of those guys who, if you go to him with a strong solid argument, will say ‘Let’s settle.’ Andrew may not have many fans among the plaintiffs’ bar but I really like him.” Clubok and San Francisco’s Elizabeth Deeley defended a number of clients including Facebook, NortonLifeLock, and AMD in some of the first shareholder derivative suits to allege breach of fiduciary duty relating to board diversity efforts. The Latham team secured dismissals in every case. This duo was also involved in a matter led by Orange County’s Michele Johnson, in which the team scored a major victory in the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Twitter and two of its executives, affirming a prior win in the Northern District of California in a securities class action followingTwitter’s announcement that steps taken to address certain issues with user settings choices adversely affected Twitter’s ability to target advertising and negatively impacted itsthird-quarter 2019 revenue. Johnson, one of the few securities practitioners to lay claim to taking a securities class action to trial, and winning, in recent years (for Puma Biotechnology) was also co-lead on a case, with San Francisco’s Peter Wald, on behalf of NextGen Healthcare, a developer of computer-based healthcare practice management and electronic health records solution, which was embroiled in a “holder’s claim” brought by a shareholder and former director who claimed he suffered a $400 million loss following a retraction in the company’s financial guidance. Johnson and her team scored a complete defense verdict. Also based in Orange County, Kristin Murphy is acknowledged as another securities star in the making. “She just made partner this past year and is already first-chairing trials,” confirms a peer.
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!” Berkowitz led a team that secured a complete defense verdict in a 14-count federal criminal action in the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of former CEO and co-founder of Power Solutions, Gary Winemaster, who was accused of a complex accounting fraud scheme to deceive investors by concealing information about certain transactions for the purpose of recognizing revenue in earlier reporting periods. The company settled with both the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice (DoJ) in 2020. The criminal case proceeded to a four-week bench trial in May and June 2021,and in September 2021 Winemaster was found not guilty on all charges. This case, and Berkowitz’s role in it, received a prestigious “impact case” award at the 2022 Benchmark award ceremony in New York.
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 represents BMW in a pair of purported class actions filed by direct (car dealerships) and indirect purchasers (consumers) of German automobiles, who allege that BMW colluded with other manufacturers over the course of two decades to limit the pace and extent of technological innovations in their vehicles. Wall has successfully defended BMW from any liability in the US. New York’s Lawrence Buterman is also a peer favorite. “Larry was at DoJ and tried the eBooks case before he went to Latham. It’s been a pleasure to work with him,” testifies one contemporary.
With offices in Chicago, Washington, DC, and San Francisco, Massey & Gail fashions itself as “a different kind of law firm,” with lawyers covering areas of litigation involving administrative, commercial, antitrust, intellectual property and appeals. An appreciative client raves, “Massey & Gail took over a suit from a former firm, and I wish I had found Massey & Gail first because the difference is night and day in both professionalism and performance. As long as it fell under their area(s) of expertise I would give them all of my legal work.”
Chicago’s Leonard Gail, a generalist commercial litigator, has kept particularly active with a varied portfolio of litigation matters over the past 12 months. In one such matter, he served as lead counsel to two relators who sued household goods giant Lowe’s under the Illinois False Claims Act, alleging Lowe’s defrauded the State by failing to collect and remit sales tax when Lowe’s sold dishwashers and microwave ovens for which it also provided installation. The parties agreed to bifurcate liability and damages and held a bench trial on liability: whether Lowe’s knowingly avoided its obligation under Illinois sales tax. In March 2021, the Court found for plaintiffs on liability, holding that Lowe’s knowingly avoided paying tax on the sale of installed appliances. The parties currently are litigating damages, which will result in a multimillion-dollar recovery for the State. The precedent-setting liability finding resolved a disputed question of law that has pervaded the industry for years. Jonathan Massey, based in the DC office, is noted for mining a practice dedicated to appellate work. In another tax-related matter, Massey acts as co-counsel to several brand-name “big law” firms representing The Coca-Cola Company in a tax dispute involving approximately $3.3 billion in alleged underpayments for tax years 2007 to 2009. Coca-Cola has disclosed that the total amount for subsequent tax years could reach $12 billion. Massey also represents approximately 2,300 children injured by lead-contaminated water in Flint, MI. A court-approved settlement was entered in 2020, and the settlement fund currently includes $600 million from the state of Michigan, $20 million from the city of Flint’s insurance companies, $20 million from McLaren Flint Hospital and $1.2 million from Rowe Professional Services. Anyone who lived, worked, or went to school in Flint from April 25, 2014, to November 16, 2020, and was exposed to contaminated drinking water is eligible to receive money from the settlement. Most of the $641.2 million will go to young children who suffered lead poisoning.
MoloLamken has quickly become a favorite among the crowded field of litigation shops, although with three offices now housing more than 40 lawyers, it is shaking off its historical status as a “boutique.” The team of litigators throughout its offices in New York, Chicago and DC is consistently being augmented, with an additional six attorneys due to join the firm in the fall of 2022. “MoloLamken has been doing great with recruiting,” observes a peer. “Each one of these new people seem like they’re better than the last!” Clients are equally impressed; one raves, “They have outstanding knowledge of law, case history, appeal court strategy and Supreme Court consideration. They also have outstanding technical knowledge and application of law to software technology issues. They also give great advice to District Court attorneys.” Another testifies, “They took over a case mid-litigation from another law firm and they have done an excellent job getting up to speed, bringing creative new ideas to the approach to litigation, level-setting with the clients about merits-based issues, and developing offensive strategies that allow their client (a defendant) to put the plaintiffs on the defensive and change the leverage in the litigation.” Yet another speaks to the growing level of diversity on display among the team. “MoloLamken very much has fulfilled my expectations regarding diversity. The team is led on a day-to-day basis by a junior female partner, with a very strong and capable female associate assisting.”
Firm founder Steven Molo is based in the New York office but still retains a strong following in his original Chicago home base. A Windy City peer confirms, “Steve Molo is a trial lawyer! He’s quite effective. He is a former Winston [& Strawn] guy and still has a presence in Chicago.” Molo is also credited for the firm’s successful recruiting and team mentoring. “Steve Molo is always available and present for high-level and strategic discussions and clearly has a very good rapport with his team members,” testifies a client. Molo’s active and varied caseload includes serving as trial counsel to a plaintiff class in a 10b-5 securities fraud stockholder class action alleging fraud leading to investor losses of $80 million. Jury selection for this case, one of the few of its kind that could wind up at trial, was scheduled for June 2022. Molo’s team in this matter included Sara Margolis, a New York-based future star who makes her debut in this edition. A client raves on Margolis’s behalf, “Sara is incredibly thoughtful, detail oriented, and responsive. I have been extremely impressed with the depth of her legal analysis notwithstanding her relatively early stage in her career. I know my client's subsidiary's matter is in very good hands with her leading the day-to-day of the litigation.” DC-based Robert Kry is also part of the team. A peer insists, “You must recognize him!”
While the firm’s wheelhouse is largely commercial and business litigation, often in the plaintiff capacity, MoloLamken has been recognized for other areas as well. Chief among these is its appellate capacity, in which DC’s name partner Jeffrey Lamken is the most celebrated figure. “MoloLamken briefed and argued an appeal for us in a copyright case,” confirms a client. “They are smart, they write well, give practical advice and present oral arguments well.” Lamken is specifically beloved by several clients; one addresses him as “one of the nicest and cleverest people you will ever meet,” and another supports this with, “He’s brilliant and personable. He does an amazing job of being both legally elite while personally humble.” Lamken and Kry delivered an appellate victory in June 2021 as lead counsel for Arthrex in a landmark Supreme Court case challenging the appointment of the Patent Office’s Administrative Patent Judges under the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. A peer also notes, “In case you haven’t noticed, MoloLamken is developing a niche in IP!” In this capacity, another new future star, New York’s Ben Quarmby, is developing a profile and an ardent fan base among clients, one of whom testifies, “He is super responsive, always provides practical solutions and works in the most efficient manner.”
For a firm not exclusively dedicated to litigation, Paul Weisscontinues to be “the gold standard” in this capacity. “I think Paul Weiss might be the best law firm in the country,” asserts one peer. “They can figure out solutions to all the big problems.” Its litigation capabilities extend across virtually all major commercial practices, with star power at all levels within each of these, and the firm shows no signs of slowing in its agenda of recruiting and grooming this talent. Historically an East Coast powerhouse, the firm has since entrenched itself in the California market with the January 2021 addition of a San Francisco office, spearheaded by Melinda Haag and Walter Brown, two leaders in the white-collar area. This build-out came hot on the heels of the 2020 coup of luring antitrust specialist Bill Isaacson and all-purpose trial luminary Karen Dunn to the firm’s D.C. office. “Paul Weiss has done a great job,” sums up one peer. “They have hired a lot of people and are building up their capabilities.”
Peers are nearly unanimous in their crediting of New York’s Brad Karp for fostering this culture of hiring and retaining top talent. Karp, a media-savvy practitioner who is equally at home with the press, the C-suite and the courts, remains the firm’s chairman (a post he has held since 2008) and is also still a renowned securities advocate. “I honestly don’t know how he does it – does he ever sleep? – and also remain a total ‘mensch’ all the while,” marvels one peer. Another quips, “A colleague of mine was bragging about how much he works, and then whenhe told me the number, I laughed and retorted, ‘That’s about a third of the hours Brad Karp logs per year!’” Citigroup is a blue-chip client of the firm, and Karp in particular. “I’m sure it’s no exaggeration to say they’ve got him on speed-dial plenty,” quips a peer. Karp and Susanna Buergel, a frequent lieutenant on securities cases, represent this client in several ongoing qui tam lawsuits alleging that the client set rates in an aggregate process (termed by the plaintiff as “robo-resetting”), which violates the fraud statute in the states in which these cases were brought. The New York office is also home to the firm’s “A-list” trial lawyer, Ted Wells, a perennial and universal favorite. “Paul Weiss has superior talent across the board but when it comes to trial work, it’s Ted – period.” While peers admit that Wells “will be impossible to replace,” several do concede, “They are trying to get others up in the ranks, and people like Roberto Finzi and Lorin Reisner are stepping up to the task.” Reisner secured a resounding trial victory of his own, for Bloomberg, in an international broadcast licensing dispute in which Bloomberg faced more than $70 million in potential damages. In a May 2021 decision, the court ruled in Bloomberg’s favor, including the client’s $17.4 million breach-of-contract counterclaim. Dan Kramer is also a noted mainstay in the securities capacity. “I adore him,” raves one peer. “He is the stock-drop king!” This same peer also weighs in on Geoffrey Chepiga. “He ran a CVS case with us, and he’s awesome. He has a demeanor very similar to Dan [Kramer]: calm, cool, collected.” The firm also gets the nod in the bankruptcy capacity, with Andrew Rosenberg noted as “their really big bondholder guy. Andy has amazing people skills! He’s not the one coming into the room with the scythe in his hand like the angel of death, he’s more the guy who says ‘OK, this may be a fight, but we’re going to work this out.’” Loretta Lynch, a former US Attorney General and now a New York-based white collar and investigations practitioner, is also a peer favorite. As one says, “I had the opportunity to work closely with her over the last few months and she’s fantastic. Her reputation precedes her.
In the firm’s D.C. office, Dunn and Isaacson represent Amazon in a putative class action brought on behalf of all consumers purchasing on the internet (other than on Amazon), alleging that Amazon’s pricing policies requiring third-party sellers not to use pricing practices that harm customer trust have raised the prices of products sold by those third-party sellers, violating antitrust law. The plaintiffs allege what would be the largest class action known, of purchasers of 600 million different products from non-Amazon websites, and claim they have been harmed because, as a result of Amazon’s fair pricing policy, they purchased products for a price higher than that listed by third-party sellers on Amazon. Also in D.C., Kannon Shanmugam reigns as “the appellate superstar” who has “already had great success at Paul Weiss, as well as an incredible track record at his former firm.” Shanmugam argued and won an 8-1 Supreme Court victory in June 2021 representing Goldman Sachs in a case in which the plaintiffs alleged that the client violated securities laws by making certain generic and aspirational statements, such as “our clients’ interests come first,” which impacted its stock price. In its decision, the Supreme Court held that the generic nature of an alleged misrepresentation is important evidence of impact on a security’s price that courts should consider at class certification.
Paul Weiss has made “remarkable strides” in its intellectual property practice, a relatively new development. In this capacity, a multi-office team composed of D.C.’s Kenneth Gallo and New York’s Eric Stone won a major victory on behalf of Genentech in patent litigation concerning Genentech’s breakthrough hemophilia treatment. In January 2022, the Delaware District Court granted Genentech’s motion for summary judgement, holding that the plaintiff’s patent is invalid for lack of enablement. 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 one of them. Nick Groombridge is their showhorse and the charming trial lawyer, but Eric [Stone] has also really come up. He is really a workhorse and deserves more credit.”
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 luminary Courtland Reichman from McKool Smith 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 planned) the firm is still a compact group. It is also a majority women-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 well to disseminate relevant information to the entire team quickly, which is exceedingly important in a fast-moving yet complex case.” The firm boasts an impressive track record of seven trials within the past year alone.
Reichman, based in the firm’s 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 International Trade Commission 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. Michael Feldberg, based in the firm’s New York office, is the firm’s most recent trial victory, logging a major win in July 2022 when a jury rendered a not-guilty verdict that acquitted the firm’s client, a former director at Pilgrim’s Pride, one of five poultry industry executivesensnared in a criminal antitrust case brought by the Department of Justice concerning an alleged scheme to fix prices and rig bids for chickens sold to grocery stores and restaurants between 2012 and 2019. The verdict in this long-running case comes after two mistrials in December 2021 and a hung jury in March 2022.
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.” A client cheers the firm’s attorneys for having a “very commercial, solution-oriented approach to litigation.”
In particular, New York’s Gayle Klein is a community and client favorite. “Street smarts and an uncanny business sense” are qualities that Klein is said to possess, and these qualities are demonstrated across the broad spectrum of commercial litigation she leads. Klein represents three of the 50 funds named as defendants in a suit brought by Deutsche Bank. The bank sued these funds, all of which participated in a syndicated loan to SunEdison sponsored by Deutsche Bank, alleging that a third party made representations in other cases regarding the funds’ reliance on Deutsche Bank’s representations in an effort to influence the funds’ testimony in those cases. Klein also represented activist investment fund Engine No. 1 in a trademark dispute with another activist fund, Engine Capital Management, who sued Klein’s client and sought an injunction to prevent the client from using the word “Engine” in this context. The court denied the injunction, holding that the plaintiff was unlikely to prevail at trial and that the sophisticated investors that comprise the audience for both funds were unlikely to be confused by the two names. In addition to this trademark dispute, this same client almost simultaneously was embroiled in a proxy contest at Exxon Mobil Corporation. The client, whose campaign was focused on reforming Exxon’s climate change policies, succeeded in placing three seats on Exxon’s board by way of a hotly contested dispute in which it was represented by Michael Swartz. In addition to a vibrant general commercial and securities practice, Swartz has emerged as one of the foremost authorities on cryptocurrency litigation. This niche acumen was on display when Swartz logged a huge win for Pantera Capital, which purportedly established the first bitcoin fund in the US, in a battle with another top cryptocurrency investment fund manager, Polychain Capital. After Polychain learned that Pantera, a 5% owner of Polychain, had formed its own, competing Initial Coin Offering fund in the liquid altcoin space, Polychain reacted by amending its operating agreement to give it the ability to terminate Pantera’s ownership interest for cause on the ground that it competed with Polychain. Following a week-long hearing, Pantera prevailed. Robert Ward attends to a portfolio that, as of late, is dominated by matters pertaining to real estate. Ward is championed by peers not only for his acumen but also his demeanor; one insists, “Bob Ward is not only a great litigator but also just one of the nicest. He stays calm, which, when you’re dealing with hard-fought New York commercial real estate matters, is not always easy to do.”
The firm’s white-collar and securities enforcement practice is commandeered by Peter White and Charles Clark, both of whom operate out of New York as well as the firm’s smaller DC office. White and Clark represent Murchinson, a Canadian investment advisor and hedge fund, who bought additional shares issued by a distressed Greek shipping company and resold them to the market. Due to a high level of volatility in the value of these shares, shareholders brought three separate class actions against Murchinson before the Eastern District of New York, alleging fraud. In the wake of the suits, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also launched an investigation. The Schulte duo leads the client in all three class actions as well as the SEC investigation. White is also, on a pro bono basis, representing prominent Baltimore attorney Ken Ravenell, a near-unanimously revered criminal defense lawyer who has represented some of the city’s highest-profile defendants. Ravenell was arrested and charged following a years-long investigation by the government on allegations of racketeering and money laundering.
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.”
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett boasts a long history as one of New York’s, and the country’s, most esteemed full-service legal brands. “Where the big corporate work is, litigation often follows,” explains one peer, “and since Simpson gets the top-class corporate work, they did a fantastic job in installing top-class litigators to handle it when that occurs. ”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.
An area of particular note that the firm has doubled down on of late is its white-collar and investigations area, a relatively recent development that has taken root with astonishing momentum. One client marvels, “If you would have asked me five years ago about Simpson’s white-collar practice, I would have said, ‘They don’t have one.’ But that’s not the case now – they really caught up fast, and they did it the right way, bringing in the perfect mix of boardroom strategists and actual trial lawyers.” It is also noted that Simpson Thacher’s enforcement team extends beyond New York, with equal concentration in its DC office. Stephen Cutler, one of the firm’s aforementioned “boardroom strategists,” and the New York team also includes Michael Osnato and Nicholas Goldin, both of whom are peer favorites. The trio of Cutler, Osnato and Goldin represent JP Morgan in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation related to texting practices by personnel and obligations to maintain and preserve copies of all written communications. In DC, Cheryl Scarboro attends to a largely FCPA-related practice (developed during her stint as the SEC’s first chief of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit), while Jeffrey Knox, former head of the Department of Justice fraud section, represents companies and individuals in investigations and criminal litigation. Knox successfully guided Deutsche Bank to a settlement with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 2020, shortly after which a proposed class action was brought by Rock Capital Markets alleging that the client was responsible for two former Tokyo-based traders' alleged 2013 illegal spoofing schemes on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. 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. 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.
Simpson Thacher has historically been heralded for its securities practice, and this continues under the stewardship of New York’s Jonathan Youngwood, one of the youngest leaders in this practice. A client reinforces this position: “They are a top-flight securities litigation firm with capacity to handle the largest and most important matters.”In addition to representing ViacomCBS in a derivative and stockholder class action arising out of the merger between CBS and Viacom, Youngwood acts with several other partners on a variety of other cases. He acts with Palo Alto-based partner Stephen Blake for GO Acquisition in SPAC-related Investment Company Act litigation, and acts with New York partner Craig Waldman for Nielsen Holdings in ongoing securities class-action litigation. “Craig Waldman is a tough lawyer,” concedes a former opponent, “He gave us a run for our money. Forget having a dialogue with him, he’s going to make you say ‘Uncle!’”
Youngwood is also part of a team representing Chubb in connection with the settlement of Boy Scouts of America’s Chapter 11 proceedings and claims of coverage for sexual abuse claims. These cases are primarily handled by Bryce Friedman and Mary Beth Forshaw, two members of the firm’s celebrated insurance team. “Simpson Thacher is certainly at the top for insurance, always has been,” confirms a peer. “They know the top carriers in the country, and they service them very well.” Friedman and Andrew Frankel represent Travelers in opioid epidemic-related insurance coverage lawsuits against Purdue Pharma in New York (the manufacturer of Oxycontin), AmerisourceBergen in California, Delaware and West Virginia (one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors), CVS and Rite Aid in Delaware and Rhode Island (two of the largest chain pharmacies), and Giant Eagle and Meijer in Ohio and Pennsylvania (large supermarket chains), which are seeking indemnification from Travelers and other insurers for opioid-related liabilities. Lynn Neuner maintains a practice that balances securities, insurance and a false advertising niche. Neuner is defending two providers of home warranty and other homeowner services in a suit brought by an on-demand home repair start-up company in Delaware state court. The plaintiff’s March 2020 complaint asserted breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing based on the parties’ unsuccessful efforts to have the two clients acquire the plaintiff in 2018. Neuner is a peer and client favorite, unanimously championed by contemporaries. A client praises her as “straightforward and transparent, extremely intelligent and knowledgeable.” Consistently recognized as one of Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation and one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Neuner was also made Simpson’s co-chair of litigation in December 2021, the first woman to claim this role.
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 litigation. Timothy 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.
While it operates from offices
in Washington, DC, New York and Los Angeles, Wilkinson
last year after the departure of Alexandra Walsh)
remains the essence of “litigation boutique.” More specifically, a litigation boutique with a uniquely pronounced emphasis on high-end trial work. Formed in 2016 by veteran DC trial celebrity
Beth Wilkinson upon her departure from Paul Weiss, Wilkinson Stekloff 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. Wilkinson’s long-held position in the coveted Top 100 Trial
list remains secure in this edition of Benchmark; she is referenced by other members of that list as an equal on a near-unanimous basis.
Clients cheer the firm’s “complex strategy-setting, trial themes and crisp, persuasive writing,” with one extrapolating, “The adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true. I would only bring them critical work, as smaller cases would not justify their fees, but
at least I feel like I'm getting the highest quality work for my money.” Peers support this with the observation, “Clients are willing to pay for the likes of Beth Wilkinson if their backs are against the wall, because the board will sign off on that. It’s like, ‘We’re really up against it – OK, get me Beth Wilkinson, we can spring for it.’”
Wilkinson continues to demonstrate the skills that have earned her these accolades. She represents Covidien and Medtronic in various product liability cases arising out of claims that their hernia mesh products have design and manufacturing defects, and that the company provided inadequate warnings about the risks of hernia mesh. Wilkinson remains active in the increasingly robust antitrust space as well, acting with new partner Moira Penzaas lead trial counsel for Altria in an adversarial administrative proceeding before the Federal Trade Commission, whichalleges thatAltria and e-cigarette giant Juul violated the antitrust laws through Altria’s purchase of a minority interest in Juul Labs (JLI) and is seeking to require Altria to divest its interest in JLI. While Wilkinson’s star continues to shine brightly, others within the firm are emerging in rapid measure. In particular, name partner Brian Stekloff, who, as lead counsel (along with newly listed future star Cali Cope-Kasten), won the first-ever jury verdict for Monsanto in the Roundup mass tort litigation. The case was the fourth of its kind to go to trial involving claims that the herbicide Roundup causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Stekloff also acts with Wilkinson in the aforementioned Covidien and Medtronic representation. Future star Kosta Stojilkovicis also enjoying a rising profile in the eyes of peers, and a vocal percentage of clients have also turned out to sing his praises. “Kosta is a top-notch writer and a deep thinker, with an intuitive strategic mindset. He quickly learns the client's business,” extols one client. Another appreciates Stojilkovic’s “client communication, strategic thinking, responsiveness to concerns, quickness on his feet and clear and persuasive writing.”
Williams & Connolly is unique among DC firms in that it is one of the only firms domiciled exclusively there that also commands national and even global recognition. 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 and commercial litigation. A client offers in summation, “Williams & Connolly is primarily a litigation firm. You call them when you need to win. They are best suited for bigger cases.” A peer attests, “If you win a case against Williams & Connolly, you feel really proud. You want to brag to your friends – ‘I did it! I beat Williams & Connolly.’ I know I’ve heard others say the same, like it’s an achievement worth noting.”It is 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. “They are exceedingly competent,” declares a peer in describing the firm’s roster of star partners. “[They] Clearly know their stuff while disarmingly approachable. It would be wrong to equate their decency and civility with lack of rigor or resolve. They are good.”
Benchmark also welcomes yet another Williams & Connolly partner to its coveted Top 100 Trial Lawyers position this year: Enu Mainigi, who, as lead counsel for Cardinal Health, scored a huge July 2022 win for the company in a federal bellwether trial in West Virginia in the massive litigation concerning opioids, which was swept up dozens of manufacturers, distributors, retailers and other purported links in the chain. This landmark win comes hot on the heels of a June 2021 trial victory for CVS in a hard-fought class-action litigation related to the company’s Health Savings Pass generic discount drug program. Filed in 2015, plaintiffs accused CVS of overcharging them for generic medications by submitting claims for generic drugs at inflated prices, leading to higher customer co-pays. After several trial wins at lower courts and a Ninth Circuit reversal, the case proceeded to trial before a San Francisco jury, where Mainigi ultimately prevailed.
The firm’s other top trial talents have also continued apace. All-purpose “trial whiz” Dane Butswinkas triumphed in a case involving the developing field of immuno-oncology treatments, securing a complete trial and appellate victory on behalf of AstraZeneca after a February 2020 bench trial before the Delaware Court of Chancery. Agents for the former shareholders of Amplimmune, a pharmaceutical company acquired by an affiliate of AstraZeneca,sought $275 million in milestone payments they alleged were owed from the 2013 merger of the two companies. Perennial favorite Bob Van Kirk scored again in his latest in a series of cases for The Carlyle Group, logging a trial win on behalf of the entity, one of its investment funds, and two fund executives in a long-running commercial dispute related to the fund’s acquisition of a privately held water system in Missoula, Montana. “Bob is great,” extols a client. “He is organized and objective. [He] Knows how to read a room and instantly adjust his communications to achieve the win. I wouldn't want Bob representing the other side.”The firm’s trial chops have been on display in its intellectual property capacity as well, with David Berl claiming complete trial and appellate victories on behalf of Teva in an Abbreviated New Drug Application litigation concerning Teva’s flagship branded product, Bendeka, a drug used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Other firm partners are also enjoying a rising profile. In particular, David Zinn is said to be “really taking off at another level,” by peers, one of whom expounds, “He was already at a high level but he’s now risen even further. He is pretty much the dominant guy there in the criminal antitrust space, and he does a lot of it.” Another antitrust practitioner, Jonathan Pitt, is also making his mark. A peer insists, “He must be moved up from future star!” [This did happen in this edition of Benchmark, and Pitt now joins the ranks of litigation stars within the firm.] The firm’s appellate practice, under the guidance of Lisa Blatt, is also expanding upon its already respected presence. “Sarah Harris is one of the younger stars there and is coming on strong,” claims a peer. “And Lisa is still going great guns. She has a ‘win at all costs’ mentality, and it seems to become reality!”
A global business firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher has been steadily increasing its litigation profile in both 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 out and developed other domestic locations as well; it opened a Chicago office in 2020, luring partners from Windy City mainstay Jenner & Block and officially planting its flag on the Midwest legal landscape, continued developing its DC resources, and has doubled down on its expansion in California, where it now has three offices in (Palo Alto, San Francisco and Los Angeles.) “The biggest disrupter in the L.A. market recently has been Willkie Farr,” quips a peer in observation of the firm’s build-out of that office. “I feel like anything that’s not nailed down, they’re trying to take!”
Willkie’s bet on California has paid dividends; the firm has attracted star partners in each office. In Los Angeles, that office’s managing partner Alex Weingarten is a peer favorite. “Alex was at Venable before moving to Willkie,” states a peer, who goes on to confide, “I was trying to get him to come here! He’s a terrific litigator who has some high-profile entertainment clients. [He’s] Unbelievable!” Weingarten for nearly a decade has represented the co-trustee of a family trust who was embroiled in a long-running, multi-generational family dispute concerning who was behind a conspiracy to steal tens of millions from the trust, built by the Chinese immigrant grandparents through a successful real estate venture. Following a 2018 settlement, in which the trustee’s mother essentially agreed to forfeit $30 million due to the likelihood of her being behind the conspiracy, the mother then changed her mind and spent four years attempting to void the settlement. In March 2022, Weingarten triumphed in convincing the California Court of Appeal to enforce the settlement. A peer also notes that multi-faceted commercial litigator Simona Agnolucci “left [revered San Francisco litigation boutique] Keker [Van Nest & Peters] to open Willkie’s San Francisco office. She’s a player.” Working on a team with DC’s Michael Gottlieb (a newly elevated former future star in this edition) and Mark Stancil, Agnolucci secured a decisive victory in the US District Court for the District of South Carolina in obtaining a dismissal of nationwide class claims brought against Navy Federal Credit Union, a federally chartered, member-owned, not-for-profit credit union serving the military, veterans, and their families. A federal class action was first filed in the Southern District of California, alleging on behalf of a nationwide class that Navy Federal breached its agreement with certain of its customers by charging debit card users a small fee for certain overseas transactions. After Willkie filed Navy Federal’s motion to dismiss, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her complaint. Almost in parallel, another nearly identical lawsuit was filed by different plaintiffs in the District of South Carolina, which met with a similar voluntary dismissal.
Willkie’s insurance practice has made a substantial ascent as well. A 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.” Another testifies that St. Jeanos is “doing AIG work and all the Marsh work, and he is at the upper echelon in terms of quality.” St. Jeanos and longtime insurance star Mitchell Auslander (both based in the New York office) obtained a significant victory for AIG in litigation concerning McKesson, one of the leading distributors of prescription opioids in the US and a target of the sweeping litigation against all entities in the chain alleged to have contributed to the national epidemic. McKesson, which recently agreed to contribute $7.4 billion to settle thousands of opioid lawsuits brought by government entities across the country, sought coverage from AIG for its defense costs, judgments, and settlements incurred in the opioid lawsuits. At issue in the litigation are AIG policies with $375 million in total policy limits. The Willkie duo scored when the Northern District of California held, for the first time, that a wholesale drug distributor’s conduct in distributing opioids was not an “accident,” and therefore not covered under commercial general liability policies issued by AIG. The same pair also logged victory for this same client in similar claims brought by Purdue Pharma.
New York-based securities partners Todd Cosenza and Tariq Mundiya are representing Curo in a shareholder derivative suit regarding the company’s plans to transition Canadian borrowers from one type of loan to another. The derivative litigation is follow-on litigation from a 10b-5 case in the District of Kansas that has settled. Individually, Cosenza recently achieved a significant win, obtaining dismissal of a derivative action against the independent directors of Wells Fargo in a case arising out of alleged failures by Wells Fargo and its board to comply with several consent orders issued by banking and other federal regulators in the aftermath of its high-profile 2016 customer account fraud. Mundiya defended Resideo Technologies against claims arising from Honeywell’s 2018 spin-off of Resideo and earnings guidance provided in 2019, upon which Resideo’s stock price fell precipitously, leading to class-action litigation in Minnesota and derivative litigation in Delaware.
The chairman of the Chicago office, Craig Martin, debuts as a litigation star in this edition. Martin attends to a diverse portfolio of matters that encompasses consumer class actions – including one for Ulta Cosmetics concerning the resale of returned makeup – commercial litigation, quasi-white-collar work and pro bono human rights issues.
With a network of international and domestic offices, WilmerHale has built a reputation as a global powerhouse. Nationally, the firm’s original mainstay in Boston continues to secure near-unanimous recognition in litigation, and the New York, DC and California offices have further bolstered the firm’s top-tier standing. It is lauded for its litigation capabilities nationwide, particularly antitrust, white-collar, securities and appellate, as well as intellectual property, one of the firm’s most notable practices.
Boston-based trial lawyer Bill Lee is of the most accomplished litigators in intellectual property. He continues to add to his enviable list of milestone patent wins, which have earned him a long-standing reputation in the practice area. In these high-stakes cases, he is well known for his distinguishing ability to translate his encyclopedic knowledge into comprehensive arguments that sway judges and juries. Lee and Denver’s Mary “Mindy” Sooter obtained a damages-less win for Comcast in a patent infringement lawsuit brought by NextStep. Last September in Delaware, the federal jury found in favor of the client on two of the challenged patents, and returned a “doctrine of equivalents” infringement verdict on the last patent. Sooter and Lee secured the zero-dollar victory with a granted motion to preclude the plaintiff’s damages case.
In the appellate arena, Lee also obtained positive results working with appellate expert Seth Waxman of the DC office. The duo represented Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) before the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The FTC filed a case alleging that the lawsuits filed by AbbVie against Teva and Perrigo were shams, thus violating the FTC Act. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the FTC, which AbbVie appealed. The Third Circuit in parts affirmed, reversed, and vacated the District Court’s decision. Notably, the appellate court held that its lawsuit against Teva was not a sham, and the court vacated the disgorgement award. On the Perrigo matter, the Third Circuit upheld the District Court decision that the suit was objectively baseless, which Lee and Waxman challenged in a petition for certiorari that was denied. However, in a complete victory, the FTC dropped the entire case.
Waxman serves as chair of the firm’s appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice, with, as one peer notes, “an army of talent behind him”. Such talent includes Noah Levine, who represented the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) in a putative class action challenging non-judicial foreclosures in Rhode Island, arguing that the client and co-defendant violated the Due Process Clause as plaintiffs also argued that the defendants should be considered government actors. The District Court rejected both arguments, dismissing the complaints. On appeal, the First Circuit upheld the decision, securing a win for the client.
In New York, commercial litigator Hallie Levin obtained a win for T-Mobile in a five-day bench trial before the Delaware Court of Chancery. The trial arose from a settlement agreement between T-Mobile and Cox Communications that concluded a patent infringement case. In the agreement, Cox agreed that should it begin offering retail customers wireless services, it would be done in accordance with a wholesale wireless agreement with Sprint, which T-Mobile acquired. Cox and another mobile network later entered into a wholesale wireless agreement, and sued the client last January, arguing that the provision was unenforceable. Acting on behalf of T-Mobile, Levin filed counterclaims and requested an injunction to enforce the exclusivity obligation. The District Court found that Cox had breached the agreement and the provision was enforceable. The court issued an injunction preventing Cox from offering mobile services with any other operator.
On the West Coast, Sonal Mehta is continuously recognized as a top-tier litigator in the IP space, especially for her role representing titans of the life sciences and technology industry. Recently, she represented Ionpath, a venture-backed start-up by three Stanford professors who sought to commercialize their technology for biological tissue analysis, against competitor Fluidigm. The Northern District of California, in an accelerated patent “showdown” procedure, ruled Ionpath did not infringe the “showdown” claims. After the decision, Fluidigm dismissed its interference with contract claims, and later the plaintiff dismissed the rest of the claims in its appeal. The matter closed confidentially.
The nationally recognized labor and employment practice at Hunton Andrews Kurth is accomplished in both employment litigation and traditional labor disputes. The firm’s reach extends across the US with offices in active markets such as California, Texas, Georgia, and DC. This year, Virginia-based partner Kurt Larkin is recognized on the inaugural Top 10 Traditional Labor Lawyers. He is distinguished for his exceptional work in traditional labor, handling collective bargaining negotiations, union organizing, and high-stakes National Labor Relations Boarddisputes. Larkin has worked alongside the employment team in matters that involve labor issues, recently pairing up with employment litigator Emily Burkhardt Vicente in several matters. As a member of the Los Angeles office, Burkhardt Vicente has dedicated a significant portion of her practice to litigating Fair Labor Standards Act class and collective actions and Private Attorneys General Act(PAGA)claims. Her employment litigation practice also spans other areas, as she and the co-head of the unfair competition and information protection task force, Roland Juarez,are handling a trade secrets case in the Southern District of California. Juarez is among the firm’s experts in employee mobility litigation. The LA office also houses Michele Beilke and Julia Trankiem,who bringa wealth of experience in handling California employment litigation. The duo previously represented a client in a JAMS arbitration. Beilke in particular is wellversed in handling arbitrations, as well as jury trials. San Francisco-based partner Brett Burns is consistently tapped by national companies to handle their complex employment class and collective actions across the US. While Burns is especially known for his wage and hour expertise, he has recently been a lead partner in a class action and investigation that involves one of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s high priority issues.
On the other coast, the DC office features a host of lawyers recognized for their successful labor and employment litigation practice. Susan Wiltsie is among the group’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) experts with vast experience in handling defense against citations, litigation, and whistleblower-related claims. Ryan Bates has recently been active in trade secrets litigation, as well as class and collective actions ranging from wage and hour to independent contractor claims. Kevin White is the co-chair of the firm’s labor and employment practice. He splits his time between handling employment litigation and labor disputes. White’s labor practice has had him engaged in matters alongside the firm’s traditional labor experts. Robert Quackenboss has developed a niche and successful practice defending clients in class actions alleging that background checks violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In the Northeast, Boston-based Christopher Pardo represents clients in the region with multiple recent cases in New York district courts. He litigates a vast array of employment matters, recently including trade secrets and restrictive covenants, pay frequency violation allegations, and Title VII discrimination claims.
In addition to Larkin, Ryan Glasgow operates out of the Virginia office. His breadth of experience is broad and diverse; however, he has developed a specialty in defending employers against wage and hour class actions. Farther South, in the firm’s Georgia office is Robert Dumbacher, another of the firm’s partners who seamlessly splits his time between labor relations and employment litigation. Kurt Powell is also a partner within the Virginia office.His practice focuses on employment litigation, with a recent matter being a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the Northern District of Georgia. Juan Enjamio of the Miami office serves a host of industry-leading national clients. His recent cases have included class and collective actions under the FCRA and defending clients in the rare intersect of immigration and employment litigation – allegations of discrimination brought by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients.
The firm’s practice spans two offices in Texas. In Houston, Scott Nelson received praise from a peer who attests to the partner’s reputation in mentioning that they “think very highly of him.” Nelson has defended Marathon Oil in a series of separately filed independent contractor cases throughout Texas’ district courts. In one of the cases, the plaintiff filed a collective action and seeks to broadly define a potential class of plaintiffs. Nelson successfully persuaded the Southern District of Texas to enforce arbitration, even though the client had an agreement with the co-defendant, Bedrock, but not the client. The Dallas office features Amber Rogers, a traditional labor lawyer representing management in multifarious labor disputes. She is experienced in collective bargaining, elections and representing clients in unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board. Alan Marcuis is the co-head of the unfair competition and information task force alongside his counterpart Juarez in California. His practice is a mix of traditional labor disputes and employment litigation.
Active in a variety of labor and employment regards, Sanford Heisler Sharp continues to distinguish itself in the market, garnering the praises of competitors across the nation. One notes that the firm’s team “certainly knows the area [of] wage and hour [litigation].” Another considers the firm a leader in the market, stating, “I look at what they’re doing – I think that they bring a lot of really interesting cases – sets a tone for what the new issues are going to be.” The firm achieves widespread, national recognition in part through its strategic dispersal ofits labor and employment potency between jurisdictions around the country, boasting New York, Maryland, and DC offices, as well as California, Georgia, and Tennessee outfits.
The re-emergence of the esteemed Nancy Rafuse into private practice is marked both by her joining the firm as its Atlanta managing partner and firmwide litigation head, as well as by the pivoting of her focus away from the sphere of labor and employment defense towards that of plaintiff representation. Rafuse's roster of wins on both sides of the "v" has gained her a spot on this year's list of the Top 20 Labor & Employment Litigators.
Based in New York, Alexandra Harwin serves as executive chair of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s discrimination and harassment group. Harwin currently serves as counsel to a plaintiff who brings forth a complaint detailing several claims against Hollywood mainstay Robert De Niro and his corporate holding Canal Productions, alleging that she has been subjected to a workplace environment characterized by unsolicited physical contact, untoward sexual commentary, verbal toxicity, pervasive stereotyping, and various other gender-based transgressions. The plaintiff seeks from De Niro restitution of an amount in excess of $12 million. Joining Harwin on the matter in auxiliary roles are firm co-founders Jeremy Heisler, who additionally serves in the role of co-vice chairman, and Top 20 Labor & Employment Litigator David Sanford, serving as chairman. Harwin, Sanford, and Heisler are also litigating against another well-known name – Giorgio Armani Corporation. The team represents the former General Counsel of the company who was terminated following complaints of discrimination and his cancer diagnosis announcement. The client alleges national origin and disability discrimination, as well as retaliation claims.
Michael Palmer and Andrew Melzer are co-chairs of the wage and hour practice group at the firm. Palmer currently represents a former Juul Labs senior vice president in a retaliation dispute and is also litigating a lawsuit filed against Oracle under PAGA. The suit involves commissions and alleges California Labor Code violations. Melzer secured a settlement of over $2 million, approved by the California Superior Court in September 2021, in a PAGA lawsuit on behalf of a former Chief Nursing Officer against Signature Healthcare Services, the operator of the acute psychiatric hospital where she was employed.
Partner in the firm’s Palo Alto and San Francisco offices, and one of the firm’s discrimination and harassment co-chairs, Danielle Fuschetti is newly recognized by Benchmark Labor & Employment for her employment litigation practice. She currently leads the firm in its representation of Indradevi Sabrina Joseph,who – bringing forth numerous claims including but not limited to gender wage equity and discrimination claims, hostile work environment, wrongful dismissal, andtheft of IP materials– filed suit against her former employer, the semiconductor manufacturing market leader Xilinx. Joseph seeks more than $300 million in putative, unjust enrichment, and other damages. Also involved in the matter are Sanford and Edward Chapin. San Francisco’s Felicia Gilbert is actively litigating on behalf of a former engineer in a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against her former employer Honeywell International.
Out of DC, H. Vincent McKnight obtained over $11 billion for the Relator, a former Contract Director, who filed a complaint on behalf of himself and the US Government, alleging that his former employer, Navistar, violated the False Claims Act related to forged and fraudulent documents produced during negotiations for US Defense Department contracts. DC’s managing partner and co-chair of discrimination and harassment Kate Mueting recently secured a $10 billion settlement on behalf of women who alleged systemic pay and promotion and gender discrimination claims against KPMG.
District of Columbia partners M. Elaine Horn and Vidya Atre Mirmira are recognized as the cornerstones of William & Connolly’s employment litigation expertise, serving as co-chairs of the firm’s practice group. Horn focuses her practice on the representation of employers in a variety of respects, including class-action defense, as well as internal investigations. She is experienced in state and federal courts, as well as administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Vidya Atre Mirmira’s practice is dedicated to employment litigation involving restrictive covenants, whistleblower, and discrimination claims, as well as corresponding internal investigations. She represents international companies, financial institutions, and other law firms in state and federal courts, and additionally represents clients in arbitrations.