District of Columbia


Dispute resolution
Axinn Veltrop & Harkrider

Axinn has carved out a niche by specializing in the overlap of intellectual property and antitrust, in addition to its record of complex and high-profile cases. Its offices are based in the northeast – New York, District of Columbia, and Hartford, Connecticutapart from its California residence in San Francisco. Clients routinely point out the firm’s diversity in its teams as well as its casework. 

     While the firm has expanded beyond its Connecticut beginnings, the Hartford headquarters continues to be a dominant force in litigation. The Hartford office has three of the firm’s top intellectual property litigators. Matt Becker and Ted Mathias lead the team defending Alvogen in a patent infringement lawsuit filed in the District of New Jersey by Indivior in relation to the client’s generic Suboxone film product. This case follows a District of Delaware case in which the team prevailed. Beck and Mathias were joined by Chad Landmon to defend Norwich, an Alvogen company, against a patent infringement case filed by Takeda. The lawsuit involves 18 patents and more than 400 patent claims. Landmon and Becker lead the case at the federal circuit with Mathias. Landmon recently secured a favorable ruling in a four-day trial representing Norwich Pharmaceuticals. The District of Delaware issued a full opinion asserting that the claims related to the composition of matter and methods of using rifaximin are invalid as obvious. Both Landmon and Becker specialize in serving the life sciences industry. Becker’s expertise is in Hatch-Waxman lawsuits and Landmon’s secondary expertise is handling matters related to the Food and Drug Administration. Mathias’ biotechnology focus involves industries beyond the life sciences to include technology and software companies and related issues. 

     The firm’s office in the District of Columbia features antitrust specialist Rachel Adcox, who joined her colleagues as a Litigation Star this year. Adcox has also represented Alvogen, but in an antitrust context. She has led the team in defending the company in the Generic Drugs MDL litigated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The case was filed by 44 attorneys general. A Department of Justice criminal antitrust investigation arose out of the matter as well. Adcox defends the client against allegations that pharmaceuticals companies raised prices of generic medications. The case has garnered significant media and public attention and continues to be litigated nationwide. Adcox and New York antitrust litigator Denise Plunkett were lead counsels in a case defending Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies in a lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to prevent the plaintiff, Pharmacychecker.com, from accessing platforms to promote the importation of pharmaceuticals outside the US. Adcox and Plunkett secured early and exclusive discovery that provided the basis for summary judgment. Plunkett’s trial flair was also featured in a high-profile case representing World Chess Champion and Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen in a defamation and antitrust lawsuit alleging Section 1 and 2 violations filed by Grandmaster Hans Neimann in the Eastern District of Missouri. Plunkett moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s initial lawsuit, but the court allowed for an amended complaint. She has again renewed the motion to dismiss which has been fully briefed. Aziz Burgy is one of the top life sciences litigators in the DC office. He represents Endo Ventures and Par Pharmaceuticals against competitor Nexus in a patent infringement lawsuit involving ready-to-use ephedrine prefilled syringe products yet to hit the market. Several lawsuits have been filed over the patents for the newly approved products. Endo and Par’s case against Nexus settled; however, Burgy is also representing Nevakar in a closely watched case against Baxter related to the same ready-to-use product. 

Blank Rome

With 15 offices (14 throughout the US and one in Shanghai, China) 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 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.” 

     While policyholder-side insurance work may be what the firm is most celebrated for, it is making strides in other areas as well; its New York office recently benefitted from the recruitment of Craig Weiner and Lisa Coyle, two all-purpose commercial litigators who joined Blank Rome in the spring of 2023. 

     The firm, and particularly DC-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 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 the confiscation of an aircraft by the Brazilian government. As a result, CIT will be awarded the full amount of its multimillion-dollar damages claims (which were established on summary judgment) and statutory interest. The current value of the award is $5 million. DC-based co-chair James Murray wins praise for the deep insurance knowledge that he makes available to leaders in corporations, 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 serves as court-appointed special insurance counsel to the debtors in two Catholic organization bankruptcies that were successfully confirmed in 2022. 

     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 were recently heavily involved in the COVID-19 business interruption space, leading more than a dozen recovery actions each seeking hundreds of millions of dollars. In one such matter, this Blank Rome duo also represents the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles against FM Insurance in litigation involving the Eagles’ $1 billion property and business-interruption policy. Murray and Kornfeld are helping the Eagles recover their COVID-19 losses stemming from their inability to use their stadium for the 2020 football season, as well as for star-studded 2020 summer concerts and major soccer and lacrosse events as a result of the pandemic. DC-based co-chair John Gibbons meanwhile acts with Safa on behalf of Nooter in connection with the enforcement and recovery of insurance proceeds for Nooter. They are now engaged in two competing actions in Missouri courts. Nooter enforced its right to insurance defense and indemnity in connection with asbestos bodily injury suits filed against the company. Nooter fully litigated declaratory judgment rights under excess insurance policies, and the Missouri state courts issued controlling judgments for those policies. In January 2023, Evanston Insurance Company initiated a suit in an effort to “dump limits” by “tendering” limits of liability unconnected to actual claims to evade its defense obligations. Nooter has moved to dismiss the suit, which violates existing judgments. 

Cahill Gordon & Reindel

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

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton stands out for its impressive global footprint – one of the most expansive in “big law,” with more offices located outside the US than within. Proudly bold in its international aspirations, its domestic-domiciled practitioners in New York, DC and San Francisco routinely attend to matters that cross borders. 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 is so good,” exclaims one peer. “I’ve thought of them as more ‘transactional good’ but they also have fantastic litigation.” A client cheers the “analysis, writing and litigation strategy” of the firm’s partners.
     Antitrust is one capacity in which Cleary commands a particularly towering presence, with a dominant position in agency and contested-merger work. “
Aside from knowing the antitrust laws backward and forwards, the attorneys at Cleary know how to take an extremely complex set of laws and facts and describe them simply and persuasively,” testifies a client. In the firm’s DC office, Leah Brannon has emerged as a peer and client favorite. “Leah is extremely smart, a very good writer, and a great antitrust thinker,” confirms one client. Another calls her a “great communicator” who “thinks creatively and outside the box and is very responsive to client requests.” For the better part of a decade, Brannon has been representing coffee entity Keurig in a massive multidistrict monopolization litigation in the Southern District of New York. In July and August 2021, two new opt out complaints were filed in the Eastern District of New York, and subsequently transferred into the pending multidistrict litigation. The actions already in the MDL include suits by two competitors to Keurig, a purported class of direct purchasers, and one individual purchaser. Another DC-based partner, Jeremy Calsyn, represented Change Healthcare in defeating a federal lawsuit filed by the DoJ and two states seeking to enjoin its $13 billion merger with United Healthcare. The plaintiffs alleged that United’s acquisition of Change’s electronic data interchange network would harm competition in certain health insurance markets, and also alleged the merger would create a monopoly in first-pass claims-editing software. Following trial in August, in September 2022, the merger to merger was allowed to proceed. Based in the firm’s San Francisco office, Heather Nyong’o represents Varsity Brands and several subsidiaries, as well as its private equity owners, in litigation brought by purported classes of indirect purchasers of Varsity’s cheerleading competition, apparel, and camp products and services.
     Cleary is also known for its bankruptcy capacity and is known as one of the few to actually litigate this work. “It drives me crazy when restructuring lawyers can’t handle the court work. Like, what are you doing? Your name is on the brief but you have to turn to someone else to do the litigation? That’s not the case at Cleary!” In particular, Lisa Schweitzer and Luke Barefoot are noted leaders in this area. This duo, independently and in tandem, has been at the forefront of some of hotly contested bankruptcy work for major players in the Latin American airline industry, dovetailing seamlessly with Cleary’s stronghold in this region of the world.
“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.” MacKinnon acted as counsel to several Latin American entities relating to non-payment for invoices for 10 shipments of liquefied natural gas under a gas-sales agreement. Another international arbitration specialist, Jeffrey Rosenthal, a senior figure in this area, is representing Sysco in an LCIA arbitration and related federal court litigation against affiliates of litigation funder Burford Capital. Sysco is a plaintiff in several antitrust litigations against protein suppliers pending in US federal courts. Burford invested in Sysco’s claims. In 2022, Sysco proposed settlements of certain claims against defendants in the antitrust cases, and Burford objected to the settlements and initiated an arbitration asserting a contractual right to block them. The arbitral tribunal granted a temporary restraining order and later a preliminary injunction that Burford requested. Sysco has now filed a petition to vacate the arbitral award.
     Cleary is also celebrated for its white-collar and enforcement capabilities and bench strength. A high-level peer in this practice testifies, “If I were to refer a big case to a firm, Cleary would be it. If the case is of high-stakes nature, I need depth and breadth, not just a one-star system. Cleary has that in spades.” Another peer concurs, “I work a lot with the Cleary team – particularly Victor Hou, Jonathan Kolodner and Joon Kim – and they get very nice results for their clients and we work very well together.” Civil securities-focused Roger Cooper and Jared Gerber represent Allergan and several of its former officers and directors in a class-action alleging that the company made misstatements and omissions concerning the health risks associated with certain breast-implant products. The action was filed after the company announced that certain breast-implant products were being withdrawn from the European market. In December 2022, the court granted the summary judgment motion that Cleary filed on behalf of defendants and dismissed the action in its entirety. 


Cohen Milstein

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

Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner

Dedicated entirely to intellectual property, Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner is one of the go-to law firms for litigation involving patents, trademarks, and copyrights. The firm remains a leader in handling disputes before the PTAB and has also maintained a significant reputation in the life sciences sphere. Finnegan’s offices span the East Coast, centering its power in the District of Columbia and Virginia area.

     In DC, William Raich leads the biotechnology and pharmaceutical practice group and with a background in cellular and molecular biology, he is a top choice for patent-related cases. He and nationally recognized litigator Charles Lipsey of the Reston, Virginia office are defending Sarepta Therapeutics in a lawsuit filed by Nippon Shinyaku which alleges that the client’s product Vyondys 53® infringes seven patents held by the plaintiff. Lipsey and Raich are currently active in fact discovery, and the trial is scheduled for May 2024.

     The DC office also features James Monroe and Paul Browning, both of whom are trial lawyers with an extensive record of cases before district and appellate courts nationwide. The duo was among the lead lawyers on the team representing Otsuka and Lundbeck in a series of ANDA cases filed in the District of Delaware. Eighteen generic drug manufacturers sought to create generic versions of the client’s drug Rexulti. Monroe, Browning, and the rest of the Finnegan team settled all eighteen cases favorably for the client, with the last settling on the eve of trial. The settlements protected the company’s multibillion-dollar drug franchise from infringing sales. Robert Yoches splits his time between District of Columbia and Taipei, representing clients in both the US and China. Yoches represents Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company before the ITC in a Section 337 investigation. The plaintiff, Daedalus Prime, alleged that the client’s semiconductor chips infringe its patents. Gerald Ivey is an established trial lawyer focusing on patent matters involving computer software and hardware. He is recognized for both his district court and PTAB appearances. Ivey recently defended Samsung in multiple inter partes reviews in connection with patents concerning the display of multiple displays on smartphones.

     On the trademark side, Douglas Rettew remains the go-to litigator to handle cases nationwide. As first-chair trial lawyer, Rettew obtained a jury verdict in favor of Armadillo Distribution Enterprises and Concordia Investment Partners on his core affirmative defenses and on the plaintiff’s claims for damages. Gibson Brands had filed a lawsuit alleging serial infringement and counterfeiting of six registered trademarks against the clients, demanding over $7 million at trial. In addition to trial expertise and experience, Rettew is also an established name before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, representing multiple clients, including A&H Sportswear, in enforcement matters.

     John Livingstone of the Atlanta office also leads the charge litigating on behalf of clients in the life sciences industry. He represents Novartis Pharmaceuticals in a series of Hatch-Waxman Act patent cases filed in the District of Delaware against generic pharmaceutical companies looking to market versions of Kisqali, a treatment for certain metastatic breast cancers marketed by Novartis. The case has the potential to provide nine years of exclusivity. Separately, Livingstone defends Novartis Gene Therapies against patent infringement allegations asserted by Genzyme. The patents include recombinant adeno-associated virus sector technology, which Novartis uses in its breakthrough gene therapy Zolgensma. Livingstone is also an established litigator representing life sciences clients before the International Trade Commission. His recent victory for Ajinomoto involved a biotech investigation and subsequent evidentiary hearing at the ITC, which in its final determination found that the defendant, CheilJedang, infringed Ajinomoto’s patents, and therefore also issued a limited exclusion and cease-and-desist orders, barring the defendant from importing the infringing products. Fellow Atlanta partner and celebrated multidisciplinary intellectual property litigator Virginia Carron successfully defended Nestlé in a business-critical patent infringement case in the Western District of New York. Steuben Foods sued the client alleging numerous claims related to five patents and claiming $500 million in damages. As lead partner on the case, Carron took a multifaceted defense strategy that challenged the validity of the patents before the PTAB and filed a series of motions for summary judgment in district court. She successfully narrowed the case to three patents and the district court further agreed with her claim construction position. Her aggressive strategy and briefing garnered a significant settlement agreement.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is well established as a strategically connected legal force around the globe, most notably for its international arbitration practice group. It is the only one of the London-headquartered “Magic Circle” firms to have established itself as a powerhouse in litigation, as opposed to just the corporate and transactional work that is the primary driver of this prestigious group. 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 fourth 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 cheers the team’s “creative, focused approach to litigation,” and elaborates, “They also advise on how to avoid litigation.” The firm’s strategic hiring paid dividends once again this year when it scored a remarkable coup: Gayle Rosenstein Klein, a revered New York commercial litigation and securities star, joined the firm in August 2023.

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 success with business development and recruiting. “She knew who she wanted and had the Freshfields machine supporting her.” A client raves, “Meredith is extremely smart, with excellent judgment. She is very responsive and gives good, quick guidance when it is needed.”

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 successfully represented AstraZeneca, its CEO, and several other executives in a putative class action in the Southern District of New York, challenging disclosures regarding AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, including alleged problems with its clinical trials and prospects for FDA emergency use authorization. The team scored a motion to dismiss, which plaintiffs appealed. Eaton and Kotler also defeated appointment of any lead plaintiff in a putative securities class action in the Eastern District of New York against Tyson Foods and several officers, which alleged that the clients had made false and misleading statements concerning the workplace safety policies and procedures implemented in Tyson’s meatpacking facilities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Movants appealed the decision denying their motion for appointment to the district court, and the Freshfields duo submitted a brief in opposition to their objections. That appeal remains pending. Eaton also has historically represented Citigroup, a client that continues to call on her services. “Mary is counsel on that ‘Oops! We meant to wire $9 million and instead wired $900 million’ case, which is a big deal,” asserts a peer.

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 – and in fact he was the reason I went there! He has such a big name, that anchor will drop deep in the [Silicon] Valley. He is a legend out here; I will be on a bus and talk to someone about him and they will know him! He is 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.” Another peer stresses, “Boris is one of the best-known lawyers in the Bay Area, and at Freshfields he is the head of technology. I think this is more what he wants to do. He’s got a real keen sense for tech and is getting more into securities cases that specifically involve this area. And he is a more senior partner, so for someone to be doing that at his age demonstrates his ambitions.” Feldman and Gavril were chosen by Rivian, an electric vehicles manufacturer, to represent it in several shareholder lawsuits and two securities class actions arising out of its March 2022 decision to reprice its consumer vehicles. Rivian shareholders filed derivative lawsuits in California and Delaware federal courts. The Freshfields duo moved to dismiss the securities class action filed in California federal court in August 2022, and this was granted in February 2023. The team filed its motion to dismiss the securities class action filed in California state court in April 2023.

While Freshfields is certainly “having a moment” in securities, it is also celebrated in other key areas. The firm’s domestic white-collar team has been particularly active of late. The global co-head of this practice, New York’s Adam Siegel, is championed as “a great talent right in that ‘sweet spot’ of having experience but still plenty of headroom.” Among several other appointments, Siegel provides extensive advice to a major global oil company across its international subsidiaries, covering internal and external investigations and significant compliance risks.

Also in New York, David Livshiz is garnering increasing acclaim for his broad-based commercial litigation practice that incorporates investigations as well as bankruptcy work. A client says, “He is incredibly responsive and practical. He has a deep understanding of our business and is commercially savvy, so his legal advice is very strategic. He does a great job of putting together and leading great teams that are tailored to the particular matter.”

Additionally, the firm is making strides in the antitrust realm, having recruited Heather Lamberg Kafele to its bench within the past year. A peer raves, “Heather was one of the best antitrust litigators at Winston & Strawn, and now she’s at Freshfields! That’s a big hire for them.”

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

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. “Gibson Dunn is doing a good job in having an array of people in a variety of cases,” sums up one contemporary, who also notes, “And it’s also cross-ideological. They have people who are more liberal and others who are more conservative, and yet they all work well together very professionally.” Already comprehensively entrenched nationally, Gibson Dunn remains in growth mode; in September 2022, the firm welcomed former Fifth Circuit judge Gregg Costa to its Houston’s office. Costa is a celebrated figure in this market and has been focused on building out that office’s civil trials and white-collar capacity.
     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. The case, referred to colloquially as “the World War III of antitrust” is now on appeal but “Round One” was a decisive win for the tech giant with counsel from the Gibson Dunn team. 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.
     Gibson Dunn has a long and storied history of dominance in the appellate arena, and this year has been no exception. “Their briefs were just so well written and terrific,” declares one appeals-focused contemporary. In April 2022, a team composed of DC appellate star Thomas Dupree and a crack duo of trial luminaries from New York, Orin Snyder and Anne Champion, secured a victory for GE, persuading the Second Circuit to affirm the dismissal of a $1.1 billion lawsuit on forum non conveniens grounds. The plaintiffs, an Angolan energy company and its subsidiary, sued GE, along with the nation of Angola and top officials of the Angolan government, alleging that three GE affiliates interfered with the plaintiffs’ relationship with the Angolan government, causing the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in business with Angola.Allyson Ho, based in the Dallas office, triumphed for Visa, obtaining a reversal of a decision concerning a merchant of Fifth Third Bank (a member of Visa’s network) that was hacked two times in as many years, exposing millions of cardholders’ personal data, for which the merchant was slapped with a $14 million fee after an independent investigator determined the merchant violated the stated terms of Visa data-safety program. The merchant sued, alleging that this data-security program was unlawful and unenforceable, a position the trial court agreed with. Ho also teamed up with Dallas’ Trey Cox to defend Reddit in a sweeping nationwide putative class action filed in the Central District of California. Plaintiffs allege that Reddit violated state and federal law by knowingly benefitting financially from videos and images posted to Reddit’s websites featuring underage victims; violated its duty to report those materials; received and distributed child pornography; and violated California consumer protection statutes. 
     The firm’s securities capacity has been particularly active in its offices on both coasts. In California, Brian Lutz scored a victory for Meta and its senior officers in a securities case arising out of news in March 2018 that Cambridge Analytica had misappropriated Meta user data and then lied to Meta about deleting that data. In the wake of this, Meta’s stock price experienced two substantial single-day stock drops and triggered widespread Congressional, regulatory, and media scrutiny into Meta’s data privacy practices and disclosures. The Northern District of California granted dismissal, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege that any Meta senior officers knew that Cambridge Analytica had lied to Meta, retained Meta user data, and used that data in connection with the 2016 US presidential campaign. In the New York office, Reed Brodsky won a victory in a hotly contested securities dispute in the Southern District of New York concerning SPACs, and also secured a dismissal of a case for Walgreens in a suit filed by the government in an attempt to enforce payment criteria for Hepatitis C drugs using the civil penalties and treble damages of the federal and state False Claims Act statutes. 
     Gibson Dunn has gained a steady profile in a host of other areas as well. New York’s Dan Thomasch, whose diverse litigation basket balances mass tort and environmental work with other practices, is commended by a peer. “He’s a former colleague, and I always thought he was one of the best lawyers I’ve run across. I think everyone who knows him would say the same thing.” Another peer insists, “You need to look more at Gibson Dunn in the international arbitration space. They actually have fewer arbitrations than other firms doing this, but their work is always of the very highest caliber.”



Hausfeld has emerged as a plaintiff-side firm to be reckoned with in several categories. Unlike many other companies 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 few 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. The firm was chosen by the DC Attorney General’s office in May 2021 to spearhead its efforts in a massive antitrust case against online retail juggernaut Amazon. 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 more than 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. This settlement was approved in August 2022 – Judge Proctor approved the $2.67 billion settlement on behalf of employers and individuals.

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” position, several California-based partners are taking bigger roles. “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 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 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.

Melinda Coolidge, based in the DC office, serves as managing partner for the firm as well as attending to her own litigation matters that have earned her a debut as a future star in this edition. In July 2022, Coolidge led a team that reached a $90 million settlement in a ground-breaking case on behalf of app developers nationwide challenging Google’s 30% revenue share imposed on apps and in-app products sold on the Google Play Store. Coolidge is also part of a team is at the forefront of antitrust litigation over allegations that the nation’s four largest freight railroads – Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX, and Norfolk Southern – colluded on fuel surcharges and overcharged customers by billions of dollars collectively.

Haynes and Boone

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.


Hunton Andrews Kurth

Recognized in jurisdictions around the country for its overall talent in litigation, Hunton Andrews Kurth is praised for its ability to provide clients with exceptional service across a litany of practice areas. Clients make note of the variety of issues for which they turn to the firm: “Class actions, regulatory advice, cybersecurity litigation, and arbitration.” One additionally shares, “Hunton Andrews Kurth has provided a variety of legal services to us recently. Hunton has provided advice and counsel on commercial contracts, litigation, class action litigation, employment issues and franchising.” In the same vein, the client comments on the firm’s service, adding, “Hunton brings a level of service that is above and beyond what we experience with other firms. They understand the client and provide counsel in a timely manner.”

     Hunton’s range of excellence across practice areas is equal to its bench strength spanning a strategic network of offices. In the southeast, Sam Dannon is recognized by peers in the Miami market. “Sam Dannon is a great lawyer,” one comments. “He’s excellent. He did a great job with the grass fertilizer cases. I think if you’re talking about individuals – Sam has a big name. It’s a well-deserved name.” Richmond-based litigator Elbert Lin receives the same recognition with a praising mention: “Elbert Lin – He's the man!” Lin serves as lead defense counsel to automobile parts manufacturers and distributors facing enforcement proceedings from the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. The companies also selected Lin and the team to represent them before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Lin seeks to challenge the EPA’s reinterpretation of the Clean Air Act, alleging it was illegal and acted without following proper rulemaking procedures pursuant to the act. The lower court had found in Lin’s favor, allowing the clients to challenge the interpretation in each enforcement action. Fellow Richmond partner Ali Cunningham makes her debut as a Litigation Star this year, covering the mass tort, product liability and environmental litigation and serving as the co-head of the firm’s litigation group. She is the lead lawyer representing French subsidiary of Alfa Laval, Alfa Laval Packinox, in an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration commenced by Drivetrain, serving as the litigation trustee for the bankrupt subsidiaries of a now-defunct infrastructure and energy company, Abengoa. Cunningham and the Hunton team were sought out as lead counsel after Drivetrain increased its damages request substantially. In response and as newly appointed counsel, Cunningham overhauled the defense strategy and resolved the case successfully and on terms favorable to the client.

     Richmond’s George “Trey” Sibley’s practice emphasizes matters of environmental permitting, while in D.C., environmental practice head Deidre Duncan focuses on disputes related to 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. Recently, Sibley and Duncan were before the Ninth Circuit in a matter challenging the scope of the court’s discretion to vacate federal agency action. The District of Columbia office also features Torsten Kracht whose commercial practice has involved class actions and arbitrations nationwide. One of Kracht’s clients voices their deep appreciation for his representation, client relationship, as well as his disposition. “Torsten listens first and provides counsel second,” the client reflects. “He is a consummate professional who is client focused and results driven. I have worked with hundreds of attorneys over the course of my in-house career and have not met another attorney that rises to his level.”

     In Texas, Houston’s Kelly Sandill is an active, multidisciplined litigator with a history of casework ranging from government relations to First Amendment. Sandill has been lead counsel to the Houston Police Officer Union in its challenge to voter-approved city charter amendment, Proposition B, which tied firefighter pay to policy pay. She led an all-female trial team that initiated the underlying challenge in 2018, and after years of litigation, months of briefing, oral arguments and post-submission filings, the Texas Supreme Court reinstated the team’s trial win. Not only did the Supreme Court find in favor of the HPOU, affirming the client’s right to collectively bargain for its members and ensure it remains a competitive police force, the high court’s opinion is likely to become authoritative on preemption in Texas.

     Making a first appearance as a Litigation Star this year, New York partner Shawn Regan has an industry-focused approach, handling all practice areas touching on issues related to the financial, energy, and consumer-retail sectors. He received a shout out from a peer who worked with him on a national case. Los Angeles-based partner Ann Marie Mortimer is the head of commercial litigation at the firm and stands at the forefront of cybersecurity litigation. Her talent is noted by clients who commend her work. One of whom shares, “Ann Marie is great at client communication and shows creativity in her legal arguments.” Spearheading cybersecurity cases as a thought-leader and litigator, Mortimer has maintained an exceptionally active practice over the last year involving technology-breach, California Consumer Privacy Act violations, and a variety of multidistrict litigation cases. Mortimer obtained dismissal for Bath & Body Works facing a CCPA class action alleging violations although the named retailers were not involved in a data breach. She is also lead counsel for Meta Platforms, handling a multitude of cases across jurisdictions in an effort to curb abusive users and hold them accountable as the company has come under scrutiny over its responsibilities. Mortimer has secured a series of wins over the last year, including motions to dismiss counterclaims and affirmative defenses brought by the defendant in a case. In the cybersecurity space, Mortimer thwarted a putative data breach class action with a success motion to dismiss in favor of OneMain Holdings and OneMain Financial Group after it announced that a vendor shared reports of credit card transactions which contained privileged information.

Ifrah Law

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.  

Kaplan Hecker & Fink

Litigation boutique Kaplan Hecker & Fink is viewed by peers as “the place to be” at the moment. “They chose the right moment to form that firm,” opines one. “Their model is superb, and their approach dovetails perfectly with 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

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 countryPeers 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 historyHansen 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. 


Kirkland & Ellis

Kirkland & Ellis has become an international powerhouse equipped with a diverse breadth of talent and bench strength, often holding high-level appointments in virtually every area of practice it offers. Over the years, the firm has been characterized as “formidable” with “something ‘cool and tough’ about them that you just can’t touch.” The firm’s litigation section has surmounted the market in nearly all practice areas – antitrust, securities, product liability, appeals, intellectual property, white collar and investigations, commercial and bankruptcy. As of late, its product liability, antitrust, and bankruptcy practices have been particularly active with its signature top-tier representation.

     Kirkland is noted for housing leaders in trial law. The marquis of the trial team is DC lawyer Mike Brock, a consistent name on the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list since its inception in 2014. He has led the team – equipped with Chicago’s standout partners Leslie Smith and Anne Sidrys in one of the largest multidistrict litigations, representing the client through numerous bellwether trials, many of which were successful. New York’s Devora Allon and Jay Lefkowitz serve as the go-to team for antitrust cases involving pharmaceutical companies. Peers also serving the pharmaceutical industry have noted their work in the market on behalf of generics. “They are very busy and cornered a subset of the market,” observes a peer who represents brands. Allon and Lefkowitz achieved two wins for Impax Laboratories recently in separate antitrust actions. One concerned a Federal Trade Commission challenge for a pay-for-delay agreement between Impax and Endo, for which the team secured a full dismissal in March 2022. This year, the pair obtained a key settlement in the multidistrict litigation arising from a patent litigation settlement. The win followed a successful summary judgment ruling as to claims brought by the end-payor payments and won remand of the initial order certifying the class. Allon and Lefkowitz have also been handling product liability cases concerning marketing and sales disputes. Lefkowitz also specializes in appellate work. For Teva Pharmaceuticals, the pair prevailed on a second motion to certify a class of direct purchasers after the Third Circuit granted the team’s petition for interlocutory appeal and reversed the district court’s certification.

     New York-based Sandra Goldstein is a leader of the securities bar, known for her “terrific reputation” and “sizeable book of business,” according to a peer in the market. “She has a carousel of securities and Delaware-related litigation on the go,” they add. Another observes, “If you do anything in private equity – anything! – Kirkland is involved somewhere.” She has developed a talented bench dedicated to securities litigation in the New York office.

     Goldstein and Stefan Atkinson have served as lead counsel defending numerous clients against securities class actions over the last year. They handled litigation in major markets for securities, such as Delaware. The pair recently represented 3G Capital, one of the largest shareholders, in a derivative action alleging violations of federal securities laws and breach of fiduciary duty. Goldstein and Atkinson achieved a complete dismissal in both Illinois and Delaware, affirmed on appeal. They combined efforts with Rachel Fritzler in representing Honeywell and certain current and former officers, as well as a Honeywell employee and former officer of Garrett Motion, in two separate securities class actions. The former arose out of the company’s accounting for asbestos-related liabilities, and Fritzler, Goldstein and Atkinson obtained a favorable settlement. In the latter case, representing an employee and officer, the class action alleges violations of Section 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act. After oral argument, the team obtained a full dismissal.

     New York’s Matthew Solum and Aaron Marks are well-regarded partners in the securities and commercial litigation arenas. Solum, regarded as “a great lawyer and a lovely guy,” has been increasingly active on the securities front. As one peer in the market confirms, “We are seeing him everywhere and not just in one specific type of securities case either. He gets M&A work, derivative work, class actions – you name it.” Solum and Yosef Riemer secured a victory on behalf of Bristol Myers Squibb at the Second Circuit, successfully dismissing a securities class action that sought $10 billion in damages. Plaintiffs alleged that Bristol Myers Squibb misled investors about the clinical trial assessing its first-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, Opdivo. The Second Circuit agreed with Riemer and Solum’s arguments and further clarified the use of expert testimony in complaints governed by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act.

     Another leader representing the financial industry comments, “Aaron Marks is a brilliant lawyer and has phenomenal judgment.” On the complex commercial front, Solum and Marks represented Blackstone and its affiliates in New York and in Italy where they handled an arbitration in Milan. The dispute stemmed from the client’s purchase of an office complex from RCS Media Group, which alleged that Blackstone had engaged in criminally usurious conduct. Acting as plaintiffs, Solum and Marks settled the claims in New York. In Milan, the team obtained an arbitration ruling that it did not engage in misconduct.

     The firm is also a dominant force in bankruptcy, as one leading lawyer put it, “In bankruptcy, it’s Kirkland every day.” A trial lawyer of many disciplines, Michael Slade led the team handling the first major cryptocurrency restructuring in the US, representing Voyager in its efforts to regroup following FTX. After a four-day hybrid confirmation hearing that encompassed cross-examining witnesses live and virtually, Voyager’s proposed “toggle” plan was confirmed, but not without objections from individual creditors and government entities such as the US Department of Justice and New York State, among others. The government has appealed. Slade is a leader in more areas than just bankruptcy. He is recognized in commercial and product liability litigation and also as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer.

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

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, and moving full steam in to 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 was 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.” Orseck’s achievements exemplify these ringing endorsements; he defended United Health Services’ officers and directors in a derivative suit alleging securities fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and other claims, relating to alleged improper patient-admission practices at the client’s affiliated behavioral-health facilities throughout the country. The claims were dismissed in 2019 but went to appeal In December 2021, at which point the parties resolved the matter, originally valued at more than $1.5 billion, on the basis of non-monetary reforms regarding corporate compliance. In a similar matter, Orseck leads a team defending Community Health Systems and certain of its affiliates and former officers against fraudulent transfer, breach of contract, illegal dividend, and related claims brought by the Litigation Trustee for the QHC Litigation Trust. The Litigation Trustee seeks to avoid, among other things, a $1.2 billion transfer from QHC to CHS in connection with a 2016 spinoff transaction. The DC group comes with some youth factor to balance out the senior talent; future star William Trunk is part of Orseck’s team on the aforementioned Community Health matter, and 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 further attests, “I see them all the time and they give me and anyone else a run for the money.” Eckstein leads a team that, for the past three years, has served as lead bankruptcy counsel to represent the Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) of 10 state attorneys general, six municipalities, and the Plaintiffs Executive Committee in the multidistrict litigation and a federally recognized Native American Tribe in the ongoing bankruptcy saga of embattled opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma. White-collar crime is another field in which Kramer Levin boasts an 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. 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. Both celebrated white-collar stars Berke and James represented biotech giant Amgen in a commercial litigation capacity in the client’s dispute with Novartis over the latter’s alleged breach of contract and tortious conduct arising out of the parties’ collaboration agreement to commercialize a migraine drug. On a counterclaim, Amgen alleged that Novartis breached the contract when it allowed its subsidiary to manufacture a competing migraine drug, and then actively concealed this from Amgen. The Kramer Levin team on this matter also included Norman Simon, who typically deals with cases involving the Lanham Act and false-advertising claims, niche areas in which Kramer Levin has been noted as being one of the few major players.
     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 has historically represented Janssen, and on behalf of this client sued several generic manufacturers under the Hatch-Waxman Act for infringement of patents protecting Symtuza, a treatment for HIV/AIDS. The action is in active fact discovery and claim-construction proceedings, and a bench trial is scheduled for October 2023. 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. 

     The firm upholds its dedication to labor and employment litigation, regularly representing high-profile clients in a variety of respects, particularly emphasizing – though not limiting itself to – highly sensitive and complex single-plaintiff employment disputes. No stranger to the public eye, employment law chair Kevin Leblang of New York is regularly active at the forefront of the most highly exposed disputes in employment litigation. Leblang currently defends Stifel in a sexual harassment lawsuit that has gained significant market attention. In 2022, the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act (EFAA) passed, leading the court to reverse its initial order to compel arbitration. Leblang has since appealed the decision to the Second Circuit. Leblang is routinely prepraing for trial. He is also active in discovery and pre-trial practice, defending Société Général in a sexual orientation and harassment lawsuit. Eliza Kaiser, also of the firm’s New York office, represents leaders across a variety of industries in disputes and investigations. Kaiser represented Facebook against a Department of Justice action that alleged that the company engaged in discriminatory hiring practices in the US in relation to its immigration policies. She negotiated a settlement with the DOJ as well as a parallel matter with the Department of Labor. Leblang and Kaiser’s fellow partner Robert Holtzman was recently engaged in three separate arbitrations on behalf of Natixis, all of which were successfully resolved.

Latham & Watkins

Historically recognized and revered as one of the largest and most comprehensive global players in the corporate and transactional capacity (a position it still enjoys), Latham & Watkins has also proven itself to be an equally dominant presence on the litigation stage. 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 capacityA 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 caseThis 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 trialand winning, in recent years (for Puma Biotechnology) was also co-lead on a casewith San Francisco’s Peter Waldon 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 guidanceJohnson 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 SolutionsGary 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. 

Massey & Gail

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 is a rare example of a litigation shop that has entrenched itself in three key geographic venues (New York, Washington, DC and Chicago) while remaining lean and nimble enough to qualify for “boutique” status. The firm’s name partners straddle the axis of trial and appellate counsel and maintain broad and diverse ranges of cases for an equally varied portfolio of clients. A peer offers in summation, “MoloLamken cover a lot of ground,” and further elaborates, “I’m actually seeing them doing a lot more plaintiff work!”
     New York’s Steven Molo, one of the firm’s founders, is considered “a visionary,” by peers, one of whom emphasizes, “He’s a trial lawyer! He goes to court more than many others on [Benchmark’s] list.” True to form, Molo led a team serving as class trial counsel in a 10b-5 securities fraud stockholder class action against a company that transported oil developed from fracking in North Dakota to the coasts.  Shortly before trial, the class reached a settlement with the company’s officers and defendants for $14 million, nearly the entire remaining insurance policy balance.  The ensuing jury trial proceeded against one remaining defendant, and a favorable verdict was rendered in June 2022.  The case is now in the claims-processing phase. Other members of this team included New York’s Sara Margolis and Robert Kry, who works from both the DC and New York offices. “Oh my God, Robert Kry is so good,” raves a peer. “You must recognize him!” Molo also leads an antitrust class action against National Association of Realtors concerning allegations of conspiracy to inflate commissions for real estate brokers, and was also retained by a Special Litigation Committee established by Twitter’s (now X’s) Board of Directors to investigate claims made in a shareholder-derivative suit filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery.  The suit alleged that the Board’s directors breached their fiduciary duties by approving a $3 billion settlement with an activist investor who was bent on ousting then-CEO Jack Dorsey. 
     Jeffrey Lamken, in the firm’s DC office, is an appellate practitioner. A client cheers his “excellent writing and strong skills in oral presentation.” A DC peer quips, “Jeff is so known for IP appeals cases that I think he’s developed a real niche in that world. God help you if you want a Supreme Court case out of the Federal Circuit because I’m sure Jeff is going to go after it and most likely get it.” Although intellectual property might be a particular substantive area of concentration, Lamken actually scored big in a bankruptcy-related appeal in which he represented the Official Committee of Talc Creditors in the Third Circuit in a challenge to the bankruptcy petition filed by J&J subsidiary LTL Management, who employed the infamous maneuver known colloquially as the “Texas Two-Step” allegedly in order to dodge a wave of incalculable personal injury lawsuits alleging that its talc-based baby powder causes cancer. Lamken argued on appeal that LTL lacked the financial distress required for a good-faith bankruptcy petition. The court agreed and ordered the bankruptcy court to dismiss LTL’s petition, and the bankruptcy case was dismissed in April 2023 after LTL declined to seek Supreme Court review.
     MoloLamken continues to enrich its talent ranks beneath the more senior name partners. New York’s Justin Ellis earns commendations from his peers, one of whom testifies, “I have partnered with Justin in a series of whistleblower complaints regarding fraudulent commercial mortgage-backed securities. [He’s an] excellent, hard-working attorney with a keen intellect and deep knowledge of the substantive area of work, namely securities litigation.” New York’s Ben Quarmby balances commercial and IP matters and is similarly championed by contemporaries. “I’m seeing Ben more and more, he’s doing really well in this space,” confirms one peer.



Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison

For a firm not exclusively dedicated to litigation, Paul Weiss continues to be “the gold standard” in this capacity. One peer quips, “[It’s] 2023 and we’re still referencing Paul Weiss as being at the top. They’re nothing if not consistent in that regard.” Another opines, “I think Paul, Weiss might be the best law firm in the country.” Elaborating further on these glowing accolades, one contemporary explains, “What’s most important to me is that whosever is across the table, it doesn’t have to be a personal fight. We’re all professionals, member of the same bar, ultimately out to achieve the greatest results for our clients. Paul Weiss lawyers are strong advocates but also very professional. They don’t ‘live for battle,’ just for great advocacy.” The firm’s 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. The traction that this office has achieved in this market has been remarkable and has catapulted the firm quickly into the “Highly Recommended” category in the Golden State. 
     This build-out in California came hot on the heels of the 2020 coup of luring antitrust specialist Bill Isaacson and all-purpose trial luminary (with substantial experience in the antitrust area) Karen Dunn to the firm’s DC office. In addition to steering Amazon through a maze of matters in this area, this duo, as co-counsel, achieved a major trial victory in September 2021 for Apple in its high-profile, closely monitored and hotly contested dispute with gaming entity Epic, maker of the popular “Fortnite” game. This case, summed up by one observer as “the World War III of antitrust” found Epic taking aim at Apple’s App Store business model, particularly concerning the commission Apple charges for app payments made on iOS devices. In August 2020, Epic announced that it would offer a direct payment option for in-app purchases, which prompted Apple to remove the Fortnite app from the App Store, as Apple App Store policies explicitly prohibit direct payments for app purchases of digital content on iOS devices. While the matter has since been appealed, the favorable trial verdict went to Apple. Dunn enjoys another year as one of Benchmark’s “Top 250 Women in Litigation,” and has even made a return to the elite “Top 10” category. She makes another appearance on Benchmark’s “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” list, a coveted position.
          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 when he 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.” A peer assesses, “Following in the footsteps of someone like Ted Wells is a daunting task – massive shoes to fill! – but they are doing a great job.”
     Peer plaudits are equally rich for Paul Weiss’s more “next-generation”-level talent as well. “I’m a big fan of [New York’s] Audra Soloway,” attests one contemporary. “She covers the waterfront in securities, very diverse in this area – including SPACs! – and does some investigations and white-collar work as well.” Another peer weighs in for Greg Laufer, another New York partner with a broad commercial practice that encompasses bankruptcy. “I’m working with him on the Diamond Sports Group bankruptcy,” confirms one peer. “I’ve seen him do a lot of depositions.” Also in New York, Brette Tannenbaum is referenced as “very capable,” with one peer noting, “She just recently made partner, and she just joined the Paul Weiss team in the credit-card cases.” This referred-to matter was a major victory in March 2023 for client Mastercard in an 18-year-long class action over the fees charged to retailers accepting payment cards from Mastercard and Visa. Nearly a year after Paul Weiss gave oral arguments on behalf of the settling group of payment card companies and card-issuing banks, the Second Circuit upheld a $5.6 billion settlement approved in 2019 with a nationwide merchant class, allowing the settlement to finally be implemented. Originally taken on by DC antitrust-focused partner Ken Gallo, he was joined on the appeal by DC “appellate whiz” Kannon Shanmugam.

Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg

Intellectual property and commercial litigation boutique Reichman Jorgensen Lehman & Feldberg has made a notable impression on the legal community in fairly short order. Formed as Reichman Jorgensen in 2018 upon the departure of trial 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.”

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.” 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’s unique structure – a litigation boutique that spans a national footprint – was amplified further this year when its network of offices (which include Silicon Valley, Washington DC, Atlanta and New York) and its team was enhanced by yet another female partner, Texas trial lawyer Amy Ruhland, who joined the firm in August 2023 from DLA Piper and effectively launched a new Reichman Jorgensen office in Austin.

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 secured an $84 million willful patent infringement verdict on behalf of Cirba (dba Densify) against tech giant VMware. The verdict was announced in May 2023, following a five-day jury trial. 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.” Reichman and Lehman also secured a $15 million patent infringement verdict on behalf of Droplets against tech giant Yahoo! in March 2022, following a three-week jury trial and, a year later, won post-trial motions, with the verdict upheld and an additional $12 million in pre- and post-judgment interest ordered, for a total award of $27 million for the client.

Michael Feldberg, based in the firm’s New York office, has 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 executives ensnared 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.

Schulte Roth & Zabel

With offices in New York and DC, Schulte Roth & Zabel is praised by peers for its “very high-quality” work, primarily in the financial services sector. The firm is noted for its novel mix of practice concentration, its cutting-edge client base and its approach to cases. “Schulte has really come to dominate in certain areas,” observes one peer. “They have always been a go-to for private equity and hedge funds, and now they have cornered the market in areas like cryptocurrency as well.” Cases in these areas are noted often for imposing “steep learning curves that demand a fast-moving and forward-leaning approach to litigating them effectively,” in the words of one peer, concluding “Schulte delivers.” Another notes, “You’ve got to understand – Schulte has a very different client base than a lot of big New York firms, and these are clients that are more willing to litigate hard and take gutsy positions.” 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.” Schulte is also actively growing its “next-generation” ranks; this past year it has brought on a new “young hot-shot” partner Julia Beskin from her former post at Quinn Emanuel.
     In addition to a vibrant general commercial and securities practice, New York’s Michael Swartz is the co-head of the firm’s litigation practice and 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 in July 2022. In January 2023, the Chancery Court issued a final judgment that awarded Pantera all of its fees incurred in the Chancery Court action plus interest, amounting to more than $7 million. Swartz also (along with increasingly prominent future star Taleah Jennings) represents Eric Bischoff in two litigations concerning an ownership among the shareholders – all family relations of the client – of the Boar’s Head cold cuts company. “Michael Swartz is a go-to on ‘the Street’ for shareholder activist litigation,” testifies a peer. Also based in New York, Robert Ward represents Denver Wewatta, an affiliate in the LCN Capital Partners portfolio, in a dispute concerning a purchase agreement for a major commercial with an affiliate. Ward also represents Aero and its affiliates, who commenced litigation in Delaware Superior Court, raising contract claims arising out of a purchase agreement on behalf of affiliates of private equity firm Mill Point Capital against the seller of a company acquired by Mill Point’s Aero affiliates. 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.” Peers also insist, “You’ve got to look at William Gussman. He cut his teeth on M&A and does a lot of work with Cerberus, which may be Schulte’s biggest client. No one knows the rules and can create an advantage like Bill.”
     The firm’s white-collar and securities enforcement practice is commanded 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. Based in New York, Craig Warkol is recognized for his securities enforcement acumen. “He has been at the SEC and has been a US Attorney,” confirms one peer. “I consider him very experienced and talented, skilled and knowledgeable.”   



Shearman & Sterling

A fully integrated international conglomerate, Shearman & Sterling has been at the forefront of some headline-making litigation on a global basis and is routinely recognized as a leading legal entity by disputes lawyers from such locales as Europe and Southeast Asia. With most of its 20 offices being based in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, some would even argue that the firm is too globally integrated to even be relegated to assessment on just a one-country level. Nonetheless, within the States the firm is called upon most often for its experience and acumen with matters of the securities and white-collar and FCPA enforcement variety and is quickly developing a leading profile in the antitrust space as well. 
     New York’s Adam Hakki remains a perennial peer favorite, with glowing reviews offered on a unanimous basis. Hakki’s practice is largely focused on, but not limited to, the securities, antitrust and governance fields, with experience in both the criminal and civil capacities. A team led by Hakki (and also involving Agnès Dunogué and Lyle Roberts) won a significant and complete victory for Paramount Global (formerly ViacomCBS) in a high-profile and closely watched securities class-action arising from the 2021 collapse of Archegos Capital Management, a family office run by billionaire investor Bill Hwang, who later was indicted for his conduct. (ViacomCBS was one of the companies whose share prices were adversely affected by the liquidation of Archegos.) The litigation claimed that the offering documents for March 2021 securities offerings by ViacomCBS should have disclosed that Archegos had obtained concentrated and leveraged synthetic positions in ViacomCBS stock via total return swaps entered into with investment banks, which also acted as underwriters for the offerings, and that those swaps needed to be liquidated due to Archegos’ financial distress. Hakki also achieved a significant victory for Twitter in shareholder litigation relating to the fraught acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk. The shareholder plaintiff agreed to voluntarily dismiss the case a few days before pre-trial briefs were due. Hakki has also balanced an active portfolio of antitrust cases along with his securities matters. One example involved a victory on behalf of Intercontinental Exchange and various subsidiaries in a LIBOR-related antitrust action brought on behalf of group of consumers purportedly injured as a result of an alleged price-fixing conspiracy.
     Shearman’s US bench is brimming with others noted for their antitrust prowess. A frequent teammate of Hakki’s, Jeffrey Resetarits, is generating a good deal of traction in antitrust as well as securities. “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.]” New York’s Richard Schwed is representing JetBlue Airways Corporation in two high-profile DoJ lawsuits concerning alleged anti-competitive activity in several capacities. Todd Stenerson, based in the DC office, led a team (including DC’s David Higbee) that achieved a significant victory for Booz Allen in the DoJ’s attempt to block its $440 million acquisition of EverWatch. In December 2022, the DoJ dismissed its lawsuit, officially ending the litigation after the court permitted the parties to close the transaction. 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.”
      Stephen Fishbein, whose practice straddles white-collar crime and enforcement with antitrust elements, secured a victory on behalf of an individual in a significant criminal insider-trading case. In December 2022, the Second Circuit ruled, among other things, that the evidence was insufficient on the two counts on which the client was convicted and dismissed the fraud charges.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett boasts a long history as one of New York’s, and the country’s, most esteemed full-service legal brands“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 momentumOne 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 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.

Thompson Hine

Full-service law firm Thompson Hine is equipped with a team of litigators routinely sought out by clients to handle their most complex product liability and business disputes. With offices in Georgia, Illinois, DC, and New York, along with a significant footprint in Ohio featuring four distinct locations, Thompson Hine has developed a reputation for exemplary representation and success. A client describes the firm’s bench of litigators as, “subject matter experts who provide extremely responsive communication, client services, and trial advocacy.” The same client shares their praise for Atlanta-based partner Marla Butler. “Marla is a superb strategist and partner to our company,” notes the client. “She and her team work harder, smarter, and more efficiently than most other firms I deal with. Marla has a mastery of IP law and related issues, and she is a delight to deal with. Marla is humble, open to creative ways of solving problems, and is an authentically terrific person.”

     Cleveland-based product liability litigator Elizabeth ‘Missy’ Wright is national counsel for a major automotive manufacturer in separate cases related to alleged defective products. Timothy Coughlin is a fellow Cleveland partner who chairs the mass & toxic tort group and leads chemical industry group. In a recent case, he utilized his industry knowledge in developing expert opinions. William Hubbard focuses on the construction industry, representing a wide variety of clients. He defends Elliott Bay Design Group, a naval engineer and architect firm, in a lawsuit alleging that they improperly designed a new ferry boat for Miller Boat Line. The plaintiff sought over $4 million in repair costs and lost income. Hubbard brought a third-party claim against the shipyard that built the vessel. The case challenges whether Ohio’s anti-indemnification statute applies to the construction of a vessel.

     Dayton-based Christine Haaker serves as the vice-chair of the group for the office. Haaker has served as defense counsel to several high-profile entities in numerous business disputes. Anthony White serves on the Executive Committee while maintaining a practice involving class actions, most notably on behalf of a freight transportation company.

     In the group’s DC office, Eric Heyer has emerged as one of the office’s leading litigators with a growing expertise in the growing nicotine vaping industry. Heyer represents Wages & White Lion Investments (d/b/a Triton Distribution) in a rare petition for rehearing en banc granted by the Fifth Circuit. The case involves a marketing denial order (MDO) issued by the FDA against a group of flavored marketing products under the Administrative Procedure Act. In 2021, prior to the latest petition for rehearing, the Fifth Circuit stayed the MDO and published an opinion finding that the FDA acted arbitrarily and capriciously. However, in July 2022, a different three-judge panel upheld the FDA’s actions in a 2-1 vote. The case is similar to pending cases in the Second and Ninth Circuits, and one Heyer won at the Eleventh Circuit in August 2022.

Wilkinson Stekloff

While it operates from offices in Washington, DC, New York, and Los Angeles, Wilkinson Stekloff 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 Lawyers 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. “Beth Wilkinson is my role model, and she continues to just kill it,” declares one. “She typifies what a trial lawyer is. She is what I aspire to be, she has a real plain-spoken nature in communicating with juries and with clients.”

Wilkinson continues to demonstrate the skills that have earned her these accolades. “She has popped up on a few of these contested-merger cases,” confirms one antitrust-focused contemporary. In one such example, Wilkinson and Rakesh Kilaru act for Microsoft after the Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative complaint in December 2022 to block Microsoft’s proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the largest acquisition in Microsoft’s history. In another, Wilkinson, Brian Stekloff, Kilaru, and Moira Penzarepresent Altria Group and certain of its subsidiaries in multiple cases arising out of Altria’s minority investment in vaping entity Juul Labs. Stekloff continues to serve as national trial counsel for Monsanto in federal litigation arising out of claims that its popular herbicide Roundup causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “Brian can do some of the best crosses I’ve ever seen,” raves a contemporary. “He’s so talented and so likeable.” In another Monsanto-related matter, Cali Arat served as trial counsel in a first-of-its-kind case to go to trial, involving claims that both exposure to the herbicide Roundup from at-home use and exposure to PCBs through the food chain independently and together caused the plaintiff’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both Penza and Arat also made their respective debuts on Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation list this year, joining Wilkinson, who has been recognized in this list every year since 2016.

Williams & Connolly

From its sole office in Washington, DC, Williams & Connolly generates national-level recognition and prestige – arguably the only single-office firm in DC to do so. The firm also stands out in the variety of litigation services on offer, with star partners in nearly every capacity, including but not limited to commercial, securities, product liability, white-collar crime, intellectual property, antitrust, appellate, and even an increasing presence in the international arbitration space. Perhaps more impressive still is the firm’s dedication to, and recognition for, trials. “Day in, day out, Williams & Connolly just does great trial work,” offers one peer in summation. Indeed, the firm has a remarkable five candidates on Benchmark’s Top 100 Trial Lawyer list.

One such trial star, Heidi Hubbard, generates considerable acclaim across the board, particularly, but certainly not exclusively, from the product liability capacity. “We just love her,” extols one fellow Top 100 Trial Lawyer. “She had a recent reverse-payment win, which are so complicated and don’t go to trial very often. She has Amazon. [She is] Lovely to work with and super smart.” The alluded-to matter found Hubbard, along with Benjamin Greenblum, logging a July 2022 trial victory on behalf of Endo Pharmaceuticals in an alleged reverse-payment antitrust class action in which plaintiffs claimed billions in damages. The three-week trial adjudicated claims of class plaintiffs challenging a patent settlement. Plaintiffs alleged the settlement unreasonably delayed the entry of Impax’s generic version of Opana ER and sought more than $5 billion in treble damages. After less than three hours of deliberation, and despite the fact that co-defendant Impax settled for $265 million three days into the trial, the jury returned a verdict in Endo’s favor.

Another Top 100 Trial Lawyer, Enu Mainigi continues to serve as lead and national counsel for Cardinal Health in all things opioids, including civil litigation, Attorney General litigation and investigations, Congressional investigations, and other matters relating to the company’s distribution of opioid medications, and secured multiple landmark victories on behalf of the company over the past year. She secured a complete defense victory for the client in a federal bench trial in West Virginia. In July 2022, the court ruled in favor of the client, rejecting the plaintiffs’ contention that the distributors’ actions constituted a public nuisance and ruling that the distributors substantially complied with their duties to report suspicious opioid orders, and held that plaintiffs failed to prove that the distributors did not maintain effective controls against diversion. 


Yet another Top 100 Trial Lawyer, Joe Petrosinelli, secured a complete victory on behalf of Pfizer in one of the largest personal injury multidistrict litigations (MDLs) ever the closely watched product liability MDL concerning the antacid medication Xantac, with plaintiffs claiming that use of Zantac causes cancers. This massive MDL included approximately 50,000 claims against multiple pharmaceutical defendants, coordinated proceedings in several state courts with another 30,000 cases, and cases pending in a dozen different states. The MDL Court appointed Petrosinelli as one of four co-lead counsel for all defendants, and as coordinating counsel for all defense groups. The first case set for trial in the overall litigation was set for August 2022, but two weeks before, the court granted Pfizer’s motion for summary judgment on several claims against it on statute of repose grounds, after which the plaintiff voluntarily dropped his case.

Robert Van Kirk, still another Top 100 Trial Lawyer, along with future star Jessica Rydstrom, represents industrial supply company W.W. Grainger in a myriad of matters arising out of a chemical plant explosion in Houston that occurred in April 2019, allegedly as a result of the failure of a piping fixture sold under a Grainger brand. The claims include product liability, property, bankruptcy and insurance matters, as well as various government investigations. The product liability claims involve nearly 20 different complaints brought by about 200 individual plaintiffs who allege they were hurt or suffered other damage in the explosion. Those cases have been consolidated in a state MDL proceeding. There are also separate property damage, bankruptcy and insurance claims brought by the now defunct former owner of the plant and its insurers. The parties settled the majority of the action in early 2023, with a subset remaining to be tried in May.

Williams & Connolly also boasts considerable firepower in the appellate capacity. Lisa Blatt enjoys a reputation as one of the top Supreme Court strategists in the country, with peers and clients turning out in full throat to sing her praises and a full plate of high-level appointments to support this acclaim. While Blatt’s celebrity is undisputed, the firm is also grooming a next generation of talent in this capacity. Sarah Harris is developing an elevated profile among peers in the DC appeals community. “Sarah is spectacular and she’s only going to get better,” insists one contemporary. Harris secured an important victory for CVS Health subsidiary Caremark and others before the Ninth Circuit in a case concerning whether claims brought by pharmacies run by federally recognized tribes were subject to arbitration. In August 2022, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s order granting the client’s petition to compel arbitration of a dispute with the Chickasaw Nation and five pharmacies that the Nation owns and operates. The Ninth Circuit held that the parties had validly delegated to the arbitrator the authority to resolve threshold issues regarding the scope and enforceability of the arbitration provision and rejected the Nation’s argument that tribal sovereign immunity precluded enforcement of that delegation provision. 



Willkie Farr & Gallagher

A global business firm, Willkie Farr & Gallagher has been steadily increasing its litigation profile in both market share and in a literal headcount and geographic footprint sense. “I would have no hesitation sending anyone to Willkie,” insists a peer. “They are a firm on the rise.” 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, 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 (Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.) “The biggest disrupter in the LA market recently has been Willkie Farr,” quips a peer in an observation on 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, the 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. After reaching a settlement in 2018, 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 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 hot streak in recruiting continues; this past year the firm lured Koren “Kori” Bell, a celebrated white-collar crime-focused partner formerly with local boutique Larson, to its bench. A peer also insists, “Let’s talk about [San Francisco-based IP-focused future star] Barrington Dyer – he’s great!”

Willkie’s insurance practice has made a substantial rise 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 long-time 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 bodies 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 the financial services company’s high-profile 2016 customer account fraud. Mundiya defended Resideo Technologies against claims arising from Honeywell’s 2018 spin-off of Resideo and the 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. “Tariq is very good on the M&A side of things,” confirms a peer.

The chairman of the Chicago office, Craig Martin, joined Willkie in 2020 from Jenner & Block and has continued to build out the firm’s Windy City office. Martin’s practice encompasses a wide spectrum of commercial litigation, quasi-white-collar work, intellectual property, and pro bono human rights issues. “Craig brought over a team from Jenner with him to Willkie and he’s been very successful.”




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.

Labor and employment
Hunton Andrews Kurth

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 like California, Texas, Georgia, and DC. This year, Virginia-based partner Kurt Larkin is distinguished for his exceptional work in traditional labor, handling collective bargaining negotiations, union organizing, and high-stakes NLRB disputes. 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 FLSA class and collective actions and 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 have handled trade secrets cases 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 bring a wealth of experience in handling California employment litigation. The duo previously represented a client in a JAMS arbitration. Beilke in particular is well-versed in handling arbitrations, as well as jury trials. San Francisco-based partner M. 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 EEOC’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 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 both 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, 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 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 Fair Credit Reporting Act 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 highly of him.” Nelson has defended a client in recently filed independent contractor case throughout Texas’ district courts.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.

Sanford Heisler Sharp

Sanford Heisler Sharp continues to be a formidable opponent to management-side labor and employment litigators, even garnering their praises for the sophisticated and oftentimes complex cases. “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,” declares an opposing peer. The firm has achieved widespread, national recognition in a variety of labor and employment regards, distinguishing itself across markets. As a plaintiff-side law firm, Sanford Heisler has organized a diverse and strategic network of offices, including New York, Maryland, DC, California, and Tennessee.

     While employment litigation is the firm’s primary focus, Sanford Heisler is also dedicated to representing victims of crime and civil rights offenses. Renowned trial lawyer recognized as a Top 50 Labor & Employment Litigator and chairman of the firm, David Sanford has been the lead lawyer representing the brother of murder victim, Hae Min Lee in his appeal of the Baltimore City circuit court’s decision to vacate the conviction of the alleged murderer. The case has received significant attention as the subject of both a 2014 podcast and an HBO documentary. Sanford and the team – comprised of Andrew Melzer, Kevin Sharp, and Jeremy Heisler, among others – challenged the hearing, contending that it violated Maryland’s statutory and constitutional crime victims’ rights, which would have afforded the family adequate notice and opportunity to participate in the proceedings. Sanford’s motion for full appeal was granted and the Appellate Court granted the team’s motion to remand the case to the circuit court, following a successful oral argument.

     Melzer and Heisler both practice out of the New York office. Melzer additionally represents plaintiffs alleging unlawful deductions from drivers’ tips, failure to provide adequate meal periods, and failure to pay for work performed during said periods. The lawsuit further alleges that the drivers were misclassified as independent contractors. Heisler worked alongside DC litigator Kate Mueting representing Donna Kassman as class representative in a lawsuit filed against KPMG. Mueting, serving as lead lawyer on the case, filed the action to remedy the company’s systemic discrimination related to pay, promotions, and pregnancy, and hold the company accountable for alleged failure to properly investigate and resolve complaints. Mueting and Heisler secured a $10 million settlement on the Equal Pay Act claims. Tennessee’s former Chief Judge Sharp and DC-based chairman of the firm, Sanford, are representing a class of former African American Deput US Marshals and Detention Enforcement Officers in their lawsuit against the US Marshals Service, asserting alleged race discrimination claims against the Service, including candidates who were not hired. The EEOC administrative judge approved and certified the class, and the team has been engaged in discovery since the 2017 order.

     In New York, Russell Kornblith leads a Title IX class action against Harvard on behalf of female students in the Anthropology Department. The case alleges claims of sexual harassment and retaliation. The duo prevailed against Harvard’s motion for summary judgment and motion to dismiss earlier this year. His casework `over the last year also includes an ERISA action filed individually and as a representative of a class of employees working at the consulting firm West Monroe Partners. Kornblith’s clients allege that the company and its executives used layoffs and other avenues to cash out shares of former employees in their ESOP. The case is active in litigation after he prevailed against the opposing counsel’s motion to dismiss. Alexandra Harwin has also taken action against 401(k) mismanagement, filing breach of fiduciary duty claims under ERISA on behalf of 200,000 UnitedHealth Group employees and plan participants. Harwin obtained class certification and a settlement conference is set to occur this year. On the employment side of her practice, she is lead counsel representing Graham Chase Robinson in a case against Robert De Niro and Canal Productions, his corporate entity. The lawsuit alleges claims of hostile work environment and retaliation. Harwin is actively gearing up for trial.

     New York’s Michael Palmer is leading the case on behalf Siddarth Breja, former Senior Vice President of JUUL, alleging whistleblower retaliation against the company after he complained about unlawful practices. Co-chair of the firm’s whistleblower and qui tam practice group H. Vincent McKnight provides strategic specialty knowledge and assistance on the case.

     Hailing from the San Francisco office, Danielle Fuschetti serves as the firm’s co-chair of the discrimination and harassment practice group. In that area, she is the lead lawyer representing an individual plaintiff against Xilinix, a pioneer in adaptive computing and leader in the semiconductor industry. The lawsuit alleges sex-based pay disparities, hostile work environment, and sex discrimination claims, in addition to alleged intellectual property theft of marketing materials. Fuschetti is actively litigating the case and seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, unjust enrichment damages in connection to the IP and trade secrets theft, which is estimated to be roughly $350 million, in addition to other damages and affirmative relief. In addition to discrimination claims, Fuschetti is also involved in 401(k) mismanagement litigation. She is a member of the team as class counsel and represents individual plaintiffs in an action against Walgreens. The plaintiffs, who are participants in Walgreen’s $10 billion 401(k) plan, alleged that the company failed to remove a set of ten target retirement date funds that underperformed in their investment benchmarks. Fuschetti obtained a settlement of $13.75 million. Currently, other cases on her docket are against large nationwide companies including JUUL and Oracle, both of which are actively being litigated. Fellow San Francisco litigator Felicia Gilbert successfully resolved a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed on behalf of a former engineer against tech giant Honeywell represented by a nationally recognized labor and employment-focused law firm. Baltimore’s Deborah Marcuse is recognized by Benchmark Litigation as a Top 50 Labor & Employment Litigator for her recent work.

Williams & Connolly

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.