Willkie’s litigators have won several precedent-setting victories across a wide spectrum of legal issues in courts around the nation. Our litigators are known for their creativity and practical approach in handling complex matters, tactical acumen, team focus, and for their deep appreciation of clients’ business needs. We are highly collaborative and creative litigators who litigate with a single purpose in mind: to win.
Willkie hosts a sophisticated and diverse national and international litigation practice representing major financial services companies, accounting firms, insurance and reinsurance companies and brokers, media companies, and individuals such as corporate officers and directors and accountants in complex commercial and class-action litigation involving all substantive areas.
We understand that our clients expect excellence with efficiency and one of the hallmarks of our litigation department is to staff our cases—even the largest, highest-stakes matters—with lean, nimble, and diverse teams so that everyone has the opportunity to add value. Our firm’s commitment to making the department diverse across both the associate and partner ranks is real. Whether by nurturing diverse talent from within the firm, or through lateral hiring, our litigation department is committed to creating diverse teams of lawyers to work on our most important matters. We also pride ourselves on giving associates meaningful roles in significant matters.
Commercial: With more than 200 skilled litigation lawyers firm-wide, we have the depth, breadth, and experience to handle the most complex and challenging commercial disputes. Our lawyers combine skillful advocacy, top-tier legal analysis, and deep business experience to achieve our clients’ litigation and business goals. We pride ourselves on working closely with our clients to become trusted advisors with a keen focus on their long-term needs. We bring unrivaled efficiency and experience to every dispute and deliver results that exceed our clients’ expectations. We regularly represent clients in bringing and defending actions involving alleged breaches of contract and other business torts that frequently intersect with antitrust, securities, intellectual property, ERISA, employment, and other laws.
Securities: Willkie’s securities litigators regularly handle some of the largest and highest-profile securities class actions in the United States. We represent issuers, underwriters, and auditors in significant securities class actions and have obtained important victories for clients in securities fraud cases, cases arising out of poorly performing public offerings, internal or government investigations, and the restructuring of distressed companies. We have been at the vanguard of the recent wave of “busted IPO” cases, retained by investment banks like Goldman Sachs & Co., Morgan Stanley & Co., and J.P. Morgan Chase, to grapple with the fallout from the Supreme Court’s high-profile Cyan v. Beaver County decision in 2018. Willkie has advanced leading-edge arguments in this quickly evolving area of the law in several high-profile matters.
White-Collar: Willkie’s White-Collar Defense and Compliance, Investigations & Enforcement practice groups regularly handle high-profile investigations and enforcement actions and complex white-collar cases across multiple jurisdictions. We represent public companies, financial institutions and their executives in a broad range of criminal and regulatory matters, with particular strengths in the securities industry, parallel SEC/DOJ investigations, and hedge funds. Our team includes former federal prosecutors, a former Assistant Director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement and counsel to the SEC Chairman, a former DOJ Acting Fraud Chief, and a former Associate Director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, among others.
Intellectual Property: Willkie is best known as a leader in sophisticated intellectual property litigation, and for its ability to represent and counsel clients across the intersections of intellectual property with other practice areas and across technologies. Willkie’s IP litigators pride themselves on results, working collaboratively with their clients and each other to achieve pragmatic and successful outcomes, representing U.S. and non-U.S. clients in litigation, transactions, and counseling, and licensing of patents, trademarks, copyrights, domain names and trade secrets. Our patent trial attorneys represent technology leaders in jury and non-jury cases in federal courts across the United States and regularly appear in other patent forums, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board. We have experience handling cases in most industries and technologies, including pharmaceuticals, biologics, computer hardware and software, semiconductors, medical devices, consumer products, information and financial services, electronic devices, e-commerce, energy, sports, insurance, and music rights. Willkie’s IP team has been working on matters related to the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) for many years and has deep experience in the field of biologics and biosimilars, including BPCIA litigation, patent landscape analyses, and inter partes review proceedings. Just as importantly, we are routinely retained to handle complex copyright, trademark, and trade secret issues, representing clients in cases involving trademark infringement and dilution, cyber-squatting and false advertising. We handle oppositions and cancellations before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board; represent clients in copyright infringement litigation in federal courts; counsel clients on strategies to protect and defend their trade secrets; and represent clients in trade secret litigation under state law and the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.
Appellate: When trial court results are challenged, we have extensive appellate experience as well. Our team has briefed and argued appeals in state and federal courts around the United States, including matters before the Supreme Court. Our team is well versed in the intricacies of the appellate process, and understands how to navigate an appeal through the courts. As we do during the trial court phase, we are always thinking ahead to potential appeal issues, providing agile counsel to adeptly tackle substantial legal issues.
Bankruptcy: Willkie’s bankruptcy litigators have acted for distressed companies, their boards, board members and special committees of commercial lenders; major creditors and creditor groups; official committees; investors in distressed debt; private funds; administrative agents and lender groups; acquirers of distressed assets; equity holders; and other parties with interests in distressed situations. We are highly experienced with the expedited and transactional nature of bankruptcy litigation and appear regularly in bankruptcy court, trying high-pressure adversary proceedings, contested matters, and appeals throughout the United States, as well as insolvency proceedings in the UK, France, Germany and other key European jurisdictions. Our broad bankruptcy litigation experience includes: contested hearings, including dip, disclosure statement, confirmation and adequate protection hearings; stay relief and adequate protection litigation; lender liability; officer and director liability; and fraudulent transfer litigation.
Insurance: Willkie’s insurance team provides comprehensive counsel on a full range of insurance and reinsurance coverage disputes. Unique among law firms, we represent clients in all three segments of insurance coverage disputes—policyholders, insurance brokers and insurance companies. We are proud that clients in all three corners of the coverage triangle call on us to solve their most difficult problems. Our knowledge of all three segments gives us a deep understanding of the thinking and motivations of all of the participants in a coverage dispute. This, in turn, provides our clients with insight not normally available from other law firms that typically represent one side only. Clients value our unique perspective and the creativity we bring to resolving disputes, whether through negotiation, litigation or arbitration. And, because the parties to insurance coverage disputes know we are not aligned with only one category of clients, they are more willing to work with us to reach prompt and fair resolutions.
Antitrust & Competition: Willkie is known for providing practical advice to clients facing challenging, cross-border antitrust problems (‘One-World Antitrust’). Our practice spans a wide spectrum of industries, with particular experience advising clients in financial services, Internet and technology, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, insurance, chemicals, payments, manufacturing of heavy equipment and building products, consumer products, accounting, energy, space, retail, and transportation. We have a strong reputation for handling high-profile antitrust litigations, mergers, and regulatory investigations.
Employment: Our lawyers regularly represent companies and senior managers on employment law issues. We frequently appear on behalf of our clients in federal and state courts and administrative agencies with respect to gender, age, and disability discrimination claims, wage and hour issues, and unfair competition and theft of trade secrets claims. We also regularly represent employers and ERISA fiduciaries in federal courts around the country in both individual and class action lawsuits. We have been involved in precedent-setting cases that have created law across an array of areas, including ERISA plan fee litigation, reimbursement rights, recovery of pension overpayments, ERISA estoppel and ESOP valuations, among many others. Our experience encompasses virtually all areas of disputes involving employee benefit plans.
Regularly hailed as one of the strongest litigation teams in the industry, the Debevoise litigation practice has been described by The American Lawyer as akin to “the Army Rangers—a small but elite group that works seamlessly and handles the most challenging cases,” consistently delivering outstanding results for its clients.
Recent matters include:
Secured a historic $6 billion ICSID arbitration win for Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited
Represented the Board of CBS Corporation in an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against the CEO and senior personnel
Reached a resolution with the DOJ and EPA for Toyota’s emissions reporting practices without any criminal charges being filed
Represented Booking.com in a Supreme Court case where the Court ruled 8-1 that Booking.com’s eponymous domain name is not generic and could register as a trademark
Responded to a significant data breach for Capital One and conducted a related investigation for the bank’s Board
Represented Robinhood in SEC and FINRA settlements relating to best execution practices and payment for order flow
Secured a $75 million bench trial victory for Resolution Life in the NY Supreme Court stemming from an M&A transaction
Secured a $327 million victory in a dispute for D. E. Shaw / TERP in the NY Supreme Court on claims for breach of contract and damages from the sale of First Wind Holdings
Helped get relief in federal courts for nearly 30 inmates serving onerous sentences resulting from outdated mandatory sentencing provisions that were disproportionately invoked against Black men
Successfully represented Qatar and Qatari entities and individuals in claims arising from measures imposed by UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt against Qatar, twice prevailing before the International Court of Justice
Defended Iraq against investor-state claims in Itisaluna resulting in an award 70% of attorney fees and costs; also prevailed in Iraq’s ICSID arbitration against Agility, knocking out claims of $650 million and obtaining an award of costs and interest
Secured a record-breaking $400 million victory on behalf of Perenco Ecuador in the final phase of its 13-year-long dispute against the Republic of Ecuador
Protectedthe World Health Organization’s (WHO) immunity under international and U.S. law in class actions in U.S. court challenging the WHO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The firm’s litigation practice is led by co-chairs Mary Beth Hogan and Andrew Ceresney (the immediate past Director of Enforcement at the SEC) and features an all-star roster, including former Attorneys General Lord Peter Goldsmith QC and Michael Mukasey and former Chair of the SEC Mary Jo White, who returned to Debevoise in 2017 following her four-year tenure. Ms. White,who previously served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for nine years, is Senior Chair of the firm and leads the Strategic Crisis Response and Solutions Group.
Their team also includes 14 former Assistant U.S. Attorneys or Department of Justice attorneys, including a former federal district court judge, the former Chief of the Criminal Division of the Southern District of New York, the former Acting Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ Criminal Division, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for National Security and three former Unit Chiefs of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.
The breadth of experience offered by Debevoise in and out of the courtroom sets their litigators apart. They bring personal attention, seasoned judgment, deep industry knowledge, credibility and substantive legal experience to each matter, tailoring advice to clients’ needs and circumstances. They work seamlessly and collaboratively with clients and co-counsel and across practices to achieve the best possible results for our clients.
Based in New York, Washington DC, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Shanghai and Hong Kong, their broadly skilled team of nearly 300 litigators handle domestic and cross-border disputes of every kind and complex matters in courts in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, France and elsewhere, as well as before arbitration tribunals, agencies and administrative bodies worldwide. They represent clients as plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of areas, including:
Antitrust & Competition
Arbitration & International Disputes
Cybersecurity & Data Privacy
Insurance Industry Disputes
Labor & Employment Litigation
White Collar & Regulatory Defense
Another notable and distinguishing feature of the Debevoise litigation practice is the success of their women partners. For five consecutive years, Benchmark Litigation has named eight Debevoise women litigation partners among the “Top 250 Women in Litigation”—an exceptional ranking for a firm of its size.
Since its founding in 2017, Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP (Kaplan Hecker) has quickly grown into one of the country’s elite litigation boutiques, fusing a high-stakes, cutting edge litigation practice with a groundbreaking commitment to serving the public interest. Kaplan Hecker’s highly-experienced litigators help clients navigate their most pressing legal challenges; from complex commercial litigation for some of the country’s biggest companies, to high-profile white-collar criminal defense, to sensitive internal investigations and intricate regulatory and securities matters. The firm leads some of the nation’s most prominent public interest litigation and also frequently files amicus briefs – at all levels of the judiciary – to support the most vulnerable.
Kaplan Hecker was recognized as the 2020 Boutique Firm of the Year by Benchmark Litigation. In fall 2019, Benchmark Litigation also recognized Kaplan Hecker as one of the 10 “Top Boutique Firms” in the country, just two years after the firm’s founding. The publication also rated the firm as a “Highly Recommended Law Firm – New York,” making Kaplan Hecker one of the very few litigation boutiques – and the only firm founded by women – to achieve that top designation. Chambers has ranked Kaplan Hecker as one of New York’s 11 top specialist firms in white-collar crime and government investigations.
Kaplan Hecker is recognized for the extensive trial experience of its lawyers, who have tried numerous civil and criminal cases to verdict in both federal and state court. The team includes three former federal prosecutors and three former public defenders – experience that uniquely positions the firm to take any case to trial and secure the best possible results for its clients. In what has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation as a 2020 “Impact Case” and by Global Investigations Review as “Most Important Court Case of the Year,” Kaplan Hecker secured a “rare” acquittal at trial in a market manipulation case against a former Barclays trader in early 2019.
Kaplan Hecker lawyers have consistently been individually recognized as among the leading litigators in the country, including partners Robbie Kaplan and Sean Hecker having been consistently honored as two of the nation’s top litigators in commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense respectively.
As a peer noted to Benchmark Litigation, Kaplan Hecker’s lawyers “are unwaveringly committed to staring down injustice without blinking, and their work proves that. They are ambitious, feisty and fearless, especially tailor-made for these tumultuous times.” Another peer added that “they are all pretty young, and are already superstars, so really, if they keep that model and all wind up staying together, the sky is the limit.”
Kaplan Hecker has built a track record of impressive results in high-stakes litigation, fueled by a small team of litigators with extensive trial experience and wide-ranging subject matter expertise. Its practice focuses on the following areas:
Commercial Litigation: Kaplan Hecker lawyers are highly-experienced commercial litigators with wide-ranging backgrounds. Clients range from large financial institutions and ratings agencies, to Fortune 500 companies, tech companies and startups, and nationally prominent individuals – among numerous other categories. The team is known for being efficient, diverse, creative, collaborative, and focused on a singular goal – achieving the best possible results for our clients through fierce advocacy, creative strategies, and forward-looking advice.
White-Collar Criminal Defense: The firm has extensive experience defending companies, boards of directors, and executives from criminal investigations and enforcement and regulatory proceedings across a range of practice areas, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and anti-corruption, whistleblower and False Claim Act (FCA) claims, anti-money laundering, and various kinds of financial fraud, among many others. Chambers has recognized Kaplan Hecker as one of New York’s 11 top specialist firms in white-collar crime and government investigations, and Sean Hecker is consistently recognized as one of the nation’s top litigators in this area.
Cybersecurity and Data Privacy: Kaplan Hecker lawyers have wide-ranging experience helping companies and executives navigate complex challenges involving cybersecurity, data privacy, and related regulatory compliance. This practice is led by Marshall Miller, a former senior DOJ official who oversaw many high-profile cybersecurity prosecutions and a widely recognized expert in these areas.
FCPA and Anti-Corruption: Kaplan Hecker lawyers have significant expertise representing clients in which the FCPA and other anti-corruption issues arise – including in internal investigations, representing companies and individuals in government enforcement matters, and advising companies on anti-corruption compliance. Sean Hecker has been ranked by Chambers as one of the leading FCPA attorneys in the country, and Marshall Miller previously oversaw some of the nation’s highest-profile corruption prosecutions during his tenure at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Employment, Discrimination, and Sexual Misconduct: The firm has substantial experience representing organizations in sensitive employment and discrimination matters, including with respect to Title VII and Title IX claims and independent contractor and Fair Labor Standards Act classification. Kaplan Hecker has particular expertise representing top academic institutions in their most important Title VII and Title IX matters.
Investigations and Crisis Management: Kaplan Hecker helps its clients navigate every aspect of sensitive internal investigations: conducting the investigation, developing internal and external communications strategies, advising on public disclosures, and reviewing and revamping compliance structures.
Regulatory and Securities Matters and Litigation: The firm has represented some of the nation’s leading financial institutions and commercial businesses in regulatory proceedings, including securities enforcement proceedings and anti-money laundering investigations, helping clients navigate the ongoing challenges to relationships with regulators, investors, and shareholders that these proceedings can cause.
Public Interest Litigation: Kaplan Hecker takes on some of the most pressing and groundbreaking public interest litigation in the country, from suing the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who organized the racial- and religious-based violence in Charlottesville, to challenging the Metropolitan Detention Center’s denial of access to counsel on behalf of the Federal Defenders of New York, Inc., to suing Donald Trump and others for conspiring to defraud investors.
Appellate Litigation: The firm’s appellate practice spans all areas of its work. Kaplan Hecker team of lawyers, which includes three former Supreme Court clerks, have litigated cases in all levels of state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since its founding in 2012, Holwell Shuster & Goldberg LLP has become one of the nation’s most influential and respected litigation boutiques.
HSG quickly established itself as a leader in litigation resulting from the Great Recession, recovering billions of dollars for investors and government-sponsored entities in mortgage-backed securities. The firm continues to lead – and win – in high-impact, highly contested matters involving complex issues and requiring skilled courtroom advocacy and expert legal writing and scholarship. Benchmark Litigation named HSG its 2016 New York Law Firm of the Year and a Top 10 Boutique since 2017, and, within three years of its founding, it was one of 10 firms named to The National Law Journal’s Litigation Boutiques Hot List. Many HSG lawyers have been recognized by Chambers, Benchmark, The National Law Journal, and in other rankings and publications.
Representing both plaintiffs and defendants, HSG serves as lead counsel for clients such as Visa, Chubb, HSBC, and government-owned pension funds in a range of disputes, and is particularly well known for:
Financial Markets & Securities Litigation: HSG lawyers have been involved in numerous landmark financial markets cases, representing, among others, banks, hedge funds, private equity funds, foreign governments, trustees, and other market participants. Most recently, the firm has taken the lead on innovative “cost-of-insurance” litigation in the Southern District of New York and other federal courts around the country.
Impact Antitrust Litigation: In addition to the firm’s ongoing representation of Visa in multidistrict litigation involving hundreds of billions of dollars in claimed damages, the firm’s lawyers have represented Comcast, Raytheon, General Re, Saudi Refining, Inc., and other clients in major antitrust litigation and governmental reviews. On the plaintiffs’ side, the firm recently represented Valassis, a MacAndrews & Forbes portfolio company, in a jury trial against News Corp.
Complex Commercial Disputes: HSG represents clients in a wide range of complex commercial disputes, whether purely domestic or multi-jurisdictional, and is at the forefront of litigation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, including disputes concerning borrower covenants. Its clients include multinational corporations, financial institutions, hedge and private equity funds, family-owned businesses, directors of public companies, and a founder of Facebook.
Transnational Litigation: The firm has represented numerous clients in matters with transnational dimensions, including creditors against foreign sovereigns in disputes over defaults of their debt. The firm’s lawyers have also represented various foreign sovereigns and state-owned entities in a variety of matters. Additionally, they have represented a range of commercial parties in commercial disputes with a transnational dimension, in matters ranging from international arbitrations to Section 1782 proceedings, and everything in between. The firm is currently challenging the termination of power contracts worth more than a billion dollars in multiple jurisdictions, alleging breach of contract by the Angolan government and tortious interference by General Electric.
Appellate Litigation: HSG’s ranks include multiple former U.S. Supreme Court clerks and federal circuit clerks in its active appellate practice. Among other notable matters, HSG currently serves as nationwide lead trial and appellate counsel for Chubb’s insurance companies in opioid coverage litigation. The firm draws on Judge Holwell’s experience sitting as a designated Second Circuit Court of Appeals judge, as well as the experience of partner James M. McGuire, who has served the state of New York as an appellate and trial court judge.
Investigations/Monitorships: Bringing to bear the firm’s considerable judicial experience, HSG lawyers handle criminal and regulatory enforcement investigations, as well as independent monitorships brought about by consent decrees, settlements, or otherwise.
Key Practice Areas:
Arbitration (International and Domestic)
Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring
Complex Commercial Litigation
White Collar and Government Investigations
Languages Spoken at Firm: English, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish