Texas

Review

Dispute resolution
Bailey Brauer

Dallas-based Bailey Brauer is a litigation boutique equipped with the expertise to litigate an array of practice areas, including antitrust, appellate, business torts, class and collective actions, complex commercial litigation, products liability, employment, trade secrets and wrongful death claims. Name partner Clayton Bailey stands as one of the top trial and appellate lawyers distinguished for litigating complex tort and commercial matters, as well as putative antitrust class actions. Bailey is one of a handful of lawyers in his age bracket with experience representing clients on both plaintiff and defense sides of the aisle. His clients come from a wide variety of industries, recently including a former professional coach of Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake club and one of the largest chicken producers in Mexico, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation.  

Bell Nunnally

For over 40 years, Dallas-based Bell Nunnally has developed into a respectable force in Texas’s market for litigation. Specializing in commercial, white collar, and labor & employment matters, the firm’s team of litigators – constituting 2/3 of its personnel – represents industry leaders across sectors, including several Fortune 500 companies.

Chris Trowbridge, managing partner of the firm, deals in complex commercial litigation. Trowbridge is currently active in the role of lead counsel to Primerica Financial Services in litigation brought by the company against several of the firm’s highest volume former financial advisors. Primerica brings forth allegations that defendants used proprietary company information and resources to the ends of recruiting away billions of dollars in assets and hundreds of leading financial advisors in order to form a competing company, and claims breach of numerous contracts, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference, and faithless servant violations.

Future star Heath Cheek continues to distinguish himself as an emergent complex commercial and securities force. He currently serves as lead counsel to Primoris, among the country’s largest infrastructure contractors, in a dispute before the Public Utility Commission of Texas brought by CR Permian Processing – formerly known as Caprock Permian Processing. Caprock alleges that work performed on transmission lines by Primoris was the cause of a large-scale industrial accident at a Caprock gas processing plant and seeks more than $15 million in direct damages and lost profits. Also involved on the matter is litigation star Beverly Whitley, whose commercial practice places a large emphasis on appellate matters.

Karen Hart has for over 20 years represented clients in a variety of commercial matters, often those relating to real estate and the landlord-tenant relation, while Randall Lindley focuses his practice on matters pertaining to the rights of creditors.

Mikel Bowers, on the other hand, currently represents KyotoCooling North America, one of the world’s largest cooling systems suppliers, in an international dispute with Z-Modular regarding Z-Modular’s breaching of a purchase order.

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings

With a vast network of offices spanning every corner of the Southeast, Bradley has continued to uphold its status as a dominant player in the legal services industry within the region. While the firm has expanded its reach, its Birmingham headquarters houses the largest concentration of litigators. The firm’s nationwide prominence stems from its esteemed product liability practice, in which they have carved out a particular niche in handling matters for the life sciences industry. The firm is additionally well known for their commercial and appellate practices.

The firm’s Birmingham office features national practice area stars in product liability, Tripp Haston and Leigh Ann Hodge. Haston is chair of the life sciences practice, and currently handling a shareholder class action defending PRA Health Sciences in Delaware Chancery Court. Hodge leads the litigation practice group and is the lead counsel representing Fresenius Medical Care in five separate matters. Three of the matters are medical malpractice cases. In one case, Hodge successfully obtained a favorable ruling to remove the case to federal court. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand in response. Hodge is also handling a premises personal injury case, as well as a mass tort product liability matter, serving as national coordinating counsel. The matters involved include a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the District of Massachusetts; consolidated state court proceedings in Missouri and Massachusetts; and various individual-plaintiff lawsuits in both state and tribal courts. Hodge is currently also involved in another case with fellow national practice area star Craig Mayfield of the Tampa office leading the defense. Mayfield represents Prometheus Labs in a product liability action pending in the joint consolidated case program in Los Angeles, California. The plaintiffs allege improper warning labels on Allopurinol/Zyloprim in certain genotypes. Beyond the life sciences industry, Mayfield is also handling a product liability matter for home appliance manufacturer, Electrolux Home Products. He defends the company in cases throughout the Southeast in connection with property damage or personal injury. Birmingham's Lindsey Boney and Huntsville’s Kimberly Martin secured a victory for Pfizer in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In July 2021, the appeals court upheld the dismissal of a product liability lawsuit arising from the Cordarone/amiodarone litigation. Boney successfully argued the case before the Ninth Circuit. Nashville-based Lela Hollabaugh has recently served as lead trial counsel for clients in the energy and life sciences industries. Representing Avectus Healthcare Solutions, she obtained a summary judgment win, affirmed by the Sixth Circuit in a putative class action alleging the client unlawfully practiced in law.

Outside of the product liability space, Birmingham’s David Hymer heads the team serving as co-lead nationwide counsel representing CVS in several high-profile opioid cases. The team is currently handling three of the five bellwether cases related to the pending MDL proceeding in the Northern District of Ohio. Charles Stewart of the Montgomery office is known for his practice’s mix of business, product liability and employment litigation. He defends helicopter manufacturer MD Helicopters in a False Case Act lawsuit alleging that the client fraudulently persuaded the US Army to award contracts for the case of its helicopters and other services through the Foreign Military Sales program. The plaintiffs initially sought more than $1 billion, however, after the court granted a partial summary judgment win, the plaintiffs reduced their damages claim to more than $100 million. In the Jackson, Mississippi office, Alex Purvis has carved a niche practice in the Southeast region, focusing on commercial policyholder insurance coverage litigation. He currently has a related case in which he represents Sanderson Farms in a matter arising from an environmental case litigated in Georgia. Sanderson Farms filed a lawsuit against Allied World, alleging it failed to reimburse the client sufficiently for defense fees in connection with the Georgia case. In Texas, RichardDickSayles of the Dallas office continues to showcase his all-purpose commercial litigation skills. In one of several cases, he is defending clients in a putative class action filed by a stockholder, on behalf of a company, who alleges that the defendants looted millions of dollars from the company.

Gibbs & Bruns

Houston-based boutique Gibbs & Bruns is nationally acclaimed as a foremost litigation and trial force, this year marking the fifth in which the firm has been recognized as one of Benchmark’s Top 20 Trial Firms. Offering both plaintiff and defendant representation, the firm deals exclusively in business and commercial litigation, undertaking the most onerous and critical of these matters on the behalf of clients from, inter alia, the sectors of banking, energy, technology, and financial services.

Long standing as both a firm hallmark and trial authority, Robin Gibbs boasts more than 45 years of experience in commercial litigation, his practice largely emphasizing matters of the contractual and energy types. Gibbs currently serves as lead trial counsel to midstream energy services provider Enterprise Products Operating LLC in complex engineering and construction litigation in connection with the construction by Enterprise of the world’s largest propylene dehydrogenation facility, located in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Enterprise, after entering into an EPC contract with Amec Foster Wheeler USA Corp. (AFW) for all phases of the build from design to installation, was allegedly the recipient of acutely and chronically erroneous and negligent work by AFW at all levels of engineering and construction, resulting in more than $1 billion in cost overruns. Several years later, Enterprise fully terminated its EPC contract shortly after entering into a transition services agreement and subsequently filed suit for numerous claims against AFW and its parent company, Amec Foster Wheeler Plc (Amec), including breach of contract and warranty, fraudulent inducement, string-along fraud, and gross and professional negligence, among others. Though the matter is still in the ongoing phases of a lengthy trial that is expected to span a period of more than four months, the firm’s lead counsel team, on which Gibbs is joined at the helm by complex commercial, intellectual property, and securities litigator Mark Giugliano, has so far been successful in fending off motions by Amec and AFW to strike Enterprise’s certificate of merit and dismiss the case, the defendant’s contestation of jurisdiction and motion for rehearing, and the resulting United States Supreme Court petition by Amec and AFW for writ of certiorari. Giugliano and Gibbs are joined on the matter by notable, developing complex commercial litigator Ayesha Najam. Also emphasizing energy in her practice, Kathy Patrick has for more than 37 years stood out among securities and complex commercial litigators and has been recognized by Benchmark as among the nation’s Top 250 Women in Litigation for over a decade. Patrick currently serves as lead counsel to Richard Moncrief, the son of legendary oil magnate William “Tex” Moncrief, in a probate matter brought by other members of the family regarding the late, elder Moncrief’s naming his son as the sole beneficiary of his will totaling more than $1 billion in assets. Meanwhile, complex commercial veteran Barrett Reasoner represents Waste Management of Texas, Inc. and its parent company Waste Management, Inc. as lead trial counsel on matters brought by more than 600 individual plaintiffs, alleging over $700 million in property damages and personal injury ostensibly as a result of more than 40 years of discharge from an abandoned paper mill waste site into the San Jacinto River.

 

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. One former co-counsel with the firm raves, “I cannot speak highly enough of Gibson Dunn. [They were] terrific partners to us.” Another peer in the market confirms, “Gibson is one of the leading firms in the country.”

The firm’s antitrust team has garnered praise, as one peer voices, “On antitrust [side] I have been overwhelmingly impressed with Gibson Dunn.” The firm is seen as having “historically been very strong” in the practice area, and the depth of the team exemplifies its reputation. A diverse team that included Dallas-based partner Veronica Moyé and California’s Daniel Swanson and Richard Doren defended Apple in a high-profile and historic antitrust lawsuit filed by Epic Games, challenging the client’s business model and practices relating to its App Store and alleging violations of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act and the California Unfair Competition Law. Following a 16-day bench trial last May, the team secured several victories. The District Court upheld Apple’s core design choices at issue, and while the court imposed an injunction after agreeing with the unfair competition claims, the team successfully appealed that decision, and the Ninth Circuit Court stayed the injunction. The court also ordered the plaintiff to pay damages equivalent to 30% of the revenue it received from an unauthorized payment mechanism implemented in its Fortnite app without Apple’s consent. Both parties appealed the decision. Doren was specifically mentioned for his work and demeanor as an opponent in the Epic case. “I found him incredibly easy to deal with – he was a gentleman,” they said. “He tells a story, keeps his eye on the ball, and lets things go when you should let them go – really enjoyed being in the courtroom with him every day.” Two of the other partners on the case are nationally recognized for their antitrust expertise: Swanson is a national antitrust star and Moyé continues her reign in the Top 250 Women in Litigation. Rachel Brass out of the California office secured an industry-important victory for McDonalds in a “no-poach” putative class action. The decision denied class certification of millions of current and former restaurant employees. Plaintiffs in the case alleged that the client suppressed wages and restricted worker mobility in violations of antitrust laws. Brass’s win for McDonalds was the first of many to reach a decision on class certification, as many of the lawsuits filed against franchisors are still pending. Scott Hammond of the DC office is another of the firm’s antitrust specialists, known especially for his unique ability to “[play] both roles” as an investigator and litigator in cases, according to one peer familiar with his work.

The firm’s capabilities beyond the antitrust space are similarly well-known and established. The D.C. office houses Patrick Stokes, one of the firm's white-collar lawyers, known as someone who “really stands out” in the D.C. white-collar crime market. The firm’s practice as a whole is distinguished, as the peer goes on to say, “Gibson Dunn is one that is pretty well-known and who I come across regularly.” Helgi Walker is another of the firm’s revered women listed on Benchmark’s Top 250 Women in Litigation, and a member of the firm’s preeminent appeals practice. In April 2021, Walker secured a key victory at the US Supreme Court representing petitioners the National Association of Broadcasters in a consolidated matter that also included the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against Prometheus Radio Project. The matter was significant to the broadcast and newspaper industries – who Walker was lead counsel for – and the unanimous decision allowed the FCC to eliminate outdated media ownership restrictions. Richard Parker is famed as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in Benchmark Litigation.

Orin Snyder, another Top 100 Trial Lawyer, is widely recognized for his mastery of trial litigation. “He certainly knows how to try a case,” says an opposing counsel on a matter. As co-counsel, a peer speaks to his collaborative demeanor in sharing, “Orin constantly complimented what we did. We didn’t have to fight for the opportunity to take an important role.” Snyder and California-based partner Scott Edelman have obtained several wins defending AMC in litigation against executive producers of the show The Walking Dead. The producers allege that AMC failed to pay millions of dollars in “profit participation” according to their contracts. Following a two-week bench trial in March 2020, the court ruled in favor of AMC on all issues presented during the trial, and in 2021 granted a demurrer to the remaining claims. Snyder and Edelman filed a motion for summary judgement, and in March 2022, the court tentatively dismissed the implied covenant and tort claims, which narrowed the case significantly. Edelman is one of the top entertainment lawyers with “a deep team that is generationally diverse” behind him. Edelman, Ted Boutrous, and Theane Evangelis represented Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, NBCUniversal and Comcast in a defamation lawsuit filed by Herring Networks, owner of One America News. The team's anti-SLAPP motion to strike the complaint with prejudice was granted in district court and confirmed by the Ninth Circuit panel on appeal. Based in the Los Angeles office, Boutrous has a well-renowned reputation for his appeals practice, giving him his National Practice Area Star title in Benchmark Litigation. In June 2021, he argued before the California Court of Appeals for the Sixth Appellate District and secured a major win for Hewlett-Packard in its long-standing contract dispute with Oracle. The appellate court affirmed the over $3 million verdict, making it one of the largest single-plaintiff verdicts. Evangelis is especially well-known for her successful employment and appellate litigation practice.

Wayne Barsky is an eminent intellectual property litigator based out of the Los Angeles office. He has recently worked with New York partner Josh Krevitt defending fitness product developer Fitbit in a patent infringement matter in the International Trade Commission (ITC). Industry rival Philips filed patent infringement claims against nearly all of the client’s products. In February 2021, following one of the first remote ITC trials, the judge issued a complete victory finding no infringement against Philips’ products. In another major victory, Barsky obtained the largest defense victory in a patent infringement case in EMD Serono’s and Pfizer’s history. In 2018, a jury unanimously found in favor of the clients, but the district court reversed the verdict and awarded judgement in favor of Biogen. The Federal Circuit then reinstated the jury verdict and, to secure the win, the Supreme Court denied Biogen’s petition for certiorari. Deborah Stein of the Los Angeles office led the team in one of the first COVID-19 business interruption and insurance matters at the Ninth Circuit. She defended Travelers in the case against Mudpie, which sought coverage for business interruptions related to the pandemic. The Ninth Circuit published its opinion in favor of Travelers, holding that Mudpie was not covered by the client. The firm’s San Francisco office features Brian Lutz, who obtained a dismissal with prejudice of the securities fraud class action against HP.

Godwin Bowman

For over three decades, the Dallas-based team of practitioners of Godwin Bowman have established themselves as among the forefront of Texas’s commercial litigation teams and, leveraging the state’s unique and active market for oil products, has also proven itself as a force in complex energy disputes. The team also services clients in a robust assortment of other practices, including bankruptcy matters, securities, and employment, as well as family law.  

At the firm’s helm is Donald Godwin, who, in addition to serving as chairman of the firm, maintains an active practice centralizing complex disputes arising in oil & gas, as well as servicing clients in environmental litigation.  

Hicks Thomas

Hicks Thomas is a Texas-based law firm with headquarters in Houston and additional offices in Austin, Amarillo and Beaumont. The firm also operates an ancillary office in Sacramento, California. Co-founder of the firm John Thomas practices out of the firm’s mainstay in Houston. He is a commercial litigator with a diverse practice that has included intellectual property, oil and gas, and environmental litigation. He has recently represented Mattress Firm in COVID-19 related litigation. Beaumont-based partner Jay Old is recognized for an array of practice areas in which he has vast experience and capability, including insurance, product liability, professional liability, healthcare, and construction litigation. He handles cases at every stage of litigation, having argued before the Texas Supreme Court, and represented clients before the Houston First Court of Appeals as well as the Beaumont Court of Appeals.  

Hunton Andrews Kurth

Recognized in jurisdictions around the country for its litigation aptitude in labor & employment, data privacy, and a litany of other practice areas, Hunton Andrews Kurth continues to build a legal footprint of much further reach and wider renown.

Hunton's Richmond office is a central firm stronghold, remaining among the most active of its regional practices, and is home to former Solicitor General of the State of West Virginia and issues & appeals practice chair Elbert Lin. Lin recently achieved an appellate victory on behalf of Oath, Inc. – the name under which the combined entities of AOL and Yahoo! were known during the period when they were owned by Verizon prior to a recent acquisition by Apollo Global Management – in a federal defamation suit brought by former Trump advisor Carter Page who filed claims concerning a series of articles published by Yahoo! News and HuffPost regarding the US investigation into his contact with Russian officials, was initially met with a federal court decision dismissing his case on jurisdictional grounds. Page then engaged in a series of appellate attempts to have the decision overturned – Lin and the team fending off the appeals at every turn – until the matter was wrapped up once and for all with a final affirmance from the Delaware Supreme Court. Also hailing from the Richmond outfit, George “Trey” Sibley’s practice emphasizes matters of environmental permitting, while in D.C., environmental practice head Deidre Duncan focuses on compliance in addition to permitting. The two are often active in these regards on high-stakes proceedings with the potential to markedly reshape the landscape of EPA regulation. Michael Shebelskie of Richmond is also noted for his expertise in litigation in the environmental sphere, year after year garnering national praise.

The firm’s network of Texas-based offices is also recognized as a critical pillar of its formidable litigation power. Hailing from the Houston office, perhaps the most notable of offices in the state, Cameron Pope is an appellate-oriented practitioner with experience in toxic torts, labor & employment, and oil & gas litigation. Pope is currently involved in a theft of trade secrets matter on which a team of the firm’s litigators serves as lead counsel to the plaintiff and major oil & gas PVT software provider Calsep. The team has been successful in securing the approval of both a $10 million damages award and rare “death penalty” sanctions against the defendants, who were found to have destroyed evidence during litigation.

Also Houston-based, Thomas Taylor, who serves as litigation co-head, maintains the distinction of being among the firm’s most vital and active of practitioners. Working in both trial and appellate regards, Taylor’s practice centralizes multidistrict litigation and multi-part matters, emphasizing disputes arising in the oil & gas sector.

In Austin, Scott Brister serves as issues and appeals practice co-head and enjoys a broad assortment of litigation capabilities. Brister recently represented Sirius XM in a matter in the Texas Supreme Court which provided critical clarification as to the Texas Tax Code. Sirius, filing suit seeking a $2.5 million refund of franchise taxes paid under protest, interpreted the statute in question in the matter as looking to the location of a taxpayer’s personnel and equipment to establish where a business is to be taxed, whereas the Comptroller’s interpretation was that taxation occurs in the location of the end-product act. Brister, who served as lead on all briefs and co-counsel in the preparation of oral argument, was crucial to Sirius’s reading of tax law being adopted by the Texas Supreme Court.

King & Spalding

Internationally regarded for the breadth and depth of its global network, King & Spalding balances its force across 22 offices worldwide, giving the firm a strong presence in the markets in which it operates. The firm is nationally recognized in the US, especially for its litigation capabilities. The firm is most well-known for its expertise in international arbitration, product liability, and environmental litigation. One peer that brought the firm on a case describes them as “specialists in emissions regulations.”  

    One of the firm’s acclaimed environmental experts is Houston-based trial lawyer Robert Meadowswho holds a National Practice Area Star title for his work in commercial litigation. The Houston office also features two of the firm’s distinguished international arbitration lawyers who are nationally recognized in Benchmark LitigationDoak Bishop focuses on handling matters for Latin American companies, particularly in the energy industry. He has recently represented: Reficar in multi-billion-dollar International Chamber of Commerce arbitration arising from the construction of the Cartagena oil refinery in Colombia; Chevron and Texaco before the Court of Appeals at The Hague, which dismissed a renewed bid to overturn a treaty award against Ecuador; and Gente Oil in a separate case against Ecuador that resulted in a $10.7 million tribunal award. Craig Ledet is another international arbitration star with a focus on construction and environmental litigation. He has handled AAA and CPR arbitrations and has also been before the Dispute Adjudication Board in London, among many other venues. He also represents clients in federal and state courts.  

    The firm’s Atlanta office houses the product liability team’s authorities. Adam Spicer is a new addition to the firm’s list of litigation stars. A peer in the practice area considers Spicer to be one of the “dream people to try a case with.” He has represented medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson in product liability cases and is especially wellversed in handling State Attorney General actions. Richard “Doc” Schneider is one of several national practice area stars for product liability litigation. As a trial lawyer, Schneider is trusted to handle clients’ largest high-profile cases, including acting as lead counsel in one of the e-cigarette products putative class actions challenging their labeling. Andrew Bayman is another product liability expert who is nationally recognized for his work in the practice area. He is seasoned in representing clients in multi-district litigation (MDL), predominantly in the life sciences and healthcare industries. Outside of those areas, he is also involved in an MDL pending in the Northern District of California representing a Fortune 500 company in a matter related to the marketing and selling of defective e-cigarette products. The firm’s strength does not stop at product liability litigation. Joseph Akrotirianakis is a commercial litigator with a wealth of trial experience. Hecontinues to represent NSO Group in a matter of first impression filed by Facebook and WhatsApp under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and its California analogue, the Comprehensive Computer Data Access and Fraud Act. The team has petitioned for writ of certiorari at the US Supreme Court, which is still pending. San Francisco’s Kenneth Steinthal is an intellectual property litigator lauded for his work in copyright-related issues. He represents internationally known industryleaders such as Google and Amazon. He represents the former in Copyright Royalty Board proceedings and the latter in five copyright infringement lawsuits filed in the Western District of Washington and the Southern District of New York.  

    The firm is recognized nationally as a top-tier resource for white-collar crime and investigations expertise, and the D.C. office has an established group of lawyers specializing in the practice area. Many have previously held government positions, including Rod Rosensteinwho is a former Deputy Attorney General and US Attorney for Maryland and now handles government investigations, cybersecurity and national security issues, and related litigation. Chair of the government matters group, Wick Sollers navigates high-profile investigations and litigation for clients in the public eye. Across the country in New York, Andrew Hruska specializes in white-collar crime and investigations along with Carmen Lawrence and William Johnson, who both mix white-collar crime and investigations and securities litigation in their practices. Lawrence has represented major financial institutions and C-suite executives in Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice investigations, as well as investigations by international commissions and entities. Johnson is also involved in securities-related investigations and has experience with cybersecurity-related government investigations. The firm has also recently expanded to include white-collar crime and investigations lawyer Matthew Bibendeepening its experience in the New York office.  

    The office also features co-head of the international arbitration practice Edward Kehoewho represents clients in matters against republics globally, including the Republic of Ecuador, Republic of Peru, and Republic of Egypt. He handles commercial arbitration as well as investment-related disputes and is experienced in International Centre for Dispute Resolution AAA proceedings. Gerald Flattmanand Bruce Baber are intellectual property litigation authorities who are seasoned in both their specialties. Flattmann is the global chair of the life sciences patent litigation group and handles everything from abbreviated new drug application and Hatch-Waxman litigation to matters before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Baber is the founding partner of the IP, patent and trademark litigation group, and while he has handled all types of IP litigation, he is most known for his trademark expertise.  

   In addition, the firm has also brought on Miami-based securities litigator Brian Miller and Chicago-based trial lawyer Lazar Raynalwho focuses on commercial disputes.  

McGinnis Lochridge

Founded in 1927, McGinnis Lochridge is a multi-practice Texas shop with more than 70 lawyers operating in offices in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Decatur. The firm’s attorneys maintain a broad civil law practice in all Texas state and federal courts. Its major practice areas include oil and gas, complex commercial and energy litigation, public utility regulation, class actions, environmental, labor and employment, intellectual property, and international law. The firm’s clients range from individuals and small businesses to some of the world’s largest corporations. One such client testifies, “McGinnis Lochridge has deep experience in energy-related regulatory issues and litigation. They are excellent advocates to FERC and to the Texas Railroad Commission. They can also get up to speed quickly on energy litigation issues because they know the industry well.” Jonathan Baughman, addressed as a “very capable oil and gas litigator and general business litigator,” represents several clients located in in expected industry sector, with most of these (and their cases) being confidential. However, Baughman’s practice is varied and not limited to oil and gas; in particular he has been particularly active in intellectual property-related matters as of late. Baughman leads a team that represents clients in several matters related to Lanham Act violations and trademark infringements. Baughman is also lead counsel in a novel estate law matter, representing an individual as the executor of his mother’s estate where his mother was deprived of significant royalties associated with her homestead rights. 

McKool Smith

McKool Smith has built an esteemed reputation, especially in the areas of commercial and intellectual property litigation in which it reigns as the go-to firm in Texas. It has a network of strongholds in the state, with offices in Dallas, Austin, Marshall and Houston, while also steadily expanding its presence in New York and Los Angeles.  The key practitioners for patent litigation include Samuel Baxter, William LaFuze, Mike McKool and Steven Pollinger.

The firm’s intellectual property practice has been historically well known for its work representing plaintiffs in patent litigation, and while that has since changed, it continues to bring a substantial number of cases on behalf of clients. Recently, in a high-profile win, Marshall-based Sam Baxter represented Optis Wireless Technology and other subsidiaries of PanOptis against Apple, which resulted in a $300 million jury award in a patent infringement trial before the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Baxter is also representing Blitzsafe in its lawsuits against numerous car manufacturers and retailers, alleging patent infringement claims related to automotive interface technology, which allows users to connect external third-party audio and multimedia devices to their stereos to play the content through the car stereo system and speakers. On the defense side, in March 2022, Dallas-based litigator David Sochia represented Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company against Semiconductor Connections, and successfully secured a favorable claim construction ruling from the district court that was upheld at the federal circuit. Austin’s Joshua Budwin is litigating against Qualcomm in a patent infringement lawsuit brought on behalf of ParkerVision. The patents at issue are related to the client’s transmitter and receiver patents. In addition, Budwin is defending two market-leading clients in the telecommunications industry, Ericsson and AT&T, in a six-patent lawsuit related to 3G, 4G, 5G and MSS patents filed originally by Hitachi and Bosch, but later divested to IPCom, now the plaintiff in this matter. Trial is currently pending.

In the commercial space, Houston partner Joshua Newcomer and Christopher Johnson of the New York office represent the trustee for Millennium Lender Claim Trust in three separate proceedings. The case in California state court against KPMG, the auditor, was settled confidentially. The trustee alleged that KPMG misrepresented the company’s financial condition, leading to a $1.7 billion loss to lenders. Currently, two other cases brought against bank defendants allege they are liable for state blue-sky law violations, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, aiding and abetting liability, and fraudulent transfers. The Delaware case is awaiting trial in 2022, and in New York, the team handled the appeal of a ruling received prior to their representation. Newcomer is also handling a matter in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, defending Zachry Construction Corporation and its related entities against several alleged claims, including breaches of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting and fraudulent transfers, among others.

In another high-profile case, this time in the commercial space, Baxter partnered with Lewis LeClair to represent the State of Texas in its biometric identification lawsuit against Meta f/k/a Facebook. The State alleges violations of Texas’s Capture or Use of Biometric Identifiers Act, specifically that the social media platform took biometric identifiers of Texans for commercial purposes without their informed consent, disclosed the identifiers to other companies, and failed to destroy the collected information within a reasonable amount of time. Additionally, Texas also alleges the defendant participated in false, misleading and deceptive acts, violating the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act. The case is currently in jurisdictional discovery, as Meta argues that the jurisdiction is improper. In addition to commercial matters, LeClair also handled an antitrust case on behalf of SC Innovations alleging that Uber’s predatory pricing and anticompetitive conduct drove the company out of business. The parties resolved the matter amicably in 2021.

Reid Collins & Tsai

A litigation boutique with a plaintiff-side ethos, Reid Collins & Tsai has crafted itself as maverick in the world of trial litigation. Over its years in service, the firm has expanded from its Texas roots to include New York, DC, and Delaware outfits. The firm's strategic five-office footprint has amassed national recognition for its capability in high-stakes commercial and bankruptcy litigation. Co-founding partner hailing from the Austin office, Bill Reid enjoys a national reputation as an all-purpose commercial lawyer. Following several key trial victories over the last year, Reid secured a direct pay cash settlement – minimum $30 million – on behalf of Renren in its shareholder derivative lawsuit against company insiders. The settlement is pending approval but remains to be one of the largest direct cash payments in derivative actions. Reid and fellow founding partner Lisa Tsai represented Claymore Holdings in its long-running lawsuit against Credit Suisse. At a hearing in January 2021, Reid argued that Credit Suisse should pay Claymore $171.9 million in out-of-pocket damages and prejudgment interest. Six months later, the nearly decade-long dispute came to an end when the 134th Civil District Courtin Dallas County entered a fraud judgment against Credit Suisse, awarding more than $121 million to Claymore. Tsai currently represents Otto Bock Healthcare North America alleging claims of legal malpractice lawsuit against a full-service law firm that acted as transaction counsel during the company’s acquisition of a competitor. The action arose following the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation and subsequent administrative proceedings into antitrust violations. The matter is ongoing and currently in discovery. Bankruptcy and commercial litigator Eric Madden represents the successor to Insys Therapeutics, Insys Liquidation Trust, formed after the company’s illegal off-label marketing scheme led it to bankruptcy due to a series of criminal proceedings, class actions and civil cases that resulted in racketeering charges against executives and a $225 million fine to settle other investigations. Madden is now lead counsel in the company’s investigation and prosecution of claims against former executives and related professionals. In a recently resolved matter, Madden secured an approved settlement of $10.5 million on behalf of a class of distributors alleging fraud and RICO claims against AdvoCare, a multi-level marketing company that operated a pyramid scheme. 

Reynolds Frizzell

Reynolds Frizzell is one of Houston’s many litigation boutiques and one that has etched itself a prized position in that particular market, with peers and clients offering their praise on the firm’s behalf. “They are one of my top go-to litigation counsel, particularly in the oil and gas industry that I operate within,” testifies one client. Indeed, the firm’s calling card is heavy with energy-related matters, in keeping with Houston’s primary economic driver. However, Reynolds Frizzell partners have been called into service for matters ranging from professional malpractice matters to commercial matters involving avocados.

     In one recent novel matter, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Chris Reynolds and Jean Frizzell to pursue patent-infringement cases against Noble Corporation plc (along with various of its subsidiaries and affiliates) and Diamond Offshore Drilling (along with various of its affiliates and subsidiaries). The four patents at issue in the two cases cover the dual-activity technology that Transocean had patented with respect to offshore drilling in ultra-deep waters. The case against Noble covers five different drill ships.  This case was successfully resolved in October 2020. Frizzell was also selected to represent the Dallas Police and Firefighters Pension Fund in its claim against its former actuarial firm for breaching its contractual, statutory and common-law duties in connection with the inception of and modifications to a DROP program (deferred retirement plan) that was purportedly designed to retain senior employees, but instead put the entire pension system at risk after billions in losses. Frizzell was also chosen to lead a team that was hired in 2019 to help original counsel prepare and try a major pipeline construction dispute on behalf of USPL against Rover, which is owned in majority part by Energy Transfer. USPL was seeking approximately $100 million in damages for extra work. In turn, Rover counterclaimed and asserted that USPL did faulty work with respect to certain geotechnical-related work and what Rover claims to be “restoration failures” along the pipeline route. Rover’s claim was for approximately $36 million in damages. Jeremy Doyle was hired Performance Contractors to represent it, as co-counsel with another firm, in connection with a construction dispute involving a $900 million polyethylene plant. The parties are currently engaged in discovery and the lawsuit is set for trial in September 2021. Mike Oldham was retained by World Garden in a suit filed in federal court to enforce World’s Garden’s exclusive distribution agreement with Calavo, the largest producer of avocados and guacamole.  World’s Garden is Calavo’s exclusive distributor to Europe and parts of Asia. World’s Garden asserts claims for fraud and breach of contract, alleging that World’s Garden has established a strong and growing market for Calavo’s products in Europe but now Calavo seeks to cut World’s Garden out and service those international markets directly. 

Sidley Austin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smyser Kaplan & Veselka

Houston litigation boutique Smyser Kaplan & Veselka continues to enjoy pride of place in that city’s legal community. All three name partners – Craig Smyser, Lee Kaplan and Larry Veselka – have been routinely acknowledged by peers as some of the city’s top litigation talent, and this opinion is shared by clients for whom the firm has provided counsel. “Smyser Kaplan advised us throughout an audit under a sophisticated oil-and-gas lease that led to litigation with the counterparty who ultimately filed for relief under Chapter 11, leading to an adversary proceeding,” testifies one such client. “They understand complex commercial contracts. They managed litigation exceptionally well. They negotiated the challenges of bankruptcy with assistance from co-counsel. And they negotiated a favorable settlement on the matter after a ruling by the court that allows us to move forward without the costs and risks associated with appeal.” It is noted that the firm is particularly strong in matters pertaining to the energy industry, with a client reasoning that the firm can represent operators and mineral owners alike, unlike many other firms that solely represent operators.

While the firm’s senior talent is unquestionably embedded in the city’s primary industry of energy, Smyser Kaplan is not exclusive to that sector – this especially applies to the firm’s younger partners. Shaun Clarke and Dane Ball, two partners with a white-collar focus, scored in October 2021 when the District of Massachusetts approved and unsealed a Deferred Prosecution Agreement resolving the case against firm client William “Bill” Ferguson, the former Wake Forest women’s volleyball coach who was indicted in March 2019 in the “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal. Under the terms of the agreement, the United States agrees to defer the prosecution against coach Ferguson, and upon his satisfaction of the agreement’s conditions, to dismiss all charges against him. Clarke and Ball also represented State Representative Dawnna Dukes on felony corruption charges and succeeded in obtaining multiple witness declarations that discredited the State’s case and force the State to dismiss all charges. Smyser and Ball scored big for Harvest Natural Resources, a Houston energy company that was forced out of business because it refused to bribe officials at Venezuela's state-run oil corporation. The Smyser Kaplan team convinced a Texas federal judge to enter a $1.4 billion judgment (which includes treble damages since the case was filed under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statutes) against the former energy minister of the South American country. Kaplan led a team that represented Vitol Americas Corporation in a breach of contract and fraud lawsuit against Targa Channelview over the construction of a splitter facility in Channelview. Following a hotly contested five-week bench trial held virtually, the firm’s team obtained a $158 million judgment in the client’s favor. Veselka is not without his fans among clients; one raves, “Larry is brilliant and knows the facts and law of the case better than anyone. He is also practical and strategic, and is also a very persuasive and professional litigator who represents our case and our company in the manner we want to demonstrate to the public.”

 

 

 

 

 

Susman Godfrey

Historically known as an “old-line Houston firm,” Susman Godfrey has, within a relatively short period of time, reinvented itself as a litigation juggernaut with national ambitions, which it has fulfilled through its offices in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles. These offices, while newer, have quickly become key players in their respective markets due to them each being populated by high-level trial talent juggling a hybrid of plaintiff and defense commercial, antitrust, securities and intellectual property litigation with exceptionally high stakes. Susman is universally revered for its dedication to a prized culture – developed and fostered by founding partner and (since-deceased) trial lawyer extraordinaire Steve Susman – that grooms the “elite corps” of litigation. Eschewing market trends, the firm marches to the beat of its own drum. “Susman is an unusual firm, maybe a unicorn! I’m not sure that there’s another firm operating the way they do. They are the best of breed in so many ways.” A source within the firm confirms that its multi-pronged practice is booming to the point where further growth expected to absorb all the work, but in a measured fashion. “We don’t just hire the cream of the crop, we hire the cream of the cream! We don’t hire people out of judicial clerkships that would be the Top 5 draft picks at other firms.” Indeed, one peer, of similar ethos and standing among litigator, confirms the success of this approach: “I still think Susman is our primary peer and our main competition for the superstar associates coming out of law school.” Susman continues its reign as one of the “Top 20 Trial Firms” in this edition of Benchmark, with a healthy percentage of partners recognized as “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.”

     One of these, who has been consistently ranked in this elite group since the list’s inaugural publication, is Bill Carmody, who is domiciled in New York but universally recognized and nationally hired. “Bill Carmody is based in New York but he convincingly garners the style of the ‘Texas’-style trial lawyer,” observes one peer. In late 2021, Carmody led a team that stepped in one month before trial to defend Match and IAC in a multibillion-dollar case where the founders of Tinder alleged they were cheated out of the value of their stock options. The jury trial kicked off in November 2021, a month after which, a settlement was reached, the value of which was publicly reported to be over $440 million. Carmody also leads a massive class action against Google for misrepresenting its privacy settings when users employ “Incognito Mode.” This lawsuit, estimated to exceed $5 billion in value, alleges that Google leads users to believe that private browsing, whether by using Incognito mode on Chrome or “private” mode on other browsers, but fails to tell users that even when private browsing is enabled, Google still collects vast quantities of highly sensitive data. Carmody and his team cleared a major hurdle when, in March 2021, a California judge denied Google’s motion to dismiss. 

     Another of the firm’s top trial lawyers, Houston’s Neal Manne won a major victory in September 2021 for Vitol when a federal court in Puerto Rico rejected claims by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to void six fuel-oil supply contracts and recover $3.89 billion. The court also ruled that Vitol was entitled to recover $28.4 million, plus interest, on its counterclaim for fuel oil that PREPA failed to pay for shortly before it filed the litigation. James Southwick is another Houston-based partner generating acclaim. “He is really smart and a great writer, with great judgment,” extols a peer.

     Los Angeles’s Kalpana Srinivasan is prosecuting claims of patent infringement on behalf of Caltech – the California Institute of Technology – against Samsung for technology related to its seminal WiFi patents on mobile and other devices.  Caltech previously successfully asserted the patents against Apple and the liability finding was affirmed on appeal. Srinivasan is also part of a team representing plaintiffs suing ubiquitous social media video-sharing app TikTok alleging breach of privacy. This team is led by newly ranked Los Angeles-based future star Michael Gervais, was among nine lawyers who were personally selected by a judge in the Northern District of Illinois to serve on the MDL Steering Committee. The team petitioned the court to approve a $92 million litigation-wide settlement. In October 2021, the judge granted the motion for preliminary approval of the deal. Gervais is representative of the younger generation of talent being groomed for trial stardom at Susman. New York’s Elisha Barron is another. “She was my classmate at Harvard and one of my good friends,” testifies a peer. “She represents Van Leeuwen ice cream and has a really impressive streak of wins for her vintage. She has just had a fascinating bunch of cases and does excellent work all around.”

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 such as California, Texas, Georgia, and DC. This year, Virginia-based partner Kurt Larkin is recognized on the inaugural Top 10 Traditional Labor Lawyers. He is distinguished for his exceptional work in traditional labor, handling collective bargaining negotiations, union organizing, and high-stakes National Labor Relations Boarddisputes. Larkin has worked alongside the employment team in matters that involve labor issues, recently pairing up with employment litigator Emily Burkhardt Vicente in several matters. As a member of the Los Angeles office, Burkhardt Vicente has dedicated a significant portion of her practice to litigating Fair Labor Standards Act class and collective actions and Private Attorneys General Act(PAGA)claims. Her employment litigation practice also spans other areas, as she and the co-head of the unfair competition and information protection task forceRoland Juarez,are handling a trade secrets case in the Southern District of California. Juarez is among the firm’s experts in employee mobility litigation. The LA office also houses Michele Beilke and Julia Trankiem,who bringa wealth of experience in handling California employment litigation. The duo previously represented a client in a JAMS arbitration. Beilke in particular is wellversed in handling arbitrations, as well as jury trials. San Francisco-based partner Brett Burns is consistently tapped by national companies to handle their complex employment class and collective actions across the US. While Burns is especially known for his wage and hour expertise, he has recently been a lead partner in a class action and investigation that involves one of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s high priority issues.  

     On the other coast, the DC office features a host of lawyers recognized for their successful labor and employment litigation practice. Susan Wiltsie is among the group’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) experts with vast experience in handling defense against citations, litigation, and whistleblower-related claims. Ryan Bates has recently been active in trade secrets litigation, as well as class and collective actions ranging from wage and hour to independent contractor claims. Kevin White is the co-chair of the firm’s labor and employment practice. He splits his time between handling employment litigation and labor disputes. White’s labor practice has had him engaged in matters alongside the firm’s traditional labor experts. Robert Quackenboss has developed a niche and successful practice defending clients in class actions alleging that background checks violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In the Northeast, Boston-based Christopher Pardo represents clients in the region with multiple recent cases in New York district courts. He litigates a vast array of employment matters, recently including trade secrets and restrictive covenants, pay frequency violation allegations, and Title VII discrimination claims. 

     In addition to Larkin, Ryan Glasgow operates out of the Virginia office. His breadth of experience is broad and diverse; however, he has developed a specialty in defending employers against wage and hour class actions. Farther South, in the firm’s Georgia office is Robert Dumbacher, another of the firm’s partners who seamlessly splits his time between labor relations and employment litigation. Kurt Powell is also a partner within the Virginia office.His practice focuses on employment litigation, with a recent matter being a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the Northern District of Georgia. Juan Enjamio of the Miami office serves a host of industry-leading national clients. His recent cases have included class and collective actions under the FCRA and defending clients in the rare intersect of immigration and employment litigation – allegations of discrimination brought by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) recipients.  

     The firm’s practice spans two offices in Texas. In Houston, Scott Nelson received praise from a peer who attests to the partner’s reputation in mentioning that they “think very highly of him.” Nelson has defended Marathon Oil in a series of separately filed independent contractor cases throughout Texas’ district courts. In one of the cases, the plaintiff filed a collective action and seeks to broadly define a potential class of plaintiffs. Nelson successfully persuaded the Southern District of Texas to enforce arbitration, even though the client had an agreement with the co-defendant, Bedrock, but not the client. The Dallas office features Amber Rogers, a traditional labor lawyer representing management in multifarious labor disputes. She is experienced in collective bargaining, elections and representing clients in unfair labor practice charges before the National Labor Relations Board. Alan Marcuis is the co-head of the unfair competition and information task force alongside his counterpart Juarez in California. His practice is a mix of traditional labor disputes and employment litigation. 

Polsinelli

Polsinelli has maintained a commitment to upholding its labor and employment practice, seen recently in its aggressive growth and expansion in the area. While the firm continues to deepen its bench and expand its team across DenverLos Angeles and Dallas, theKansas City office maintains its title as the firm’s stronghold.  

     Denise Drake, chair of the labor and employment practice, is among the firm’s leading, Missouri-basedlitigators.Drake is a leader through and through – leading the practice, the expansion, and clients in their disputes. She has been consistently distinguished as a Labor & Employment Star since its inception, maintaining the status with a roster of notable class action disputes.  

     New additions to the rankings this year include Los Angeles-based litigator September Rea and Dallas’ Angelo SpinolaWhile Rea’s practice involves the full spectrum of employment litigation, she is especially active in class action disputes arising under federal and California laws, such as the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). Rea is defending clients in a series of putative wage and hour class actions, and individual-plaintiff disputes. In separate but related disputes, she represented a client before the California Labor Commissioner as plaintiffs. Spinola specializes in handling labor and employment disputes on behalf of clients in the home health industry, particularly hospice and homecare companies. He recently resolved alawsuidefending Bluebird Homecare of Alabama against a plaintiff alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) challenging the company’s alleged practice of not including certain nondiscretionary bonuses in the regular rate when calculating overtime pay. Spinola is handling several other FLSA cases involving the healthcare industry, including two with Colorado-based litigator Donald Samuels on the team. Samuels heads the firm’s employment litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution group.