The Legal 500 Awards > US > 2014 US WINNERS: OUR COMMENTS
Law firm winners: comments and photos
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Asset finance and leasing team of the year
Despite being well-established in The Legal 500’s top tier for asset finance, Clifford Chance hasn’t rested on its laurels. The firm’s capacity for cutting-edge deals is as strong as ever, a highlight being its advice to LATAM Airlines Group on a $270.9m bond issue, the first ever ECGD-guaranteed bond issuance for an airline.
Bank lending team of the year
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP has an excellent balance between borrower and lender clients - no mean feat at this high level. Additionally, the firm has had an impressive run, handling several headline deals; the most notable was its advice to Silver Lake Partners on the financing of its $24bn acquisition, with Michael Dell, of the computer manufacturer Dell in what was the largest private equity deal since 2007.
Capital markets – debt team of the year
Sidley Austin LLP
Sidley Austin LLP has widened its remit considerably, demonstrating involvement in an array of deals throughout the most recent research period. The firm’s client base is impressively diverse – it includes Caterpillar, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Starwood Property Trusts as well as the whole gamut of bulge bracket banks. In addition to standard issuances, it handles private placements, mortgage notes offering and convertible notes offerings. It is particularly well-regarded by underwriters, and recently advised the underwriters in Morgan Stanley’s offerings of over 620 medium-term notes, totaling $17.4bn.
Capital markets – equity team of the year
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP acted for the underwriters on what was the most high-profile IPO of the year – Twitter’s $2.1bn offering, which was the second-largest ever in the tech sphere after Facebook’s. The firm advised Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo as joint book-running managers on Hilton Worldwide Holdings’ $2.35bn IPO, the largest-ever in the hospitality sector. Kaplan also represented JP Morgan Securities, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley as joint book-running managers on Coty’s $1bn New York flotation, highlighting the practice’s cross-border capabilities.
Corporate restructuring team of the year
Creditor-side specialist Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP faced stiff competition for this award. In the end it was its demonstrable ability to handle the more complex and contentious bankruptcies that gave it the edge. The firm won roles advising the official unsecured creditor’s committee in ResCap, the largest bankruptcy of 2012, and also advised the unsecured creditors’ committees in the Patriot Coal and Hostess Brands cases.
Financial services team of the year
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is deeply entrenched in the financial services industry, where it has strong client relationships with myriad institutions, from investment banks to major insurance clients as well as major trade bodies. Aided by an international network of offices – in particular, its presence in key financial centers including London – the team excels at advising on cross-border compliance, enforcement or M&A mandates. It has been particularly active on behalf of a number of its insurance clients as these look to ‘de-bank’ to avoid the more onerous elements of the Dodd-Frank Act. AIG and JP Morgan are just two of the prestigious names on its client list.
Project finance team of the year
In the wake of the high-profile merger, Norton Rose Fulbright’s leading energy practice is now complemented by its cohesive global network. To boot, the practice warrants recognition for growing its focus on mining work, as well as its stature as a key player in the US’s growing PPP activity. It advised Macquarie Capital on its bid for a project to design, build, finance, operate and maintain I-69 section 5 in Indiana, the State’s first greenfield PPP road transaction.
Structured finance team of the year
Sidley Austin LLP
During the most recent research period, Sidley Austin LLP stood out particularly for its work in new asset forms, including REO-to-rental programs (the firm represented Deutsche Bank on a landmark single family rental securitization for funds affiliated with Blackstone). It has also been active in the potentially revived RMBS space, and holds a dominant position in CMBS with continued high volumes of commercial mortgage-backed securitization deals.
Energy team of the year
Chadbourne & Parke LLP
Chadbourne & Parke LLP has earned this recognition for its excellent work in the ever-more topical LNG and renewable spaces. It has been advising a range of clients on the Sabine Pass bi-directional LNG terminal, the world’s first LNG terminal with the ability to import and regasify LNG and liquefy and export natural gas.
Environment team of the year
Latham & Watkins LLP is one of the few firms to handle a substantial amount of the three regulatory, litigation and transactional categories covered by The Legal 500 United States. It has a huge team, is well respected by peers and is well positioned to cover the whole of the US owing to the presence of offices both coasts and in Chicago. It is also ideally placed to handle new and developing areas such as climate change and renewable energy. In its defense of The Monsanto Company relating to the cultivation of genetically engineered crops across the US, 2013 saw three victories for the client in both the Ninth Court and District Court for the District of Columbia, including the rebuffal of Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) claims.
Healthcare team of the year
Hogan Lovells’ healthcare expertise covers the full gamut of regulatory, contentious and transactional services. The firm is ranked in the highest tiers in all three Legal 500 healthcare subcategories (insurers, service providers and life sciences). In a strong example of its capacity for handling unique, cross-border matters, the firm advised Saudi Aramco on the formation of an innovative joint venture with Johns Hopkins Medicine International for the delivery of healthcare services in Saudi Arabia. Highlights in the life sciences sphere included assisting Amplimmune in its sale to MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm.
Insurance team of the year
Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP has continued to build on its core strengths in political risk, trade credit and reinsurance. The firm took a number of reinsurance cases to court and was also very busy in the arbitration space. Another factor was its involvement in special appellate counsel work – notably for Global Reinsurance Corp of America, where it was retained for cross-appeals in a facultative reinsurance case.
Sports team of the year
When The Legal 500 last covered sports in 2009, DLA Piper did not appear in the ranking, but in the years that followed it won enough market share to now be constantly recommended by peers and clients alike. It advised US Bank and Goldman Sachs on the financing for the new Vikings stadium in 2013, and advised the San Francisco 49ers on the $1.05bn refinancing of the construction of Levi’s Stadium in California. The practice is integrated in the firm’s media and entertainment department and is therefore very strong in media deals too; for example it advised Al Jazeera Media Network on the launch of its sports-specific network in the US.
IP boutique of the year
Fish & Richardson P.C. remains a strong player in the IP field overall, and particularly impressed us with its patent litigation capabilities, where it consistently handles a high volume of mandates and has taken a number of key cases to trial. Highlights during the most recent research period included maintaining patent protection for Allergan on its LATISSE and Combigan products, and obtaining a Federal Circuit win for the defendants in Mylan Pharmaceuticals v Eurand.
Patents – non-contentious team of the year
Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP
Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP has a major presence in the market and wins this year’s award on the basis of the outstanding expertise it demonstrates across several industry sectors: these include medical devices, internet and biotechnology. It assists many larger clients with building their patent portfolios – Amazon, PIMCO and Skyworks Solutions to name just a few.
Copyright team of the year
Durie Tangri LLP
Boutique Durie Tangri LLP has attracted considerable attention in the market for its win on the Google books case. But research has shown us that this is far from a one-trick pony: the firm has been able to demonstrate impressive strength in depth, including a deep bench of trial and appellate attorneys. Recent key roles for Aereo and DISH Network have contributed to its growing reputation.
Patent litigation team of the year
WilmerHale has had a string of success recently: in addition to its role in the high-profile smartphone-related matters, it obtained a $2.15bn settlement for Pfizer, which concluded its dispute with Teva and Sun Pharma regarding at-risk launches of generic Protonix. It obtained a Second Circuit ruling in favour of Eastman Kodak, and obtained a ruling of non-infringement and invalidity on patent claims for the defendant in Cellectis v Precision Biosciences.
Trademarks – non-contentious team of the year
Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C. is our winner this year having won substantial market share across a wide range of industry sectors. It has particular expertise in worldwide trademark portfolio management for both domestic and international clients within the fields of entertainment, finance, pharmaceutical/healthcare and consumer products. Its client roster is awash with household names such as Gap, Donald Trump, Estée Lauder Cosmetics, Kraft Foods, and Tiffany & Co.
Trademarks litigation team of the year
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton has impressed both The Legal 500 and the market at large with its deep bench of litigators. Its strong reputation in this area is well-deserved – in a recent example of its ability to handle big-ticket mandates, it has been representing Aio Wireless in high-profile color trademark dispute against T-Mobile.
Alternative/hedge funds team of the year
Still an undisputed market leader (as attested by both clients and peers), Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP combines a longstanding history stretching back to the first days of hedge funds with contemporary, cutting-edge expertise, hence their selection as our winning firm for this year. A prestigious client list includes Credit Suisse, Capstone Capital Management, and Signet Investment Advisers.
Mutual/registered funds team of the year
Dechert LLP can regularly be found acting for the largest funds across the board, on the biggest deals. During the most recent round of research, the firm attracted universal praise for the sheer depth of its regulatory team, and its 17-office global network makes it an attractive proposition for clients. Its work for insurance-related funds is particularly noted.
Private equity funds team of the year
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP is widely known for the high-end, complex work it handles in this space. During the most recent research period, the group attracted substantial praise for its ability to combine private equity and hedge fund elements in order to advise clients such as Apollo Global Management and Blackstone Group.
Real estate investment funds (REITs)
Goodwin Procter LLP is a market leader in REITs-related capital markets, M&A and tax. The firm’s recent mandates include acting for Medical Properties Trust on the first registered eurobond offering for a public REIT in the US, as well as three mergers with an aggregate value of $32bn.
Labor and employment
Employee benefits and executive compensation team of the year
Jones Day wins this award for the sheer breadth of its EBEC practice. During the most recent research period, impressive matters included its role advising the City of Detroit on restructuring its legacy obligations, including its pension and retiree health obligations to more than 9,000 current employees and 20,000 retirees and beneficiaries. It has also been assisting Tokyo Electron with executive compensation, employee benefits and related securities disclosure matters connected to its $29bn merger with Applied Materials.
Immigration team of the year
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. continues to impress across the market, advising clients of all sizes and building on its track record of success representing clients before government agencies. The firm has shown strong commitment to the industry-at-large through active involvement in the AILA and other organizations. Key clients of the group include Liberty Mutual, John Hancock Financial, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Reebok and Thomson Reuters.
Full-service firm of the year
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP stands out for its excellence across the board: from EBEC, where it has been advising Alliant Techsystems in connection with its multibillion-dollar pension and 401(k) plans on investment management, fiduciary governance, and compliance matters, to its ERISA litigation practice, which recently completed a three-week trial for a class action that was filed on behalf of approximately one million plan participants on behalf of ING/ING Life and Accident Insurance Company. Its immigration practice advises clients such as Toyota and its US subsidiaries on a wide range of matters. Not afraid of a fight, the firm also has an outstanding labor and employment litigation practice that has had a number of recent victories, and the practice is rounded off with strength in labor management relations too.
Boutique of the year
Littler Mendelson, P.C. was chosen for its strength in the courtroom and its role in thought leadership. Testament to its market standing, the firm was one of only two to appear before the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections to explain the potential pitfalls in relying on recent DOL/Office of Management and Budget guidelines on an employer’s responsibilities under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The firm was also present at a Congressional hearing before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions to discuss the development of organizations known as ‘work centers’. Furthermore, it joined one of 278 businesses in the amicus brief United States v Windsor, advising the US Supreme Court on the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Labor and employment litigation (including ERISA) team of the year
Paul Hastings LLP impressed us during research with its high-stakes courtroom victories and appellate wins. For example, in 2013, the team prevailed for Cintas Corporation before the Sixth Circuit in a nationwide gender, race and national origin discrimination class action. Demonstrating an ability to lead on new market trends, the firm also led the trial of the first ‘suitable seats’ class action, resulting in a victory for client Rite Aid.
International arbitration team of the year
Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP is virtually unbeaten for the level of commitment it has shown to maintaining the strength of its practice over the years. It is one of the few firms in this area to have retained its pillar figures for decades, but combines a high retention rate with the addition of new talent. As a result, the firm now has invaluable strength in depth, and attracts praise from both peers and clients as well as winning roles in many of the most high-profile matters. For example, it represented Canada in its dispute against the US over the interpretation of an LCIA award in relation to the Softwood Lumber Agreement.
Baker & McKenzie LLP
In an area driven by politics and therefore susceptible to cyclic activity, Baker & McKenzie LLP has successfully adapted to the shift in global trade practice towards an increased focus on FCPA, anti-corruption and customs compliance, while simultaneously retaining its capacity in more traditional sub-practices such as export controls, trade sanctions and WTO work. The team is one of the few to be truly present nationwide, with a strong West Coast base that caters for high-tech clients.
Leading trial lawyer of the year
The last thing that Daniel Petrocelli of O’Melveny & Myers LLP is doing is resting on his laurels. As a trial lawyer should do, Petrocelli regularly tries high-profile cases back-to-back in different parts of the country across a range of industries. He recently obtained a critical ruling from the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Warner Bros relating to its Superman franchise, and negotiated a ten-year reduction to former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s 24-year prison sentence.
Mass tort and class action team of the year: plaintiff side
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP has a nationwide presence and is particularly strong in employment, and in pharmaceuticals and medical devices where it was promoted to tier one in our ranking this year. Among the work highlights that particularly impressed us were securing a $29.75m settlement on behalf of 12,700 foreign nationals, and leading on recent litigation concerning Silicon Valley cases where plaintiffs allege a conspiracy to drive down wages.
Product liability team of the year
Reed Smith LLP
Recent recruitment in Reed Smith LLP’s product liability team has supplemented what was an already strong team. It represents a number of household names and has recently been serving as national counsel for Merck in the In re Nuva Ring product liability litigation. It has also been advising Shell and Johnson Controls.
Securities litigation team of the year
During the most recent research period, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP garnered unanimous praise from peers. This did not come as a surprise either, given the fact it has played a major role in a number of headline cases for financial institutions and major corporates: Merck & Co called upon the firm in a federal securities class action, it advised Deutsche Bank Securities on matters relating to the failed takeover of Huntsman Corporation, and it represented JPMorgan Chase in 15 mortgage-backed securities lawsuits.
Supreme Court and appellate team of the year
Bancroft PLLC had another stunning year and continues to be a natural choice to conduct difficult and high-profile matters before the highest court in the land. The group represented Carol Anne Bond in Bond v United States, and Northwest Airlines in Northwest v Ginsberg, and argued McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission before the Court.
Trade Secrets team of the year
Covington & Burling LLP is coming into its own as a trade secrets practice, and caught our attention in particular for the variety of the work handled. It recently represented Manheim Auctions in trade secrets litigation against BidReady LLC in relation to the online web interface for automobile auctions, and advised Intercos on a complex multi-jurisdictional case in the cosmetics manufacturing industry.
White-collar defense team of the year
Having been on our radar for some time now, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP really surpassed itself during the most recent round of research and impressed enough to reach tier one – no mean feat in this highly competitive category. The work being handled was undoubtedly on a par with the existing tier one firms and the team garnered excellent feedback from peers. It recently assisted BP’s board of directors in reaching a favorable settlement with the DOJ regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Media, technology and telecoms
Outsourcing team of the year
Mayer Brown practices across the globe, advising both customers and providers. It also has niche expertise in areas such as facilities management, telecoms, cloud computing and privacy. In an outsourcing transaction valued at over $1bn, it assisted CEMEX with outsourcing its back-office operations in 50 countries.
Regulatory team of the year
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP is a leading firm in the data protection and cyber security space, where it is renowned for providing high-level advice to the heavily regulated healthcare, financial and retail sectors. The firm has an excellent track record in responding to investigations concerning data breaches and privacy, and it is currently involved in a number of significant such matters. Clients include MySpace, Citibank and Target.
Transactional team of the year
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP appeared on the majority of 2013’s big-ticket technology and telecoms deals. Notably, it advised on Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, Lenovo’s acquisition of Motorola from Google, and Comcast’s purchase of 49% stake in NBC Universal.
Mergers, acquisitions and buyouts
Antitrust team of the year
This was a tough and competitive category, but Latham & Watkins LLP was selected as our winner this year due to its involvement in a number of large deals, as well as its antitrust litigation capabilities across the US, including strategic B2B litigation and class actions. Among the headline deals were Omnicom’s $35bn merger with Publicis Groupe and Lucasfilm’s $4bn acquisition by Walt Disney.
M&A large deals team of the year
White & Case LLP wins the award in recognition of its US-led global experience and its stunning high-value, high-stakes deal list. It advised DISH Network on its $25.5bn unsolicited proposal to acquire Sprint Nextel, which was one of the largest deals of the year and also one of the more complex, as it involved an existing merger agreement between Sprint and SoftBank as well as Sprint’s acquisition of the outstanding shares of Clearwire.
M&A litigation team of the year
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz wins this award owing to its takeover and transactional litigation practice. Day-in, day-out, it plays leading roles in high-end M&A litigation. Recent successful defenses include the New York Stock Exchange’s merger with the InterContinental Exchange, the going-private sale of Dell, and the merger between Saks Fifth Avenue and Hudson’s Bay Company.
M&A mega-deals team of the year
Wall Street firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP has had a stunning return to form that earned it this recognition. Demonstrating its global credibility, it advised on CNOOC’s landmark $15.1bn acquisition of Canadian global energy company Nexen. It also represented Heinz on its $28bn acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital.
M&A mid-market team of the year
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
McDermott Will & Emery LLP has strengthened its New York office with strategic hires. It has been handling an increasing volume of private equity and SPAC work, and stands out for its sector strengths, which include healthcare, life sciences, food and beverages, and metals and mining and chemicals. The team advised Copper Beech Townhome on its staged $970m sale of a 48% equity interest.
Private equity buyouts team of the year
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Building on its virtually peerless middle market platform, Kirkland & Ellis LLP has attracted a series of bulge-bracket sponsor clients and has worked a on a series of high-value transactions. Of particular note, it represented 3G Capital and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway on the $28bn buyout of Heinz.
Venture capital and emerging companies team of the year
Fenwick & West LLP
Fenwick & West LLP deserves special recognition for its outstanding record in the tech environment, including digital media, and its growing presence in the life sciences arena. With a client list that includes Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox, it has a major presence in this sector.
Real estate and construction
Construction team of the year
During the last research period, specialist firm Peckar & Abramson demonstrated that it has impressive coverage both in the US and abroad. It recently acted for a joint venture of two Indian contractors in ICDR arbitration proceedings against a US government contractor regarding a project in the Middle East.
Land use/zoning team of the year
Perkins Coie LLP
During research, we noted that the magnitude and variety of matters on which Perkins Coie LLP advises had notably expanded on the previous year. It also reported several new high-profile client wins, particularly in California. It obtained entitlements and vested development rights for BioMed Realty for two life sciences campus redevelopment projects in the city, which are set to be worth $15bn upon completion. The group has a truly national presence and demonstrates expertise across the entire spectrum of land use-related matters, attracting tremendous feedback, particularly for its litigation capabilities.
Real estate team of the year
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP’s real estate practice has been going from strength to strength, attracting a raft of headline clients with its sophisticated and business-focused approach. It advised Ivanhoé Cambridge and Callahan Capital Partners on the acquisition of a 51% interest in 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York.
Domestic tax team of the year
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
East Coast powerhouse Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP has had an excellent run of acting for high-profile clients. Key examples of this include advising Overseas Shipholding Group Inc, the second-largest publicly traded oil tanker company in the world, in connection with its Chapter 11 reorganization, and advising Google on tax aspects of the $2.35bn sale of its Motorola Home Business.
International tax team of the year
Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered deserves to be commended for its continued development in the international tax space – during the last research period it demonstrated an impressive number of new clients, with the aggregate amount of assets at issue in these cases exceeding $1bn. This year was notable, with the team welcoming two prominent lateral hires with considerable experience.
Tax controversy team of the year
Mayer Brown had another very strong run, which saw its dedicated tax controversy experts advising clients such as Tyco International in the US Tax court with respect to the deductibility of interest paid by Tyco entities in the US to a related finance company in Switzerland. Other clients include Eaton and Exelon, which the firm is assisting in a complex and high-stakes tax controversy.
IP TEAM OF THE YEAR
The Legal 500 US Awards •
led by Kent Walker, senior vice-president and general counsel
Google’s legal team likes to experiment with new approaches to assessing the company’s legal issues and risks. Its 750-strong team has developed a tool to help its members analyse and manage legal spend at the company through the use of an internal dashboard. In a particularly groundbreaking move, it recently teamed up with The Legal 500 US to add its rankings data to the dashboard, thus enabling all team members to effectively weigh up both the cost and quality of outside counsel. Other initiatives include a ‘gHarmony’ project to match its team members with projects that interest them, and exploring alternative ways of helping users resolve disputes online.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch - Capital Markets
Banking/Capital Markets Team of the year
The Legal 500 US Awards •
led by Lily Chang, managing director and associate general counsel - debt capital markets and Tom Yang, managing director and associate general counsel - equity capital markets
We’ve previously recognised Lily Chang for her ‘extraordinary legal talent, with vast experience coupled with superior business savvy and practicality’. The bank has featured as underwriter on a number of high-profile deals including, on the debt side, ConocoPhillips’ $2bn registered debt offering, and on the equity side, Northern Tier Energy’s $262m IPO of approximately 18.7 million common units representing master limited partnership interests. It was also joint book-running manager on a $6.5bn series of offerings by Ford as part of its return to the debt markets, including a $2bn registered offering of investment grade notes.