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Financial services: litigation
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
- Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP provides an ‘outstanding service’ to a range of financial institutions including investment banks, accountancy firms, regional banks and private equity funds in many of the most important and sensitive disputes affecting their businesses. Able to mobilize ‘cohesive intellectual firepower’ and praised for its ‘superb teamwork’, the firm continues to be involved in disputes flowing from the credit crisis, including its ongoing work as national coordinating counsel to Credit Suisse on all its RMBS litigation, as well as for JPMorgan and related entities (including Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns) in a raft of lawsuits brought by plaintiffs, primarily alleging that the bank misrepresented the quality of the underlying collateral of the structured products that it underwrote or sold. ‘The highly intellectual and personable’ Richard Clary and Daniel Slifkin are key members of the team and have been leading the firm’s efforts on the aforementioned structured finance cases for Credit Suisse and JPMorgan. In addition, along with Michael Paskin, Slifkin has been representing Morgan Stanley, as one of the defendants, in an antitrust case brought by numerous hedge funds alleging that it had colluded with other banks to block the emergence of exchange trading of credit default swaps (CDS) in order to maintain the over-the-counter (OTC) market. Michael Reynolds, the ‘scarily smart’ Robert Baron and ‘legendary trial lawyer’ Evan Chesler are also recommended.
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP provides an ‘outstanding service’ to financial services clients in reputation-threatening litigation and government enforcement actions and investigations. Head of the firm’s overall litigation department, the ‘absolutely superb’ James Rouhandeh continues to defend Morgan Stanley against civil actions brought by plaintiffs against the bank regarding its sale and marketing of RMBS and CDOs. Rouhandeh’s aggressive litigation of RMBS cases has resulted in favorable settlements for Morgan Stanley, including a $95m class action settlement, which represented approximately 1% of the combined value of RMBS purchases for which the putative class was seeking to recover. Able to field a multi-disciplinary and cross-office team of litigators, corporate and regulatory lawyers, the firm has also been representing RBS, as one of the defendants, in worldwide regulatory investigations and civil litigation surrounding its alleged involvement in Forex market manipulation. Linda Chatman Thomsen has excellent credibility before the regulator, chiefly as a result of her former position as director of enforcement at the SEC, and recently represented credit rating agency, Standard & Poor’s, before the SEC in an investigation surrounding its approach to rating RMBS. The ‘solution-oriented’ Jennifer Newstead is another former government attorney, and as part of her broad expertise in the area, is regularly involved in criminal, regulatory and internal investigations of alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) as well as economic sanctions. Former prosecutor Carey Dunne specializes in white-collar and regulatory enforcement mandates for financial companies and their executives, and has been involved in sensitive inquiries relating to FCPA matters in numerous jurisdictions. Other recommended partners include Lawrence Portnoy and Raul Yanes.
Led by the ‘experienced and accomplished’ Brad Karp out of New York, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP has a long and distinguished track record representing domestic and international financial institutions in their bet-the-company investigations and enforcement proceedings, as well as in parallel civil litigation. Karp has been a pivotal member of the team, also including Susanna Buergel, that has achieved a number of favorable results for Citigroup in litigation and regulatory investigations relating to matters stemming from the credit crisis; including successfully resolving a non-criminal investigation concerning alleged misrepresentation and omissions in RMBS offering materials, and securing a relatively less onerous fine than other defendants, as a result of its decision to reach an early settlement with the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) regarding its offer and sale of RMBS to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Formerly deputy director of the SEC’s division of enforcement, Walter Ricciardi has deep insight into agency behaviour and was a key member of the team that successfully resolved, on behalf of Deutsche Bank, various regulatory investigations into its role in LIBOR manipulation. Richard Rosen, Daniel Kramer, Bruce Birenboim and Charles Davidow are also recommended.
Somewhat of an anomaly for this ranking, focusing as it does on plaintiff representations, litigation boutique Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP justifies its top spot through its unparalleled representation of sophisticated institutional plaintiffs in high-profile cases against the world’s largest money-center banks. The ‘superb’ Philippe Selendy has a ‘fantastic reputation in the market’, thanks in part to his dogged representation of FHFA in its pursuit of virtually the entire banking industry. After having achieved 16 settlements under his stewardship, Selendy was also pivotal to securing an $806m judgment against Nomura and RBS following a four-week bench trial. Jonathan Pickhardt is recommended for his experience in structured finance litigation, recently exemplified by his victory in a FINRA arbitration, where he acted for National Australia Bank (NAB) in a case brought against Goldman Sachs alleging that it fraudulently misrepresented the quality of CDOs it sold to NAB in advance of the impending implosion of the US subprime market. Daniel Brockett is also a key member of the team and has been active representing various plaintiffs in market manipulation cases relating to LIBOR, the gold markets and ISDAFIX. Other recommended partners include Andrew Rossman and Peter Calamari, who is ‘very knowledgeable in complex financial services matters’
Jointly led from the New York office by Paul Curnin and Thomas Rice, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s ‘exceptional’ 16-partner team is praised for its ‘practical and commercial approach’, which ensures that it is frequently retained by many major banks and private equity firms in high-stakes disputes. The team is recognized for its trial-ready approach and recently represented RBS Securities in a four-week trial, defending claims brought by the FHFA against the bank in its role as underwriter in Nomura’s $2bn sale of RMBS to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The firm is also currently acting for Bank of America in numerous cases brought against its Countrywide subsidiaries by monoline insurer Ambac in fraudulent inducement claims relating to different RMBS deals. Rice has been at the forefront of the aforementioned cases. Alongside David Woll and Washington DC-based Jeffrey Knox, he is also representing Deutsche Bank, as one of numerous defendants, in class actions alleging market manipulation for US Treasury securities. Peter Kazanoff and Jonathan Youngwood are also recommended and both regularly act for underwriters in a variety of securities-related matters.
Based out of New York and aided by a significant national and international network, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is well-placed to represent major financial institutions in their largest and highest-stakes litigation in the market, as well as the overlapping internal investigations, derivative actions and investigations by the SEC and other federal or state regulators. The firm has been at the vanguard of the wave of structured finance-related disputes arising in the aftermath of the credit crisis and has represented banks including Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, RBS and BNP Paribas in cases brought in state and federal courts and FINRA arbitrations. The ‘excellent’ Jay Kasner and ‘likeable and authoritative’ Scott Musoff have been pivotal to many of these cases and along with Robert Fumerton recently secured a notable summary judgment victory for UBS when the judge of the SDNY rejected the ‘pervasive breach’ theory regularly invoked by plaintiffs in RMBS litigation, in turn reducing the case against the bank to a small fraction of what the plaintiffs had asserted. Leveraging the firm’s global platform as well as its deep bench of government enforcement counsel, the firm represented JPMorgan Chase in domestic and foreign parallel criminal, civil and regulatory investigations, as well as related class action suits regarding its role in Forex manipulation. John Carroll led on the aforementioned matter. Led out of Washington DC by Joseph Barloon and Anand Raman, the firm is also frequently engaged in significant consumer finance actions.
The team at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP employs a generalist approach, ensuring it can be nimble when dealing with disputes requiring overlapping subject matter knowledge and can be retained by clients across many different forums including government investigations/enforcement actions and private litigation. The team is regularly engaged in many of the highest-profile disputes in the market including defending Barclays in global investigations relating to alleged Forex and ISDAFIX market manipulation. David Braff led this work for Barclays, which recently resulted in the settlement of both investigations. Jeffrey Scott has also secured a number of recent successes for Barclays in cases brought against the bank arising out of high-frequency traders’ actions in its dark pools, or private securities exchanges. Former government lawyer Robert Giuffra is very well regarded across a raft of major commercial disputes including high-stakes financial matters. In a closely watched case by the banking industry, he recently represented the New York Bankers Association in obtaining a federal court order striking down as unconstitutional the New York City’s Responsible Banking Act. The ‘practical and pragmatic’ white-collar partner Karen Seymour is noted for her ‘intuitive sense of when to push back and when to concede on points before the regulator’, a trait which has served her in good stead, particularly when acting for banks facing probes into alleged economic sanctions breaches. Sharon Nelles and Richard Klapper are also recognized for their expertise handling complex financial services disputes and have both been pivotal to the firm’s successful track record defending clients in RMBS cases.
Employing a multi-disciplinary approach which utilizes practitioners from the firm’s New York and Washington DC offices, in addition to its global network, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is well positioned to represent financial institutions in many of the highest profile enforcement actions and related civil actions brought against them. Recognized for its ‘deep industry knowledge’ and ‘overall bench strength’, recent highlights for the team include representing numerous major global banks including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs in coordinated global investigations and related civil actions regarding alleged market manipulation across various benchmark rates including LIBOR, Forex and ISDAFIX. Led by Robin Bergen, the ‘very thoughtful’ Lewis Liman and the ‘knowledgeable and responsive’ Giovanni Prezioso, the group has defended numerous banks including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch in enforcement actions and private litigation brought against them for their roles in the structuring and marketing of structured products including CDOs and RMBS. Meredith Kotler successfully defended Barclays against allegations made by Aozora Bank that it, and several other banks and collateral managers, misrepresented the credit ratings of the CDOs and the selection process for the CDOs’ collateral that it invested in. As well as being heavily involved in the aforementioned market manipulation matters, former federal prosecutor David Brodsky also recently represented Commerzbank in its resolution of various US criminal and regulatory matters related to alleged deficiencies in its internal controls, including its AML program.
Able to call upon a significant pool of expertise out of the firm’s east and west coast offices, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP continues its upward trajectory in the market and is active for a range of financial institutions in civil and criminal regulatory investigations, as well as private litigation. Aric Wu has been involved in numerous structured finance-related disputes and acted alongside Robert Serio as national coordinating counsel for UBS in all its RMBS litigation. Wu also successfully defended RBS against allegations of fraud and negligent misrepresentation relating to the sale of RMBS. Mark Kirsch and Christopher Joralemon successfully defended TCW, as collateral manager, in matters relating to CDOs underwritten by Deutsche Bank. The firm has ‘really made a play in relation to the antitrust issues affecting the industry’, and Lawrence Zweifach continues to represent UBS in market manipulation related litigation brought against it by investors for alleged damage caused by the fixing of various benchmarks including Forex and LIBOR.
Led out of Washington DC by the ‘fantastic’ David Freeman, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP’s team is noted for its ‘very robust investigatory offering’, although it can effectively handle work across the life cycle of a dispute including private litigation should that arise. Howard Cayne continues to represent the FHFA and successfully secured the dismissal of multiple actions brought against it by shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac challenging its contract with the Treasury Department. Michael Mierzewski is ‘excellent at consumer finance work’ and is regularly involved in mandates which involve an antitrust complexion, such as his defense of VISA against class actions challenging its interchange rate setting practices.
Based out of Chicago and New York, but also benefiting from a strong nationwide presence, Sidley Austin LLP’s practice has significant ‘bench strength’ and therefore the critical mass to handle a tremendous range of enforcement actions and litigation affecting financial institutions. Lawyers out of New York - including Andy Stern, Nick Crowell and Alan Unger - have been active in numerous market manipulation cases including defending Standard Chartered Bank in Forex fixing claims. In addition, the firm continues to represent JPMorgan in its MBS litigation. The ‘excellent’ Robert Pietrzak was involved in the aforementioned case and along with Alex Kaplan continues to represent online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade in a trading dispute which alleges that it deviated from its ‘best execution’ responsibilities regarding the routing of clients’ orders. Former high-ranking SEC official Barry Rashkover and Susan Merrill, who was formerly head of enforcement at FINRA, are two of a number of former agency alumni at the firm, who provide significant insight to clients facing agency investigations or enforcement actions. Washington DC-based Neal Sullivan is recommended for his broker-dealer regulatory knowledge, while the ‘very experienced’ Chicago-based David Graham combines ‘thoughtfulness with a very strategic approach’ across a range of litigation affecting financial institutions.
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz handles financial services litigation out of its broader commercial litigation function. Nevertheless, that should not detract from the ‘sheer quality’ of work handled by this New York behemoth. The firm continues to handle numerous mandates for JPMorgan, including as a defendant in claims brought by Lehman Brothers following its bankruptcy and in connection with all aspects of the litigation and regulatory inquiries that arose in the wake of Bernie Madoff’s historic fraud. Stephen DiPrima and David Anders are representing Santander Consumer USA in multiple government and regulatory investigations, as well as follow-on civil litigation, relating to the origination and securitization of subprime auto loans. Other highlights included Jonathan Moses and Elaine Golin’s work for PNC Bank in the defense of claims brought by Residential Funding Company concerning mortgages it was sold by mortgage originators including PNC. John Savarese and of counsel Lawrence Pedowitz are also recommended.
Led by Bruce Yannett, the ‘responsive and strategic’ team at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is ‘as good as it gets for SEC and DOJ investigations and regulatory matters’. Jonathan Tuttle continues to represent JPMorgan Chase in state and federal investigations into its RMBS practices. Sean Hecker has a strong reputation and has been representing numerous individuals in US and UK criminal and regulatory investigations regarding alleged Forex manipulation. Along with Yannett, Hecker has also been acting for four separate Swiss banks in connection with the DOJ’s program designed to encourage Swiss banks to cooperate with the DOJ’s investigations into the use of foreign bank accounts by US citizens and residents to commit tax evasion. Eric Dinallo, the ‘tenacious but balanced litigator’ Matthew Biben and the ‘intellectual, thorough and knowledgeable’ Mary Beth Hogan are also names to note.
Able to call upon lawyers from within its securities litigation, white-collar and SEC enforcement groups, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is well covered across the spectrum of civil and criminal actions facing banks and their executives. White-collar group head Steven Witzel successfully represented a founding member of a New York-based broker-dealer against criminal and civil charges brought against him for alleged FCPA violations. Witzel has also been engaged in numerous antitrust cases and alongside Evan Barr and Lawrence Gerschwer, continues to represent individuals from numerous banks in parallel, cross-border criminal and civil enforcement investigations relating to their alleged role in the market manipulation of various benchmarks in financial instruments. William McGuinness and Israel David also regularly handle financial services litigation as part of their broad-ranging commercial litigation expertise; both represented numerous banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, accused of negligently failing to properly vet the underlying loans relating to $26bn worth of RMBS which they underwrote.
Goodwin Procter LLP has ‘a strong reputation for handling financial services litigation’. The team continues to represent Countrywide and its successor company, Bank of America, in numerous MBS cases arising in the aftermath of the credit crisis, including defending it in various actions alleging $3bn damages as a result of alleged fraud and breach of contract representations as to the quality of the RMBS it insured. Brian Pastuszenski has been at the forefront for much of the work for Bank of America/Countrywide and recently secured summary judgment in a $200m MBS case brought against it by German bank IKB Deutsche Industriebank. ‘Formidable’ Washington DC-based Thomas Hefferon chairs the firm’s consumer finance litigation practice and is representing Quicken Loans in the defense of a False Claims Act investigation (and related civil litigation) by the DOJ and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Based out of Silicon Valley, Grant Fondo has ‘developed a great reputation in the digital currency space after handling a few really high-profile investigations’; he recently secured a favorable settlement for Sand Hill Exchange in an SEC enforcement action brought against it for illegally offering complex online derivatives products to retail investors, who were able to participate using bitcoin. Other recommended partners include David Permut, for consumer finance litigation, and Richard Strassberg, who ‘is well known for defending clients in the financial services industry, especially high-profile individuals such as CEOs and CFOs’.
Although the firm lacks a dedicated financial services litigation group, Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s ‘top-notch’ general commercial litigation offering, with strength and depth on the east and west coasts as well as out of its Chicago head office, ensures that it is regularly engaged in high-profile disputes for entities in the industry, that are appreciative of the firm’s trial-ready approach. Los Angeles-based Alexander Pilmer continues to represent RBS in RMBS-related disputes brought by the National Credit Union Administration Board following the $129.6m settlement over claims that sales of these structured finance instruments led to the failure of two credit unions. Andrew Clubok is representing UBS in a series of nationwide cases alleging losses stemming from naked short selling. Kenneth Lench and Robert Khuzami were both formerly at the SEC and provide significant insight into government investigations.
Able to draw on resources from the firm’s nationwide securities litigation, white-collar defense and general commercial litigation practices, the ‘knowledgeable, responsive and practical’ team at Latham & Watkins LLP regularly acts for financial services clients in the defense of government enforcement actions and in private litigation. Richard Owens and Jeff Hammel continue to represent the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) on all its US LIBOR litigation; recently securing a notable victory for it before the SDNY when the court dismissed the BBA as a party in the sole class action in which it was named. Owens has also been one of the key partners representing Deutsche Bank in the defense of RMBS-related matters brought against the bank. Miles Ruthberg and Jamie Wine are recommended for their expertise in the accountancy industry and have had numerous successes for Ernst & Young in litigation arising out of Lehman Brothers’ collapse. Most recently they helped secure a favorable settlement for the auditor in an action brought by the New York Attorney General relating to its advice surrounding the bank’s notorious “Repo 105” transactions made prior to its insolvency. Former federal prosecutor Christopher Clark provides ‘no-nonsense litigation expertise’, which is underscored by ‘practical advice’. Other recommended partners include James Brandt and Kathryn Ruemmler.
Led out of New York by Mark Hanchet and Matthew Ingber, Mayer Brown’s 30-partner global group provides ‘value for money and a client-oriented service’ to a compelling mix of financial institutions during domestic issues, as well as cross-border matters, where the firm is particularly strong at providing guidance on the extra-territorial effect of US regulations. The firm’s recent work for cornerstone client HSBC is illustrative of the diversity of mandates handled by the group, including as it does representation of the bank in numerous cases brought against it in the US for its RMBS exposures and also as one of a number of banks that are being sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Ingber has been particularly active representing The Bank of New York Mellon in various disputes arising out of its role as trustee of RMBS. Other highlights included the firm’s continued representation of Société Générale as a defendant in LIBOR-fixing cases. Hanchet is praised for his ‘ability to navigate complex financial services matters’, and is recommended alongside the ‘responsive and practical’ Matthew Wargin and ‘the articulate and knowledgeable’ Christopher Houpt.
Washington DC-based financial services boutique BuckleySandler LLP sets the ‘gold standard’ for consumer finance-related regulatory enforcements/investigations and private litigation. A destination firm for entities engaged in CFPB investigations, the team has developed a strong degree of expertise across many of the most scrutinized areas in the industry including mortgage origination regulations and securitization issues, fair lending, and consumer privacy matters. Name partner Andrew Sandler has a ‘fantastic reputation’ and is regularly at the forefront of the most significant mandates handled by the firm, including his representation of HSBC in so-called “reverse redlining cases” brought by two municipalities alleging that the bank targeted minority borrowers and communities for unaffordable and discriminatory mortgage loans. Also recommended are Benjamin Klubes and Los Angeles-based partner Richard Gottlieb.
The Chicago-based team at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP benefits from an in-depth familiarity across the spectrum of exchange-traded and OTC financial products, as well as the markets they are traded on. David Bohan recently represented UBS as one of the defendants in a case brought by institutional investors alleging that numerous banks colluded to prevent the trading of CDS from the OTC market to electronic exchanges. Christian Kemnitz is also regularly involved in high-profile disputes affecting participants in the financial services industry and is representing RBC Capital Markets in LIBOR litigation. Other names to note include the ‘experienced and skilled’ Arthur Hahn, for futures matters, and David Goldberg, for broker-dealer disputes.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has a strong practice across its national network of offices and provides significant bandwidth across many of the most significant mandates affecting financial institutions. Michael Kraut and John Rosenthal are key members of the team and continue to represent numerous banks, including Deutsche Bank, in litigation brought by institutional investors against them in their capacity as trustees to RMBS trusts. Michael Blanchard is also recommended and represented Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in litigation arising from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Jami Mckeon and Kenneth Kliebard are recognized for consumer finance matters, while the firm also has significant capability on the agency enforcement/investigation side which is led by Michele Coffey and also includes former director of the SEC’s Chicago office Merri Jo Gillette.
Headed out of New York and San Francisco by David Fioccola and James McGuire respectively, Morrison & Foerster LLP’s 14-partner team is particularly accomplished at handling consumer finance litigation and agency investigations/enforcements. Along with Jim McCabe, McGuire is representing Capital One in enforcement actions brought by the Attorney General relating to alleged unfair and deceptive practices it engaged in regarding the sale of payment protection insurance. The duo also successfully concluded litigation for Capital One and US Bank in class actions relating to alleged excessive overdraft fees. Michael Agoglia is recommended for his ‘tactical nous’ and along with the recently promoted Angela Kleine concluded the representation of JPMorgan Chase in its high-profile mortgage modification litigation.
O’Melveny & Myers LLP provides a ‘practical’ service to financial services entities facing scrutiny within the consumer finance sector. The firm has handled numerous matters for mortgage servicers, including Ditech Financial, for which it recently negotiated the first joint settlement and consent order between a mortgage servicer, the CFPB, and the Federal Trade Commission. The arrival of Pamela Miller from Arnold & Porter LLP in May 2015 strengthens a 50-strong team that includes Brian Boyle, ERISA expert Shannon Barrett and Jonathan Rosenberg, who excels at securities fraud and white-collar matters.
Based out of New York but aided by a significant presence in California and in other key cities nationwide including Houston and Chicago, Paul Hastings LLP’s practice has considerable strength in depth and is thereby able to provide a ‘strong level of expertise’ to financial institutions in commercial disputes, as well as in matters involving specific financial products including CDOs. Barry Sher, Douglas Flaum and James Bliss successfully represented UBS in a complex case brought by two insurance companies involving a CDO transaction known as ‘NS Repack’. Los Angeles-based partners William Sullivan and Joshua Hamilton have secured numerous favorable rulings for two former Countrywide Financial senior executives who had signed registration statements for offerings of MBS.
Led solely from its Washington DC office by the ‘vastly experienced’ John Villa and Dane Butswinkas, the team at Williams & Connolly LLP provides a ‘responsive and efficient’ service to financial institutions and high-ranking executives across a range of litigation and enforcement actions. Known for its trial-ready approach, the firm handles high-stakes commercial litigation for clients from a range of industry sectors, including financial services. An uptick in mandates from banks have included work for UBS, which the firm represents in numerous matters including a recently settled case brought by Pursuit Partners and Pursuit Investment Management alleging UBS made misrepresentations in the sale of CDOs. In addition, the firm continues to handle a number of cases for Bank of America, including appealing a $1.27bn judgment delivered against the bank for claims under FIRREA. The firm also benefits from an ‘appellate group that is as good as it gets’. Other recommended partners include Enu Mainigi and Brendan Sullivan, whose ‘national reputation as a leading trial lawyer is well deserved’.
The Washington DC-based team at WilmerHale has a traditionally strong reputation representing financial institutions that are subject to regulatory investigations and enforcement actions, where it is able to call upon the expertise of a ‘deep bench’ of practitioners who previously held high-ranking governmental positions. For example, William McLucas was former director of enforcement at the SEC. The team also benefits from some high-calibre litigators including New York-based Fraser Hunter, whose diverse caseload includes his continued representation of RBS in all of its LIBOR-related US civil litigation. Based out of Boston, Andrea Robinson successfully handled numerous cases for Bank of America relating to disclosures made by the bank in connection with the sale of RMBS.