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  1. Securities litigation: plaintiff
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Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP is ‘undoubtedly one of the leading firms on the plaintiff side’ and New York-based Max Berger is ‘one of the leading lights’. ‘Creative and effective, the best firm in the market and one that brings real cases’, remarks one source. The firm, which also has offices in San Diego, New Orleans and Chicago, focuses on class, non-class and derivative actions regarding fraud, corporate governance, shareholder rights, executive compensation, breaches of fiduciary duty and subprime-related litigation. Since 1983, it has recovered more than $31bn for its clients, which include many public pension funds and other institutional investors. In In re Salix Pharmaceuticals, Ltd Securities Litigation, New York-based Salvatore Graziano and rising star Katherine Sinderson helped recover $210m in a case that focused on misrepresentation of inventory levels to inflate forecasts of financial performance. A further highlight was the recovery of $142m in Medina v Clovis Oncology, Inc, et al, which alleged that the defendant reported misleading trial results for cancer drug rociletinib. Gerald Silk, Avi Josefson and, in San Diego, Timothy DeLange is among the firm’s many notable practitioners.

Trusted Advisor - with Finnegan

IP specialist Finnegan detail how their collaborative approach makes for a unique culture which is designed to allow them to work with clients in a way which is cognizant of the challenges facing all companies today.

Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. is a leading firm for asset recovery and complex financial litigation and it regularly handles domestic and international securities cases. It has an impressive track record in representing institutional investors in some of the largest securities class action recoveries, including the $3.2bn awarded against Tyco International and a $486m settlement from Pfizer. The firm’s leading light is Jay Eisenhofer in New York, whose recent cases include an action against Royal Bank of Scotland in the High Court in London concerning a £12bn rights offering made on the basis of a prospectus with alleged material misrepresentations and omissions. The case resulted in a $1bn settlement. Eisenhofer also negotiated a settlement with Fortis for allegedly misleading institutional investors with statements about its solvency status and its exposure to the US subprime market. With Jeff Almeida, Olav Haazen and others he is currently working on a securities class action against Volkswagen in the District Court of Braunschweig, Germany, and a related action against Porsche in the District Court of Stuttgart under German law arising from VW’s use of ‘defeat devices’ on diesel cars to pass emissions tests in the United States.

Labaton Sucharow LLP is ‘excellent - it provides prompt, responsive and highly informative counsel’. The firm, which has offices in New York, Wilmington, Washington DC and Chicago, counts among its clients more than 200 institutional investors with combined assets under management in excess of $2tn. With seven investigators, it also has one of the largest in-house investigative teams in the securities bar. Lawrence Sucharow in New York leads the practice, which consists of 33 securities litigators. Jonathan Gardner is a key contact and his highlights included securing $140m for Union Asset Management and LRI Invest in a case against Barrick Gold for failure to disclose cost increases and environmental problems at the Pascua-Lima gold mine. Gardner and Carol Villegas achieved a $29.5m settlement as co-lead counsel for Arkansas Teacher Retirement System in a case against Advanced Micro Devices regarding false and misleading statements about its Llano APU computer processor. Thomas Dubbs and Chris Keller, who are advising the same client on a case arising from Goldman Sachs’ sale of the Abacus CDO, are also recommended.

Specialist litigation firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLPunderstands both the strategy and the tactics that clients need’. The firm predominantly handles plaintiff work, though its ‘talented partners and deep bench of associates’ are also active on the defense side. Firm chair and managing partner of the New York office Peter Calamari, who also leads the banking and financial institutions practice, is the key contact, following the departure of Philippe Selendy to start his own firm, Selendy & Gay PLLC, which also recently hired colleague David Elsberg. Calamari is currently representing ResCap Liquidating Trust in more than 20 actions against mortgage originators that sold defective mortgage loans to Residential Funding Company, with allegations of breach of contract and indemnification. The cases survived motions to dismiss and are currently in the discovery phase. Harry Olivar in Los Angeles is co-chair of the national securities practice and he achieved favorable settlements for more than 200 plaintiffs, including PIMCO funds, that opted out of a class action and federal securities claims against Petrobras in the wake of the company’s bribery scandal. In New York, Daniel Brockett, who has handled high-profile benchmark rates cases, Jon Pickhardt and Andrew Rossman and Los Angeles-based Molly Stephens are also recommended.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is ‘a smart and aggressive firm’ and it has a formidable reputation for both securities and corporate litigation. Michael Dowd, Spencer Burkholz, Luke Brooks and Daniel Drosman in San Diego and Maureen Mueller in Boca Raton together secured a $1.57bn recovery in Jaffe v Household Int’l, Inc, which constitutes the largest sum ever awarded following a securities class action trial. The firm built on its track record of significant victories in 2017 with cases such as Marcus v JC Penney Company, Inc, et al, in which San Diego-based Robert Henssler, Jonah Goldstein and Danielle Myers obtained preliminary approval of a $97.5m recovery following allegations that the company made false and misleading statements to investors regarding its liquidity, sufficiency of inventory and need for additional financing. A further highlight saw Samuel Rudman and David Rosenfeld secure approval of a $34.5m settlement in Patel v L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc.

Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC in Washington DC stands out for its ‘breadth of substantive expertise and its innovative approach to the application of the law’. The firm is best known for securities and antitrust litigation, and its securities litigation and investor protection practice represents more than 150 public and Taft-Hartley pension funds. Julie Reiser and managing partner Steven Toll added to the firm’s longstanding reputation for success in high-profile and high-value cases when they secured final approval of a $175m settlement in In re: BP PLC Securities Litigation, in which plaintiffs alleged that BP had misled investors about the severity of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Reiser, Toll and Michael Eisenkraft also concluded a series of successful mortgage-backed securities (MBS) cases by achieving a $165m settlement in New Jersey Carpenters Health Fund v NovaStar Mortgage, Inc, et al. Another key case, In re Harman International Industries Inc Securities Litigation, saw Toll, Reiser and Daniel Sommers secure $28.5m for Arkansas Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Gibbs & Bruns LLP in Houston is ‘consistently outstanding’ and clients describe its lawyers as ‘prompt, responsive, knowledgeable and practical in their advice’. The firm is ‘at the top of its class in this practice area’, according to one client and, despite its boutique size, it punches above its weight in securities litigation with ‘a barrister-style practice that can take any case and try it effectively’. The firm’s ‘star partners’ include Kathy Patrick, of whom one client says ‘there is no one better at assessing complex matters and negotiating resolutions’. Patrick, Scott Humphries and David Sheeren reached a $2.42bn settlement with the plan administrator for Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc on behalf of 14 institutional investors in regard to residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) claims. The same team also helped secure the approval of a $4.5bn settlement with JPMorgan for RMBS cases. Robert Madden retired from the firm but founding partner Robin Gibbs remains active and is a highly regarded trial lawyer.

Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP is ‘capable of handling nuanced and complex cases’. One client describes the firm as having ‘a track record that is second to none in mortgage-backed securities cases’. Name partner Marc Kasowitz is a highly regarded trial lawyer and Sheron Korpus has more than 25 years’ experience in national and cross-border securities disputes. Michael Hanin is also an accomplished securities litigator who regularly represents investment funds and has a strong track record acting for hedge funds in cases arising from complex financial products. Securities fraud specialist Stephen Tountas is recommended for opt-out cases. Following favorable decisions for CDO investor Loreley Financing in RMBS cases, Korpus last year settled two further matters against Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. Hanin and newly promoted Uri Itkin represented investors in RMBS trusts in the negotiation of a more favorable settlement from the Lehman Bankruptcy Estates for breaches of representations and warranties.

Complex litigation boutique MoloLamken LLP is ‘a top-notch firm - very thorough and strategic’, according to one client, who also praises the firm’s ‘smart lawyers with excellent knowledge of the courts, the judges, the law and the facts’. The firm has a strong reputation in MBS cases and is currently acting for investors in 10 pending matters against mortgage originators. Steven Molo in New York is a respected trial lawyer and his recent highlights include representing hedge funds Prosiris and Tilden Park in contested proceedings concerning the distribution of the proceeds of the $9bn settlement between RMBS investors and Bank of America/Countrywide. Along with Justin Weiner, Thomas Wiegand, former federal prosecutor Justin Shur and Robert Kry, Molo is also acting for US Bank as trustee of RMBS trusts in state court against sponsors who allegedly breached representations and warranties concerning the quality of the mortgage loans.

Berman Tabacco (formerly Berman DeValerio) has ‘top-notch lawyers with the experience necessary to achieve positive outcomes; they prioritize the client and remain diligent throughout lengthy cases’. Nicole Lavallee in San Francisco and Leslie Stern in Boston lead the practice. In the California office, clients recommend ‘senior statesman’ Joseph Tabacco, Todd Seaver and Daniel Barenbaum as ‘extremely responsive, smart and wise’. In Boston, Patrick Egan is praised for ‘developing solid and convincing arguments’. He secured a $5.5m settlement in a class action alleging that digital production company DDMG misled investors before its collapse in 2012. The firm’s other highlights included In re BP plc Sec. Litig., in which Boston-based Steven J. Buttacavoli advised Ohio Public Employees Retirement System on matters arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP in New York is a boutique firm that represents individual and institutional clients in private and class action litigation. Its clients include large public and private pension funds for which it has secured significant successes in corporate governance, shareholder rights and securities fraud matters for 25 years. Clients appreciate its ‘patience, candid advice and selective approach to cases’ and pick out Stanley Bernstein, Stephanie Beige, Seth Ottensoser and Michael Bigin as the key practitioners. The firm is representing Atlanta Firefighters’ Pension Fund in claims against a group of banks, alleging collusive manipulation of the market for US Treasury bills.

Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer LLP is a highly regarded firm for complex litigation with offices in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New Jersey. The firm’s clients, which include many institutional investors, praise ‘the close involvement of senior lawyers in cases’, including New York-based Robert Kaplan and Frederic Fox. ‘The firm understands both the big picture and the detail’, clients report. A highlight for the team was its work for Ohio Public Employees Retirement System in In re Petrobras Sec. Litig., following the Brazilian company’s bribery scandal. The firm also secured a $24m settlement in an action brought by holders of Arena Pharmaceuticals in San Diego.

Based in Philadelphia, Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP has ‘a creative and collaborative approach to litigation’. The firm has a strong track record in class actions and shareholder derivative actions on behalf of institutional investors, including public pension funds. Darren Check is the key contact and with experienced securities litigator David Kessler he secured a $20m settlement for City of Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension System in Jahm v Bankrate, Inc, et al, which alleged the defendant made materially false and misleading financial statements in 2014. The pair also acted as lead counsel in In re Ocwen Financial Corporation Securities Litigation, on behalf of Sjunde AP-Fonden, and secured a $56m settlement in a case concerning false statements and failure to disclose material information about business practices.

Founded in 1972, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP has a long track record in securities litigation including 10b-5 cases and is ‘a prominent player in the representation of institutional investors’. The firm is well regarded for securities and financial fraud cases and regularly represents public and private institutional investors in direct action and opt-out cases. Richard Heimann leads the securities litigation group from San Francisco and Steven Fineman is the key contact in New York. The firm is acting as co-lead counsel for Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado and the City of Birmingham Retirement and Relief System in a case against Wells Fargo concerning the illicit creation of bogus deposit and credit card accounts. Further highlights included acting for Lord Abbett funds in a securities class action against Navient Corporation alleging misrepresentation and improper accounting.

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