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United States > Industry focus > Insurance: advice to insurers > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Insurance: advice to insurers
  2. Leading lawyers
  3. Next generation lawyers

Leading lawyers

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Next generation lawyers

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    • Bryce Friedman - Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
    • Deborah Stein - Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

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Dentons’ ‘analysis and strategy in resolving complex matters is second to none’ and ‘its depth of analysis is rarely matched’. Its strength in the insurance litigation field is demonstrated by its involvement in several putative class actions and other complex and high-value disputes, such as representing Arrowood Indemnity Company and its affiliates in a suit concerning the Federal Housing Financing Agency’s agreement with the US Treasury regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in which the client had preferred stock. First American is another big client, which the firm continues to represent in three class actions for alleged overcharging of insurance premiums. In the Los Angeles office, Ronald Kent and Susan Walker acted for Travelers in a $50m excess liability insurance coverage dispute with ITT Goulds Pumps. AIG, XL Catlin and Zurich are also on the firm’s client roster. Randy Evans and Shari Klevens ‘are tactful, wise and responsive’; ‘each thinks several steps ahead’. Stephen Berry, Anthony Morris and Washington DC’s Joanne Zimolzak are also recommended. John Sarchio joined from Chadbourne & Parke LLP and splits his time between the Miami and New York offices. Lawyers mentioned are based in the Atlanta office unless otherwise stated.

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.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is ‘always responsive and provides on-point legal analysis’; ‘it has the brightest and most talented team around’. False Claims Act cases, reinsurance litigation and discrimination actions are all areas of experience for the practice, which is currently representing Berkshire Hathaway in a putative class action concerning an alleged plan to hack workers’ compensation litigation files. It also acted for Travelers in several successful rulings against Northrup Grumman deciding that the client did not have to pay for historic aquifer contamination dating from the 1930s. Other highlights included successfully acting for National Fire & Marine Insurance in 26 defective construction lawsuits against six Zurich-affiliated insurers. FM Global, Beazley and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies are also on the client roster. Despite the loss of Mary Kay Vyskocil to the judiciary and Andrew Amer’s retirement, the team retains a deep bench of attorneys, including Bryce Friedman, who ‘perfectly balances intelligence, aggressiveness and litigation skills’ and Los Angeles’ Deborah Stein, who is praised for her ‘strategic thinking and personable nature’. Practice head Mary Beth Forshaw and senior counsel Elisa Alcabes are also recommended. Lawyers are based in the New York office unless specified.

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP provides ‘top-notch advice and a responsive service’. An established player in the reinsurance market, with key offices in New York and Washington DC, the team has notable experience in arbitration and fraud litigation. It acted for key client AIG in a case against Fidelity National Financial involving alleged refusal by the client to pay for a loss covered by a professional liability policy; other highlights included representing XL Capital in multiple antitrust class actions involving allegations of price-fixing in the sale of municipal derivatives products. Other clients include Swiss Re and Aon Insurance Managers. Thorn Rosenthal is ‘very highly thought of in the industry’; senior counsel Edward Krugman, Jason Hall and Tammy Roy are also key names. All lawyers mentioned are in the New York office.

Clyde & Co LLP has ‘a wonderful team of attorneys that will always go the extra mile’. The practice frequently covers reinsurance and direct coverage litigation, plus cyber-related insurance claims have become a key area of expertise, with the 39-partner practice supported by a 23-lawyer cybersecurity group. The firm represented Liberty Insurance Underwriters and Ohio Casualty in a dispute with Walmart concerning insurance coverage for Walmart’s settlement in the Tracy Morgan car accident. Highlighting the practice’s capabilities in international proceedings, it represented a London-based client regarding a D&O policy case that was issued to FIFA in global litigation against high-level FIFA officials who allegedly accepted bribes. The New York-based Michael Knoerzer is highly regarded, along with New Jersey’s Daren McNally and Barbara Almeida. Newport Beach’s Joseph Walsh is recommended for environmental pollution cases. San Francisco’s Kathryn Ashton was promoted to partner and a five-partner team joined the Miami office from legacy firm Thornton Davis Fein.

Duane Morris LLP has a deep bench of experience, with Max Stern chairing the 83-lawyer outfit and Brian Kelly acting as deputy. The practice, which has a strong West Coast presence, frequently represents clients in asbestos claims and D&O liability matters. It is representing Liberty Mutual in three suits before the Navajo tribunal concerning the environmental contamination of Canyon de Chelly, one of the Navajo’s sacred sites. Other highlights included acting for Great American Insurance Group in a D&O coverage matter involving allegations against the trustees of the McClatchy newspaper family trust. American Centennial Insurance, Safety National and the California Insurance Guarantee Association are all clients. Richard Hoffman is ‘highly skilled and effective’; Jessica La Londe and Ray Wong are other notable names. All lawyers mentioned are based in the San Francisco office.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP is known for its work in environmental claims and coverage litigation, as well as asbestos cases and property and casualty work; offices in key cities such as New York and Los Angeles highlight its national reach. The New York-based practice leader Tancred Schiavoni is ‘an outstanding presenter’; he continues to represent Century Indemnity Company in the long-running case against Viking Pump, with recent litigation concerning obligation for defense payments. Schiavoni and New York’s Gary Svirsky, who is ‘knowledgeable and a terrific attorney’, acted for Pacific Employers Insurance Company in a coverage dispute regarding allegations of sexual abuse by a doctor at St Francis Hospital in Hartford. Chubb is an important client for the practice, as is Starr Indemnity. The Los Angeles-based Richard Goetz and Washington DC’s Jonathan Hacker are key names.

The ‘top-notchSidley Austin LLPcan be trusted with the largest and most complex cases’. A heavyweight in the insurance industry, its expertise draws on offices on both coasts and covers reinsurance disputes, indemnity matters and environmental claims. It represented CNA in obtaining a $37m arbitration award from its reinsurer for asbestos losses and acted for a group of Pennsylvania insurance companies, including Chartis Casualty and Granite State Insurance, in being awarded a refund of $16m of taxes paid by the clients under duress. John Hancock Insurance, Principal Financial and Bankers Life are also on the client roster. William Sneed is ‘great on all levels’ and is praised by clients as ‘one of the best reinsurance litigators’; Joel Feldman is another key figure. Susan Stone left for a general counsel position at Marsh & McLennan Companies. All lawyers mentioned are based in Chicago.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP is highly recommended for litigation initiated against insurers; bad faith claims as well as property and casualty cases and coverage disputes are particular strengths. It is representing The Hartford and New England Reinsurance in a liability insurance dispute concerning the highly publicized tort suits filed by former NFL players against the NFL pertaining to the lack of safety provisions in NFL helmets. It also acted for USF&G, a subsidiary of Travelers, in a fraud class action alleging the client misled the plaintiffs on the liability available for asbestos insurance claims. Zurich, Hudson Insurance Group and Lexington Insurance Company are also clients. Washington DC’s Harry Lee heads the practice and has notable experience in mass tort claims and property damage litigation. The team also includes the Washington DC-based Antonia Ianniello, who is ‘an amazing litigator’, and Phoenix’s Karl Tilleman, who is a key contact for coverage claims and environmental disputes.

The team at Chaffetz Lindsey LLP is ‘very intelligent, hardworking, knowledgeable about the pertinent industry issues, and savvy in achieving the desired results’. With a single office in New York, the boutique firm is known for its work in reinsurance litigation; direct coverage disputes and asbestos claims are other areas of expertise, and the firm is also experienced in arbitration. Steven Schwartz, who is praised by clients as ‘an outstanding practitioner for reinsurance disputes’, represented Imagine International Reinsurance in a $10m breach of warranty case involving underpayments on a long-term care insurance commission stream. Cecilia Moss, with the assistance of the well-respected Peter Chaffetz and associate Karen Baswell, is acting for AIG in a dispute with HDI Global SE in which the latter has asserted that a reinsurance agreement between the two should be voided. Other clients include Renaissance Re, Zurich and Chubb. Charles Scibetta is another key figure in the team.

Choate, Hall & Stewart has ‘unrivaled legal expertise in the insurance industry’ according to clients. The Boston-based firm is a big name in the reinsurance sector and has recently worked on catastrophe insurance litigation, direct coverage disputes and asbestos cases. Travelers is a key client for the team; joint practice head Robert Kole represented the insurer in a coverage dispute with Actavis, which claimed for coverage concerning opioid addiction among consumers caused by misrepresentations in the pharmaceuticals industry. The team also acted for Chubb in an appeal concerning whether or not the statute of limitations could limit compensation claims for environmental pollution remediation costs. Other significant clients are Progressive and Starr Surplus Lines. Joint practice head David Attisani’s ‘responsiveness to clients is outstanding’ and he is highly respected in the reinsurance field. JP Jaillet and Hugh Scott are other key names.

Crowell & Moring LLP is strong in direct coverage and reinsurance litigation, with expertise in asbestos claims, environmental pollution cases, bad faith litigation and catastrophe coverage mandates. The firm is also carving out a niche in the intersection between cybersecurity and insurance, with several lawyers having experience in handling data security breach litigation and cyber liability cases. The practice has a range of big-ticket clients, with names including Beazley and ACE. In a huge coup for the firm, the team welcomed heavyweight litigator Laura Foggan to the DC office from Wiley Rein LLP, who brings expertise in toxic tort and construction litigation. The team is led by Washington DC-based Paul Kalish and William O’Neill, and New York’s Harry Cohen is also highly regarded.

Hogan Lovells US LLP is well versed in reinsurance and insurance litigation, class actions and arbitration in relation to bankruptcy claims, product liability and healthcare matters. The Philadelphia-based David Newmann, who chairs the team alongside Washington DC’s David Hensler, led a team acting for Chubb in a breach of contract dispute with restaurant chain PF Chang’s, with the latter alleging that it was denied credit card coverage assessments following its data breach. Other highlights included New York’s Sean Keely representing AXA Liabilities Managers in a reinsurance claim against National Indemnity Company relating to historic asbestos injuries from Montana’s Libby mine. Other significant clients include WellPoint, ProSight Specialty Insurance and Executive Risk Indemnity. The Washington DC-based Ellen Swennes Kennedy and Craig Hoover are other notable names.

Washington DC-based Wiley Rein LLP is ‘extremely responsive and has extensive industry knowledge’. The team, which is headed by Daniel Standish, is recommended by clients for its work in professional liability disputes and pharmaceuticals cases. Cara Duffield represented Twin City Fire Insurance Company as a co-defendant along with Residential Capital and others in numerous class actions in which it was claimed that the defendants charged illegal fees for second mortgage loans. AEGIS, Liberty Mutual and State Farm Insurance are all key clients of the practice. The practice also saw John Howell and Parker Lavin promoted to the partnership. Kimberly Melvin is ‘intelligent, responsive and excellent with adversaries and mediators’.

The team at DLA Piper LLP (US) has ‘always been of the highest caliber’, according to clients. It frequently undertakes cross-border arbitration as well as reinsurance and insurance litigation involving toxic tort claims and professional liability disputes. It acted for Beazley in a D&O policy dispute with a former board member of a legacy Nevada corporation concerning his exclusion under the client’s D&O coverage policy and represented Brit Insurance against Lloyd’s in a $64m denial of coverage claim relating to allegations of legal malpractice. MetLife and Chubb are two of many big-ticket clients of the practice. Global insurance transactions and regulations practice head William Marcoux and global insurance and reinsurance chair Michael Murphy are key figures in the team, which also includes Aidan McCormack, who has ‘a unique understanding of the insurance industry’. All lawyers mentioned are based in New York.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is adept at undertaking insurance disputes arising from government investigations, life insurance matters and cross-border litigation. It is representing MetLife in multiple class action suits concerning a dispute over the client’s death benefits payment system arising from an inquiry into the way life insurance companies use the Social Security Death Index. It is also acting for a group of defendants including HRG Group in a putative class action alleging that the clients purposefully created fraudulent reinsurance transactions. AIG, MassMutual and the Life Insurance Council of New York are also on the client roster. Eric Dinallo, Maeve O’Connor and Edwin Schallert lead the practice, which also includes Daniel Abuhoff and international disputes chair Donald Francis Donovan. All lawyers mentioned operate from the New York office.

Foley & Lardner LLP is noted for its work in catastrophe insurance claims, environmental pollution mandates and asbestos matters. The firm frequently represents HCSC in arbitration and litigation mandates, including multiple federal court cases concerning the Texas Prompt Payment statute. It also acted for Arch Specialty Insurance Company in several disputes involving its casualty policies portfolio issued to Californian corporate insurers. Other highlights included representing Anthem in numerous litigation involving denial of coverage claims, issues arising under ERISA, and misrepresentation. The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania, Munich American Reassurance Company and Beneficial Life are also on the client roster. Madison’s well-regarded Gordon Davenport heads the insurance and reinsurance practice, ably supported by vice chair Neal Moglin and Eric Haab in Chicago.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is an established player in the insurance and reinsurance litigation sphere, handling a full remit of matters, including pharmaceuticals disputes, reimbursement cases and healthcare mandates. The firm represented AIG in a $2bn nationwide class action brought against the client involving RICO Act claims, Longshore Act claims and state law torts. Washington DC’s Eugene Scalia acted for MetLife in a successful challenge to its status as a systematically important financial institution by the Financial Stability Oversight Council. Adam Offenhartz leads the practice from the New York office. The Los Angeles offices houses Richard Doren and newly promoted partner Heather Richardson.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP has a fine reputation in the insurance and reinsurance fields, with experience handling arbitration and litigation in a range of contractual and coverage disputes. Joint practice head Jane Byrne is defending State Farm Companies in a class action claim by Connecticut homeowners alleging that the client has unfairly denied their claims and thus violated the Unfair Insurance Practices Act. Byrne also defended Allied World in a bad faith and breach of contract dispute with policyholder Onyx Pharmaceuticals regarding a claim it made on its D&O policy. Infrassure, Mass Mutual, Great American Insurance Group and Allstate Insurance are key clients. Practice chair Michael Carlinsky, Kathleen Sullivan and Sheila Birnbaum are notable names. All of the lawyers mentioned work in the New York office.

With a main office in San Francisco and 13 branches across the US, Sedgwick LLP has extensive experience in corporate reinsurance and insurance matters, including liability insurance claims, commercial liability disputes and bankruptcy matters. It continues to act for underwriters at Lloyd’s of London and ACE Global Markets in the longstanding professional liability coverage dispute with Residential Funding Corporation involving alleged losses caused by multiple class action suits. Also on the roster are Brit Insurance, the National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh and Liberty Insurance. The team is led by the Irvine-based Ralph Guirgis and new hires included Darlene Alt in Chicago from Locke Lord LLP and JoAnn Dalrymple in Austin from Jackson Walker, L.L.P.. The New York-based Katelin O’Rourke Gorman and Matthew Ferguson plus San Francisco’s Eryk Gettell were promoted to partner.

Squire Patton Boggs frequently undertakes defective construction, errors and omissions and life insurance cases, with extensive experience in arbitration and litigation. New York’s recommended Larry Schiffer is representing Alterra American Insurance Company in the ongoing NFL concussion litigation. The firm counts AIG Property Casualty as a major client; Newark’s Mark Sheridan defended the insurance giant in coverage disputes and bad faith claims brought by Becton Dickinson and in a coverage case with the Los Angeles Unified School District, which sought coverage regarding sexual abuse claims. CNA, Allstate Insurance and Gen Re are all clients. The firm merged with the legacy firm Carroll, Burdick & McDonough in 2016, bringing David Godwin, Gretchen Ramos and Wallace Smith to the San Francisco office. Highly respected practice head John Nonna and Patrick Dugan, based in New York and Columbus respectively, lead the team.

Troutman Sanders regularly handles, among other things, environmental pollution, bankruptcy and breach of contract disputes, including class actions and arbitration. It acted for XL Catlin’s subsidiary Indian Harbor Insurance in a $20m D&O liability dispute with a bankrupt bank holding company. It also acted for Continental Insurance Company in a dispute with the District of Maryland concerning asbestos coverage for the Walter E Campbell Company. Beazley, AXIS Insurance and Markel are all clients. Washington DC’s Charles Jones chairs the practice, which also includes Irvine-based Terrence McInnis, Tysons Corner’s Leslie Ahari and Washington DC’s John Gerstein. Gary Dixon retired.

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