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United States > Intellectual property > Trade secrets > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings


Index of tables

  1. Trade secrets
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1
    • Victoria Cundiff - Paul Hastings LLP
    • Thomas Frongillo - Fish & Richardson P.C.
    • Dale Giali - Mayer Brown
    • Eric Hagen - McDermott Will & Emery LLP
    • Mark Halligan - FisherBroyles, LLP
    • John Mancini - Mayer Brown
    • James McQuade - Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
    • Robert Raskopf - Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
    • George Riley - O’Melveny & Myers LLP
    • Linda Stevens - Schiff Hardin LLP

Keker & Van Nest, L.L.P.’s leading IP group is particularly strong in trade secrets matters, including issues involving alleged wholesale theft of technology as well as individual employee mobility. San Francisco-based Rachael Meny is recommended for litigation, regularly handling civil and criminal proceedings. John Keker and Jeffrey Chanin, both based in San Francisco, also enjoy a strong reputation. Pinterest and TrueBlood Network are flagship clients.

A leading player in this field, Kirkland & Ellis LLP draws on its extensive litigation practice and highly regarded IP group to service its international client base. The department has a good standing in several industries, notably food and beverage, where Michael Slade defended Natural American Foods and its employee Arlen Penner in a case brought by Barkman Honey alleging breach of a non-compete agreement and tortious interference with a contract. Craig Primis and Daniel Bress are representing multinational conglomerate Honeywell in a North Carolina lawsuit alleging that Honeywell misappropriated trade secrets when it hired an employee who previously worked at DSM Dyneema, a competitor in the manufacture of ballistic materials for the US military. Another focus is the pharmaceutical industry; Nader Boulos and Jay Lefkowitz are defending Akorn in a case brought by Fera Pharmaceuticals regarding a manufacturing and supply agreement alleging that Akorn breached the parties’ contract by failing to manufacture certain products and misappropriating trade secrets.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s trade secrets group, headed by Robert Shwarts, gained considerably in strength with the arrivals of Patrick Ellisen from Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Amy Van Zant from Covington & Burling LLP. The practice, which Shwarts leads from San Francisco, acts for some of Silicon Valley’s biggest players, such as Apple, eBay and Microsoft. Los-Angeles-based William Molinski and Mark Parris obtained a complete victory on behalf of Microsoft and one of its employees after they were sued by Cheap Stuff in a trade secret misappropriation case; the lawsuit was filed after the employee, a former employee of Cheap Stuff, uncovered what was determined to be a ‘click fraud’ being engaged in by Cheap Stuff in relation to a contract it had with Yahoo! In another trade secret misappropriation case, Denise Mingrone successfully obtained, on behalf of Synopsys, an expansive temporary restraining order against two senior former employees who left the company earlier this year to join competitor Cadence. James McQuade from the New York office is highly regarded and Neel Chatterjee, based in Silicon Valley, is another name to note.

Bradford Newman is founder and chair of Paul Hastings LLP’s international employee mobility and trade secret practice. He served as lead counsel for Zynga in the largest trade secret case in the history of social gaming. New York-based Victoria Cundiff, one of the key practitioners in this space, has particular experience in high-stakes cloud technology litigation and serves numerous clients in the fashion industry. Carla Walworth is another notable name in New York.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP’s distinguished position in the market is illustrated by its impressive client list. The group, which is led by Charles Verhoeven in San Francisco, Claude Stern in Silicon Valley and Edward DeFranco in New York, has represented clients such as Google, Samsung, Motorola, General Motors and Shell Oil in trade secret misappropriation cases. A team including Verhoeven, successfully represented Dow and Rohm & Haas as plaintiffs against Organik Kimya in US International Trade Commission (ITC) proceedings related to opaque emulsion polymers, which, through uncovered evidence of massive spoliation, ended in a default judgment on trade secret misappropriation claims. Michael Carlinsky and Rachel Herrick Kassabian represented social networking service Pinterest in a trade secret misappropriation action filed by an alleged former business partner of Pinterest’s first investor, which ended with Pinterest being dismissed from the case (and that dismissal was affirmed on appeal). Another client is Pfizer, which the team represented in the retrial of a misappropriation of trade secrets case. Robert Raskopf is also a name to note.

Drawing on the strength of its sizeable employment department, Seyfarth Shaw LLP is a highly regarded player in the trade secrets space. The group, jointly led by Michael Wexler in Chicago, assists clients in all areas of trade secrets, including the prevention of trade secret theft or misappropriation, violations of non-competes, computer fraud, as well as trade secrets audits. Los Angeles-based Robert Milligan, the team's other joint head, represented Novartis Institute for Functional Genomics in a case before a San Diego court, obtaining a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order against a former employee who took prized company trade secrets and was planning on starting a competing biotech business in China. Milligan also served as counsel to Berlin Packaging, one of the largest packaging suppliers in the US, providing both litigation and transactional advice on its disputes with employees, contractors and competitors. Active key clients include Kia Motors America and Ferrari North America.

Covington & Burling LLP has a strong track record in trade secret cases. The group has a broad offering and is well versed on the contentious side as well as in cybersecurity issues and economic espionage. Washington DC-based George Pappas has considerable experience in the field, Silicon Valley-based Kurt Calia serves as vice chair for the trade secrets committee of the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association, and Michael Plimack is a significant figure in the firm’s San Francisco office. Key clients include Monsanto and Manheim Auctions.

McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s trade secrets group is well versed in every stage of the trade secrets cycle, from identification of trade secrets, to implementation of protection measures, employee education, exit interviews and litigation. Los Angeles-based Eric Hagen leads the practice, which is spread across seven US offices. Its track record includes obtaining temporary restraining orders, preliminary injunctions and winning jury trials, including awards of punitive damages. A team including Fabio Marino successfully acted for Diablo Technologies in its dispute with Netlist, a former development partner, which sued Diablo on eight counts of trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract and claims of trademark infringement and false advertising under the Lanham Act. Daniel Alberti and Judy Mohr, both in the Silicon Valley office, are additional names to note.

Morrison & Foerster LLP’s sizeable trade secrets group, led by Northern Virginia-based Daniel Westman and Bryan Wilson in Palo Alto, spans the firm’s IP, employment and commercial litigation practices. It assists clients in every aspect of trade secrets protection, the implementation of information security programs and tailoring of company policies. The team is well versed in trade secret arbitration and litigation; Palo-Alto-based Kenneth Kuwayti represented EnergySolutions in Utah state court in a case against Kurion alleging that the defendant and two of its key executives misappropriated technologies relating to the treatment of radioactive nuclear waste that were owned by the plaintiff. In another important matter, San Francisco-based Harold McElhinny and Louise Stoupe from the Tokyo office assisted Toshiba win a multimillion-dollar settlement in its trade secret misappropriation claim against South Korea-based SK Hynix.

Ryan Yagura chairs the IP and technology practice at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, which includes key figures in the trade secrets space, such as San Francisco-based Darin Synder and David Almeling. A team including Synder achieved a jury victory for plaintiff Triune Systems, a solar energy equipment supplier, in Texas state court proceedings involving more than 70 asserted trade secrets. A team including Mark Miller, also based in San Francisco, represented (24/7) in two disputes with LivePerson in which LivePerson alleged, among other things, that (24/7) misappropriated and infringed LivePerson’s software and proprietary information to create and refine its own competing live-interaction technology. Synder also represented Artifex Software in a motion to dismiss copyright infringement and trade secrets claims filed in the Northern District of California against BigTinCan and related entities. Nicholas Whilt in Los Angeles was made partner, while Ken Nissly departed to an in-house position at SK Hynix. George Riley from the San Francisco office is highly regarded.

Joseph Baumgarten and Gregory Rasin in New York lead Proskauer Rose LLP’s interdisciplinary non-compete and trade secrets group, which has a particular focus on the intersection of trade secret protection and employee movement. The group handles matters ranging from day-to-day counseling on the hiring and firing of employees possessing confidential information to drafting confidentiality, to non-compete and equity based compensation arrangements, policy manuals on information ownership and protection and litigation involving claims of employee raiding and theft of trade secrets. Los Angeles-based Anthony Oncidi is advising Creative Artists Agency in the pursuit of claims against United Talent Agency and a group of defecting agents in Creative Artists Agency. The prestigious client roster includes Citizens Financial Group, McKinsey & Company, AT Kearney, MetLife and Credit Suisse. Guy Brenner from the Washington DC office was promoted to partner.

There are a number of trade secret experts among Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s employment and litigation practice groups, including employment litigation chair Jeffrey Klein in New York, Christopher Cox, who leads the California commercial litigation group, and senior partner Bruce Meyer in New York. Cox successfully represented Genstar Capital in arbitration against CHT-P&W Software, a subsidiary of Consumer Health Technologies, which sued Genstar in the Los Angeles Superior Court for trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition, trade libel and other business torts. Cox also represented Health Management Systems (HMS) in litigation against former employees and its teaming partner and competitor Public Consulting Group (PCG) in which HMS alleged that PCG solicited several HMS employees to breach their respective contracts and steal trade secrets. Cox obtained a temporary injunction and preliminary injunction in Texas and a sweeping sanctions order for spoliation of evidence, which included adverse jury instructions and an award of attorneys’ fees.

Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP is a strong player in the trade secrets space. The group operates from offices in Denver and Chicago and retains a superb reputation in trade secrets litigation. Chicago-based Sean Gallagher has deep experience in complex litigation and Lindley Brenza in Denver has a strong track record in trade secrets cases.

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP acts for both defendants and plaintiffs in trade secrets litigation, and also regularly handles investigations. The group, which includes key figures Roger Brooks* and George Zobitz, has litigated trade secrets cases in a variety of industries, including computer technology, insurance and reinsurance, telecoms and finance. In addition, it frequently advises clients on methods of protecting proprietary information, including confidentiality and non-competition agreements with employees, and conducts due diligence with respect to unpatented proprietary information in connection with mergers and acquisitions and other transactions. *Since publication, Roger Brooks has retired from the firm's litigation practice.

Washington DC-based John Williamson leads Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP’s IP specialties practice, which is well regarded in the trade secrets space. Williamson is an experienced counsel in trade secrets actions before US district courts, arbitration panels and the ITC. The 18 partners assist clients with the full scope of trade secrets matters, from non-disclosure contracts with employees and third parties to litigation, with particular strength in energy, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing.

Perry Viscounty, who splits his practice between Orange County and Silicon Valley, is one of the key figures for trade secrets matters at Latham & Watkins LLP. The group serves an impressive roster of clients, including Allianz, Allergan, Arista, craigslist and Goop. San Francisco-based James Lynch and Jennifer Barry in San Diego represent Lyft, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer ridesharing company, in litigation against the company’s former COO for breach of written contract and confidentiality agreement by allegedly taking materials such as Lyft’s financial information, marketing and product plans, consumer lists and data, international growth documents and private personnel information, and subsequently joining Lyft’s chief rival Uber. Chicago-based Kenneth Schuler, Matthew Walch and Maximilian Grant in Washington DC are representing Market Track, a provider of market intelligence solutions for the advertising and promotional industry, in litigation asserting trade secret misappropriation claims against a competitor.

Mayer Brown retains a strong reputation in the trade secret space, not least because of the renowned John Mancini in New York, Dale Giali in Los Angeles and Alan Grimaldi in Washington DC. The group, which is known for its trial and appellate courtroom expertise and global reach into Europe and Asia, is active in a broad range of industries, including biotechnology, food products and pharmaceuticals. Clients include Faiveley Transport and Avago Technologies.

Schiff Hardin LLP’s practice is led by Linda Stevens and Matthew Prewitt in Chicago. Stevens is experienced in emergency injunctive relief in trade secrets, while Prewitt has a strong record in multi-year trade secrets litigation.

Boston-based Choate, Hall & Stewart represents public and private companies in all aspects of trade secret protection and litigation, from plaintiffs seeking to protect proprietary information to defendants accused of misappropriation, across a broad range of industries and technologies. Paul Popeo and Michael Bunis are the names to note. Clients include New England BioLabs, EMC and AvePoint.

Following its merger with McKenna Long & Aldridge, Dentons’ ‘go-to’ trade secrets group has gained considerably in strength. The ‘very responsive’ team is led by Lora Brzezynski and Cass Christenson, both based in Washington DC. Clients note that ‘there are a wide range of specialists within the firm, so whenever a niche area comes up, they have someone with experience in that niche’. One of the specialist areas is government contracts. Michael Bierman in Los Angeles successfully represented LinQuest, which had been in the process of bidding on lucrative government contracts with the Space and Missile Systems Center, in suing a former employee who had been hired to work on the bidding process and who then went to work for a competitor, Modern Technology Solutions, which was also bidding on some of the contracts. Joshua Curry and Petrina Hall McDaniel, both in the Atlanta office, were made partners.

The key figures at Dorsey & Whitney LLP are Minneapolis-based Joseph Hammell, who has extensive class action, trial and appellate expertise, as well as broad experience with jury research and jury consultants on major litigation, and New York-based Nick Akerman, who has notable experience in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. David Murphy, previously of the Palo Alto office, left the firm to join Silicon Valley Law Group.

FisherBroyles, LLP’s trade secret practice gained considerably in strength with the hire of Chicago-based Mark Halligan from Nixon Peabody LLP. Halligan is particularly well versed in developing best practices and methods for the identification, classification, protection and valuation of trade secret assets, and is serving as trial counsel to bankruptcy attorney Peter Geraci in trade secret litigation involving the alleged misappropriation of a software source code.

Jason Schwartz and Martin Hewett in Washington DC and Alexander Southwell in New York are the key figures at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Schwartz is representing AlixPartners in a trade secret misappropriation case against leading management consulting firm McKinsey. The group also defended Fitbit, a leading provider of health and fitness trackers, against rival device maker Jawbone, which filed trade secrets claims in state court as well as patent claims in district court and at the ITC. The impressive client list also includes UBS Securities and Nippon Steel.

Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s trade secret group is jointly led by Kurt Kappes in Sacramento/San Francisco and Richard McCrea in Tampa. A team including Atlanta-based David Long-Daniels represented Bartlett Holdings and its affiliates in an action against competitors and former employees for misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference with business and contractual relations, breach of the employee duty of loyalty, and breach of various restrictive covenants. Paul Ranis in Fort Lauderdale represented U.S. Metal Buildings in the enforcement of a non-compete agreement against a former sales executive, resulting in the entry of a final judgment for injunctive relief in favor of the client, a national distributor of prefabricated steel buildings.

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton’s key figures in the trade secret space include James Bogan and Joel Bush in Atlanta and Susan Boyles in Winston-Salem. The group serves an impressive mix of clients, including mature businesses, joint ventures, and Fortune 50 companies. Winston Salem-based Daniel Taylor represented Branch Banking & Trust Company in a two-week trial in Forsyth County Superior Court against a former employee for misappropriation of trade secrets and the failure to repay a substantial loan due upon the termination of employment. Taylor successfully argued a motion for directed verdict, dismissing all counterclaims asserted by the former employee and obtained a verdict for the amount owed.

Nixon Peabody LLP draws its trade secrets expertise from the firm’s IP, labor and employment, government investigations and commercial litigation practices, which handle a range of trade secret matters involving revision of corporate trade secret policies, audits and ITC matters. The firm’s broad ranging client base in this space includes SolarCity and Prezio Health. Ethan Trull, Frank Saibert and Brittany Bogaerts, all based in Chicago, are representing Prezio Health in a lawsuit that involves preventing a departed employee from using trade secret information, as well as a tortious interference claim against this employee. Jason Kravitz and Troy Lieberman, both based in Boston, are representing Compass iTech in a case involving allegations of trade secret misappropriation, deceptive and unfair trade practices, tortious interference and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse, and Electronic Communications Privacy acts.

John Caracappa, Harold Fox and William Abrams are the names to note at Steptoe & Johnson LLP. The group is particularly active in the technology sector; California-based William Abrams defended SK Hynix, one of the leading memory chip makers, in trade secrets litigation brought by SanDisk and Toshiba. Abrams is also defending Huawei Technologies and Huawei Device USA in litigation brought by T-Mobile relating to Huawei’s development of a testing robot used for the quality control of handsets which are to be sold by T-Mobile. Also for Huawei Technologies, Abrams is representing the client in a litigation brought by Quintel.

Boston-based Donald Steinberg, New York-based Jane Love and Joseph Haag in Palo Alto are some of the key figures in WilmerHale’s trade secrets group. The group assists clients in improving their internal technology, proprietary information and trade secret protection programs, as well as evaluating and structuring their internal and online data security programs and dealing with security breaches and intrusions. The impressive client base includes Braintree Laboratories, Cisco Systems, Ford Motor Company, GlaxoSmithKline and Hewlett-Packard. Natalie Hanlon Leh joined the Denver office from Faegre Baker Daniels, while Michael Diener retired.

Winston & Strawn LLP’s cross disciplinary group, led by John Keville in Houston, advises clients on the full range of legal issues involving the theft of company critical data, including trade secrets, non-competes, unfair competition, data security and data breach. After a three year battle involving a conspiracy on two continents, Winston secured a $24.5m jury verdict on behalf of Suncoast Post Tension. In another important lawsuit, the group is representing Yahoo! in a case brought by prize insurer SCA Promotions over Yahoo!’s decision to discontinue a promotion for the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament; Yahoo! has counterclaimed for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, fraud and fraudulent inducement, and negligent misrepresentation. Korula Cherian left the firm to set up his own practice.

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