United States > Litigation > Securities: shareholder litigation
Index of tables
Securities: shareholder litigation
Baker Botts L.L.P.
Bingham McCutchen LLP
Covington & Burling LLP
- Hogan Lovells US LLP
- DLA Piper LLP
- Greenberg Traurig LLP
Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
- King & Spalding LLP
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Bruce Angiolillo -
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Michael Carroll -
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
- Evan Chesler - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
- Richard Clary - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
- George Conway - Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
- Gandolfo DiBlasi - Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
- Robert Giuffra - Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
- Brad Karp - Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Jay Kasner -
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Gregory Markel -
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
- Richard Rosen - Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
James Rouhandeh -
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
- Bruce Angiolillo -
Known for its ‘unrivalled experience and historical excellence in complex bet-the-company matters’, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is ‘best in class for regulatory work’ and attracts praise for its ‘seamless international capability’. From New York, the team provides access to ‘an outstanding collection of sharp, responsive, collegial and technical lawyers’, including the firm’s presiding partner Evan Chesler – considered ‘one of the highest profile specialists in the market and an influential figure in securities law’. Other leading names include ‘sensible and savvy litigator’ Richard Clary, the ‘outstanding’ Sandra Goldstein and Robert Baron. The firm’s longstanding focus in representing defendants – individual officers and directors as well as companies – in class actions and prominent individual actions has seen it build up a sterling record in advising on some of the area’s most landmark cases. Most notably, its recent representation of Vivendi gave rise to one of the longest-running securities class actions to go to trial – significantly it was the first and only so-called “foreign-cubed” case to go to trial – and set precedent on several issues including class certification. The firm has also secured a growing stream of instructions in transactional-related securities litigation and successfully acted for Barnes & Noble in a “poison pill” trial against an activist shareholder – it is continuing to act for the bookseller in litigation arising from its acquisition of Barnes & Noble College Booksellers. Other specialist areas include defending financial institutions in subprime litigation and the setting of executive compensation.
From New York, the ‘consistently superb’ Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP fields 36-partners dedicated to securities litigation, ensuring ‘unbeatable response times, a priceless body of knowledge to call upon and a strong back-up bench’. Jointly led by criminal and regulatory specialist Carey Dunne (‘creative lawyer with a problem-solving attitude’) and James Rouhandeh (‘smart, understands the securities business and willing to work through difficult issues’), the group attracts praise for its ‘practical approach and for ‘providing well-balanced and appropriate advice that takes into account the risk appetite of the client’. Michael Carroll is a ‘smart, persuasive litigator and a gifted writer on briefs’, and James Windels is noted for his ‘wide experience of the area’. Clients include financial institutions, auditors and corporations and the firm is active across the full spread of litigation and securities enforcement and compliance matters, although recently it has kept busy advising on financial crisis matters. The firm is acting as principal outside counsel to Morgan Stanley in several cases arising from the mortgage meltdown, including successfully representing the bank in a $7bn putative class action that led to the first significant class certification decision associated with the subprime collapse. The firm is also defending the current and past members of Bank of America’s board of directors in various shareholder derivative suits arising from the bank’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch.
Considered ‘a “go to” firm for big ticket or sensitive corporate litigation’, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP strikes exactly the right chord with clients who praise it as ‘absolutely the best in all categories: highly knowledgeable, practical, very responsive – they are valued counsellors’. The strategic importance awarded to the securities area is evidenced by the role of ‘incredibly skilled and responsive litigator’ Brad Karp as chair of the firm – indeed ‘resources seem limitless at times’. Charles Davidow is ‘technically superb’ and co-heads the securities litigation and enforcement group alongside the ‘user-friendly and highly commercial’ Richard Rosen and the ‘strategically smart’ Daniel Kramer – also recommended for being ‘good at execution’. From New York, the 36-partner team houses ‘invaluable in-house experience’, notably Walter Ricciardi once served as the deputy director of the SEC’s division of enforcement. The firm scores highly for its sterling litigation expertise but it also shines in regulatory matters and investigations. Citigroup is a trophy client and it recently represented it in several securities cases, including in its successful defeat of arbitral claims brought by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority arising out of its December 2007 $7.5bn investment in Citigroup. The firm also successfully represented AIG in obtaining a dismissal of a derivative action brought by shareholders of March & McLennan Companies alleging breach of fiduciary duty. Other representative clients include Bank of America, Deloitte & Touche, Merck and SwissRe.
Widely agreed to have ‘a world class securities litigation group’, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP provides ‘A-star service that is excellent in all regards’ and is one of a ‘very small number of “go to” firms that can be relied upon to handle the most challenging issues’. Bruce Angiolillo is ‘one of the most respected members of the securities litigation bar and has decades of experience to draw from’, Paul Curnin is ‘an outstanding litigator with an excellent case-management ability’, Paul Gluckow is ‘very responsive and client friendly’, and Jonathan Youngwood is ‘smart, hardworking and extremely professional’. The firm has a diverse practice that specializes in defending large financial institutions and Fortune 500 corporations and is reporting an increase in instructions from China-based issuers regarding securities and derivative actions brought against them in the US. It also continues to handle a steady stream of subprime litigations, and since February 2008 it has represented JPMorgan Chase in regulatory investigations and civil antitrust and securities fraud lawsuits arising from collapse of the auction rate securities (ARS) market. In addition, the firm remains highly involved in Madoff-related litigation and is representing entities and individuals associated with Fairfield Greenwich in a series of litigations and government investigations arising out of the high-profile Ponzi scheme. On the private equity side, in 2011 alone, the firm handled litigations for some of the sectors’ largest names including Apax Partners, First Reserve, The Blackstone Group and Hellman & Friedman.
Applauded for its ‘very deep bench’, ‘prompt responses to requests’ and its ‘dead-on advice’, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is ‘the top choice for “make or break” litigation’ with ‘lawyers who are undoubtedly expensive but provide value for the dollar’. Few individuals in this field have the credentials of group head Jay Kasner; considered ‘simply the best’, ‘the only choice for “bet-the-company” matters’ and ‘outstandingly commercial’, New York-based Kasner heads an ‘all star team’ spread out across the firm’s extensive national network. Also in New York, the ‘simply superb’ Scott Musoff and the ‘very capable and articulate’ Susan Saltzstein are recommended, with Houston litigation head Charles Schwartz ‘deft with dealing with corporate boards’. Known for its excellent record in representing major corporations in high-stakes securities litigation, the firm also has a leading reputation in defending financial institutions, underwriters, and directors and officers in securities claims. Among its recent bank representations, the firm won an appeal for Merrill Lynch in the first ARS class action arising from the financial crisis to be decided by an appellate court. On the corporate representation side, the firm won an instruction from Anadarko Petroleum in relation to a securities class action and a derivative action arising out of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. It is also defending News Corp, Rupert Murdoch and other individuals in a shareholder class action and a derivative claim following the high-profile News of the World controversy.
Concentrated in New York, but also benefitting from platforms in California and Washington, the ‘dedicated team’ at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP ‘knows how to get the best result’ ensuring ‘a client confidence that few other firms can provide’. Recommended for its ‘peerless ability in securities litigation’, clients also score it highly for its strength across the relevant support areas and say ‘it’s difficult to find a firm with such seamless quality’. ‘Exceptional lawyer’ Robert Giuffra coordinates the practice and is highlighted as a ‘tireless worker, brilliant writer, creative thinker and a great tactician’. The highly experienced team also includes ‘dean of the securities bar’ Gandolfo DiBlasi and Los Angeles managing partner Robert Sacks, who ‘displays good judgment in evaluating the merits of a case and setting the right expectations for their client’. Beneath top level, clients are quick to praise the firm’s rising stars including newly-appointed partner Matthew Schwartz and, ‘best-kept secret in New York’, associate Justin DeCamp. The firm advises an enviably healthy balance of corporations and financial institutions on some of the markets most high-profile matters with cross-border work being a specialism. As a top choice for leading financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, UBS, Barclays, JPMorgan and Moody’s, the team remains busy advising on headline litigation arising from the financial crisis. On the corporate-representation side, it successfully obtained a dismissal of a federal shareholder derivative litigation on behalf of BP, which was brought in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP continues to invest in its practice, and in 2011 the firm hired Juan Morillo from the Washington office of Clifford Chance, where he was head of the firm’s US dispute resolution practice. New York-based Jennifer Kennedy Park was promoted to partner in 2012. The group leverages off the firm’s premier capital markets capability to specialise in advising banks, shareholders, corporations and corporate directors and officers on the full spread of complex securities litigation. Mitchell Lowenthal is a ‘very strong securities litigator’ and attracts sterling praise for his excellent response times and market experience. Thomas Moloney is singled out for his ‘tremendous courtroom skills’ and is well known for his part in representing HSBC in Madoff litigation – the firm recently won the dismissal of the Madoff Trustee’s common law claims, which sought more than $6.5bn in damages. In another highlight case, it is advising Bank of America on litigation and investigations arising out of its acquisition of Merrill Lynch – including representing the Bank in the now settled federal lawsuit brought by the SEC, and also representing it in individual and class actions filed by shareholders. Other representative clients include Fitch and Alpha Natural Resources.
Latham & Watkins LLP’s commitment to maintaining a truly national securities litigation practice is evidenced through its joint leadership from the firm’s Washington, Silicon Valley and New York offices: together William Baker (‘highly experienced’), Patrick Gibbs (‘great at managing a complex legal matter, boiling it down to a plan of action and driving his team to execute the plan’) and Jeff G Hammel co-chair an ‘excellent group of commercially-minded securities experts’. Clients ‘wholeheartedly recommend this extremely client-focused team’ for the full spread of class actions and derivative lawsuits, SEC investigations, enforcement proceedings, stock exchange investigations and proxy contests. Although it has an excellent track record in defending banks and corporations, the firm shines in auditor representations and among its recent matters, it is acting for Deloitte & Touche LLP in a multidistrict securities class action involving claims arising from Washington Mutual’s public disclosures. Issuer-side work is also plentiful and it is currently acting for international agri-business Agfeed in several shareholder class actions filed against the company. Miles Ruthberg and Peter Wald are also recommended.
Commended for ‘consistent delivery of high-quality advice across securities and corporate governance matters’, Shearman & Sterling LLP ‘is one of the most responsive, client-oriented law firms around’. The team attracts praise for its ‘seamless global offering’, its ‘smooth running of a case’ and its ‘ability to dedicate specialised lawyers at a moment’s notice’, with lawyers highlighted for their ‘thoughtful, insightful and, above all, anticipatory advice’. Led from New York by Adam Hakki (‘writes well, speaks well, argues effectively, and is very strong with senior management’, ‘big banks turn to him frequently for important matters’), the team also calls on the services of the ‘excellent’ Stuart Baskin and the ‘very knowledgeable’ Jerome Fortinsky, who is a ‘calm lawyer that understands business and is gently persistent’. The firm represents both banks and corporations in the defense of securities claims and it is already playing a leading role in litigation involving US-listed Chinese companies – a trend that is sweeping through the US courts – and clients value the firm’s “hands-on” experience in working with Chinese companies, which enables it to smoothly manage the cultural differences’. However, its highlight work is representing Countrywide Financial Corporation in 13 cases against institutional purchasers of private-label residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).
The ‘prestigious corporate pedigree’ of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz ensures that it has a sterling client roster of corporations, financial institutions and even law firms that turn to it for advice when relationships go sour. ‘This is the firm you want in your corner for “bet-the-company” litigations – if it can’t get you the right result then nobody can’. Although the firm fields a smaller team than most of its rivals, its lawyers are among the most experienced in the market, specifically George Conway, who was ‘instrumental to the Morrison decision’ – his representation of National Australia Bank in Morrison v National Australia Bank has had groundbreaking implications for securities law, famously overturning four decades of lower court case law and holding that Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act applies only to transactions in the US. Shareholder litigation arising from mergers and acquisitions is also a specialist area of expertise and other recommended partners include Lawrence Pedowitz and Eric Roth.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is the ‘firm you call when you need the right result’. The firm leverages off its top-tier restructuring practice to offer expertise in bankruptcy-related securities litigation, but it has experience across the full spread of shareholder claims and corporate governance matters, regularly acting for major corporations and financial institutions and their officers and directors. Led from New York by highly rated partners Joseph Allerhand and Jonathan Polkes, the team is considered ‘uniquely effective in derivative cases’. James Quinn is also recommended and clients say that ‘you couldn’t hope for a better advocate on complex cases, he is among the most technically able litigators in the market’. Quinn recently led the team acting alongside Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in the successful representation of Vivendi, which saw the dismissal of individual foreign investor claims in a long-running securities class action that alleged the French media company misled shareholders about its financial condition following a series of mergers and acquisitions during 2000-2002. The firm also obtained a dismissal for global insurance broker, Willis Group Holdings, in an action brought by a global class of investors in certificates of deposit marketed by The Stanford Financial Group.
WilmerHale regularly defends corporations and their directors in litigation covering the full spread of capital markets, investment management, broker-dealer and financial services regulation, but it receives widespread recognition for its preeminent enforcement practice. Under the leadership of Washington DC-based co-chair Harry Weiss – recommended for his ‘invaluable insider experience’ following an 11-year stint at the SEC – the firm maintains a market leading niche in SEC enforcement issues. It also has experience in cross-border investigations including representing clients in Financial Services Authority proceedings. In line with the firm’s strong life sciences and high-tech client base, instructions are dominated by technology corporations, and it recently obtained a dismissal of a putative ERISA class action for Minneapolis-based medical device manufacturer, Medtronic, and a number of its senior executives. On the financial services side, the firm won a victory for RBS in a securities fraud class action, successfully eliminating around 95% of RBS’s potential exposure from the case. Shareholder litigation arising from transactional activity is also a strong area for the firm, and in 2011 it successfully defended several merger and acquisition clients, including NaviSite, Netezza Corporation, NewAlliance Bancshares and BJ’s Wholesale Club. Group co-chair Jeffrey Rudman and William Paine are the main contacts in the group.
As a firm ‘highly recognized for the caliber and sophistication of its work and the strong skills of its lawyers’, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP shines in ‘its deft handling and management of complex matters’ and for its ‘strong depth of knowledge and resources it can bring to bear in mortgage-backed securities litigation’. Widely considered ‘a key figure in securities law’, litigation co-chair Gregory Markel is ‘one of the most intelligent, hard working, strategic lawyers around’ and one peer states ‘having him as an opponent is an exciting challenge that I look forward to.’ The firm has been involved in some of the market’s most technical cases arising from the financial crisis and among its recent work, it is representing the former outside directors of Merrill Lynch in a shareholder derivative action alleging breach of fiduciary arising from subprime mortgage investment. Other high-profile members of this ‘top notch team’ include ‘tenacious litigator’ Jonathan Hoff, who recently led advice to MBIA Insurance Corporation in its claims against Residential Funding Company LLC (RFC) for fraud and breach of contract arising out of five residential mortgage securitizations sponsored by RFC.
New York’s ‘model law firm’ Cahill Gordon & Reindel draws admiring glances for its ‘excellent quality, specialized legal knowledge and deep bench strength’. Thomas Kavaler is singled out as ‘best in class’ in a group of lawyers recommended for being ‘not only a pleasure to work with but able to achieve terrific results’. The firm’s practice is largely split between issuer and financial institution representations, but it is also winning its fair share of transactional-related instructions. In a significant recent victory, the firm successfully upheld a dismissal for The McGraw-Hill Companies, and its Standard & Poor’s (S&P) subsidiary, in litigation arising from its rating of securities backed by subprime mortgages. To date, the firm has achieved dismissals of all claims against S&P in 20 financial services-related cases. The firm is also defending Household International, and several former officers, in one of the country’s largest securities fraud class actions, involving claims that defendants manipulated financial disclosures by restructuring delinquent loans. Floyd Abrams, Adam Zurofsky and Charles Gilman are also highlighted as ‘highly responsive and effective litigators’.
Leveraging off its strength in white-collar crime and regulatory investigations, Debevoise & Plimpton provides ‘all-encompassing experience in securities litigation and regulation’. Led from the firm’s New York and Washington offices by Edwin Schallert and Colby Smith respectively, the firm is known for its excellent cross-border enforcement capability, which attracts a broad mix of clients from both inside and outside the US. The team acts for both financial institutions and corporations on securities fraud and derivatives actions and secured several notable victories over the past year. The firm successfully won dismissal of all claims against client Manulife Financial Corp, and two of its officers, in a cross-border case alleging misstatement of the company’s financial condition. In another of its recent highlights, the firm won dismissal of all claims against Security Capital Assurance (now Syncora Holdings) and four former offices in a case alleging failure to disclose exposure to subprime mortgage risk. Gary Kubek is also highly active in this area.
The ‘efficiently managed’ New York-based team at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP ‘never disappoints’ and impresses with its ‘ability to coordinate complex discovery and draft strong, well-reasoned motions and briefs’. Lawyers are ‘superior in every respect’, including litigation head William McGuinness (‘a force in the courtroom, delivering the company’s arguments in an authoritative manner while simultaneously combating the arguments from the other side’), vice chair Douglas Flaum (‘as good as they come’) and David Morris (‘tremendous analytical strength’, ‘provides leading advice on technical matters, case strategy and the discovery process’). The firm primarily represents brokerage, securities and other institutional clients on the full sweep of litigation involving securities actions, and recently received a boost on the enforcement side with the arrival of Linda Riefberg as special counsel from FINRA, where she was a vice president and chief counsel. The firm has had a hand in many of the market’s recent headline matters and recently obtained a victory for Wells Fargo, Wachovia Corporation and its former directors and officers, in a mammoth series of subprime securities lawsuits involving $109bn of exposure.
One of the few firms to provide a credible East and West Coast offering, Gibson Dunn’s practice is led by Jonathan Dickey and Robert Serio in New York, and Meryl Young in Orange County. Although it has a broad practice with strong experience in acting for issuers and underwriters, it receives particular recognition for its work for accountants and peers highlight its ‘excellent resume in acting for auditors’. Most recently, it successfully represented Ernst & Young and KPMG in obtaining the dismissal of a Madoff-related federal securities class action. In another Madoff-related case, the firm successfully defended UBS in $2bn claims brought by Irving Picard, the trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities. Dean Kitchens is singled out as an ‘outstanding securities litigator’, and acted alongside Dickey in advising 15 underwriters (including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Barclays and UBS) in the settlement of a high-profile shareholder class action arising from the collapse of Washington Mutual. Among its recent corporation representations, the firm represented Toyota in litigation arising out of drivers’ reports of “unintended acceleration” in Toyota vehicles.
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP distinguishes itself through its ‘outstanding regulatory expertise’ – supported both by its strength across complimentary areas such as white-collar crime and through its enforcement capability, which benefits from the experience of lawyers who were formerly assistant US attorneys. From New York, James Benedict heads a group that includes firm vice-chairman Scott Edelman – considered ‘a “go to” guy for corporate governance issues’. Work arising from the financial crisis continues to be highly active and it leverages off its reputation as a global finance powerhouse to specialise in advising underwriters in this area. The firm represented the lead underwriters (Credit Suisse Securities, Oppenheimer & Co, Thomas Weisel Partners, and Jefferies & Co) in the dismissal of a securities class action relating to the $135m secondary offering of Rigel Pharmaceuticals – it is now going to appeal. The firm also successfully represented the underwriters (including UBS Securities, Citigroup Global Markets, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia Capital Markets) in a securities class action against Regions Financial Corporation – the decision was upheld at appeal.
Led by Washington-based Jeffrey Kilduff, O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s 27-strong team is well-represented in the firm’s New York and Los Angeles offices. Its work representing financial institutions on securities litigation arising from the mortgage crisis continues to be the cornerstone of the practice, but it is winning a substantial share of the new wave of litigation concerning China-based US-listed companies and is making a real name for itself in the area. Among its recent China-related instructions, the firm successfully represented Shanghai-based online gaming company, Giant Interactive, in the settlement of a shareholder class action. The firm’s domestic practice also continues to grow in profile and its work for Fannie Mae stands up as one of the most sought-after instructions in the market. The firm is representing the government-sponsored mortgage company in several lawsuits including securities class actions, individual securities actions, shareholder derivative actions and an ERISA class action, stemming from a regulator’s interim report concluding that Fannie Mae artificially inflated its earnings through misapplication of certain accounting policies.
Praised for ‘doing a very good job of managing the substantive and procedural issues that arise in securities actions’, Sidley Austin LLP team is excellent at ‘analysis and fact finding’ and always demonstrates ‘business knowledge coupled with legal reasoning’. Group strength is weighted towards New York and Chicago but the firm also has significant capability in its Washington DC and Los Angeles offices. In New York, Robert Pietrzak is a ‘very experienced and savvy class action defense lawyer’ and has ‘developed particular experience in representing China companies that raise funds in the US’, and Gary Bendinger is recommended for his ‘excellent courtroom strategy, presentation style and persuasiveness’. In Chicago, SEC enforcement specialist David Graham is ‘well-regarded for class actions, consumer matters and antitrust’, and Hille Sheppard is highlighted for ‘thoroughness, analytical ability and persuasiveness’. The firm’s work for auditors has impressed over the past year: it successfully represented a Big Four accountancy firm in an action brought by the trustee of securities company, Refco Litigation Trust, and also successfully advised an accountancy firm in a Madoff-related, multidistrict litigation involving securities, state law, and insurance claims. Other representative clients include CNO Financial Group and Johnson & Johnson.
Lawyers at Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. receive plaudits for their ‘good judgment and experience, good value for money and generally excellent business acumen’. The team was dealt a blow by the departure of co-head Kenneth Held to Schiffer Odom Hicks & Johnson PLLC, but New York-based Steven Paradise is highly recommended, as is Clifford Thau, who is noted for being ‘that rare breed of litigator who blends strong legal skills with corporate savvy’. The firm’s signature oil and gas expertise ensures that it packs a punch in representing energy companies in merger challenge cases but it acts across the full spread of shareholder class action lawsuits and related litigations for a wide variety of energy companies, financial services companies and banks. The firm is representing Statoil in 15 merger challenge cases arising from its $4.4bn tender offer to the Brigham Exploration shareholders. In a highlight non-energy case, the firm is advising global payment services company, MoneyGram, in a shareholder derivative action. Other recent clients include Applied Energetics, Cohmad Securities and Enterprise Products.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s Boris Feldman is singled out as a ‘high-profile partner, with bags of experience and a no-nonsense approach’. Considered the ‘strongest collection of securities litigators on the West Coast’, the group is driven from the firm’s Palo Alto headquarters and has an excellent track in representing issuers. As a leading Silicon Valley player, it utilizes its excellent ITC links to specialise in defending major technology and IP corporations in securities-related suits, with recent representative clients including Boeing, Dell Computer, Fluor, 3Com and Hewlett-Packard. In line with its corporate base, transactional-related actions are a sweet spot and in 2011 the firm successfully obtained a dismissal for Nighthawk Radiology and its former officers in a shareholder class action arising from merger activity. The firm also has solid experience in representing banks and other financial institutions in securities actions and has garnered a decent share of litigation arising from the financial crisis. Other experienced partners include Steven Schatz, who divides his time between Palo Alto and New York, and Nina Locker.
Recommended for its experience across the full range of class action securities fraud cases, through to US Supreme Court and shareholder derivative claims, Baker Botts L.L.P. is ‘very good both in terms of quality knowledge of applicable law and in effectiveness of advocacy’. The firm specialises in representing corporations in securities litigation and its trademark strength in oil and gas work is evidenced through a strong energy and construction client base. Led out of Houston by David Sterling, highlighted as ‘outstanding in oral argument’, the team also draws in partners from across the firm’s New York and Dallas offices and includes the ‘efficient and knowledgeable’ Robb Voyles. In 2011, it successfully obtained the dismissal of a securities fraud case filed against engineering and construction company, McDermott International, which alleged that it improperly accounted for losses on offshore construction projects in the Middle East. Frontier Oil Corporation also instructed the firm to defend it in a series of shareholder actions alleging breach of fiduciary duty following a $7bn merger agreement with Holly Corporation. The team has also recently defended Halliburton and Parker Drilling in securities litigation.
The ‘prompt, effective and results driven’ team at Bingham McCutchen LLP provides ‘in-depth knowledge and capabilities in the area of securities litigation’. Clients say the firm’s ‘results speak for themselves’, and certainly it has secured some headline successes over the past year, including its work for trophy client Credit Suisse in a series of cases against some of the world’s largest institutional investors arising from over $2bn in losses incurred on asset-backed securities issued by National Century Financial Enterprises – Credit Suisse was one of the placement agents. Considered ‘a truly integrated national practice’, the team is spread across an extensive US network and is co-chaired by New York-based Jeffrey Smith, Boston-based Jordan Hershman and David Balabanian and Dale Barnes in San Francisco. In a high-profile corporate-side mandate ‘well-rounded attorney with the ability to provide practical advice in managing risks’ John Pernick acted alongside ‘great negotiator’ Charlene Shimada and Balabanian to represent medical device manufacturer Hansen Medical in ongoing shareholder derivative litigation. The firm also successfully defended Argo Partners, an investment company that specializes in distressed investments, in a putative class action.
New York’s C William Phillips heads a ‘capable and hardworking’ team at Covington & Burling LLP, which also benefits from a partner presence in the firm’s San Francisco and Washington Offices. Striking the right balance between corporate and financial sector representations, the group regularly advises companies and individuals in a broad range of contentious securities matters including shareholder class actions and derivative litigation. It is also well-known for its sterling enforcement practice and David Kornblau, a former chief litigation counsel for the SEC, has an excellent reputation for securities enforcement matters and related litigation. In a recent high-profile case, the firm acted as lead counsel for Del Monte Corporation in the settlement of several shareholder class actions arising from the $5.3bn leveraged buyout of Del Monte by a group of private equity funds. In another transactional case, it successfully settled nine shareholder class actions on behalf of SandRidge Energy arising from SandRidge’s proposed $1.3bn merger with Arena Resources. The team has a diverse industry client base and it has also recently handled litigation for UBS, Société Générale, Kowa Pharmaceuticals and Forest Laboratories.
The ‘expensive but excellent’ team at Hogan Lovells US LLP is applauded for its ‘formidable strength in court’, ‘excellent response times’ and ‘good global platform’. The firm is well regarded for its regulatory pedigree and among its leading names, Denver-based securities enforcement specialist Dan Shea ‘leaves no stone unturned in defense of the client’. Clients also recommend Silicon Valley-based Norman Blears for his ‘strong experience and commercial acumen’, and the ‘very smart’ Michael Charlson is ‘committed to finding solutions and is a fast learner’. Although it recorded a growth in instructions from companies outside the US during 2011, the team also remained busy on matters closer to home, especially in relation to merger challenge litigation. Among its recent highlights, it successfully obtained the dismissal of a $1.5bn class action against client Office Depot, and its CEO and CFO, which was later upheld at appeal. On the auditor side, the firm is representing PricewaterhouseCoopers Bermuda in various actions brought by foreign investors relating to feeder funds that had invested in the Madoff scheme.
Largely concentrated in New York, but aided by teams in Chicago, California and Washington, Kirkland & Ellis LLP has a ‘top-notch awareness of the industry’, alongside a ‘wealth of experience in representing auditors’ and ‘excellent bench strength’ – it is also commended for ‘getting associates involved early which empowers them to become better lawyers’. Housed in New York: ‘good communicator’ Peter Doyle is an ‘excellent litigator in all facets’; Andrew Clubok is ‘tireless, tenacious and strategic’; and Yosef Riemer is a ‘strong advocate, has a deep understanding of securities cases and doesn’t get rattled by anything’. In a series of high-value cases, the firm successfully represented real estate developer, Atrium European Real Estate in 15 litigations and arbitrations across seven countries against the troubled Meinl Bank. The litigation involved claims of €3.7bn and led to the separation of Meinl Bank and Atrium. The firm was also instructed by private equity giant Blackstone Group to defend it in three lawsuits worth $8.4bn against Extended Stay Litigation Trust arising from the sale of now-bankrupt company Extended Stay by Blackstone-controlled entities in 2007.
Lawyers at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP receive glowing praise for their ability to ‘genuinely care about your case’, for their ‘excellent response times regardless of time difference’ and for ‘taking time to understand every facet of your commercial background’. In addition, the team is ‘more “fee-conscious” than other US litigation firms and strikes the right balance between the amount of work done appropriate to the size and merits of a claim’. From New York, Gary Naftalis chairs a ‘superior’ group, including the ‘client-oriented and highly experienced’ Michael Dell and Arthur Aufses. Particularly recommended for hard-fought cases, the firm regularly defends issuers, underwriters, lawyers and financial services clients across the full spread of securities and derivative litigation. In a major headline, the firm successfully represented Rajat K Gupta, former managing director of McKinsey & Company, in a groundbreaking administrative case brought by the SEC. The firm also saw its successful defense of equipment rental giant, United Rentals, in class action litigation relating to its failed merger agreement with an affiliate of Cerberus Partners upheld at appeal.
Utilizing an extensive network of offices covering the East and West Coast and Colorado, the ‘proactive and instructive team’ at Morrison & Foerster LLP is ‘very knowledgeable in securities litigation both at a federal and state level’ and billing is ‘the best in the industry for clarity and conciseness’. Put simply: ‘If a client wants to win, these are the lawyers to use’. Co-led by Randall Fons in Denver, Jack Auspitz and Carl Loewenson in New York and Jordan Eth in San Francisco, the practice was bolstered in 2011 by the arrival of auditor specialist Robert Hubbell as partner from Gibson Dunn. He joins a 63-partner group that also includes ‘sharp seasoned lawyer’ Joel Haims – noted for ‘gaining the respect of opposing counsel’ – and the ‘smart, strategic and committed’ James Brosnahan. Although it maintains its strong reputation for representing high-tech companies, clients include major corporations, financial institutions and professional services players. In a headline piece of credit crisis-related ligation, the firm is representing 11 of Countrywide Financial Corporation’s 13 outside directors named in numerous claims arising from the decline in price of Countrywide’s securities. Yahoo! and Merrill Lynch are also recent clients.
DLA Piper LLP’s team is led from Los Angeles and San Diego by Perrie Weiner and Robert Brownlie respectively and includes the ‘timely and effective’ Nicolas Morgan. The firm defends corporate clients against stockholder claims covering the full range of federal securities laws, stockholder derivative litigation and other corporate governance disputes, as well as in contests for corporate control. In a high-profile individual representation, the firm is advising former chief executive officer of Fannie Mae, Dan Mudd, in numerous securities and derivatives matters and has already seen several cases successfully dismissed. In another highlight, the firm obtained the dismissal of a $10m breach of contract and fraud claim on behalf of Orient Paper. Other representative clients include E*Trade, Lockheed Martin and South West Water.
The ‘top-performing team’ at Dechert LLP distinguishes itself through its ‘attention to detail’, ‘impressive strategies’, ‘strong teamwork’ and ‘strong and effective advocates’. Led out of New York by William Dodds, the practice was recently boosted by the arrival of a three-partner team from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP – including former national litigation chair Edwin Woodsome – as well as partners James McGuire, a former associate justice, and Hector Gonzalez from Mayer Brown. Andrew Levander is ‘an outstanding litigator with expertise in securities and white-collar matters’, and Adam Wasserman is ‘dedicated and clearly strives for the successful outcome’. Among the firm’s recent successes, it obtained dismissal of securities claims worth over $100m on behalf of OppenheimerFunds Distributor. The Bank of New York Mellon has also instructed the firm to represent it as trustee of RMBS trusts in several matters.
Greenberg Traurig LLP’s clients state it provides ‘the best service in the market’ due to ‘speedy turnaround times’ and ‘succinct advice that always hits the mark’. Lawyers are ‘always prepared and know every angle in civil securities fraud cases’, with Atlanta-based Terry Weiss recommended for his ‘excellent knowledge of the financial services industry including products, supervision practices and in house policies and procedures’. John Sten is also recommended as a ‘very effective lawyer with a tremendous ability at trial’ and led the successful representation of Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation in a nationwide securities class action claiming the company made false statements that artificially inflated its stock price. The firm also has an excellent reputation for enforcement matters and successfully represented James Tambone, a former co-president of Columbia Funds Distributor, in a SEC civil enforcement action.
The ‘tenacious’ and ‘responsive’ 80-strong team at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, impresses for its ‘excellent level of service’ and for its ‘ability to deliver on expectations’. Jointly led by Chicago managing partner David Kistenbroker – highlighted for his ‘unbelievable depth of knowledge in the securities litigation area’ – and the ‘smart and experienced’ Bruce Vanyo in New York, the group maintains a solid track record in defending corporations and their directors and officers in securities actions and merger clearance cases. In a recent highlight, the firm won an instruction from Tekelec and its directors and officers in relation to two sets of litigation including a derivative case and an attempt to block a proposed going-private transaction. The firm also won an instruction from FCStone Group to defend it in consolidated putative securities class actions arising from the financial crisis.
King & Spalding LLP’s clients are drawn from the full list of public and private companies, investment banks, broker-dealers, auditors, investment advisors and hedge funds. The 81-strong team regularly defends clients in federal and state securities litigations, government investigations and related disputes and is considered a ‘major player in the market’. Among the firm’s recent highlights, Robert Thornton led the successful defense of Beazer Homes, and several of its directors, in a shareholder derivative action alleging breach of fiduciary duty. Warren Pope is singled out as a ‘highly knowledgeable and user-friendly partner’ and led the successful defense of EMS Technologies in a shareholder class action challenging the proposed $550m tender offer and merger of EMS with Honeywell.
The team at Morgan Lewis has a strong national footprint, encompassing offices across the East and West Coast, and impresses with ‘responsiveness and an orientation towards client service’. The firm bolstered its Irvine offering in 2011 with the arrival of Robert Gooding, former co-head of Howrey LLP’s securities litigation practice, and partner Scott Garner, who also joins from the now defunct Howrey LLP. They join a ‘tremendously responsible and well-grounded team’ that includes the ‘extremely experienced and polished’ Marc Sonnenfeld – noted as ‘one of the firm’s best assets’. The group specialises in defending issuers – and their officers and directors – in a diverse range of industries and is currently involved in matters across the biotech, subprime lending, financial services and manufacturing sectors. In a recent win, the firm successfully obtained a dismissal of a securities class action for Zimmer Holdings, its CEO and its CFO.
Lawyers at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP ‘invest time to get to know the client and maintain that commercial understanding’ and one source professes: ‘I have not found other firms that can match its skills and very high level of service.’ Led out of San Francisco by the ‘committed, dedicated and highly tenacious’ Michael Torpey, the firm has a niche in auditor representations, but it also has experience across a wide range of litigation and enforcement matters on behalf of public companies, financial institutions and individuals. New York’s Joseph Frank is leading advice to Barclays Capital in the defense of several high-value mortgage-backed securities litigations, including cases brought by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle and Cambridge Place Investment Management. In a high-profile success, the firm obtained a dismissal of a securities class action against semiconductor company, NVIDIA Corporation.
In 2011, Paul Hastings LLP hired Mark Pollack, formerly general counsel at Andersen, and former New York prosecutors Alan Brudner and Maria Douvas, who join as partner and of counsel respectively. Led from New York by securities litigation chair Barry Sher, the 25-partner team has an excellent track record in representing financial institutions in securities cases relating to complex financial products and also in cases arising from bankruptcy and restructuring matters. The firm is representing Appaloosa Management in litigation stemming from the Washington Mutual bankruptcy, involving the largest bank failure in the United States – Appaloosa is a substantial holder of WaMu debt. The firm is also defending UBS in two large cases brought by investors in CDOs issued by UBS.
The ‘superlative’ team at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP attracts praise for its ‘excellent knowledge of the law’, its ‘professional, aggressive and practical approach’ and for its ‘great bench strength in securities litigation coupled with great in-firm resources for related areas of practice such as bankruptcy and M&A’. Led from New York and Los Angeles by Peter Calamari (‘incredibly strategic’), Harry Olivar (‘a deep thinker who sees around corners that others do not even know exist’) and Philippe Selendy (‘insightful, brilliant, and unsurpassed at oral advocacy’), the structured finance and derivatives litigation team handles work for both defendants and plaintiffs and is currently representing clients in securities litigation worth over $100bn in damages. Among its defense cases, the firm successfully represented internet advertising firm Betawave in a securities class action brought by private equity firm, Sunrise Equity Partners, arising from a PIPE transaction that took Betawave public.
Clients ‘cannot say enough good things about the team’ at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. Lawyers are ‘hardworking’, ‘honest and straightforward’ and ‘able to appropriately assess risk while being sensitive to business needs’. Led by co-litigation chairs Howard Schiffman in Washington and New York-based Martin Perschetz – who ‘always achieves the best outcomes’ – the team also includes the very highly rated Richard Morvillo. The practice benefits from its experience in support areas such as white-collar crime, civil enforcement and corporate governance and regularly defends funds, investment advisers, auditors and officers and directors of publically held companies. Among its recent work, it represented the estate of Jeffry M Picower against the Department of Justice and the trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities in the $7.2bn settlement of claims arising out of the Madoff ponzi scheme.
Led out of Cleveland by Joseph Weinstein, Squire Sanders LLP’s national practice also benefits from platforms in California, Florida and New York. The firm has racked up several important victories in the securities litigation field over the past year, most notably representing Limited Brands, owner of lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret, in a putative class action alleging it deceived investors about attempts to modernize its distribution and online sales systems – the case was successfully dismissed and the plaintiff elected not to appeal. In an ongoing bankruptcy-related case, the firm is representing the CEO and director of LTV Steel in a complex $160m derivative action brought by the official committee of administrative claimants on behalf of LTV Steel, alleging that the defendants allowed LTV Steel to incur debts during its chapter 11 bankruptcy case that they allegedly knew, or should have known, the company could not pay.
White & Case LLP regularly advises financial institutions, corporations, sovereign governments and executives and directors across the full spread of securities litigation include shareholder class actions, shareholder derivative disputes and transactional-related litigation. Global litigation head Glenn Kurtz is recommended and recently led advice to Fairfield Greenwich Group (FGG) in consolidated class action proceedings brought by investors in certain FGG funds seeking to recover $7.5bn worth of losses. The investors are asserting, among other claims, breach of fiduciary duty and securities claims stemming from the alleged failure of FGG to perform adequate due diligence on Bernard Madoff’s investment operation – although the work is ongoing, the firm has already successfully defeated a case brought by a Connecticut state pension fund. Other representative clients include UBS Real Estate Securities, Hess Corporation and Pitney Bowes.
The group at Winston & Strawn LLP has a sterling record in defending accounting firms in securities fraud litigation arising from the financial crisis, with the ‘tireless, smart and effective’ Caryn Jacobs singled out for her ‘ability to always think strategically, which helps clients to sleep at night’. Jacobs co-chairs the practice from Chicago alongside Ronald Betman, but the national team also includes active partners in the firm’s New York, Los Angeles and Houston offices. In a representative auditor-side instruction, the firm successfully represented Grant Thornton in a case arising from its role as auditors of Refco – a brokerage firm that collapsed in 2005 when fraud was discovered in its financial statements. It also successfully represented Scientific-Atlanta in a consolidated securities fraud class action. In May 2012, James Smith and Richard Reinthaler joined from Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.
California-headquartered technology specialist Cooley LLP attracts praise for its ‘depth of industry knowledge’ and ‘tenacious commitment to the client’s cause’. Among its recent highlights, Michael Rhodes secured a win for eBay in a high-profile shareholder dispute that saw a court order Craigslist’s founders and controlling shareholders to reverse steps that had diluted eBay’s stake in their company. The firm also benefits from a significant East Coast platform, and New York-based William Schwartz and Celia Goldwag Barenholtz successfully represented Clifford Chance in a securities class action brought by investors in a former client.
Clients recommend Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP as a ‘highly valued contributor to the business’. Split between the firm’s New York and Washington offices, the group is comprised of ‘commercially adept lawyers’ recommended for their ‘excellent handling of the interface with regulators’. The firm recently represented hedge fund and collateral agent Black Diamond Capital Management in litigation arising out of its acquisition of asset manager GSC Group. Other representative clients include BDC Finance and Wachovia Corporation. Brian Fraser and Craig Newman are the main contacts.