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Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

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London, New York

Evan Chesler

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Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Work Department



Evan R. Chesler is Cravath’s Chairman. He has broad experience in both trial and appellate courts, and has tried numerous cases in federal and state courts all over the country.

Mr. Chesler handles a wide variety of litigation, including securities, shareholder derivative, intellectual property, general commercial, environmental, ERISA, contractual disputes and antitrust. His practice also includes the representation of clients in government and internal investigations.  Mr. Chesler has represented companies and their management in virtually every industry including technology, media, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and financial services. 


Following his graduation, Mr. Chesler served as law clerk to Hon. Inzer B. Wyatt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He joined Cravath as a litigation associate in 1976 and became a partner in 1982.  Mr. Chesler became head of the Litigation Department in 1996.  He was elected Deputy Presiding Partner in November 2005, and Presiding Partner effective January 1, 2007.  As of January 1, 2013, Mr. Chesler became Chairman of the Firm, the first person to be given that title in the Firm’s history. 

Mr. Chesler has been recognized as a leading litigator in several practice areas by numerous professional publications, including Chambers USA, Chambers Global, The Best Lawyers in America, The American Lawyer, Benchmark Litigation, The Legal 500 United States, Lawdragon and Super Lawyers.  Mr. Chesler was named to The Legal 500 Hall of Fame in the Leading Trial Lawyers category in 2017.  He became the first recipient of Benchmark Litigation’s Hall of Fame Award in 2016 and was named by the publication as one of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America.”  He was also named a nationwide “Legend” by Lawdragon. Law360 selected Mr. Chesler as a “Competition MVP” in 2016, and as one of the nation’s “Trial Aces” in 2015. He was named Best Lawyers’ Bet-the-Company Litigation “Lawyer of the Year” (2012, 2017), Litigation – Antitrust “Lawyer of the Year” (2014) and Antitrust Law “Lawyer of the Year” (2011) for the New York City area.  In 2012, Mr. Chesler received Chambers USA’s Award for Excellence in the Litigation: Business Trial Lawyers category.  


Mr. Chesler is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a fellow of the New York Bar Foundation. He is the President of the Institute of Judicial Administration, the oldest nonpartisan organization in the United States devoted to the education of the judiciary.  Mr. Chesler is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the New York Public Library and Chairman of the Lawyers for the Library Committee.  He is also a member of the Council of The American Law Institute, a Trustee of the Federal Bar Council and a Trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society. Mr. Chesler is the author of numerous articles on legal topics as well as a chapter in the popular book, Inside the Minds of Leading Litigators (Aspatore Books, 2002).  He is also a co-author of a chapter on removal to federal court in Commercial Litigation in New York State Courts (Third Edition), for which he received the New York County Lawyers’ Association’s 2013 Boris Kostelantez President’s Medal, and a chapter on cross-examination in Winning at Trial: Insights from the Bench and Leading Litigators (Law Journal Press, 2014).

Mr. Chesler is an adjunct professor of law at New York University School of Law, where he teaches an Advanced Trial Practice Seminar, and has been an adjunct faculty member at NYU’s College of Arts and Science, where he has taught an honors seminar entitled, “Constitutional Rights in Times of National Crisis.” He is a recipient of the Judge Learned Hand Award from the American Jewish Committee (2014); a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Atlantic Legal Foundation (2014); the Judge Joseph M. Proskauer Award from the UJA-Federation of New York (2013); the Judge Simon H. Rifkind Award from the Jewish Theological Seminary (2012); the Law & Society Award from the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (2011); the Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession Award from Chambers and Partners (2009); the Anti-Defamation League’s Human Relations Award (2007); and the Office of the Appellate Defender’s Gould Award for Outstanding Oral Advocacy (2006). 

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of New York University and of the Board’s Executive Committee, Chairman of NYU’s Board of Overseers of the Faculty of Arts and Science and founder and Chairman of LAMP (the Lawyer Alumni Mentoring Program), which provides mentoring and curriculum enrichment programs to prelaw students. Mr. Chesler is also a member of the Board of Trustees of New York University School of Law and of the Board’s Executive Committee, as well as a member of the Advisory Board of the Center on Civil Justice at NYU School of Law.  He has received three awards from the University: the Alumni Achievement Award from the School of Law (2015); the Alumni Distinguished Service Award (2001); and the Alumni Meritorious Service Award (2004).  Mr. Chesler was also inducted into the Alumni Association of Hunter College’s Hall of Fame for his extraordinary contributions as one of the country’s leading litigation and corporate lawyers.


Mr. Chesler received an A.B. degree, with highest honors in History, from New York University, after which he earned an M.A. in Russian Area Studies at Hunter College.  Mr. Chesler received his law degree cum laude from New York University School of Law, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif (the national honor society for law students), was Topics Editor of the Law Review, served as a junior fellow at the Center for International Studies (at which he co-authored two published articles on aspects of international law), twice received the John Norton Pomeroy Prize for academic excellence and was awarded the Benjamin Butler Prize.

United States: Antitrust

Civil litigation/class actions

Within: Civil litigation/class actions

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP’s practice is led by Christine Varney, a former US Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust and FTC Commissioner. The firm has a particularly strong following of clients from the financial services sector; John Buretta is representing Nomura International in nine consolidated class actions involving allegations of collusion and price-fixing over SSA bonds. In another highlight, Daniel Slifkin and Michael Paskin are acting for Morgan Stanley in Re Interest Rate Swaps Antitrust Litigation. Kevin Orsini has experience representing American Express in high-profile antitrust disputes. Elsewhere, Rowan Wilson is representing Mylan Laboratories in a consolidated set of class actions centered on alleged reverse payment settlement agreements between Cephalon and various generic drugs manufacturers (including Mylan). Evan Chesler and Peter Barbur are other notable individuals.

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United States: Dispute resolution

Appellate: Supreme Court (federal and state)

Within: Appellate: Supreme Court (federal and state)

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP’s New York-based group is acting for Alcon Laboratories in a constitutional challenge of pricing regulations for manufacturers of contact lenses and represented the Republic of Argentina in the sovereign debt litigation. At the Sixth Circuit, Evan Chesler secured the affirmation of a dismissal of a putative class action against ESPN and ABC brought by former National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) football and basketball players. American Express is a prominent client; the team secured a reversal of a district court judgment in antitrust proceedings concerning merchant acceptance rules and obtained a favorable outcome in a class action brought by consumers alleging conspiracy to adopt arbitration clauses barring class actions between May 1999 and October 2003. Richard Clary is also recommended.

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Corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense

Within: Corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP’s lawyers are ‘succinct, refined, user-friendly, and very well versed in the ways of the regulators’. The firm’s work for Credit Suisse includes litigation concerning its sale of RMBS and alleged violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act, and it is defending Novartis against allegations of FCA and Anti-Kickback Statute violations. Other clients include Dreamworks Animation, which the firm is advising on an SEC investigation into its accounting. Key figures in the team, which is based in New York, include the ‘sophisticated, sensible and persuasiveJohn Buretta, Benjamin Gruenstein, David Stuart, Evan Chesler and Rachel Skaistis.

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General commercial disputes

Within: General commercial disputes

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP stands out for its ability to take on the full gamut of commercial litigation, with a client base that spans the financial services, pharmaceutical, retail, technology and media industries, among others. From its base in New York, the team handles disputes across the length of the country. Its representation of Alcon Laboratories is one example; David Marriott is representing the company in antitrust and consumer protection class action lawsuits in the Middle District of Florida, while he and Evan Chesler are also defending it in an employment dispute brought in the Southern District of New York. A team including Marriott, Chesler, Darin McAtee, Yonatan Even and Omid Nasab continued to represent NCR Corporation in multifaceted litigation brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. J Wesley Earnhardt is another key figure in the team.

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Leading trial lawyers

Within: Leading trial lawyers

Evan Chesler - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Within: Leading trial lawyers

Evan Chesler - Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP New York-based Evan Chesler’s sector expertise ranges from life sciences to sports. He has a stellar track record in appellate courts and represented Mylan Laboratories in antitrust litigation pertaining to reversed payment agreements between Cephalon and generic drug manufacturers; he also defended Novartis in two qui tam actions alleging violations of the False Claim Act (FCA) and Anti-Kickback Statute. Chesler’s activity in the securities area is reflected in his representation of Merck & Co alongside its current and former officers and directors in individual and class action securities cases pertaining to the development and sale of a prescription pain medication withdrawn from the market in 2004.

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Securities litigation: defense

Within: Securities litigation: defense

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York ‘certainly belongs in the top echelon of securities litigation firms’. Its continues to play a major role in high-profile cases such as In re Akorn, Inc Securities Litigation, in which head of litigation Daniel Slifkin, Antony Ryan and David Stuart are representing Akorn in a case alleging misrepresentation by the company and its board. The firm’s respected regulatory enforcement team is handling an SEC investigation into Akorn’s accounting restatements. Michael Paskin and Timothy Cameron’s recent highlights include Willis v Big Lots, Inc, et al, in which plaintiffs allege Big Lots made false statements about its financial performance and that executives earned $37m from insider trading. Richard Clary’s strong track record in RMBS matters continues with cases for Credit Suisse such as People of the State of New York v Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, et al.Robert Baron is acting for Deutsche Bank Securities and Credit Suisse Securities; Evan Chesler and Karin DeMasi are handling the appeal of a class action against DreamWorks Animation; and Sandra Goldstein won dismissal of a case against ADT Corporation’s former CFO. The regulatory enforcement team has standout practitioners in Rachel Skaistis, John Buretta and Benjamin Gruenstein.

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United States: Media, technology and telecoms

Media and entertainment

Within: Media and entertainment

Highlights for Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, hailed as ‘one of the premier M&A firms in the field’, include advising Amblin Partners and Steven Spielberg on the formation of Amblin Partners by DreamWorks Studios, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One. Faiza Saeed led the matter and is also assisting DreamWorks Animation, alongside Eric Schiele and Ting Chen, with its sale to NBCUniversal, totaling $4.1bn. The practice also has a notable contentious element and in a recent appeal before the Ninth Circuit, Karin DeMasi, Evan Chesler and Benjamin Gruenstein secured affirmation of a dismissal on behalf of DreamWorks Animation in a consolidated securities class action suit relating to the alleged misrepresentation of the financial performance of the company’s animated film Turbo. DeMasi and Chesler are also representing Warner Bros Entertainment and New Line Cinema in a dispute with Miramax and the Weinstein brothers regarding the revenue shares from the second and third installments of The Hobbit franchise. Other clients include ABC, Barnes & Noble, Time Warner and Vivendi. All attorneys mentioned are based in New York.

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