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Kirkland & Ellis LLP

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Jay Lefkowitz

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Kirkland & Ellis LLP

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A senior litigation partner and adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, Jay Lefkowitz focuses on high-profile matters affecting the world’s leading companies in industries including pharmaceuticals, private equity, technology and telecommunications. Jay represents clients on pivotal issues in trials and appeals involving securities and shareholders, antitrust, government investigations, and constitutional questions. One of his two recent landmark Supreme Court victories in the pharmaceutical space, Bartlett v. Mutual, was described as “the most closely watched product liability case of 2013.” Jay is also a leading advocate for religious freedom and education reform, representing parents, children and schools pro bono.


Columbia College, A.B., 1984; Columbia Law School, J.D., 1987.

United States: Dispute resolution

Appellate: Supreme Court (federal and state)

Within: Appellate: Supreme Court (federal and state)

The combination of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and specialist appellate firm Bancroft PLLC has helped form ‘a top-notch team of highly skilled and creative attorneys’. This includes the renowned Paul Clement, from the legacy Bancroft firm, who achieved unanimous victories in Encino Motorcars v Navarro and Hughes v Talen Energy Marketing, supported by Jeffrey Harris and Erin Murphy respectively. Christopher Landau led a team that persuaded the US Supreme Court to reverse a California state court judgment and compel arbitration proceedings against DirectTV under the Federal Arbitration Act, effectively prohibiting state courts from infringing federal arbitration rights. The group had notable successes for clients in the energy and technology sectors. Chicago’s Andrew McGaan convinced the Third Circuit to affirm a bankruptcy court order approving a $4.4bn settlement in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of Energy Future Holdings. Daniel Laytin, also based in Chicago, secured a favorable judgment for Trina Solar at the Sixth Circuit, resulting in the dismissal of a complaint regarding alleged predatory pricing. John O’Quinn convinced the Federal Circuit to vacate a $16.2m damages award against Cisco arising from patent infringement proceedings. In the Delaware Supreme Court, Chicago-based of counsel Robert Kopecky secured an affirmation of the dismissal of a shareholder derivative action for General Motors, preventing a potential flood of liability claims following a large-scale safety recall. Daniel Donovan and New York-based Jay Lefkowitz are also noted.

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M&A: litigation: defense

Within: M&A: litigation: defense

Kirkland & Ellis LLP has ‘an excellent litigation practice with extremely knowledgeable lawyers giving excellent advice’. Yosef Riemer has ‘an outstanding practice and is at the top of the game for private equity litigation, having led some pivotal cases’. He achieved a major victory for Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital’s portfolio company BMC Software in a case relating to its $6.9bn take-private transaction by securing a favorable opinion in the largest Delaware statutory appraisal action ever to reach a post-trial decision. Riemer and Matthew Solum defended former directors of Clearwire Corporation in a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit challenging its $14bn acquisition by Sprint. Solum and Jay Lefkowitz acted for Epiq Systems in litigation and a proxy contest. Los Angeles-based Mark Holscher, who had a key role in defending Pershing Square Capital Management in cases arising from its hostile takeover bid for Allergan, is also recommended. All named attorneys are based in New York except where otherwise stated.

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Product liability, mass tort and class action: consumer products (including tobacco)

Within: Product liability, mass tort and class action: consumer products (including tobacco)

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s litigation practice handles class action defense for a wide range of clients. Richard Godfrey and Andrew Langan, both of whom are based in Chicago, have been representing L3 Technologies in a class action alleging defective military and consumer rifle accessories. In Washington DC, Eugene Assaf and Daniel Bress successfully obtained complete dismissals with prejudice for United Technologies in three putative federal class actions concerning allegations of defects in the company’s Carrier home air conditioning systems. The team includes Andrew McGaan in Chicago and Jay Lefkowitz in New York.

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Product liability, mass tort and class action: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense

Within: Product liability, mass tort and class action: pharmaceuticals and medical devices - defense

Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s practice excels in defending clients against product liability claims. The group has been serving as national counsel to Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie in a number of claims alleging failure to warn regarding the company’s arthritis drug Humira; the firm won dismissal of two cases with no payment for AbbVie. In New York and Washington DC respectively, Jay Lefkowitz and Michael Shumsky represented Teva Pharmaceuticals in Welch v Merck & Co, Inc et al before the Third Circuit, which affirmed the dismissal of all product liability claims arising from the plaintiff’s use of the generic drug alendronate sodium. Clients also recommend Mike Brock, who is based in Washington DC.

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Product liability, mass tort and class action: toxic tort - defense

Within: Product liability, mass tort and class action: toxic tort - defense

At Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the product liability and mass tort practice’s deep bench of trial experts often handles high-profile litigation. Douglas Kurtenbach and Jeffrey Clark, in Chicago and Washington DC respectively, have been defending Axiall in various toxic tort lawsuits claiming personal injuries resulting from exposure to a fire at a vinyl chloride plant in Louisiana, including a number of cases at the Fifth Circuit and the US Supreme Court. In Chicago, Kevin Van Wart and Brenton Rogers have been defending YRC Worldwide and Roadway Express in lawsuits alleging that the vinyl chloride contamination of drinking water in Sauk Village, Illinois was caused by the companies’ operations. Key names include Jay Lefkowitz in New York and Eugene Assaf in Washington DC. Clients recommend Andrew McGaan, Richard Godfrey and Mark Filip in Chicago.

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