The Legal 500

Greenberg Traurig, LLP

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United States

Top-tier recommendations

  • United States: Real estate and construction > Real estate


United States: Finance

Within Corporate restructuring (including bankruptcy), tier 5

The ‘highly responsive, highly capable and talented’ team at Greenberg Traurig LLP attracts praise for being ‘attentive to cost needs while still providing an excellent work product’. The 36-partner group encompasses professionals from across the country and is co-chaired by Mark Bloom, Keith Shapiro and Bruce Zirinsky in Miami, Chicago and New York respectively. Nancy Mitchell is singled out as a ‘brilliant legal and finance professional that rises to every challenge with ease and authority’ and Maria DiConza is a ‘highly accessible and compassionate counsel’. The firm’s deal sheet demonstrates its experience in acting for debtors, creditors and acquirers and clients testify that it has a broad capability that awards it the ability to ‘implement a holistic approach to evaluate the appropriate path to success’. On the creditor side, the firm is representing a group of bondholders that hold a substantial amount of the bonds issued by GM Nova Scotia, which was a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary of General Motors, in litigation involving claims of approximately $1.2bn. Among its debtor-side work, it advised Indianapolis Downs and Indiana Downs Capital Corp in their pending Chapter 11 cases, which involve indebtedness of $600m.

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Within Structured finance , tier 4

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s structured finance practice group is ‘top quality, extremely responsive, very knowledgeable - not inexpensive, but good value’. The 35-lawyer group, which is represented in the firm’s offices nationwide, advises in virtually every asset class in the mortgage, asset-backed, municipal and structured products markets. Members have recently advised on Federal economic stimulus initiatives, including the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF), and the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). In New York, group leader Mark Michigan, who provides ‘strong knowledge and advice’, worked with Trent Murch from the Chicago office to represent CNH Capital America as issuer of an ABS backed by a pool of equipment receivables to the value of $950m. Also recommended is New York derivatives expert Sylvie Durham, ‘who I would follow if she left the firm’. Group members have acted for Deutsche Bank, WestLB, and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi.

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United States: Industry focus

Within Environment: litigation, tier 4

The ‘great’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘exemplaryGreenberg Traurig LLPgoes above and beyond’ in its environmental work for clients. The firm is known for its experience in toxic tort cases, and is also competent in regulatory disputes, citizen suits, criminal enforcement and personal injury cases. It is also acting for paper manufacturer P H Glatfelter Co against the United States in a Superfund dispute arising from the presence of PCBs in the Lower Fox River in Wisconsin. The case went to trial in 2012 over the government’s continued responsibilities and costs to complete the estimated $1.5bn cleanup. In a separate Superfund matter, the team is acting for United Alloys & Metals and Cronimet Corporation against the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is seeking to recover remediation costs (estimated to be up to $30m) as a result of solvent contamination from its metal recycling operations. The firm’s work for Coronet Industries in Franco, et al v Coronet Industries, Inc, et al, in which 1,100 plaintiffs allege personal injury and property damage as a result of contaminated groundwater and air in a large area surrounding a former Coronet factory. The case is seven years old and the firm has achieved a rare ‘Lone Pine’ order requiring plaintiffs to substantiate allegations through expert reports before the prosecution can proceed. Tampa-based David Weinstein chairs the department, which includes over 20 partners.

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Within Healthcare: health insurers, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP provides an impressively wide range of expertise for insurer clients. A team from the firm’s Albany office advised Amerigroup on the regulatory aspects of its $85m purchase of Health Plus; and Francis Serbaroli is leading lawyers from Albany and New York in advising a major health insurer on the consolidation of its associated physician groups. In contentious work, a team from the Washington DC office, led by healthcare co-head Nancy Taylor, successfully reversed a CMS denial of client Senior Whole Health’s application for a service area expansion in New York state.

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United States: Intellectual property

Within Copyright, tier 5

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Ian Ballon and Heather Meeker were counsel to defendant Google on copyright infringement issues in its high-profile case brought by Oracle regarding the Java software system. The practice also handles copyright prosecution work for longstanding clients such as Alcoa. Kenneth Steinthal handles copyright litigation in relation to the music and other media industries.

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Within Trademarks: litigation, tier 5

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s full-service trademark litigation practice is particularly well known for its expertise in anti-cybersquatting and anti-counterfeiting matters. The New York team, which includes James Donoian, is representing Flight Club in defending against TTAB opposition proceedings brought by Nike as well as handling disputes for Alcoa, Polo Ralph Lauren and Christian Lacroix snc. In Los Angeles, Ian Ballon specialises in internet-related issues and Susan Heller chairs the national trademark practice. Steven Wadyka in Washington DC and Houston-based Dwayne Mason are also key litigators. Former practice co-chair Roxanne Elings left to join Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

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United States: Labor and employment

Within Employee benefits and executive compensation, tier 5

At Greenberg Traurig LLP, ‘the team is experienced and committed to its clients. It takes pride in doing a good job and goes the extra mile’. Tax expert Steven Lapidus and Jeffrey Mamorksy, who ‘has worked in every corner of pension law’, co-chair the firm’s EBEC practice that advises on all aspects of employee benefits, with particular experience in plan governance and fiduciary obligations. The firm assists the Pension Plan for Insurance Organizations on all aspects of ERISA and IRS compliance for the three named fiduciaries and 78 participating employers. Other clients include Lloyds Banking Group and State Farm. Terry Moore, who ‘has deep knowledge of tax law relative to DB plans, and is very client service-oriented’, and Richard Sirus are recommended.

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Within Immigration, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s ‘immigration practice is highly recommend for its client dedication, value for money, and overall expertise’. The firm ‘has assembled a team that has been working together for a long time and they each have a level of expertise in different areas and know who should respond to a particular situation’. ‘I believe its knowledge and customer service far exceeds other immigration law firms and it is the reason we have retained its services for a very long time’. The firm’s immigration and compliance group focuses on strategic immigration planning, and is actively involved in shaping immigration legislation. In the last 12 months, the firm has continued to fight for comprehensive immigration and essential worker legislation, opposed ‘enforcement only’ legislation, and worked on the Eb-5 investor extension legislation and private bills. Laura Reiff, who co-chairs the group with Martha Schoonover, has a growing reputation as a technical lobbyist for the business community. She has worked closely with Senate and House staffers to draft and review legislative language in an effort to further comprehensive immigration reform and has been invited as a representative of the business community to meet with the new Homeland Security Secretary and the President advising on the immigration reform initiatives. Her ‘immigration expertise is unparalleled and she is extremely knowledgeable and involved in Congressional legislation and government agency regulatory initiatives - this is very helpful to a large, multinational company to be able to anticipate and plan around proposed legislation that impacts global business needs’.

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Within Labor and employment litigation, tier 4

Greenberg Traurig LLP has an impressive class and collective action practice. The firm was lead counsel representing Tenet Healthcare Corporation in a series of putative nationwide collective actions under the FLSA and analogous state law. It also defended Albertson’s against a putative class action involving denial of unemployment benefits to 4,500 striking employees, arising from the 2003-2004 grocery workers strike, that resulted in obtaining an order from the Court denying class certification in November 2011, and then a grant of summary judgment on the remaining individual claims in March 2012. Other clients include CB Richard Ellis and Wendy’s International. Robert Goldich and James Boudreau are recommended.

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Within Workplace and employment counseling, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP has an active workplace and employment counseling practice that is led by Johnine Barnes and Wendy Lario. The firm recently advised The Guardian on the design and implementation of employment and compensation policies and practices for American businesses. It has worked closely with the UK-based human resources, compensation and legal teams of the client to structure an American employment series of protocols and harmonize them with the client’s previously existing, non-American approaches. The firm also assisted Kelso-Burnett with its affirmative action plan; routinely advises Profit Investment Management on employment matters, including recently drafting its employee handbook and assisting with the re-classification of employees; and assisted TV One with an employment audit and re-drafted its employment policies and procedures. Kristine Feher is also recommended.

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United States: Litigation

Within Leading trial lawyers Leading trial lawyers

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Within Product liability and mass tort defense: consumer products (including tobacco), tier 4

Excellent’ in New York and Miami, Greenberg Traurig LLP is ‘responsive’ and ‘provides timely legal advice while taking into account the specifics of clients’ businesses.’ Robert Herrington, David Ross and ‘strategic thinkerFrancis Citera co-head the practice. Citera imparts ‘timely’ advice and ‘makes himself available no matter how busy he is’. The team fields ‘top people’ who are ‘very good at what they do’, and has a strong reputation for appellate work in Florida. Senior partners staff cases leanly and endeavor to ‘consider long-term strategy, not just the short term’. Hilarie Bass and Mark Salky are acting as lead counsel for several public and private homebuilders in actions concerning allegedly defective drywall manufactured in China. The team also defended a global electronics manufacturer in litigation concerning an allegedly defective component part it supplied, which led to a product recall. Gretchen Miller provides ‘superior’ representation in Chicago, and New York-based Alan Mansfield is an ‘excellent lawyer’ with a ‘terrific’ set of skills.

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Within Product liability and mass tort defense: pharmaceuticals and medical devices, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP is home to a ‘strong trial team’ with a distinct focus on product liability cases concerning medical devices. The practice continued to receive a number of instructions from Medtronic and Medtronic MiniMed, and acted as national counsel in litigation surrounding cardiac, surgical and neuromodulation operations. Medtronic also instructed the firm to defend it in litigation alleging that its insulin pump was defectively labeled, which allegedly resulted in brain injury. ‘Highly regarded’ practice head Lori Cohen is a ‘pleasure to work with’ and is ‘a true life science product liability lawyer’. She recently acted as lead national counsel to Sandoz in consolidated state court lawsuits across California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, concerning metoclopramide, a generic version of Reglan heartburn medication. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA instructed the team to defend it against personal injury and negligence claims concerning propoxyphene products. Other clients include I-Flow and Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries. Ginger Pigott in Los Angeles and Atlanta-based of counsel Beth Toberman are also recommended.

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Within Product liability and mass tort defense: toxic tort, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Tampa-based David Weinstein chairs the team at Greenberg Traurig LLP, which handles a range of novel toxic tort litigation and environmental proceedings, spanning wrongful death and personal injury claims to first-party permit appeals and enforcement of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. The team has an excellent relationship with PH Glatfelter Company, which it defended before the US District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin against a $45m claim for costs following a prior consent decree. The firm also acted as lead counsel to PH Glatfelter Company in a Superfund case concerning the presence of PCBs in a river and tributary in Wisconsin. The team also defended Mosaic Fertilizer in a putative class action after 65 million gallons of polluted water escaped from one of the client’s facilities into Hillsborough Bay. El Paso Natural Gas and Coronet Industries are also clients.

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Within Securities: shareholder litigation, tier 5

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s securities litigation group is ‘very responsive and knowledgeable, with reasonable rates and billing practices’. The practice, co-chaired by four shareholders including Bradford Kaufman in Palm Beach and Karen Bitar in New York, includes several with prior experience as senior SEC staff lawyers. Miami-based David Coulson represented Stiefel Laboratories, and former officers in shareholder securities fraud and ERISA litigation brought by employee-shareholders who sold stock held in an Employee Stock Bonus Plan for an amount per share substantially less than the acquisition price by GlaxoSmithKline shortly later. In Chicago, Steven Malina is highly recommended by clients; Malina acted for Morgan Stanley in a state court action and Indiana Securities Division investigation regarding financial advice and management services provided - the case settled during 2012.

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Within Supreme Court and appellate, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Across its 29 offices, Greenberg Traurig LLP provides ‘excellent analysis and guidance’ and teams which are capable of ‘unpacking the opposition’s legal arguments, to demonstrate their flaws’; its approach can lead to ‘extraordinary decisions in favour of the client’. The firm has expertise in state courts work: Scott Bertzyk is well known in the California state court for commercial and real estate appeals; Michael Nicodema is a noted IP appellate specialist; Henry Greenberg is noted for work in Albany; and Gregory Ostfeld conducts numerous appeals in Chicago. In one 2012 highlight, Bertzyk led in the successful representation of LA Pacific Center in which the California Court of Appeal upheld a trial court order affirming a $144m arbitration award in favor of the client. Other clients include Genesis HealthCare Corporation and Citigroup.

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Within Trade secrets, tier 4

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s trade secrets team is co-headed by Kurt Kappes in Sacramento and Rich McCrea in Tampa. It recently settled a case for defendants SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and Anheuser-Busch, in a claim by former animators of a Fortune 500 company for $350m in damages, alleging that the client had copied their ideas, concepts and drawings for dozens of attractions at multiple parks. On the plaintiff side, it acted for Pyro Spectaculars in a claim against a former employer who had surreptitiously downloaded the client’s documents and handed them to its new employer. A motion for preliminary injunction was granted to Pyro Spectaculars shortly after the complaint was filed.

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United States: Mergers, acquisitions and buyouts

Within M&A: large deals ($1bn-5bn), Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Excellent in all areas’, Greenberg Traurig LLP represents many of the world’s leading investment banks and financial advisors in M&A transactions. The team advised Justice Holdings, a BVI company and special purpose acquisition vehicle that is listed on the London Stock Exchange, in the negotiation of a business combination with Burger King Worldwide Holdings, the world’s second largest fast food hamburger restaurant chain, resulting in Burger King Worldwide becoming a NYSE-listed company; and acted for Morgan Stanley, as financial advisor to Grupo Modelo, SAB de CV, the Mexican brewer whose brands include Corona Extra, in its definitive agreement in which Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgian beer company, will acquire the remaining stake in Grupo Modelo that it does not already own, marking a cash transaction that is valued at $20.1bn. The practice also assisted DPL, a publicly traded electric utility and power supplier, in its $4.7bn sale to The AES Corporation; and represented internet advertising company, interclick, in its $270m sale to Yahoo!; and acted for Florida-based SBA Communications Corporation, a wireless communications infrastructure provider, in connection with its $1.1bn acquisition of 2,300 tower sites in the US and Central America, and indoor and outdoor distributed antenna system assets, from affiliates of Mobilitie. New York-based David Schwartzbaum, the co-global M&A chairman, acts for investment banking and financial advisory firms in M&A transactions; he is ‘knowledgeable, commercial, practical and trustworthy’. Dennis Block, in New York, is senior chairman of the global M&A group; Alan Annex co-chairs the New York corporate and securities group; and Miami-based Gary Epstein is global corporate and securities chair.

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United States: Real estate and construction

Within Construction, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a third tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP shows ‘strong business acumen and industry knowledge’ and is also commended for its responsiveness. The practice is experienced in handling the transactional aspects of major construction projects as well as resolving contentious issues. ‘Strong client advocateJames Miller led advice to Areas USA on the negotiation and drafting of construction contracts and change orders for multiple rest stop projects across the US. It also helped the same client to negotiate design and construction contracts for restaurant projects at the Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare and Miami international airports. The firm’s attorneys have wide-ranging experience in construction dispute resolution, including mediation, arbitration and trial work. David Palmer is representing a large contractor in litigation case relating to the construction of a new processing plant in the eastern US. The dispute involves several hundred million dollars in claims and counterclaims with the owner having sued the contractor for allegedly failing to manage certain subcontractors effectively. The contractor has filed counterclaims against the owner and the practice has successfully consolidated the contractor’s defense in two federal lawsuits.

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Within Land use/zoning, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a second tier firm,

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s land development practice has advised landowners and developers for more than four decades, and is currently acting for developer Portman CMC in its bid to renovate the Miami Beach Convention Center and the surrounding district. The City of Miami has issued a Request for Qualifications and is seeking private developers to enter into a public-private partnership for the development of the 52-acre convention district. Lucia Dougherty and Alfredo Gonzalez oversaw the bidding process, in which Portman CMC’s proposal received the highest ranking, and have now commenced negotiations on behalf of the client. Debbie Orshefsky in Fort Lauderdale co-chairs the practice with Jay Segal in New York.

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Within Real estate, Greenberg Traurig LLP is a first tier firm,

With more than 200 real estate lawyers working out of 23 US offices, Greenberg Traurig LLP has a very diverse practice and an extensive footprint, and particular strongholds in New York, Chicago and Miami. Robert Ivanhoe advised the Chetrit Group on the $1.1bn purchase of the Sony building at 550 Madison Avenue; David Frankel Realty on the $416m sale of a portfolio of six commercial and multi-family properties in New York City; and UDR on the $325m acquisition of a luxury residential rental building located at 95 Wall Street in Manhattan. His right-hand-man in New York is Stephen Rabinowitz, who chairs the real estate practice in that office and whose clients include SL Green. Global co-chair Corey Light, in Chicago, meanwhile advised Kimco Realty on the $735m sale of the InTown Suites portfolio, which includes 138 extended-stay properties across 21 states. Sanford Presant (chair of the firm’s real estate funds group) and Louis Vitali acted for Greystar on its $1.5bn joint venture with Goldman Sachs to acquire a 27-property apartment portfolio from Equity Residential; and assisted the same client with the closing of a $650m blind pool apartment fund, as well as with joint ventures and financing for five multi-family developments in a number of states. The firm also advised Swire Properties on the acquisition, structuring, development and retail leasing of the Brickell CitiCentre project in Miami.

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United States: Tax

Within International tax, tier 4

With offices across the US and Europe Greenberg Traurig LLP is well placed to provide clients with comprehensive international tax advice. Work includes advising on tax planning for cross-border transactions, transfer pricing, restructuring and advice on treaty issues, foreign tax credits and withholding taxes. Christopher Haunschild joined the firm in June 2012 as a partner in the firm’s Silicon Valley office from DLA Piper. Seth Entin in Miami has a good reputation for work on federal income taxation, with an emphasis on international taxation.

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Within Tax controversy, tier 5

Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Barbara Kaplan is a ‘terrific lawyer’. Based in New York, she focuses her practice on tax litigation in federal, state, and local tax examinations including administrative and grand jury criminal tax matters. Clients include domestic and foreign corporations, partnerships and individuals. Also in New York, David Bunning has broad experience in federal, state and local tax audits and appeals. In San Francisco, former tax litigator for the IRS Michelle Ferreira is recommended. The firm lost Phillip Pillar, who moved across to Grant Thornton in January 2013.

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