The Legal 500

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

1330 CONNECTICUT AVENUE, NW, WASHINGTON DC 20036, USA
Tel:
Work +1 202 429 3900
Fax:
Fax +1 202 429 3902
Email:
Web:
www.steptoe.com

United States: Dispute resolution

General commercial disputes
General commercial disputes - ranked: tier 3

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP receives plaudits for its ‘excellent insight’ and ‘prompt turnaround time’. The team expanded in Chicago in 2015 with the arrival of three partners, including Michael Dockterman, who draws on 40 years of experience. The department is called upon by clients across the TMT, consumer products, energy and utility sectors in high-stakes litigation, and is also a popular choice for law firms in malpractice suits. William Abrams in Palo Alto represented SK Hynix in a trade secrets case against SanDisk and Toshiba. In New York, Michael Miller is an ‘excellent trial lawyer who handles both civil and criminal matters, domestically and internationally’. Seong Kim left the firm in May 2016 and joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP's Century City office.

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International trade
International trade - ranked: tier 1

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

One of the best firms involved in trade work’, Steptoe & Johnson LLP has an ‘excellent track record’ across the full span of export controls, economic sanctions, FCPA and CFIUS matters. Aided by a presence in Beijing, the firm continues to broaden and deepen its China work and was recently the only foreign law firm selected by the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China to represent it in four named areas including on trade remedies and international investment matters. The firm also regularly picks up a significant flow of work for Chinese companies seeking representation in the US, as well as for US companies investing in China. ‘A prominent player in WTO disputes’, the firm recently scored a notable victory for the Argentinian government when the WTO panel rejected Panama’s claims that Argentina’s differential treatment of services and service providers located in “cooperative” and “non-cooperative” tax havens constituted prohibited discrimination under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Matthew Yeo and Pablo Bentes led on the aforementioned matter, and are key practitioners of the firm’s ‘superb trade remedies offering’. The team is also regularly engaged in an advisory and transactional setting, and as well as frequent CFIUS mandates from Asian and European corporates, is also regularly instructed by clients seeking robust risk management procedures to avoid problems in the future. Edward Krauland heads up the firm’s international regulation and compliance group and is noted for his export controls and economic sanctions expertise. Other recommended partners include Lucinda Low, who heads up the firm’s global anti-corruption practice; chair of the firm’s international trade and investment practice Susan Esserman, who has a significant focus on US-India and US-China matters; Mark Moran, who excels at trade litigation; trade remedies veteran Richard Cunningham, who is ‘widely considered one of the best in the business’; CFIUS expert Stewart Baker; the ‘phenomenal’ Meredith Rathbone; and the ‘effective and knowledgeable’ Joel Kaufman.

Leading lawyers

Mark Moran - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Richard Cunningham - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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Leading trial lawyers
Leading trial lawyers - ranked: tier 6

Reid Weingarten - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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Product liability, mass tort and class action: toxic tort - defense
Product liability, mass tort and class action: toxic tort - defense - ranked: tier 2

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

In 2015, Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s Chicago-based group expanded significantly with the recruitment of new practice head Robert Shuftan, Cal Burnton, Anthony Hopp, Derek Smith and Jeremy Goldkind from Locke Lord LLP. Los Angeles-based Daniel Blakey has been representing Monsanto in litigation brought by a plaintiff alleging that exposure to the client’s pesticide products resulted in the plaintiff’s development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Jennifer Quinn-Barabanov in Washington DC) and of counsel Jennifer Bonneville in Los Angeles continue to serve as lead counsel for key client Shell in a putative class action over groundwater contamination in Florida. Lawrence Riff is now a judge at the Supreme Court of California.

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White-collar criminal defense
White-collar criminal defense - ranked: tier 4

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Lawyers at the ‘outstandingSteptoe & Johnson LLP are ‘responsive, thoughtful, practical and astute’. The ‘impressive’ Reid Weingarten and the ‘exceptional’ Brian Heberlig, who heads the practice, were the partners responsible for securing the acquittal of former BP executive David Rainey on a charge of making false statements to FBI investigators regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Together with Patrick Linehan and William Hassler, Weingarten is representing former Acclarent CEO William Facteau in a trial involving alleged off-label marketing of pharmaceutical products. Further key figures in Washington DC include Erik Kitchen the ‘thorough and intelligent’ Jason Weinstein. Michelle Levin in New York, Chris Niewoehner in Chicago and Paul Charlton in Phoenix are also recommended.

Leading lawyers

Reid Weingarten - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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United States: Finance

Not-for-profit (nonprofit and tax exempt organizations)
Not-for-profit (nonprofit and tax exempt organizations) - ranked: tier 2

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP has ‘an excellent practice that gives an impressive service’. The practice acted for American Institute of Physics (AIP) and its affiliate AIP Publishing in tax, employment law and corporate governance; and advised Chicago Public Media on tax matters relating to the sale of its interest in the popular radio show, This American Life, to the show’s creator and long-time host, Ira Glass. It is also assisting longstanding client the National Park Foundation (NPF) prepare for the centennial of the National Park Service in 2016, including advising on corporate sponsorships to raise financial and other support for the centennial activities. Washington DC-based practice co-chair Suzanne McDowell is ‘a terrific lawyer who has many years of experience and is a very thoughtful and solid practitioner’, and in addition, the advice she provides ‘is practical and responsive to clients’ needs, while also addressing complex issues in an understandable way’. Also in Washington DC, practice co-chair Catherine Wilkinson frequently advises clients on government investigations, IRS audits and voluntary disclosures. In New York, the arrival of Beth Tractenberg and of counsel Jasmine Campirides from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP has expanded the team’s capacity to advise on estate planning, charitable trusts and issues affecting high-net-worth individuals. Additionally, the team welcomed the return of co-chair Lisa Zarlenga in Washington DC from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy.

Leading lawyers

Suzanne McDowell - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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United States: Government

Government relations
Government relations - ranked: tier 3

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP advises a wide variety of trade associations, including the National Association of Convenience Stores, the Foreign Exchange Professionals Association and the Wholesale Markets Brokers’ Association Americas, on matters such as financial services reform legislation and employer-related Affordable Care Act rulemaking. James Barnette led the representation of FanDuel in all oversight and legislative matters, after the firm’s quick rise in popularity attracted congressional interest. Darryl Nirenberg led assistance to Las Vegas Sands concerning its legislative efforts relating to online gambling. Lisa Zarlenga and of counsel Cameron Arterton joined from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy in March 2015 and September 2015 respectively; Micah Green, Matthew Kulkin and Carolyn Walsh arrived from Squire Patton Boggs in June 2015, bringing significant financial services expertise to the team. Green now co-leads the Washington DC-based practice with Scott Sinder.

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United States: Industry focus

Energy transactions: conventional power
Energy transactions: conventional power - ranked: tier 5

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

David Raskin leads Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s Washington DC-based team, which includes Caroline Gaudet and is strong on energy transmission matters. Highlights included advising a large energy client on a joint venture to construct a transmission line to deliver 600MW of energy into New England. Other clients include American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Southern California Edison, and Public Service Electric and Gas Company.

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Energy transactions: oil and gas
Energy transactions: oil and gas - ranked: tier 5

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP acted for Enbridge on an agreement with United Refining regarding the maintenance and upgrading of a 37km section of one of Enbridge’s pipelines. Kinder Morgan and Wolverine Pipe Line Company are also clients. David Raskin heads the practice in Washington DC and is supported by key partner Caroline Gaudet.

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Energy: litigation
Energy: litigation - ranked: tier 2

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

With a strong electric and oil pipeline practice, Steptoe & Johnson LLP is experienced in representing its clients in a wide range of contentious matters, including FERC investigations. Midstream companies such as Colonial Pipeline Company and BP Pipelines regularly retain the team to defend them in litigation. On the electric side, Washington DC’s Douglas Green defended Entergy against claims of breach of contract and violations of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) brought by Occidental Chemical Corporation. Energy department head David Raskin, Marc Spitzer and Gary Morgans, all based in Washington DC, defended PHI Companies in Federal Power Act proceedings before the FERC against four state commissions and state consumer advocates. Daniel Mullen joined the Washington DC office from the FERC.

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Energy: regulatory
Energy: regulatory - ranked: tier 1

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Rated for its ‘practical and timely advice’, Steptoe & Johnson LLP has an impressive client portfolio in the oil pipeline and electric power industries, including names such as ExxonMobil, American Electric Power, ConocoPhillips and Duke Energy. Steven Ross and Gary Morgans represented Duke in FERC approval proceedings arising from the company’s $1.3bn purchase of North Carolina Electric Municipal Power Agency’s interest in various coal and nuclear stations. Steven Brose, Caroline Gaudet and the ‘knowledgeable’ Daniel Poynor assisted Sunoco Pipeline with the creation of priority service structures for ethane and propane pipelines in the Marcellus Shale region, and for crude oil, natural gas liquids and petroleum pipelines in Texas. David Raskin heads the energy team, which includes newly promoted partner Jennifer Key and Daniel Mullen, who joined from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.

Leading lawyers

David Raskin - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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Insurance: advice to insurers
Insurance: advice to insurers - ranked: tier 2

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s ‘dedicated, knowledgeable and highly capable’ team ‘delivers positive results in a professional manner’, and advises clients on a range of direct coverage and reinsurance mandates. Particular areas of expertise include pharmaceutical disputes, personal injury, environmental claims and asbestos issues; one recent example was advising the USF&G on over 10,000 asbestos claims filed in a fraud action. The firm is also highly active in the high-profile NFL concussion litigation, advising Hartford affiliates in several tort suits filed against the NFL by former players; the matter is being led by James Rocap. Practice head Harry Lee recently advised Hudson Specialty Insurance Company in coverage litigation relating to a fire in lower Manhattan, and is also acting for the same client in a dispute regarding losses caused by Superstorm Sandy. Other clients of the team include AIG, Travelers and Zurich. Recommended department members include Roger Warin and ‘excellent strategist’, John Jacobus. All attorneys mentioned are based in Washington DC, but the practice notably also has a significant presence in Phoenix.

Leading lawyers

James Rocap - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Roger Warin - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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United States: Intellectual property

Patent litigation: International Trade Commission
Patent litigation: International Trade Commission - ranked: tier 4

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s practice is led by Charles Schill and Steven Adkins, both of whom have handled numerous patent and trade secret cases before the ITC and US Customs and Border Protection. Department head John Caracappa currently represents Realtek in an ITC action brought by Andrea Electronics concerning five patents related to noise, interference and echo cancellation technologies. The case is running alongside six inter partes review petitions against the same patents before the PTAB. Harold Fox co-heads the department, and counsel Matthew Bathon is also recommended.

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Patent litigation: full coverage
Patent litigation: full coverage - ranked: tier 6

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

At Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Palo Alto-based William Abrams continues to act for Google in two 13-patent infringement cases against Skyhook involving location technology, and recently obtained a summary judgment of invalidity on two asserted patents. In Washington DC, Timothy Bickham represented Huawei in a seven-patent case brought by Acacia-owned entity Innovative Display Technologies, securing a favorable settlement in mediation following positive claim construction, and practice head John Caracappa obtained a settlement on behalf of Honda in an infringement action concerning operational systems, successfully representing the client in related IPR proceedings. Dr. Harold Fox is the other key figure.

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Trade secrets
Trade secrets - ranked: tier 4

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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

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Trademarks: litigation
Trademarks: litigation - ranked: tier 4

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s practice is particularly strong in the luxury goods sector, but also handles contentious trademark matters for clients from a variety of other industries. The Washington DC-based practice chairs Michael Allan and William Pecau have been representing LVMH in several contentious trademark matters. Highlights include the successful representation of Louis Vuitton Malletier in a suit against Sunny Merchandise Corporation regarding counterfeit products and infringing Louis Vuitton trademarks in connection with sunglasses and eyewear, and the representation of Moët Hennessy in a dispute with La Maison Du Vigneron regarding the infringement of the client’s Ice Imperial trademark and trade dress for champagne.

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Trademarks: non-contentious (including prosecution, portfolio management and licensing)
Trademarks: non-contentious (including prosecution, portfolio management and licensing) - ranked: tier 3

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s team in Washington DC covers the full range of trademark and trade dress protection services and is frequently involved in cancellation and opposition proceedings before the TTAB. William Pecau and of counsel Rachel Hofstatter assist the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry with the protection of its trademarks, including handling an opposition before the TTAB against the registration of the mark SWISS REIMAGINED for watches by Reflexion Research. Other clients include LVMH, Regions Bank, and Cleveland Indians Baseball Company.

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United States: Labor and employment

ERISA litigation
ERISA litigation - ranked: tier 1

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Centered around Washington DC, Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s ‘top-notch’ ERISA litigation team provides ‘great service, tremendous experience and expertise that works very well with the client’s in-house team’, making it ‘a go-to firm for “bet-the-company” cases’. Key mandates saw Paul Ondrasik (‘a terrific courtroom lawyer with a great demeanor’), Morgan Hodgson (‘an outstanding lawyer that clients have no reservations about using for their most complex and significant cases’) and Eric Serron of the firm’s Washington office representing BP in a class action case regarding an alleged breach of fiduciary duty relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. On the West Coast, Ed Gregory and Jason Levin represented the California State Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) in a class action suit regarding same-sex spouses’ access to the long-term care plan. Melanie Nussdorf and Gwen Renigar, who share leadership of the practice with Ondrasik, handle disputes with regulators.

Leading lawyers

Paul Ondrasik - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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Employee benefits and executive compensation
Employee benefits and executive compensation - ranked: tier 2

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s benefits and compensation practice is focused on matters such as pension plan management, Department of Labor investigations and ERISA fiduciary standards. Melanie Nussdorf handles the Department of Labor and SEC regulatory side of pensions, and is advising Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas and Goldman Sachs on obtaining prohibited transaction exemption following the banks’ criminal convictions, allowing the institutions to manage ERISA assets. Other key lawyers include Edward Mackiewicz, formerly general counsel of the PBGC, and practice head Paul Ondrasik, who handles contentious and non-contentious matters. Los Angeles-based Don Wellington, the only employee benefits and executive compensation partner located outside Washington DC, advised CalPERS on obtaining an IRS determination letter for its tax-qualified status.

Leading lawyers

Melanie Nussdorf - Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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Immigration
Immigration - ranked: tier 4

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

The Washington DC-based team at Steptoe & Johnson LLP is able to ‘creatively problem-solve for different options’. The department focuses on compliance with homeland security rules, regulations, mandated procedures, temporary and permanent immigration to the US and employment-related compliance issues. The group acts for corporate clients and individuals in citizenship renunciation applications, asylum cases and foreign adoptions and assists with immigrant and non-immigrant applications for employees and family members, as well as visa applications and I-9 records. Practice head Lynda Zengerle ‘shows versatile but deep knowledge of the subject matter at hand and answers swiftly and clearly’. Elisabeth Laskey LaRocca has substantial experience of PERM labor certifications and employment-based adjustments, as well as non-immigrant petitions for executives of multinational corporations.

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United States: Media, technology and telecoms

Cyber law
Cyber law - ranked: tier 2

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP has ‘an incredibly responsive, first-rate team’, which is led by Stewart Baker in Washington DC and Michael Vatis in New York. Clients say of the pair that their ‘knowledge of not only the law but also the politics involved in dealing with law enforcement and national security matters is fantastic’. The team was retained by Coalition for Responsible Cybersecurity - made up of Ionic Security, Intel, Synack, FireEye, Raytheon, and Symantec - whose aim is to oppose the adoption of certain export control regulations proposed by the Commerce Department that, among other things, would require licenses for all exports of controlled cybersecurity items. According to the Coalition, the proposed rule would impact US cybersecurity effectiveness.

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Telecoms and broadcast: regulatory
Telecoms and broadcast: regulatory - ranked: tier 2

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s Washington DC office forms the hub of the firm’s eight-partner telecoms and broadcast practice, headed by Pantelis Michalopoulos, who is noted for his experience in representing telecoms, wireless and satellite companies in licensing, rulemaking, and complaint proceedings before the FCC. Michalopoulos and Stephanie Roy advised DISH Network on its successful opposition to the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. The practice is also advising the same client on several spectrum and licensing applications before the FCC and on various aspects of its entry into terrestrial wireless services, including the reorganization of Dish Wireless. In another highlight, Markham Erickson represented Netflix before the FCC concerning the Commission’s consideration of the open internet rule and order, and also represented it in successfully opposing the motion to stay the open internet order before the US Court of Appeals. The team, which includes the New York-based Michael Vatis, was recently joined by of counsel Alan Cohn.

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Telecoms and broadcast: transactional
Telecoms and broadcast: transactional - ranked: tier 4

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

The core of Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s telecoms and broadcast practice is located in Washington DC, led by Pantelis Michalopoulos. In an illustration of its transactional credentials, the team advised Netflix on interconnection agreements with Comcast, Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and AT&T, and advised the client on its opposition to Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. Other representative clients include DISH, Artel, and Neustar. Stephanie Roy, Christopher Bjornson, and Markham Erickson are highly recommended, as is New York-based Michael Vatis. Alan Cohn, who recently served as the former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security’s office of strategy, planning, analysis and risk, joined the firm in April 2015 as of counsel.

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United States: Tax

International tax
International tax - ranked: tier 5

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

The ‘top-quality’ team at Steptoe & Johnson LLP is ‘very responsive’ and ‘really knows its stuff’. The group is led out of Washington DC by Robert Rizzi and Lisa Zarlenga, who recently returned to the firm after a spell as tax legislative counsel at the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy. Recent work includes advising a financial institution on various international and domestic tax issues. Washington DC-based Philip West is ‘excellent’, and Beth Tractenberg joined the New York office in 2015 from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

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US taxes: contentious
US taxes: contentious - ranked: tier 3

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP handles state, federal and international matters in all phases of tax planning and controversy, for national and international clients. Robert Rizzi and Lisa Zarlenga in Washington DC lead the team. Additional names to note are Walker Johnson and Rob Kovacev, also based in Washington DC. The team is acting for Delaware Gas and Electric, the trustee of two statutory trusts, in a pending Tax Court case in which the trusts claimed several millions of dollars in tax credits for producing and selling methane from landfill gas collected at various landfills across the US. After serving nearly four years as tax legislative counsel at the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy, Lisa Zarlenga rejoined the team. Beth Tractenberg joined from Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. Art Bailey retired and Dawn Gabel rejoined Quarles & Brady LLP’s Phoenix office.

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US taxes: non-contentious
US taxes: non-contentious - ranked: tier 4

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP provides a ‘high level of service’, according to sources. It acted as tax counsel to Equinox, a health and fitness company, in relation to its spin-off transaction, with the new company valued at $1bn; Washington DC-based Mark Silverman and Gregory Kidder led on this. Other clients the team provided tax advice to in 2015 included Marvel Entertainment, Nestlé Holdings and MetLife. The department also has a presence in Los Angeles, New York and Phoenix. Lisa Zarlenga and Robert Rizzi are the practice chairs.

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Further information on Steptoe & Johnson LLP

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United States

Offices in Phoenix, Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Palo Alto

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