Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2004-2005: Litigation - General Commercial

Chambers & Partners has compiled their independent and objective list of America's Leading Lawyers for Business based on comments gathered from thousands of interviews with clients and lawyers from Maine to Hawaii. This guide -- which is designed to reflect market opinion -- contains a view of the firms and attorneys who are considered leaders in their field.

In Chambers' 2004-2005 review of national legal talent in the area of "Litigation - General Commercial," our Firm and our lawyers are listed among the best in the country.

Chambers' comments:


Ranking: 1

The Firm: A "phenomenal" firm, the group has become synonymous with "big national cases for big corporate clients." The firm has long sought to develop a culture that encourages trial experience, and the strident attitude of its attorneys is found to permeate all departments, sometimes to the frustration of Chicago's laid-back transactional lawyers. However, in contentious work, this has resulted in a remarkable level of bench strength. Clients said they're attracted to the "deep roster of outstanding lawyers that runs from top to bottom." One interviewee added: "All of its lawyers are, without exception, extremely talented strategists," culminating in the firm's "unique expertise" to "run large, complex litigation efficiently and responsibly." It is regularly identified by industry experts as one of the best litigation practices in the country. The 450-lawyer national trial team is active in all aspects of commercial litigation, including product liability, mass tort, white-collar defense and antitrust. The trial group also benefits from nationally-acclaimed practices in IP litigation and bankruptcy.

The Lawyers: Although some commentators believe David Bernick is "just hitting his stride," this may not tell the whole story for a litigator who has already secured a "stellar reputation" as one of the best in the country. His trial skills particularly shine in complex scientific cases, though "he could do any case under the sun," observers said. An impressive record in mass tort includes experience in breast implant, asbestos and tobacco litigation. He continues to represent several tobacco companies, notably Brown & Williamson, in product liability litigation nationwide. Richard Godfrey exemplifies the 'try-anything' trial lawyer mindset of the firm. His caseload centers on class actions, including advising BP Chemical Polymers in a carbon fiber case and Elf Atochem in Texas on a toxic tort case. He has also notched up significant experience in antitrust, such as representing GM in a Canadian antitrust dispute. An "excellent oral advocate," he is "hugely talented in putting together an argument." Frank Cicero is a senior member of the practice who is increasingly drawn into providing strategic advice to clients and overseeing major cases handled by the firm. He has advised elected state officers at the appellate level, and is representing a major law firm in litigation over a large trust. Emily Nicklin also gained prominence for her "aggressive, effective" presence. Her courtroom experience includes products liability, breach of contract, securities and ERISA. One of the most active jury trial lawyers in the firm, John Hickey covers the waterfront of toxic tort, securities, fraud, breach of contract and product liability. His work is underscored by a strong emphasis on IP-related disputes. In a key victory for GM, he won a trade secret case in Connecticut. A key figure in the firm's tobacco litigation, Stephen Patton won "tremendous regard" among peers as another "typical high-quality lawyer" at the firm. His complex litigation practice has focused on contract disputes, antitrust claims, and product liability cases. The "outstanding" Garrett Johnson also earned kudos for his practice, which includes securities and futures, antitrust, environmental tort and products liability.

The Clients: GM; Morgan Stanley; Siemens; Honeywell; Motorola; BP; ABB; Citicorp; WR Grace; Abbott Laboratories and Vodafone.

District of Columbia

Ranking: 2

The Firm: The Chicago office may well attract much of the profile surrounding this firm's national practice, but its DC arm makes a telling contribution. Its cadre of about 80 lawyers is generally seen in "top-of-the-tree litigation," most often in the antitrust, energy and securities spheres. Its attorneys bring that "hallmark of quality readily associated with the very best." Observers feel that although relatively inchoate in the capital, the firm's "natural talent for obtaining big business" will lead to further strides being made here in the future. Matters handled include acting for GM in the defeat of all trademark infringement claims brought by DaimlerChrysler against GM's design of the front grille of the H2 Hummer Jeep.

The Lawyers: Thomas Yannucci possesses an "excellent blend of charisma and legal acumen" that has been employed to great effect in a number of areas. A keen devotee of First Amendment cases, he also enjoys success in IP, securities, antitrust and government enforcement actions, acting in both individual and class action suits. His "respect for other people's opinions" allied to a robust defense of his own beliefs win him the respect of many satisfied clients. 

New York

Ranking: 4

The Firm: The "spillover effects of the national group" has made a flourishing New York practice centered on such topics as IP, securities and mass tort blossom. Although commentators perceive the engine of the firm's litigation department to be in Chicago, they credit the New York branch with enhancing visibility through "lots of complex high-profile cases." It is defending Brown & Williamson Tobacco against tobacco-related liabilities, including massive cases brought by third-party plaintiffs such as hospitals claiming the cost of treating smoking-related illnesses. The firm's hard-nosed warriors are increasingly at the forefront of important litigation involving its principal clients. Advising Verizon Communications, the team is handling claims that a former Sylvania nuclear fuel plant is linked to chronic illnesses among nearby residents. Sylvania and its successor, GTE, merged with Bell Atlantic to form Verizon in 2000. The team's IP capabilities include ongoing patent litigation involving Computer Motion, the world's leading developer of surgical systems. Clients said they value the "deep experience" of the "bright" group.

The Lawyers: Senior litigator William Pratt is one of the founding partners of the New York office, which opened in 1990. Also a member of the firm's management committee, he undertakes a wide variety of litigation, including IP, contract and torts. Pratt also represents clients before government regulators and has handled substantive arbitration matters.

The Clients: TWA; UAL Corporation; GM; Dean Foods; Hermes and Infineon Technologies.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers & Partners: America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2004-2005