Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 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' 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:

Illinois Ranking:  1

The Firm: With "great bench strength and depth across the board," the litigation juggernaut is a nationwide magnet for high-stakes, bet-the-company litigation. Though considered somewhat expensive by clients, its "ability to strategize from the start" and "superb understanding of the facts of a case" is worth every penny, commentators said. The team of about 150 "experienced advocates and courtroom players" lends "crispness" to legal battles, whether it is in IP, products liability, environmental or various commercial cases.

The Lawyers: The "extremely talented" David Bernick is considered "excellent in class actions" and a star performer "in front of a jury." His drawing card is in products liability and mass torts, for example, representing WR Grace in significant asbestos liability litigation. As national trial counsel for Brown & Williamson Tobacco in the "mother of all trials," he is defending the company against charges in the United States involving a possible conspiracy to defraud the American public about the health risks of tobacco; the case also involves other major tobacco companies. The "smart and hard-working" Rick Godfrey merits his ranking on account of an "excellent and successful track record." Observers acknowledged class actions as a forte. He has been acting for BP America in a nationwide class action alleging breach of contract regarding the operation of oil and gas wells nationally. He has also been representing an insurance company in a number of large putative class actions alleging age discrimination in the company's reorganization. Frank Cicero scooped compliments as one of the "firm's best trial lawyers," while John Hickey is respected as an intellectual heavyweight who is often called upon during the difficult stages of a trial. His trial experience often pertains to environmental and patent disputes, a slew of which he has handled for 3M. He has also been acting as lead counsel for GM in a prominent personal injury case involving the roof structures in all 1992-99 Chevrolet Suburbans. He has also defended GMAC in a nationwide class action pertaining to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. The long-standing and experienced Garrett Johnson earned admiration for a diverse practice, which includes antitrust, securities and environmental litigation. For example, he secured a defense jury verdict for Motorola in the Arizona groundwater contamination class action. The "fabulously skilled and diverse" Emily Nicklin obtained a victory for Arthur Andersen in a case against Frederick's of Hollywood concerning the accounting firm's auditing practices. Her practice also drew admiration for high-profile employment litigation and professional liability disputes, usually involving consultants and accountants. Stephen Patton, whose commercial litigation practice continues to flourish, has been acting for Deloitte & Touche in a $10 billion lawsuit brought by Parmalat's Italian bankruptcy trustee. He has additionally served as lead counsel for Concord EFS in a DOJ attempt to block a $7 billion merger with First Data.

The Clients: GM; ExxonMobil; BMW of North America; Walgreen Co; Morgan Stanley; 3M; Aon; Motorola; Honeywell; Brown & Williamson Tobacco; WR Grace; Dow Corning; Ford; BP America; Citicorp and Vodafone.

District of Columbia Ranking:  2

The Firm: An established presence for about 75 years, Kirkland & Ellis' DC office has been a strong contender in litigation, with more than half of its attorneys devoted to the practice area. The team has demonstrated proficiency in securities, environmental, IP, products liability and, above all, antitrust litigation. Its strong team pursues that Kirkland brand of "staunch resolution and willingness to engage" that has made the firm such a key litigation force nationwide. The practice operates in high-stakes disputes for prominent national clients and wins admiration for its "excellence in a number of specialist areas." Corporate and regulatory expertise is also on the menu.

The Lawyers: Thomas Yannucci is "one of the hardest working men in the legal community," interviewees said. A protean figure, he tackles IP, antitrust and securities matters among others while maintaining an enviable reputation for First Amendment work. Clients hail his "sympathetic ear and willingness to forcefully assert claims other lawyers might baulk at."

The Clients: Honeywell; Morgan Stanley; Time Warner and Siemens.

New York Ranking:  3

The Firm: With its "lawyers of dominating character," the team is well known for its willingness to tackle difficult matters with pugnacity. Although by no means intractable in approach, it delivers "a resolution and fixed purpose that make this a fighting force very difficult to cow." Such determination has led to a national reputation that the New York office has admirably gained, despite being run on a smaller scale than the firm's Chicago headquarters. The practice is broad in scope but succeeds best in certain signal areas. Antitrust work is prominent, as illustrated by the firm's involvement in the Discover Card litigation. The group successfully represented AOL and Netscape in a private suit alleging monopolization misconduct. Products liability also figures highly. Here, the firm has been involved in many a matter on behalf of the tobacco industry and has defended key client GM in cases involving rollover protection and seat belts. IP and insurance litigation are also to the fore for a group whose securities expertise did not go unnoticed. Examples of its prowess in this last regard include a $30 million victory for NL Industries in securities fraud claims relating to the Lockheed ESOP.

The Lawyers: William Pratt has been an ever-present in the firm's New York office, forging strong links with the business community in his 15-year stint. A regular presence before both jury and bench, he has a multifaceted practice that takes in everything from securities and IP litigation to antitrust and tort.

The Clients: Dow Corning; Motorola; NL Industries; Verizon Communications; Honeywell; GM; BP America; Alcon Laboratories and Bayer.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2005 -