Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2006: 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' 2006 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: This titan of the US legal scene is widely regarded as "one of the most outstanding litigation groups in the country." Strong praise but well deserved, according to clients: "They have the talent and a long tradition of achieving tremendous results." The attorneys win plaudits for their work on product liability, toxic torts, IP, antitrust and other commercial matters and are especially prominent in complex class actions. The firm's bench strength is a compelling point in its favor, with talented associates and young partners augmenting a phalanx of experienced litigators higher up. From its Chicago platform, it reaches out nationally to involve itself in high-stakes representation. This it undertakes on behalf of US and international clients "assured of a fine service."

The Lawyers: David Bernick "clearly has the reputation and the talent" for big money litigation, clients acknowledged. One noted: "He has that intelligent aggression that is the trademark of Kirkland & Ellis." He wins distinction for his skill in mass tort and products liability trials where he displays a "remarkable ability to get his arms around the science" of complex medical and industrial issues. Major matters include the representation of Brown & Williamson Tobacco in the $280 billion RICO action against the tobacco industry. Also notable is his success on behalf of Abbott Laboratories in the Meridia diet drug products liability litigation. In that case and others he exhibited great courtcraft: "He knows how to handle courtroom dynamics to great effect," one interviewee noted. Clients championed Richard Godfrey as a "stellar example of outside counsel." He is frequently called upon to take difficult cases to trial all over the country, earning him a reputation as "the class action specialist in the USA." He boasts an undeniably wide-ranging practice that covers mattters from discrimination to antitrust, toxic torts to tax, and a thriving appellate section. He represented GM in a multidistrict putative class action filed by Daewoo dealers alleging fraud, tortious interference and violations of various state laws. He also represents an insurance company in ERISA litigation and BP in a nationwide class action involving onshore wells. There is a national dimension to John Hickey's work. He is often called upon when a case reaches critical point and is valued for his "personable approach and great trial presence." Such qualities were evident when he achieved a complete defense verdict for GM in a products liability case challenging the design of the Chevrolet Suburban roof. Recently he has put more of an emphasis on IP and patent-related cases and has generated a full book of business acting for 3M. "Tenacious litigator" Emily Nicklin makes an impact in trials across the country. She is a prominent figure in employment litigation and merger-related disputes where she has a significant practice in the representation of directors and consultants. Satisfied clients include accountancy and consulting firms who appreciate her "outstanding" service in an increasingly intense regulatory climate. Stephen Patton comes across to clients as "a take-charge type of guy" who marshals an excellent team around him. His experience as a "strong litigator with much exposure to complicated and sophisticated matters" is exemplified by his involvement in tobacco class actions, representing Brown & Williamson Tobacco. He possesses a balanced manner that allows him to be "impeccably prepared while remaining down to earth." "Impressive" Frank Cicero retains a long-standing reputation at the firm while Garrett Johnson earned market respect for his broad-ranging trial practice. "Johnson is a skilled, on-his-feet lawyer," clients asserted. Steven McCormick merits inclusion in the table as an "excellent trial lawyer who is trusted on the most complex of contracts." He has over 30 years of experience in state and federal courts along with arbitration panels in the USA, Mexico and Europe.

Clients/Work Highlights: Abbott Laboratories; 3M; BP; Dow Chemical; GM; Motorola; RJ Reynolds and United Airlines.

New York Ranking: 3

The Firm: A "formidable operation," this group's exemplary trial perparation and trademark toughness draw in those clients that want attorneys who are "unafraid to litigate the most difficult cases." Although smaller in scale than the firm's Chicago headquarters, the New York office is far from being the weaker sibling. Among its numerous victories this year, the team successfully defended Morgan Stanley against accusations that its sales of proprietary and partner funds contravened provisions in the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act. In a separate matter, the group achieved the dismissal of a claim alleging that the investment bank had breached its fiduciary duty of loyalty to its online brokerage customers as a consequence of the sale of its online brokerage accounts. The firm's coverage of the market is strengthened by its commitment to training attorneys "from top to bottom" to a high standard of advocacy, and bolstered by the sizable resources of the DC office. As well as a strong showing in the general commercial market, where Kirkland deploys more than 50 lawyers, insurance and IP litigation are fundamental tenets of the practice. The group handles work in the latter regard for clients such as Honeywell, for which it obtained a defense verdict in a case originating in the closure of a microturbine division and relating to breach of contract, IP conversion and fraudulent misrepresentation. A healthy stream of work in the products liability and securities arenas completes the picture, exemplified by Kirkland's emphatic defense of the independent directors of a major mutual fund against a barrage of federal securities and common law claims.

The Lawyers: One of the founding partners of the New York office, William Pratt undertakes a substantial amount of work for Verizon, including securing the successful dismissal of a large class action case claiming improper conduct in relation to Verizon's prior ownership of Genuity. His comprehensive realm of experience spans antitrust, IP and tort matters.

Clients/Work Highlights: Again on behalf of Verizon, the group won a motion to compel arbitration between it and its insurance carrier. Additional work this year included obtaining injunctive relief against the FDA for Teva Pharmaceuticals in a patent-related dispute, and representing Kmart in its breach of contract litigation with Capital One. Further clients Include Lucent Technologies; GM; American Skandia and News Corporation.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business 2006 -