Chambers & Partners has compiled its 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' 2008 review of national legal talent in the area of "Antitrust," our Firm and our lawyers are listed among the best in the country.
Illinois Ranking: Tier 1
The Firm: Consistently positive feedback reinforces Kirkland's position at the top of the antitrust table. "This is one of the very best firms I've worked with, and the first firm I'd call on where tough and complex antitrust issues are involved," enthused one client, echoing market opinion of this Chicago behemoth. Commentators agree that Kirkland's antitrust capabilities took root in the firm's celebrated litigation practice, and the antitrust team is still best known for its "phenomenal strength in litigation." Kirkland recently acted for Aon in a case that amply demonstrated this skill; a consolidated federal putative antitrust and RICO class action, brought by insurance policyholders who alleged an industry-wide conspiracy to stifle competition and allocate insurance policies based on broker commissions. Another distinctive feature of the firm is the deep bench of lawyers: sources describe a "large team where each and every lawyer is bright, thorough, efficient and collaborative." This strength of manpower ensures that clients are "keen to retain the firm on matters that require a high level of attention."
The Lawyers: Jim Mutchnik uses his "great intelligence, litigation skills and breadth of experience" to achieve "excellent results." Clients appreciate his ability to "understand the prosecuting side, and be candid in his assessment and forthright in how he discusses things. These are serious matters, and he treats them as such." He is currently defending Weyerhaeuser in a multibillion-dollar class action antitrust matter. Andy Langan is also highly regarded; his recent work has included representing BP on various state and FTC inquiries into gasoline pricing. Robbie Robertson "has excellent academic knowledge." Sources agree that his ability to use this knowledge practically, makes him "a well-rounded and impressive antitrust lawyer." Daniel Laytin is described as "assertive, commercial, bright and efficient."
Clients/Work Highlights: The firm acted for Cellnet Group in connection with its $705 million sale to automated meter-reading industry competitor Bayard Group. The team is also defending GM in a consolidated class action antitrust conspiracy lawsuit alleging that certain vehicle manufacturers conspired to prevent the sale of less expensive new Canadian vehicles to American consumers.
National Ranking: Tier 3
The Firm: Kirkland's considerable antitrust capabilities are rooted in the firm's famed litigation practice. Although it is best known in Chicago, where "each and every lawyer is smart, thorough and collaborative," the Washington, DC contingent also receives hearty endorsements from its clients. A significant proportion of the group's work originates in the IP and private equity sectors, and members have much experience of government investigations and class actions. The firm recently acted for Aon in a consolidated federal putative antitrust and RICO suit brought by insurance policyholders alleging an industry-wide conspiracy to stifle competition and allocate policies according to broker commissions. Jim Mutchnik and Tefft Smith are two of the practice's stars.
District of Columbia Ranking: Tier 3
The Firm: While noting the renowned strength of this firm's Chicago office antitrust work, clients heartily endorse the DC contingent: they state that it has been excelling of late, particularly in complex antitrust litigation and government and private class actions. The group regularly undertakes antitrust issues with an IP element and is also making strides in the private equity area. By way of example, the team is currently representing private equity firms Bain Capital and Madison Dearborn Partners in a class action filed against 13 private equity firms: plaintiffs allege that the 13 participated in various 'going private' transactions in which bidding practices violated antitrust laws. Lawyers at this firm "are easy to talk to, respond promptly and make practical suggestions," agree commentators. Despite the force of the team's litigation capabilities, clients are keen to emphasize the "equally impressive" merger clearance side of the practice. The group recently represented CHS in its $6.8 million acquisition of Triad Hospitals, creating the largest publicly held hospital company in the USA.
The Lawyers: Tefft Smith is widely lauded for his "excellent negotiation skills — he knows how to strike a balance between aggression and a softer approach, in order to secure results." He represents a wide range of clients in litigation before the agencies and has an international caseload, recently taking on a range of actions arising within the price-fixing arena. This includes the representation of Chiquita Brands International in a European Competition Commission investigation into European banana pricing, in which Chiquita secured conditional leniency, and in class actions filed in the USA alleging banana price-fixing. Another strong name in issues linked to antitrust and IP, Mark Kovner is popular with clients for his "proactive and responsive nature." Equally adept at litigation and counseling, he is acting for Barr Pharmaceuticals on an ongoing FTC investigation into patent litigation settlements between Shire Pharmaceuticals and Barr, relating to the drug Adderall XR.
Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2008 — www.chambersandpartners.com.