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' 2009 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.
Illinois Ranking: Tier 1
According to commentators, "Kirkland litigators excel at hard-hitting discovery and defense tactics." The trial-oriented team of 215 lawyers has a strong presence locally, regionally and nationally, and acts for some of the country's largest companies, including GM and BP America. The extensive practice includes securities, defamation, antitrust, mass torts, products liability, insurance coverage, construction, environmental and commercial cases. In recent highlight work, the Illinois group successfully defended GM in a patent infringement case and represented 3M in a multiplaintiff toxic tort class action for wrongful death and personal injury resulting from exposure to chemicals emanating from an industrial barrel facility. "The lawyers' ability to marshal resources and prepare cases for trial is phenomenal," highlighted impressed sources. Trial guru David Bernick splits his time between Chicago and New York and has a broad practice that includes expertise in bankruptcy litigation. Senior partner Richard Godfrey has extensive experience of class actions and appellate cases concerning antitrust, consumer fraud, ERISA, products liability, toxic torts, trade secrets and tax litigation. John Hickey is a trial specialist whose practical approach to cases is applauded by clients. Emily Nicklin represents accounting firms in malpractice claims, while Robert Kopecky has developed a renowned practice in securities class actions and shareholder derivative cases. Accomplished general litigator Stephen Patton recently acted for R.J. Reynolds in a dispute with several US states regarding the reductions in annual payments under the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Of counsel partner Steven Harper maintains an extensive trial practice that includes professional negligence, breach of contract and securities fraud disputes. Senior partners Garrett Johnson and Steven McCormick both remain active in trials and appeals.
Litigation: Trial Lawyers
Nationwide Ranking: Tier 1
Prominent in both Illinois and New York, David Bernick of Kirkland & Ellis LLP has a hugely respected trial practice that sees him undertake large-scale work throughout the USA.
District of Columbia Ranking: Tier 2
This is a formidable player on the national scene, renowned for achieving tremendous trial results for clients. The Washington, DC component of the superb litigation practice houses "uniformly outstanding attorneys," who offer strategic analysis of problems from both a business and a legal perspective. With a strong commercial slant, the tenacious litigators handle complex regulatory litigation and products liability work, among other matters. Clients praise the firm as extremely efficient and cost-effective. Firmwide management committee chair Thomas Yannucci is a strong choice for litigation, utilizing his commercial understanding to create strategic solutions. Eugene Assaf impresses interviewees with his excellent courtroom skills, and recently achieved a jury trial victory and $170 million damages for BASF in the culmination of a long-standing dispute with Lyondell Chemical.
Litigation: General Commercial: The Elite
New York Ranking: Tier 2
This impressive group fields a team of tough trial lawyers with proven track records who "litigate cases to win, not to settle, " according to clients. They are recommended for their ability to manage large and difficult cases across a range of areas, including commercial, securities, defamation, antitrust, mass torts, products liability, insurance coverage, construction and environmental matters. The group has seen an increase in disputes arising from the economic downturn and is also seeing growth in the antitrust arena. In February 2009 the white-collar litigation practice was bolstered by the hire of Former US Attorney Michael Garcia and former Nixon Peabody partner Henry DePippo. David Bernick splits his time between the New York and Chicago offices. In June 2008 he acted for Dow Chemical in a case involving the termination of the employment of two senior executives after Dow discovered they were intending to take over the company, in what would have been a $50 billion LBO. Another recent highlight was the settlement of asbestos personal injury claims on behalf of W.R. Grace. Jay Lefkowitz is a very effective advocate, both on his feet and in writing. He recently defended several Verizon entities in relation to allegations of violation of the False Claims Act, the Unclaimed Property Act, and the Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
California Ranking: Tier 5
Clients commented on the consistently high quality and excellent integration of the attorneys in this team. The practice ranges across the board of general litigation with successes in tax litigation on behalf of AES, product liability class actions for Apple and a landmark arbitration decision in favor of DIRECTV concluding almost seven years of litigation. Representing DIRECTV and Boeing this year, Jeffrey Davidson plays a crucial role as a consultant within the firm. James Basile exhibits "a unique combination of a brilliant mind, super drafting skills and ferocious courtroom advocacy."
Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2009 — www.chambersandpartners.com.