Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2010: Litigation: General Commercial

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' 2010 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: Tier 1

The Firm: Kirkland & Ellis is preeminent in the Chicago litigation sphere, although the recent departure of nationally renowned litigator David Bernick to tobacco giant Philip Morris generated headlines. A team of 190 commercial litigators covers cases at local, regional and national level. It has expertise in litigation relating to environmental, securities, defamation, antitrust and mass torts matters. It also has vast experience of products liability, insurance coverage, employment discrimination claims, tax and construction disputes. Kirkland continues to spearhead efforts by R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco manufacturers to recover several billion dollars of disputed reductions in the annual payments under the Tobacco Litigation Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). 

Sources Say: "A thorough, dependable and winning team."

Key Individuals: The talented Richard Godfrey recently won a major victory for BP when a three-judge panel affirmed summary judgment in its dispute with Autry Petroleum. Trial specialist John Hickey has vast experience in a range of areas, including IP, products liability, securities and contract litigation in state and federal courts. Emily Nicklin specializes in the representation of accounting firms in malpractice claims, an area that has seen a surge in activity recently. Robert Kopecky focuses on securities, class action and shareholder derivative cases, while also being active in SEC investigations and antitrust suits. Stephen Patton is a trial lawyer who specializes in contract, antitrust and products liability disputes. He continues to be active in the R.J. Reynolds case. Garrett Johnson's broad practice encompasses securities and futures, antitrust, environmental tort, products liability, breach of contract, defamation and lender liability proceedings. Steven McCormick has significant trial and appellate experience.

District of Columbia Ranking: Tier 2

The Firm: This group is recognized for its broad litigation capabilities and can draw on the firm's stellar national resources to achieve impressive trial results for clients. The Washington, DC office has a deep bench of lawyers who routinely handle complex commercial litigation for major clients such as Time Warner, Siemens and Honeywell.

Sources Say: "A culture of excellence."

"Absolutely outstanding advocacy."

Key Individuals: Firmwide management committee chair Thomas Yannucci has particularly extensive experience representing corporations in class action suits. He has been acting for Hershey in numerous antitrust actions alleging price fixing in the chocolate confectionery industry in the USA. He also represents Bain Capital in a putative nationwide class action. In addition to other complex business disputes, his practice also includes a focus on media and entertainment matters. Sources emphasize his meticulous preparation: "He leaves no stone unturned." Eugene Assaf is a gifted trial lawyer who "clearly and compellingly presents complicated matters to juries." A tenacious litigator, he handles all types of commercial disputes. Recent experience includes IP, antitrust, securities and class action suits. He has been defending Honeywell against the DOJ in a high-profile False Claims Act case.

New York Ranking: Tier 2

The Firm: This firm is renowned for its national litigation prowess and has a deep bench of talented trial lawyers, although the recent departure of nationally-renowned litigator David Bernick to tobacco giant Philip Morris generated headlines. Clients appreciate the geographic reach of the firm and emphasize the attentive service. The New York litigation group is frequently engaged in high-stakes disputes across the country. It has expertise in a broad array of areas including securities, defamation, antitrust, mass torts, products liability, IP and insurance coverage. Clients include Dow Chemical, Verizon and Honeywell.

Sources Say: "Outstanding trial advocacy and a truly caring attitude."

"While litigation can be unpleasant, working with the Kirkland & Ellis team is an enjoyable experience. The lawyers go to great lengths to provide superb legal services."

"Creative legal solutions and a cost-conscious culture."

Key Individuals: Jay Lefkowitz is "an exceptionally bright advocate who distills complicated issues into focused arguments." Areas of expertise include securities, shareholder derivative, antitrust, IP and breach of contract. He successfully defended UBS Financial Services in a breach of fiduciary duty claim and was lead counsel for Teva in a long-running class action lawsuit.  Newly ranked Bill Pratt led the team that achieved a $2.75 billion settlement on the eve of trial for Discover Financial Services in its antitrust dispute with Visa and MasterCard. A talented trial lawyer who has "a great demeanor in court," he is also prized for his "absolutely superb writing skills." Also new to the rankings this year is Andy Genser. He is considered a rising star in the white-collar area, he represents individuals and corporations in criminal and regulatory investigations and conducts internal investigations for clients. He also handles commercial and securities-related disputes. "Smart, savvy and well prepared," he manages situations efficiently and inspires confidence in clients.

California Ranking: Tier 4

The Firm: Kirkland & Ellis has more than 50 litigators operating out of its Los Angeles and San Francisco offices, who form part of its nationwide litigation group. The team recently represented Boeing Satellite Systems International in a $240 million arbitration concerning the launch of the Superbird-6 commercial satellite. Other highlights include acting for DIRECTV in a major antitrust lawsuit relating to cable and satellite channels.

Sources Say: "Responsive and creative attorneys."

Key Individuals: James Basile leads the litigation practice in San Francisco and is an experienced trial lawyer in a wide array of business disputes. Los Angeles-based Jeffrey Davidson has played a key role in the firm's representation of Boeing.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2010 —