Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2011: 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' 2011 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: This firm's Chicago litigation group is one of the largest and best known in the country. The group has excellent strength and depth on its bench with the best part of 200 litigators based in Chicago. The group lands some of the world's largest cases, and is able to field teams on a number of enormous matters simultaneously. In the last year, the firm has handled several significant matters for Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil and Deloitte & Touche, and is currently representing BP following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Sources Say: "When I need a trial firm, the number of names that come to mind dwindles - Kirkland & Ellis is one of those few firms that remain standing."

Key Individuals: Richard Godfrey "is a trial lawyer through and through. A rare breed who relishes the challenge and can be counted on to deliver a first-rate product every time." He is currently the lead counsel for BP in matters arising out of the Deepwater Horizon spill. John Hickey is well regarded by peers. He is also involved in defending BP. Emily Nicklin "is a seasoned trial lawyer with first-class client care." Sources praise the cerebral and "incredibly smart" Robert Kopecky. Boehringer Ingelheim, McDonald's and GMAC are among his clients.  Mark Filip possesses an "incisive and highly practical legal mind." As a former Deputy US Attorney General, he is renowned for expertise in white-collar and commercial matters. Sallie Smylie "performs well under pressure, thinks strategically about each step in the process, communicates well and understands what clients want."

District of Columbia Ranking: Tier 2

The Firm: This group wins accolades for its broad litigation capabilities and ability to draw on the firm's stellar national resources to achieve impressive trial results for clients. The team is well equipped with a consistent bench of lawyers who gather admiration from major industrial and financial players thanks to their responsive, client-oriented approach. Notable clients include AOL, TimeWarner, BASF, Boeing, ConocoPhillips, Honeywell and Nationwide Insurance.

Sources Say: "Kirkland lawyers have excellent communication skills, superb tactical and strategic thinking about big cases in particular, and they have a strong edge to them as well."

Key Individuals: Thomas Yannucci brings with him "the ability to really understand a complex set of facts and distil it to core issues." Hailed by clients as "a broad thinker and very hands-on litigator," he offers strong experience in representing corporations in class action suits. Eugene Assaf handles a range of commercial litigation, environmental and technology disputes matters. Clients recognize him as someone who is "very good on his feet, effective in a courtroom, and very focused on giving penetrating arguments."

The Elite
New York Ranking: Tier 2

The Firm: The firm's substantial litigation practice is widely respected for its tremendous capabilities in complex commercial litigation, and clients benefit from its impressive national trial experience and capabilities. The team is well equipped to represent clients in a wide variety of disputes, including commercial, securities, defamation, antitrust, mass tort, product liability, insurance coverage, construction and environmental litigation. Its enviable client roster includes 3G Capital, Dow Chemical, IBM, Verizon and WR Grace.

Sources Say: "Kirkland & Ellis is an exceptionally strong firm with a large stable of tremendously capable commercial litigators and trial lawyers."

Key Individuals:  Jay Lefkowitz is respected in the legal community as "a skilled advocate." He has substantial experience in securities, shareholder derivative, antitrust and breach of contract matters, as well as criminal cases. He recently represented UBS in a putative class action challenging its policies, procedures and agreements regarding the sweep of un-invested cash from brokerage accounts. William Pratt has a broad-based litigation practice, and is praised for his "superb courtroom presence." The "terrific up-and-comer" Andrew Genser handles criminal and regulatory investigations as well as internal investigations and securities-related disputes.

California Ranking: Tier 4

The Firm: This national firm's California office receives particular praise for its contentious transactional work. The firm recently successfully represented the actor and producer Don Johnson in a case relating to the copyright ownership and related profits from the television series 'Nash Bridges.' 

Sources Say: "They are extremely well managed, very service-oriented, and they're experts in the field."

Key Individuals: James Basile is a recognized name in the field and typically represents major corporations. Sources say he "thinks two steps ahead and always has a complete command of his cases." Jeffrey Davidson is an accomplished trial lawyer, who has forged a reputation for handling high-profile commercial disputes. Peers regard him as "an extremely accomplished lawyer."

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2011—