Most Highly Regarded Firms: Commercial Litigation 2011

In this section we analyse the findings of our research in greater depth to identify the firms and practitioners who stand out worldwide.

Most highly regarded individuals
David Boies Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP, New York
Nathalie Voser Schellenberg Wittmer, Zurich
Mary Jo White Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, New York
Philip Beck Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP, Chicago
Stephen Susman Susman Godfrey LLP, Houston
Sheila Block Torys LLP, Toronto
Markus Meier Hengeler Mueller,Frankfurt
Jonathan Schiller Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP, New York
Patrick Sherrington Hogan Lovells LLP, London
Sonya Leydecker Herbert Smith LLP, London

Clifford Chance is the leading firm in this edition in terms of featured experts, with 12 nominees receiving sufficient recommendations to be selected as leaders in the field. Jeremy Sandelson is global head of litigation and dispute resolution and “one of the pre-eminent experts on financial services litigation in Europe”. Simon Davis is widely respected for his work on behalf of financial institutions, and Roger Best stands out for his regulatory expertise as well as a wide ranging disputes practice. The firm is similarly well represented in Frankfurt, where Uwe Hornung heads the German litigation and dispute resolution practice and is a “quite breathtaking litigator”. Fabian von Schlabrendorff is a “guru for all types of disputes work”; Burkhard Schneider is very well regarded for his financial institution related work. Jean-Pierre Grandjean in Paris is highly rated for his litigation practice across a range of sectors, and Jeroen Ouwehand heads the Amsterdam litigation and dispute resolution practice and is “one of the finest litigators in the Netherlands”. José Antonio Caínzos is similarly well regarded in Spain. Timur Aitkulov in Moscow is much in demand for litigation, regulatory and white-collar work, both domestically and cross-border. The firm is also strong in Hong Kong, where Martin Rogers is head of the litigation and dispute resolution practice in Asia and a “real star”. He appears alongside the very well regarded Brian Gilchrist.

Half of the 10-strong contingent from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP are based in the London office. The “very able” Christopher Pugh heads the dispute resolution group and acted for Brookfield in proceedings against Mott MacDonald relating to the construction of Wembley Stadium. Paul Bowden stands out for his environment and products related litigation expertise. Raj Parker’s “superb reputation” extends across all types of dispute resolution, and he is well known for the quality of his work relating to white-collar crime. Ian Terry is a “very well known figure in the market” and represented Apple Computers in proceedings brought by Apple Corps (The Beatles) relating to the use of the Apple name and logo. Paul Lomas has appeared at all levels of the English courts, the European Court of Justice, the Court of First Instance and the Florida Supreme Court. Rolf Trittmann is one of the most highly rated litigators in Germany and is similarly fêted for his arbitration expertise. Thomas Kustor in Vienna is very well respected for his company law litigation. Vicente Sierra is “very high profile” in Madrid and Elie Kleiman is similarly well regarded in Paris. The firm is also represented in Tokyo by Kazuki Okada, who is “one of the pre-eminent domestic litigators in Japan.”

Herbert Smith LLP is regularly described as a “powerhouse” in this sector, and lawyers from the firm appear nine times in this edition. The London office once again performs particularly well, with five nominees headed by Sonya Leydecker, who is global head of dispute resolution and “practically unrivalled” for banking litigation. Adam Johnson scores highly for his litigation work as well as his arbitration and mediation skills, and Simon Bushell stands out for his corporate fraud practice. Ted Greeno has conducted commercial litigation in all the higher English Courts and is “the first port of call for energy disputes” for many of our corporate sources. Damien Byrne Hill leads the banking litigation practice and is “building an absolutely stellar reputation” as a result of his work for Goldman Sachs and the Virgin Group. In Paris, Denis Chemla is “a litigator of the highest calibre” and has acted for General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and EDF. Dmitry Kurochkin is head of the litigation and arbitration group in Moscow and one of the most highly rated individuals in the Russian research, and Peter Godwin heads the practice in Tokyo and is “thorough, efficient and very client friendly”. In Hong Kong, Mark Johnson is “top drawer” for civil, regulatory and white-collar crime matters and has represented clients such as Samsung.

Allen & Overy scores seven listings from its offices across Europe and the US. In the latter, New York based Benno Kimmelman stands out for both his arbitration and litigation work. Three partners appear from the London office, where Guy Henderson – former leader of the litigation and dispute resolution practice in Hong Kong – was picked out for his Asia expertise in particular. Tim House is “the counsel of choice” for financial institutions in Europe and the US for contentious work, risk management and regulatory work, and is often the first port of call for public company directors involved in claims brought against them personally. John O’Conor is fêted by the market for his expertise in complex financial disputes. Two further nominees are selected from the Amsterdam office: Willem van Baren heads the office’s litigation and arbitration department, and he appears alongside the Amsterdam office and is “one of the finest disputes lawyers in the Netherlands”, and he is joined by the highly rated Arnold Croiset van Uchelen. Koen van den Broek in Belgium was recommended for his litigation, arbitration and mediation practice.

Hogan Lovells demonstrates its international capabilities with six nominees selected from five of the firm’s offices. Patrick Sherrington is head of the litigation, arbitration and employment practice of Hogan Lovells International LLP and recognised for his “tremendously impressive practice”, which encompasses complex financial disputes as well as insurance, energy, product liability and professional negligence related matters. Graham Huntley is said to be “supremely good” for M&A, asset management, and shareholder and joint venture disputes. Alexander Loos is “one of the finest litigators in Germany”, famed for his corporate disputes practice as well as his arbitration expertise. Thomas Rouhette heads the French disputes practice and is one of the most highly regarded practitioners in France, recognised domestically and across Europe for his expertise in all types of dispute including product liability. Bruno Ciuffetelli in Venezuela is “known worldwide”, and Allan Leung in Hong Kong heads the dispute resolution practice in Asia and is “highly competent and very effective”.

The strong performance of Linklaters is due in large part to the outstanding performance of its London office, where three nominees are listed. Christopher Style QC is picked out for his litigation, arbitration and regulatory expertise, while John Turnbull is “excellent” for all types of corporate finance litigation, as well as contentious aspects of M&A transactions. Christa Band also scores very highly. In Brussels, Johan Verbist is “one of the best around” for banking litigation and is also regularly called upon for construction disputes, while Françoise Lefèvre is global head of litigation and arbitration and a “force to be reckoned with”. Daniella Strik is the leader of the litigation and arbitration practice in the Netherlands, and was widely commended for her expertise in domestic corporate and banking disputes.

Slaughter and May strengthens its presence for the second consecutive edition, and now sees five partners selected. Nick Gray is a “fantastic lawyer” known for advising Cadbury on various outsourcing disputes. Nick Archer is the counsel of choice for corporates, banks and sovereign governments, and Efstathios Michael stands out for his restructuring related expertise in particular. Richard Clark heads the dispute resolution group and is a “formidable operator”. He is particularly well known for cross-border banking and trade disputes. Sarah Lee scores very highly for her work on behalf of corporates and financial institutions, and she advised Cable & Wireless in the successful defence of claims brought against it by Digicel in the UK High Court.

Sidley Austin LLP “has a strong profile in this sector”, and the firm has handled litigation for clients including AT&T, Goldman Sachs, HSBC and Marathon Oil. Six partners are selected for inclusion, the majority based in the US. Mark Haddad is global co-chair of the global appellate practice and one of three to feature from the firm’s Californian offices. Sara Brody in San Francisco is global co-chair of the securities litigation practice group and a “nationally recognised expert”. Douglas Axel was particularly strongly recommended in this year’s research. Carter Phillips is managing partner of the DC office and renowned for his work before the Supreme Court. Charles Douglas in Chicago received high levels of praise from clients and peers alike. Charles Allen heads the Hong Kong commercial litigation practice and is also well known for his mediation and arbitration skills.

David Boies of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP in New York is once again the most highly nominated individual in the international research. “World famous, and justly so”, he was counsel to former vice-president Al Gore in relation to the 2000 presidential election, and acted as special trial counsel to the US Department of Justice in its antitrust suit against Microsoft. Alongside him, Jonathan Schiller is “the real deal”. He represents Barclays Capital in adversary proceedings in the Lehman bankruptcy, and was lead counsel for the successful defence of The Bank of New York Mellon against a $22.5 billion Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) claim brought by the Russian Federal Customs Service in the Moscow Commercial Court. 

Mary Jo White of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in the US is an “absolutely brilliant lawyer”. A former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, “there is no one you would rather have in your corner.” John Kiernan – co-chair of the firm’s litigation department – and David W Rivkin are also extremely highly respected for their disputes work, while in London the firm can offer clients the benefit of the expertise of former UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith QC, “one of the foremost lawyers in the country, in any sector”.

Philip Beck of Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP in Chicago is “everything you want in a litigator”. Nationally renowned as a member of President George W Bush’s trial team in the case arising from the 2000 elections, he represented United Technologies and its Pratt & Whitney division in a multi-billion dollar patent claim brought by Rolls-Royce. Fred Bartlit in the Denver office is also included and is “an all-time great” in the eyes of our interviewees.

Stephen Susman of Susman Godfrey LLP is once again one of the most highly respected litigators in the US, and in the research worldwide, and he appears alongside the “hugely impressive” fellow name partner Lee Godfrey.

In Canada, Sheila Block chairs the Toronto litigation practice of Torys LLP is one of the most highly nominated individuals in the research worldwide. She has appeared before all levels of court in Ontario; the Federal Court and the Supreme Court of Canada and is commended for her work on corporate, commercial and securities litigation matters.

Five lawyers appear from Conyers Dill & Pearman, split between three offices. Richard Evans and Mark Forté scored particularly well in the British Virgin Islands, the latter heading the practice and well known for his contentious insolvency work in particular. Jeffrey Elkinson is “one of the biggest names in Bermuda”, where he is selected alongside Narinder Hargun. Nigel Meeson QC heads the litigation practice in the Cayman Islands and is described as a “top-flight talent”.

Nathalie Voser of Schellenberg Wittmer in Switzerland is once again one of the leading practitioners in Europe according to our research. Her expertise extends to disputes relating to M&A and joint ventures, construction projects and the automotive and pharmaceutical industries, and she is “an absolute phenomenon” in the eyes of our sources. Alongside her, Martin Bernet is well known as former chair of the international litigation committee of the International Bar Association’s section on business law, and scores very highly in this year’s research. 

Markus Meier of Hengeler Mueller is the most highly rated individual in the German research. Described as “hugely talented”, he received recommendations from clients and peers alike, and is selected among the area’s most highly regarded practitioners for the first time.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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