By Bettina Knötzl, Knoetzl
As international commercial links increase, it becomes more and more important for creditors to collect on claims across international borders, to be able to locate assets and – with the assistance of the courts – to act quickly to attach them. Litigators find themselves more frequently engaged in cases where their clients are victims of white-collar crime such as fraud, breach of fiduciary duties, deceit and corruption, or they may be simply asked to collect outstanding receivables in various jurisdictions.
Contentious work in the financial industry has continued to drive activity over the past year, with more institutions facing increased scrutiny as a result of stricter regulation and subsequent enforcement in key financial centres around the world. While some contributors to last year’s edition intimated that high-profile banking litigation could “be winding down towards the end of 2015”, our research indicates that this has not been the case, and that in fact banking crisis contentious work will gain momentum heading into 2016. As one UK-based lawyer observed, “Cases involving several institutions are busier than ever and will continue to occupy a major proportion of my practice over the next 18 months.”
This year, we recognise 720 practitioners from 428 firms in 69 countries as leading individuals. Several firms in particular stand out in our research due to the high number of listings they achieve - notably Hogan Lovells, with lawyers from its offices across Europe, the Americas and Asia recognised. Following closely behind are Herbert Smith Freehills and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, whose London offices are both especially well represented. Global heavyweight Clifford Chance and disputes boutique Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan both also achieve a significant number of inclusions.
We also single out the most highly regarded lawyers in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific, and at the UK Bar.
The sharp uptick in contentious work in the financial industry that we highlighted last year has been gaining increasing momentum. The deluge of regulation that has fallen on the sector has in turn led to a huge amount of work for litigation practitioners and this is showing no signs of diminishing in the near future.
The increase in corporate activity is slowly feeding through into disputes. Litigation is said to be counter cyclical, and so with many jurisdictions just coming out of the effects of the crisis, there is a “very buoyant” litigation market. Many are now seeing the tail end of the 2008 crisis work. As we noted in our previous edition, the wave of litigation predicted following the crisis did not appear immediately, but there has been a sharp increase in contentious work over the past two or three years. This sentiment is reiterated this year, with practitioners noting that those clients who did not want to spend money in the direct aftermath of the crisis now have steadily increasing litigation budgets.
Practitioners also suggest that this increase in corporate activity will have an effect on the legal marketplace. The afore-mentioned rise in regulatory investigations work has led to renewed focus on the investigations arena by the larger firms. As one lawyer stated, “the real money for the magic circle is in investigations. Litigation becomes the poor relation, and that is why we are starting to see the breakaways.”
This year, we identify 681 practitioners from 398 firms who are considered leading lawyers in the field. Six firms stand out in our research for fielding the highest number of lawyers to this edition. Hogan Lovells emerges as the leading firm with 11 lawyers recognised from its international network of offices. It is followed closely by Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, with 10 inclusions apiece. Completing the list are Davis Polk & Wardwell and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, fielding seven practitioners each.
We also single out the 10 most highly regarded commercial litigators in the world.
Following the global financial crisis of 2008, the wave of related litigation that many predicted failed to develop. In the last two to three years, however, there has been a sharp increase in contentious work for practitioners, most prevalently in relation to financial, securities and insolvency litigation, according to our research.
European firms and practitioners perform exceptionally well this year, with five of our top ten most highly regarded individuals hailing from European outfits. Selected as the leading firm in the research for the fourth year running, Clifford Chance enjoys 13 listings, followed by Hogan Lovells with 10, the newly formed Herbert Smith Freehills with nine, and European powerhouse Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer also with nine inclusions.
With the benefit of over 15 years of research and tens of thousands of votes from clients and private practitioners, Who’s Who Legal takes a closer look at developing global trends in the commercial litigation marketplace, exploring the problems faced by cost-conscious clients and the impact on ADR on the market.
With the benefit of over 14 years of research and tens of thousands of votes from clients and private practitioners, Who’s Who Legal takes a closer look at developing trends in the commercial litigation marketplace worldwide.
In this section we analyse the findings of our research in greater depth to identify the firms and practitioners who stand out worldwide.
Who’s Who Legal reveals the leading firms and commercial litigators from 56 jurisdictions. Once again, Clifford Chance leads the field in terms of numbers with 13 of the firm’s practitioners listed from seven offices around the world.
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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.