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.
The 2016 edition of Who’s Who Legal: Litigation features a comprehensive guide to the litigation legal market, including 801 practitioners from 463 firms across 66 different countries.
Following the introduction of an e-discovery chapter to WWL: Litigation for the first time last year, we have built on the research to create an expanded list of the world’s leading e-discovery lawyers for this year's edition.
We single out over 50 leading practitioners who advise clients across the entire discovery and disclosure process. This may include creating appropriate tools and techniques to preserve and collect electronically stored data, providing processing and hosting services, and creating corporate e-discovery strategies. They will work closely with legal professionals to assist clients reduce time, expense and risks associated with the e-discovery process.
The world of commercial litigation is currently going through an uncertain period. The legal market itself is fluctuating, with boutique firms continuing to thrive and put pressure on larger firms’ practices. In addition, it is unclear how events such as Brexit may impact the sector, both in Europe and globally, with practitioners split as to whether it will generate activity in the sector or cause a downturn. While arbitration remains an attractive alternative for clients as a method to resolve their disputes, the litigation sector will “continue to be squeezed”. Yet despite such pressures, practitioners are still positive about the future of their practices.
Listing 740 practitioners from 437 law firms across 69 countries, our latest edition of Who's Who Legal: Litigation is unique in its scale and reach.
For the debut of the e-discovery section of this edition, we single out 34 US lawyers noted for their expertise and experience in this area.
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.
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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.