Business Crime Defence 2016: Analysis

The 2016 edition of Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence includes an impressive 1,157 listings across 38 jurisdictions in the areas of corporate defence, individual defence and money laundering.

US giant Sidley Austin leads the research this year, demonstrating its exceptional global capabilities with listings across the US and Asia. Full-service firms Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher also perform well, with 16 and 13 listings respectively.

Additionally, our research highlights the prominent position of specialist firms in the market, with Kingsley Napley and BCL Solicitors achieving top positions in London, while Brown Rudnick offers a strong transatlantic offering and Morvillo excels in the US with lawyers recognised from its offices in New York and Washington, DC.

We also identify the most highly regarded practitioners in the corporate, individual and money laundering chapters of this edition. 

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Corporate Defence
Gary Naftalis Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, New York
Theodore Wells Jr Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, New York
Roberto Finzi Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, New York
Steven Kobre Kobre & Kim, New York
Christopher Morvillo Clifford Chance, New York
Judith Seddon Clifford Chance, London
Stephen Gentle Simmons & Simmons, London
Clare Montgomery QC Matrix Chambers, London
David Corker Corker Binning, London
Louise Hodges Kingsley Napley, London
Rest of the World
Paul Gully-Hart Schellenberg Wittmer, Geneva
Marc Henzelin Lalive, Geneva
Saverio Lembo Bär & Karrer, Geneva
Roberto Pisano Studio Legale Pisano, Milan
Felix Ng Haldanes Solicitors and Notaries, Hong Kong
Individual Defence
Gary Naftalis Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, New York
Elkan Abramowitz Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, New York
Debra Wong Yang Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Los Angeles
Theodore Wells Jr Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, New York
Roberto Finzi Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, New York
David Corker Corker Binning, London
Peter Binning Corker Binning, London
Louise Hodges Kingsley Napley, London
Richard Sallybanks BCL Solicitors, London
Stephen Gentle Simmons & Simmons, London
Rest of the World
Paulo de Sá e Cunha Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira, Lisbon
Paul Gully-Hart Schellenberg Wittmer, Geneva
Marc Henzelin Lalive, Geneva
Roberto Pisano Studio Legale Pisano, Milan
Kai Hart-Hoenig Dr Kai Hart-Hoenig Rechtsanwälte, Frankfurt am Main
Money Laundering
Reid Weingarten Steptoe & Johnson, Washington DC
Samuel Seymour Sullivan & Cromwell, New York
Mark Mendelsohn Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, Washington DC
Steven Peikin Sullivan & Cromwell, New York
Raymond Banoun Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft, Washington DC
David Corker Corker Binning, London
Clare Montgomery QC Matrix Chambers, London
Stephen Gentle Simmons & Simmons, London
Monty Raphael QC Peters & Peters Solicitors, London
Neil Swift Peters & Peters Solicitors, London
Rest of the World
Paul Gully-Hart Schellenberg Wittmer, Geneva
Roberto Pisano Studio Legale Pisano, Milan
Stéphane Bonifassi Bonifassi Avocats, Paris
Ilias Anagnostopoulos Anagnostopoulos, Athens
Benjamin Borsodi Schellenberg Wittmer, Geneva

Sidley Austin emerges as this year’s leading business crime defence firm, with an impressive 17 listings across all three areas of our research. In the Washington, DC office, managing partner Mark Hopson is a team leader of the white-collar practice’s government enforcement and litigation group. He is considered a “world-class litigator” and is admired by clients for his “hands-on approach” to investigations. Clients “would not hesitate to recommend” fellow leader Karen Popp for her “detail-oriented” and “meticulous” approach to investigations. The “terrifically talented” Carter Phillips is valued for his “extensive advocacy experience”, particularly before the Supreme Court. Thomas Green is a “top-tier trial lawyer” recognised for his “excellent” work representing both corporates and individuals.

Timothy Treanor is global co-leader of the firm’s white collar criminal defence and investigations practice group. He never fails to provide clients with "the best strategies" and ensure that they "avoid all pitfalls". A favourite among clients, New York-based David Rody is considered "one of the best in his field", approaching every case with "the highest level of focus and dedication". 

Representing the San Francisco office is “white-collar crime specialist” David Anderson, who is highly sought after for his “strong commercial awareness”. He garners recognition for his work defending both corporate and individual clients, as well as for his money laundering expertise. In Chicago, Scott Lassar’s background as a federal law enforcement official makes him an asset to clients, who praise his “intricate knowledge of US business crime law”. The "excellent" Kimberly Dunne in Los Angeles is commended by clients for her "strong command of the facts" throughout the entirety of a case.

Outside the US, Hong Kong-based Yuet Ming Tham is listed for her “first-rate” corporate defence practice. She stands out for her “tremendous understanding of anti-bribery laws”, most notably the Foreign Corruption Practices Act. 

London-based firm Kingsley Napley demonstrates the depth and breadth of its business crime expertise with an impressive 13 listings. Leader of the firm’s criminal and regulatory litigation group Stephen Parkinson is widely recognised for his “sensational work”, particularly defending high-profile individuals. His previous governmental experience means that he is “well equipped” to deal with the most complex litigation matters. He is joined by the highly regarded Louise Hodges, “one of the leading lawyers in the London market”. Her “prestigious practice” focuses on fraud and business crime litigation, and she possesses particular expertise in insider dealing and tax avoidance schemes. The “utterly brilliant” Eve Giles is well known for the high-profile nature of her work, which includes representing individuals in major investigations led by the SFO, the FCA and the DOJ.  

When it comes to money laundering matters, “there is no one better” than Jonathan Grimes, who “never fails to deliver astute and considered counsel” to clients. The “outstanding” Jo Rickards is renowned in the market for her “superb representation” of prominent individuals in cases of alleged business crime. Her recent highlights include acting on behalf of former News of the World editor Andy Coulson in connection with allegations of phone hacking.

With 16 listings spanning five US states and London, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom cements its position as “a force to be reckoned with” in the market. In New York, founder of the firm’s white-collar practice David Zornow is a “major player” in the market, highlighted for his “exceptional work” dealing with both external and internal corporate investigations. Alongside him, Steven Glaser possesses vast experience managing white-collar crime matters before both federal and state courts. He is regarded as a “prominent practitioner” by clients and peers alike. The “remarkable” Warren Feldman is noted for his “extensive knowledge” of US regulatory law and enforcement.

In Washington, DC, Gary DiBianco enjoys a “great reputation” in the market acting on behalf of corporations, directors and employees in relation to criminal investigations into anti-corruption and fraud matters. An “exceedingly talented litigator”, Gregory Craig is widely recognised for his “impressive roster of clients” that includes many high-powered individuals. Los Angeles-based Richard Marmaro heads the firm’s West Coast SEC enforcement and white-collar defence practice. He is a “fantastic trial lawyer” who possesses a “great ability to think on his feet”. In London, recent hire Elizabeth Robertson is a “terrific lawyer” who “inspires confidence” and is described as a “great addition to the firm”.

London boutique BCL Solicitors achieves 13 listings this year, maintaining its strong reputation as a leading corporate crime outfit. Firm founder Ian Burton is an “incredibly astute lawyer”, whose business crime practice is considered “one of the most prominent in the country”. With a focus on complex corporate and regulatory defence work, “leading light” Richard Sallybanks continues to provide clients with “comprehensive and insightful legal advice”. He possesses vast experience handling matters in relation to SFO, FCA and HMRC investigations. The “acclaimed” Brian Spiro is well regarded in the field for his “sensitive management” of complex investigations against high-profile individuals and corporate entities.

“Corporate crime expert” Harry Travers regularly handles cases of commercial fraud and corruption and is known for his “ability to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks”. Recognised for her work with high-profile individuals, Jane Glass “never fails to understand the needs and demands of the client”. Shaul Brazil is a “top-notch practitioner” and is identified for his money laundering expertise.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher also achieves 13 listings. One of the most highly regarded individuals in our research Debra Wong Yang garners recognition for her representation of individuals and corporates, as well as her expertise in money laundering matters. Sources praise her “calm and measured approach” to cases. In Washington, DC, Joseph Warin chairs the litigation department and co-chairs the firm’s white-collar defence and investigations practice group. When it comes to complex regulatory matters, he is considered the “go-to lawyer”, particularly when it concerns both the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the False Claims Act. Alongside him, David Burns is a “real star” in the field, commended for his “pragmatic and considered style”.

In New York, Lawrence Zweifach is a “brilliant advocate” known for his “commanding presence in the courtroom” while Hong Kong-based Kelly Austin is recognised for the “fresh and innovative approach” that she takes to cases.

At Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, co-chair of the litigation department in New York Theodore Wells Jr is “head and shoulders above the rest” when it comes to white-collar crime advocacy on behalf of corporate and individual clients. Former federal prosecutor Roberto Finzi is well placed to provide “intuitive and strategic counsel” to clients on white collar and regulatory investigations. Washington, DC-based Mark Mendelsohn co-chairs the firm’s FCPA group and is well-known throughout the market for his “profound regulatory understanding”.

Daniel Beller’s “highly impressive practice” is known for its “expert management” of tax evasion, price-fixing, corruption and bribery matters for both corporates and individuals.  The “truly gifted” Mark Pomerantz is widely respected for his “remarkable representation” of major US corporates in DOJ investigations. Michele Hirshman is a “distinguished player” of the criminal bar, and gains recognition for the “sensible and considered counsel” she delivers to clients including financial institutions, pharmaceutical manufacturers and high-profile company executives. With great previous governmental experience, Richard Tarlowe is “exceedingly well versed” in US corporate criminal regulation, and is admired as a “true star” in the field.

Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz is represented by “top-notch litigator” David Anders who “combines his sharp legal mind with strong commercial acumen”. Ralph Levene is a “truly impressive advocate” known for the “effective legal counsel” he provides to clients who include both US and foreign companies and financial institutions. The “esteemed” John Savarese is in high demand for his “great ability to truly understand a clients’ business”.

Managing partner of Sullivan & Cromwell’s criminal defence and investigations group Steven Peikin possesses “great trial experience” and is described as a “real asset to clients”. He is joined in the New York office by the “fantastic” Samuel Seymour whose “top-tier practice” encompasses foreign bribery, money laundering and accounting and securities fraud.

New York-based Gary Naftalis at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel is a “truly outstanding corporate crime practitioner”. He boasts a “sensational reputation” for his work handling high-stakes and highly-sensitive criminal proceedings. At Kobre & Kim, co-founder Steven Kobre regularly deals with high-value disputes, and wins praise for his “market leading capabilities”. Clifford Chance’s Christopher Morvillo is “well-versed” in matters concerning insider trading, embezzlement and accounting fraud. The “naturally gifted” Elkan Abramowitz at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello is described by clients as a “brilliant orator”, whose representation of clients in courtroom proceedings is “second to none”. 

In Washington DC, Reid Weingarten at Steptoe & Johnson has a “great manner with clients”, who praise his “intrinsic knowledge” of criminal proceedings. Known for his “wealth of knowledge” of business fraud matters, Raymond Banoun at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft is a “well-reputed name” in the market.

Ty Cobb at Hogan Lovells is “a lawyer of the highest calibre” and is known for his “insightful advice”. At Schulte Roth & Zabel, “first choice” for many clients is Betty Santangelo who possesses “exceptional regulatory know-how” concerning corporate criminal proceedings. At Spears & Imes, founding partner David Spears is an “incredibly skilled individual” who is “undoubtedly one of the leading litigators out there”.

Corker Binning’s David Corker is “in a league of his own”, providing clients with “world-class representation” and “insightful counsel”. Fellow founding partner Peter Binning is a “scrupulous lawyer” and, according to clients, displays “sheer technical excellence” in his criminal defence work. 

Clifford Chance’s Judith Seddon is “one of the foremost practitioners” in the UK market, described by many as “extremely sharp and astute”. Her practice covers both national and international high-profile white-collar crime matters including investigations and responses to dawn raids. Considered “the best white-collar crime lawyer in London” among peers and clients alike, Stephen Gentle at Simmons & Simmons is a “genius” when it comes to anti-bribery compliance issues. Clare Montgomery QC at Matrix Chambers is “at the top of the tree” according to sources – a “star silk” highly respected for her “strong command of the courtroom”.

Pinsent Masons’ Barry Vitou heads the firm’s global corporate crime team and is considered “a font of knowledge” when it comes to matters concerning the UK Bribery Act. Neil McInnes is a “remarkable advocate” whose knowledge of the Asian legal market makes him a “real favourite” among clients.

At Peters & Peters Solicitors, the “incredibly astute” Neil Swift possesses great experience dealing with UK and foreign enforcement agencies, making him a “firm favourite among clients”. Monty Raphael QC is an “internationally renowned” white-collar crime lawyer who boasts “unsurpassed experience and expertise” in the field. He focuses particularly on corruption, tax delinquency and money laundering.

Brown Rudnick’s impressive transatlantic offering is well-represented this year. In the US, chair of the firm’s white-collar defence and government investigations group Stephen Best is renowned for his “complete knowledge” of business crime enforcement as well as his “invaluable trial experience” before federal and state tribunals. Clients commend Alex Lipman for his "careful and considered approach" to cases. The “superb” Justin Weddle is commended for his "willingness to learn about a client's business" and consequently provide "bespoke and relevant solutions".  Co-head of the firm’s global white collar crime and regulatory investigations department Mark Beardsworth is an “extremely talented practitioner” highlighted for his “ability to untangle even the most complex of cases”. He is joined in London by the “outstanding” Tom Epps who wins praise for his "expert management of high-stakes cases".

Many of our most highly regarded individuals are Switzerland-based, including Schellenberg Wittmer’s managing partner and head of the internal corporate investigations group, Benjamin Borsodi. His “acclaimed” practice covers the whole gamut of business crime matters including compliance, fraud and corporate investigations. The “first-class” Paul Gully-Hart, continues to impress with his “keen attention to detail”. He heads the firm’s white-collar crime and compliance group and specialises in particularly complex criminal litigation.

Daniel Tunik at Lenz & Staehelin is esteemed for his “litigation prowess”, and wins praise for his “unwavering focus” when dealing with white-collar investigations. He is joined by Miguel Oural, who is a “consummate expert” when it comes to internal investigations, known for his “ability to adapt to any given situation”.

Lalive’s Marc Henzelin is “absolutely brilliant”, and is highly sought after in relation to investigations and extradition work. He is praised for his “excellent judgement”. Sonja Maeder Morvant "outshines her competitors" with her "high quality counsel and work". She is widely recognised for her "client-friendly approach".

Head of Bär & Karrer’s white-collar crime practice group Saverio Lembo has practised extensively in the field, particularly regarding complex criminal litigations, and is “always prepared to deal with every eventuality”.  Jean-Marc Carnicé at BCCC Avocats is identified for the “thoroughness and accuracy of his work” and is “terrific in all areas”, including money laundering, corruption and terrorism financing.

At his own firm in Frankfurt, Kai Hart-Hönig is a “top name” in the German legal market. Recognised for his “incredible expertise” in tax crime, he regularly represents both German and international corporate entities and their individuals. Paris-based Stéphane Bonifassi is “truly a class act”. A “pragmatic and reassuring adviser”, he possesses particular expertise dealing with international corruption. At his own firm, the “technically brilliant” Emmanuel Marsigny is considered a “seasoned expert” when it comes to extradition matters.

In Italy, Roberto Pisano at Studio Legale Pisano is a “well-reputed name” in the market, who “instils confidence in clients” with his “vast knowledge” of Italian criminal proceedings. At Cagnola & Associati Studio Legale, Fabio Cagnola is a “phenomenally bright lawyer” admired for his “deeply analytical mind”. 

Paulo de Sá e Cunha at Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira is an “exceptionally bright individual” who “never fails to deliver innovative and creative counsel” to clients. Antônio Sérgio A de Moraes Pitombo possesses a “strong grasp” of corporate criminal law and is a “top quality practitioner”.

Ilias Anagnostopoulos is a “terrific advocate” whose knowledge of insider dealing, money laundering and financial fraud makes him “a real asset” to clients. In Norway at Advokatfirma Alvheim og Hansen ANS, the “exceptionally bright” Arild Dyngeland is recognised for his “adept handling of criminal disputes”.

At Haldanes Solicitors and Notaries in Hong Kong, managing partner Andrew Powner is a “fantastic practitioner” who “instils trust in clients with his calm demeanour”. Felix Ng boasts a "stellar reputation" in the Asian legal market and, according to sources, "leaves no stone unturned in preparing his client's defence". The “highly accomplished” Jonathan Midgley is highly respected by peers who value his “market leading criminal defence capabilities”. The "eminent" Clive Grossman SC at Parkside Chambers is a "big name" in the Hong Kong market; he is regarded as a “consummate expert corporate and commercial crime. In Singapore, Withers KhattarWong’s Gerallt Owen is a "top-tier lawyer", recognised for his "great consideration for the broader business aspects of a case".

In the Netherlands, Aldo Verbruggen at Jones Day is recommended for his "business-minded approach" to anti-corruption and financial fraud cases, He is described as a "distinguished player" in the Dutch market. Considered a "financially astute individual", De Roos & Pen’s Niels van der Laan continues to impress clients with his "unparalleled abilities". Alongside him the “terrifically clever” Lisa van der Wal is praised for her “great capacity to grasp a client’s aims and priorities and tailor her advice accordingly”. 

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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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