Gary P Naftalis
Office:
1177 Avenue of the Americas
10036
City:
New York
State:
New York
Country:
USA
Tel:
+1 212 715 9253
Fax:
+1 212 715 9238

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

Gary P Naftalis is co-chairman of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP and one of the nation’s leading trial lawyers and preeminent litigators. For more than 40 years, he has represented individuals and corporations in all phases of complex bet-the-company civil, criminal and regulatory matters. Mr Naftalis formerly served as an assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York. He received his law degree from Columbia, his MA from Brown, and his AB from Rutgers. He has taught at Columbia and Harvard and co-authored the leading work on the grand jury.

What do you enjoy most about working in the field of business crime defence?

I find it enormously satisfying to be able to help individuals and corporations in times of crisis. In those high-stress situations, everything that is important is at stake – their freedom, reputation and future. Trying such high-stakes cases is an intellectual and strategic challenge and involves relating to and persuading people, be they jurors or judges, that the charges are unjust and unfounded.

And it is even more satisfying to be able to persuade regulators and prosecutive authorities that charges should not be brought, thereby sparing your client the agony and notoriety of a highly publicised charge and trial. These quiet victories are often more meaningful to the client than winning at a public trial.

What effect is technology having on the work of investigations lawyers?

Technology has complicated the work of a business crime defence lawyer. There is so much more data now available that needs to be analysed and studied. In the old days, everything was on paper and the only available data was the records and communications that had been retained and not discarded in the normal course.

Now electronic communications – emails and text messages – have exponentially increased the universe of communications. People dash off emails and texts often without the care and editing that goes into sending a written memo or letter. And unlike written drafts and letters that can be discarded, electronic communications never go away. Deleted emails and texts can be retrieved from hard drives. The evolution of final documents can be traced through metadata.

On the positive side, presentation of data and arguments to judges and juries is enhanced by technology and can be much more effective and persuasive.

Have clients’ concerns changed since you started practicing? If so, in what way?

There is more pressure on clients and their counsel to deal expeditiously and transparently with corporate crises and scandals. When the public got its news previously from the printed media, there was more time to reflect and react. We now live in a 24/7 news cycle with multiple sources of information including the internet, cable tv analysts, bloggers and the like. Delaying dealing appropriately both from a substantive and public relations point of view may exacerbate unfavourable perceptions of the issue and the client by regulators, business associates, and the public. And perceptions often tend to become accepted as reality.

What is the most significant trend in the field at the moment?

The scope of what is considered criminal and worthy of investigation and prosecution has dramatically increased. Matters that were once the subject only of private civil disputes or at most administrative action have now been criminalised. In addition, corporations are now being investigated and prosecuted much more frequently. It was not that long ago that corporations were hardly ever the focus of criminal investigations and prosecutions.

And perhaps most significantly business crime enforcement has become global in scope. When the alleged misconduct is not confined to a single nation, multiple regulators and prosecutive authorities will now become involved adding to the complexity and scope of the problem that business crime defence counsel faces. It is now essential to consider the interests and agendas of all these regulators in formulating your strategy and approach.

Compliance is increasingly important in the field at present. What can parties do to minimise their risk?

Having an effective compliance programme in place is critical for corporations. In making decisions whether to criminally charge corporations, prosecutors explicitly consider whether the company has a real compliance programme in place and whether in practice it takes compliance seriously.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

My proudest achievement is that I feel that I have made a difference to the people and institutions that I have been privileged to represent. In many instances, I have been able to preserve the reputation and even the future of those clients. By way of example, I am proud that by persuading the government not to bring criminal charges against the venerable investment banking firms, Kidder Peabody in the Wall Street insider trading inquiry and Salomon Brothers in the treasury auction scandal, both firms were saved along with the jobs and careers of thousands of innocent employees. Had those firms been criminally charged, it is highly likely they would not have survived.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I have ever received was to become an assistant US attorney under Robert Morgenthau in the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. I had been serving as a law clerk to a federal judge and had intended to accept a fellowship to study criminology at Cambridge the following year. I turned down the fellowship and instead joined the US Attorney’s Office. It was a life-changing experience. I learned how to be a trial lawyer and how to present complex fraud cases to a jury. I found that this was something that I liked and suited my talents and aspirations.

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Investigations

Gary P Naftalis is co-chairman of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP and one of the nation’s leading trial lawyers and pre-eminent litigators. For more than 40 years, he has represented individuals and corporations in all phases of complex bet-the-company civil, criminal, and regulatory matters. Mr Naftalis formerly served as an assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York. He received his law degree from Columbia, his MA from Brown, and his AB, from Rutgers. He has taught at Columbia and Harvard and co-authored the leading work on the grand jury.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN LAW?

I always wanted to do something that made a difference in the world and people’s lives. I first thought about serving in the foreign service and studied history in graduate school. I later switched to law believing that being a lawyer was like being Perry Mason and more suited to my interests and aptitudes. After obtaining my law degree from Columbia and clerking for a federal judge, I served in the US Attorney’s Office where I learned how to be a real trial lawyer by trying large numbers of cases including major organised crime and white-collar prosecutions. With that experience, I decided to practise white-collar criminal defence, a field that few people with my background were specialising in at the time. Trying high-stakes cases is an intellectual challenge and involves relating to and persuading people, be they jurors or judges. In addition, I get great satisfaction in representing people who have a great deal at stake, whether it is their liberty, their fortune or their reputation, and being able to salvage these things in the face of an unjust allegation.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRIAL LAWYER?

Being yourself is key. There is no one size fits all for trial lawyers, and jurors can see through people who are play acting. It is also critical that you are genuine and credible. Everything you do in court should be designed to validate your credibility with the jurors so they believe that what you argue to them is true. Preparation is also vital. You have to know the facts and understand all the nuances. As Thomas Edison famously said, “Genius is 1 per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration.”

HOW HAS THE INVESTIGATIONS SPACE EVOLVED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER?

The scope of what is considered criminal and worthy of investigation has dramatically increased. Matters that were once the subject only of civil disputes or at most administrative action have now been criminalised. In addition, corporations are now being investigated and prosecuted much more frequently. It was not that long ago that corporations were hardly ever the focus of criminal investigations and prosecutions.

TO WHAT EXTENT DOES YOUR APPROACH DIFFER WHEN DEFENDING CORPORATIONS COMPARED TO DEFENDING INDIVIDUALS?

Jurors understand that if an individual is convicted of a crime, he or she faces severe consequences including a lengthy prison sentence. Corporations, of course, can’t go to jail. The challenge when you are representing a corporation is to humanise your client, so the prosecutors, jury and judge understand that what happens to your client matters, just as it does to an individual human being. Corporations are made up of people, most of whom had nothing to do with the matter being investigated. There are innocent shareholders and employees who will be substantially and adversely affected by what happens even though they did nothing wrong.

GIVEN THE INCREASINGLY INTERNATIONAL NATURE OF INVESTIGATIONS, HOW IMPORTANT TO THE SUCCESS OF A PRACTICE IS THE ABILITY TO PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH A COORDINATED GLOBAL RESPONSE?

It is essential to be able to coordinate your response and consider the interests and agendas of regulators around the globe. And there are many more such regulators involved now and they all want a piece of the pie.

HOW DO YOU ENSURE THAT YOUR FIRM STANDS OUT AMONG COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

You stand out by doing the best job for the client and always doing the highest-quality work. That is how you build a reputation. I believe that clients hire lawyers, not law firms. They want the best lawyer to handle their matter regardless of what firm he or she works at. And it is also critical that we recruit the best people to help produce that high-quality work.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER LAWYERS LOOKING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN THE FIELD?

I would highly recommend clerking for a great judge, preferably a trial judge. Learning the ins and outs of trials, how judges approach decision-making and understanding how the system works is invaluable. I also think that working as a prosecutor is also valuable if you want to be a trial lawyer. You cannot learn how to try cases from books. You need to be in court and actively trying cases. And a high-quality public prosecutor’s office is a great place to get hands-on experience and learn from your mistakes and from trying cases against great adversaries.

WHAT IS THE SECRET TO YOUR SUCCESS?

Hard work. You can never be over prepared. There is no substitute for really knowing the facts and all the issues that might arise at trial. And being credible so the jury and judge will rely on what you argue and what you say as always being the truth. Having a good reputation for lawyering skills and reliability is indispensable.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Business Crime Defence: Individuals

Gary P Naftalis co-chairs Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP as well as its litigation practice. One of the nation's leading trial lawyers and pre-eminent litigators, he was selected as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by The National Law Journal, and as one of the top 10 lawyers in New York (ranked number one in 2008, 2012 and 2015–2017) by Super Lawyers. Mr Naftalis is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He represents individuals and corporations in all phases of complex “bet the company” civil, criminal and regulatory matters, including those involving allegations of accounting irregularities, insider trading, market manipulation and other financial fraud. Throughout his career he has been one of the first calls for corporate leaders encountering legal problems.

In a career spanning over 40 years, he has successfully represented numerous securities industry clients, including Salomon Brothers in the investigation of US Treasury auction bidding practices; Kidder, Peabody in the Wall Street insider trading probe; Canary Capital Partners in the mutual fund inquiries; and CIBC in the investigation conducted by the Enron task force. In each instance, he persuaded the government not to bring criminal charges. He also represented the CEO of Arthur Andersen in the Enron inquiry; the chairman of Global Crossing; the COO of MF Global; the CEO of Refco; the CEO of WorldCom; and major figures in inquiries involving Drexel Burnham, Orange County, Cendant, Bristol Myers Squibb, Affiliated Computer Services, Tyco, BCCI and British Petroleum.

He successfully defended Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, in the shareholders' derivative lawsuit relating to the hiring and termination of Michael Ovitz. After a 37-day trial in the Delaware Chancery Court, Mr Eisner and the other Disney directors prevailed on all counts. The case was chosen as one of the top defence wins of 2005 by The National Law Journal. Mr Naftalis successfully won dismissal in favour of Kenneth Langone, former chair of the New York Stock Exchange compensation committee, of all charges brought against him by then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer relating to the compensation of NYSE chairman Richard Grasso.

Mr Naftalis won summary judgment for Sirius XM Radio dismissing a breach of contract action by Howard Stern seeking US$330 million in damages. He represented the City of New York in the inquiry by the New York County District Attorney relating to the fire at the Deutsche Bank building at the World Trade Center, in which no charges were brought against the city or any of its agencies or its officials.

Mr Naftalis defended Rajat K Gupta, the former managing director worldwide of McKinsey, in both a high-profile criminal insider trading trial and parallel SEC enforcement action, where he obtained a precedent-setting decision challenging the attempt by the Securities and Exchange Commission to utilise an administrative process rather than go to court.

Mr Naftalis received his AB from Rutgers University, his MA from Brown University and his LLB from Columbia Law School. He served as deputy chief of the criminal division in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Mr Naftalis has been a member of the faculty at Columbia and Harvard law schools. He is the author/co-author of numerous books and articles including The Grand Jury: An Institution on Trial (the leading work on the grand jury system) and Sentencing: Helping Judges Do Their Jobs, both of which were co-authored with Judge Marvin E Frankel.

WWL says: Gary Naftalis is regarded as “a top lawyer” in white-collar criminal matters, most notably relating to complex litigation proceedings.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Business Crime Defence: Corporates

Gary P Naftalis co-chairs Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP as well as its litigation practice. One of the nation's leading trial lawyers and pre-eminent litigators, he was selected as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by The National Law Journal, and as one of the top 10 lawyers in New York (ranked number one in 2008, 2012 and 2015–2017) by Super Lawyers. Mr Naftalis is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He represents individuals and corporations in all phases of complex “bet the company” civil, criminal and regulatory matters, including those involving allegations of accounting irregularities, insider trading, market manipulation and other financial fraud. Throughout his career he has been one of the first calls for corporate leaders encountering legal problems.

In a career spanning over 40 years, he has successfully represented numerous securities industry clients, including Salomon Brothers in the investigation of US Treasury auction bidding practices; Kidder, Peabody in the Wall Street insider trading probe; Canary Capital Partners in the mutual fund inquiries; and CIBC in the investigation conducted by the Enron task force. In each instance, he persuaded the government not to bring criminal charges. He also represented the CEO of Arthur Andersen in the Enron inquiry; the chairman of Global Crossing; the COO of MF Global; the CEO of Refco; the CEO of WorldCom; and major figures in inquiries involving Drexel Burnham, Orange County, Cendant, Bristol Myers Squibb, Affiliated Computer Services, Tyco, BCCI and British Petroleum.

He successfully defended Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, in the shareholders' derivative lawsuit relating to the hiring and termination of Michael Ovitz. After a 37-day trial in the Delaware Chancery Court, Mr Eisner and the other Disney directors prevailed on all counts. The case was chosen as one of the top defence wins of 2005 by The National Law Journal. Mr Naftalis successfully won dismissal in favour of Kenneth Langone, former chair of the New York Stock Exchange compensation committee, of all charges brought against him by then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer relating to the compensation of NYSE chairman Richard Grasso.

Mr Naftalis won summary judgment for Sirius XM Radio dismissing a breach of contract action by Howard Stern seeking US$330 million in damages. He represented the City of New York in the inquiry by the New York County District Attorney relating to the fire at the Deutsche Bank building at the World Trade Center, in which no charges were brought against the city or any of its agencies or its officials.

Mr Naftalis defended Rajat K Gupta, the former managing director worldwide of McKinsey, in both a high-profile criminal insider trading trial and parallel SEC enforcement action, where he obtained a precedent-setting decision challenging the attempt by the Securities and Exchange Commission to utilise an administrative process rather than go to court.

Mr Naftalis received his AB from Rutgers University, his MA from Brown University and his LLB from Columbia Law School. He served as deputy chief of the criminal division in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Mr Naftalis has been a member of the faculty at Columbia and Harvard law schools. He is the author/co-author of numerous books and articles including The Grand Jury: An Institution on Trial (the leading work on the grand jury system) and Sentencing: Helping Judges Do Their Jobs, both of which were co-authored with Judge Marvin E Frankel.

WWL says: Gary Naftalis is a highly respected lawyer who stands out as the leading corporate defence lawyer in the country.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Litigation: Lawyers

Gary P Naftalis is the co-chair of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, and of the firm's extensive litigation practice. One of the nation's leading trial lawyers and pre-eminent litigators, he was selected as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by The National Law Journal and one of the top 10 lawyers in New York (Ranked first in 2008, 2012 and 2015–2017) by Super Lawyers. Mr Naftalis is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He represents individuals and corporations in all phases of complex “bet the company” civil, criminal and regulatory matters, including those involving allegations of accounting irregularities, insider trading, market manipulation and other financial fraud.

In a career spanning over 40 years, he has successfully represented numerous securities industry clients, including Salomon Brothers in the investigation of US Treasury auction bidding practices; Kidder, Peabody in the Wall Street insider trading probe; and CIBC in the investigation conducted by the Enron task force. In each instance, he persuaded the government not to bring criminal charges. He also represented the CEO of Arthur Andersen in the Enron inquiry; the chairman of Global Crossing; the COO of MF Global; the CEO of Refco; and major figures in inquiries involving Drexel Burnham, Orange County, Cendant, and British Petroleum.

He successfully defended Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, in the shareholders' derivative lawsuit relating to the hiring and termination of Michael Ovitz. After a 37-day trial in the Delaware Chancery Court, Mr Eisner and the other Disney directors prevailed on all counts. The case was chosen as one of the top defence wins of 2005 by The National Law Journal. Mr Naftalis successfully won dismissal in favour of Kenneth Langone, former chair of the New York Stock Exchange compensation committee, of all charges brought against him by then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer relating to the compensation of NYSE chairman Richard Grasso.

Mr Naftalis won summary judgment for Sirius XM Radio dismissing a breach of contract action by Howard Stern seeking US$330 million in damages. He represented the City of New York in the inquiry by the New York County District Attorney relating to the fire at the Deutsche Bank building at the World Trade Center, in which no charges were brought against the city or any of its agencies or its officials.

Mr Naftalis defended Rajat K Gupta, the former managing director worldwide of McKinsey, in both a high-profile criminal insider trading trial and parallel SEC enforcement action, where he obtained a precedent-setting decision challenging the attempt by the Securities and Exchange Commission to utilise an administrative process rather than go to court.

Mr Naftalis received his AB from Rutgers University, his MA from Brown University and his LLB from Columbia Law School. He served as deputy chief of the criminal division in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Mr Naftalis has been a member of the faculty at Columbia and Harvard law schools. He is the author/co-author of numerous books and articles including The Grand Jury: An Institution on Trial (the leading work on the grand jury system) and Sentencing: Helping Judges Do Their Jobs, both of which were co-authored with Judge Marvin E Frankel.

WWL says: Gary Naftalis is a distinguished litigator who is described as "one of the greats" in the litigation space. He draws praise for his wide-ranging experience in white-collar investigations.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Litigation which can be purchased from our Shop.

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