The firms recognized in this category led cases that reined in corporate fraud in the banking, pharmaceutical and auto industries, helping pension funds and other investors recoup billions of dollars. In one case—brought against General Motors amid its ignition-switch scandal—one of our finalists convinced the automaker to pay $300 million to resolve a securities fraud case over drops in the company’s stock. Our winning case, accusing a global bank’s consumer-finance business of inflating its stock price, resulted in a nearly $1.6 billion settlement for investors. It came after more than a decade of litigation in one of the largest securities class actions ever to go to trial.

Click on the firm name to jump directly to that firm’s section. To go back to this list, click your browser’s back button.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd

Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann

Labaton Sucharow

Grant & Eisenhofer

 


Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd

WINNER

LARGEST OFFICE: San Diego
ATTORNEYS: 210

The firm has obtained many high-dollar settlements over the one-year ­contest time period, including a proposed $1.575 billion settlement that came after 14 years of litigation against Household International, now HSBC Finance Corp. Robbins Geller secured a jury verdict in that case in 2009, had part of it reversed in 2015 and then set up to retry the case in May and June of this year.

On June 6, literally on the eve of trial, HSBC agreed to settle. The litigation team beat back several attempts by the defendants to invalidate the verdict, including objections to thousands of claims by injured class members, and an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The agreement is pending court approval.

Robbins Geller also secured, as co-lead counsel, final approval of a $500 million settlement with Bank of America related to subsidiary Countrywide Financial Corp.’s prerecession dealings in residential mortgage-backed securities.

The National Law Journal: Describe the national importance of your case and why your firm prevailed.

Paul Geller, partner: Reaching the record-breaking $1.575 billion recovery … took 14 hard-fought years, 130,000 hours, more than 85 depositions, $35 million in out-of-pocket expenses, a six-week jury trial, and an appeal of the verdict. We took what appeared to be a modest case of securities fraud and crafted it into the largest securities fraud recovery ever obtained in the Seventh Circuit and the seventh-largest settlement ever in a securities fraud class action case. Simply put, the result is unprecedented. A work of art.

NLJ: What’s a word or phrase that best describes the firm?

PG: Tireless.

NLJ: What’s one interesting fact about your firm that few people know?

PG: Law and art may not seem to go hand-in-hand, but there is a real art to what we do; each attorney brings a unique talent to the courtroom, and when you step back, each successful case is its own masterpiece.

NLJ: What traits do you respect most in opposing firms and lawyers?

PG: Professionalism and civility.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

PG: I worry about persistent politically motivated efforts to erode important laws that protect consumers and investors.

NLJ: What’s the most significant change in trial practice in the last five years?

PG: An increasing desire on the part of institutional investors to have their claims adjudicated at trial.


Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: New York City
ATTORNEYS: 100

In the securities category, this firm is a close second to Robbins Geller in terms of the dollar value of its recoveries. Its biggest win over the one-year contest period was a $1.1 billion settlement in a securities fraud case against Merck & Co., which came on the eve of trial after more than 12 years of litigation. Separately, the firm, as sole lead counsel, recovered $300 million from General Motors in a case brought over that company’s stock drop in the wake of its ignition-switch scandal.

The National Law Journal: Describe the national importance of your case and why your firm prevailed.

JS: We are committed to defending and protecting investors and the shareholder franchise, and ensuring that our nation’s capital markets remain healthy and transparent. … The case, which alleged misrepresentations and omissions regarding the drug [Vioxx], survived trial court dismissal and a daunting appellate process, where plaintiffs ultimately prevailed 9-0 before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s decision was a groundbreaking victory for investors that clarified the standard governing the statute of limitations in securities fraud lawsuits.

NLJ: What do you think will be the most important development in the law/legal business that will impact your firm in the next 10 years?

JS: Electronic discovery will continue to be critical to proving our cases and in the global economy cases will become that much larger in scale.


Labaton Sucharow

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: New York City
ATTORNEYS: 72

The firm had a hand in securing a number of settlements in securities cases against an array of companies in different industries. Serving as lead counsel, the firm reached a $300 million settlement with Boston’s State Street Corp., resolving allegations that the company systematically overcharged pension fund ­clients in connection with foreign-exchange trading. The firm also served as liaison counsel in a securities class action against gold mining company Barrick Gold. The case, which raised accusations that Barrick misled investors in connection with a mining project in South America, settled for $140 million in May 2016.

The National Law Journal: What is one word or phrase that best describes the firm?

Jonathan Gardner, partner: Driven.

The National Law Journal: What is one interesting fact about your firm that few people know?

JG: A few years ago, when we celebrated our 50th anniversary, the firm partnered with Brooklyn Law School to create a securities arbitration clinic. The program has a dual purpose: to assist defrauded individual investors who cannot pay for legal counsel, and to provide students with real-world experience in securities arbitration and litigation.

The National Law Journal: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

JG: Rather than a worry, my key concern is staying tuned into the evolving needs of our institutional investor clients.


Grant & Eisenhofer

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: Wilmington, Del.
ATTORNEYS: 72

During the contest period, the firm recovered nearly $2 billion, including in a novel lawsuit in the Netherlands against a defunct Belgian financial-services company, Fortis N.V., which settled in March for about $1.36 billion. That suit focused on losses that Fortis investors incurred after the company had to be bailed out in 2008 by European governments.

In the United States, the firm represented a co-lead plaintiff in litigation against JPMorgan Chase & Co., related to the bank’s statements about the so-called “London Whale,” a credit default swap trader who caused billions of dollars in losses. It settled in December 2015 for $150 million.

The National Law Journal: What word or phrase that best describes the firm?

Stuart M. Grant, managing director: Tenacious.

The National Law Journal: What’s one interesting fact about your firm that few people know?

SG: A majority of the firm’s attorneys are female.

The National Law Journal: What traits do you respect most in opposing firms and lawyers?

SG: Integrity.

The National Law Journal: What do you think will be the most important development in the law/legal business that will impact your firm in the next 10 years?

SG: The significant [law school] debt burden that young lawyers are saddled with.

The firms recognized in this category led cases that reined in corporate fraud in the banking, pharmaceutical and auto industries, helping pension funds and other investors recoup billions of dollars. In one case—brought against General Motors amid its ignition-switch scandal—one of our finalists convinced the automaker to pay $300 million to resolve a securities fraud case over drops in the company’s stock. Our winning case, accusing a global bank’s consumer-finance business of inflating its stock price, resulted in a nearly $1.6 billion settlement for investors. It came after more than a decade of litigation in one of the largest securities class actions ever to go to trial.

Click on the firm name to jump directly to that firm’s section. To go back to this list, click your browser’s back button.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd

Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann

Labaton Sucharow

Grant & Eisenhofer

 


Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd

WINNER

LARGEST OFFICE: San Diego
ATTORNEYS: 210

The firm has obtained many high-dollar settlements over the one-year ­contest time period, including a proposed $1.575 billion settlement that came after 14 years of litigation against Household International, now HSBC Finance Corp. Robbins Geller secured a jury verdict in that case in 2009, had part of it reversed in 2015 and then set up to retry the case in May and June of this year.

On June 6, literally on the eve of trial, HSBC agreed to settle. The litigation team beat back several attempts by the defendants to invalidate the verdict, including objections to thousands of claims by injured class members, and an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The agreement is pending court approval.

Robbins Geller also secured, as co-lead counsel, final approval of a $500 million settlement with Bank of America related to subsidiary Countrywide Financial Corp. ‘s prerecession dealings in residential mortgage-backed securities.

The National Law Journal: Describe the national importance of your case and why your firm prevailed.

Paul Geller, partner: Reaching the record-breaking $1.575 billion recovery … took 14 hard-fought years, 130,000 hours, more than 85 depositions, $35 million in out-of-pocket expenses, a six-week jury trial, and an appeal of the verdict. We took what appeared to be a modest case of securities fraud and crafted it into the largest securities fraud recovery ever obtained in the Seventh Circuit and the seventh-largest settlement ever in a securities fraud class action case. Simply put, the result is unprecedented. A work of art.

NLJ: What’s a word or phrase that best describes the firm?

PG: Tireless.

NLJ: What’s one interesting fact about your firm that few people know?

PG: Law and art may not seem to go hand-in-hand, but there is a real art to what we do; each attorney brings a unique talent to the courtroom, and when you step back, each successful case is its own masterpiece.

NLJ: What traits do you respect most in opposing firms and lawyers?

PG: Professionalism and civility.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

PG: I worry about persistent politically motivated efforts to erode important laws that protect consumers and investors.

NLJ: What’s the most significant change in trial practice in the last five years?

PG: An increasing desire on the part of institutional investors to have their claims adjudicated at trial.


Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE:  New York City
ATTORNEYS: 100

In the securities category, this firm is a close second to Robbins Geller in terms of the dollar value of its recoveries. Its biggest win over the one-year contest period was a $1.1 billion settlement in a securities fraud case against Merck & Co. , which came on the eve of trial after more than 12 years of litigation. Separately, the firm, as sole lead counsel, recovered $300 million from General Motors in a case brought over that company’s stock drop in the wake of its ignition-switch scandal.

The National Law Journal: Describe the national importance of your case and why your firm prevailed.

JS: We are committed to defending and protecting investors and the shareholder franchise, and ensuring that our nation’s capital markets remain healthy and transparent. … The case, which alleged misrepresentations and omissions regarding the drug [Vioxx], survived trial court dismissal and a daunting appellate process, where plaintiffs ultimately prevailed 9-0 before the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s decision was a groundbreaking victory for investors that clarified the standard governing the statute of limitations in securities fraud lawsuits.

NLJ: What do you think will be the most important development in the law/legal business that will impact your firm in the next 10 years?

JS: Electronic discovery will continue to be critical to proving our cases and in the global economy cases will become that much larger in scale.


Labaton Sucharow

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE:  New York City
ATTORNEYS: 72

The firm had a hand in securing a number of settlements in securities cases against an array of companies in different industries. Serving as lead counsel, the firm reached a $300 million settlement with Boston’s State Street Corp. , resolving allegations that the company systematically overcharged pension fund ­clients in connection with foreign-exchange trading. The firm also served as liaison counsel in a securities class action against gold mining company Barrick Gold. The case, which raised accusations that Barrick misled investors in connection with a mining project in South America, settled for $140 million in May 2016.

The National Law Journal: What is one word or phrase that best describes the firm?

Jonathan Gardner, partner: Driven.

The National Law Journal: What is one interesting fact about your firm that few people know?

JG: A few years ago, when we celebrated our 50th anniversary, the firm partnered with Brooklyn Law School to create a securities arbitration clinic. The program has a dual purpose: to assist defrauded individual investors who cannot pay for legal counsel, and to provide students with real-world experience in securities arbitration and litigation.

The National Law Journal: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

JG: Rather than a worry, my key concern is staying tuned into the evolving needs of our institutional investor clients.


Grant & Eisenhofer

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: Wilmington, Del.
ATTORNEYS: 72

During the contest period, the firm recovered nearly $2 billion, including in a novel lawsuit in the Netherlands against a defunct Belgian financial-services company, Fortis N.V., which settled in March for about $1.36 billion. That suit focused on losses that Fortis investors incurred after the company had to be bailed out in 2008 by European governments.

In the United States, the firm represented a co-lead plaintiff in litigation against JPMorgan Chase & Co. , related to the bank’s statements about the so-called “London Whale,” a credit default swap trader who caused billions of dollars in losses. It settled in December 2015 for $150 million.

The National Law Journal: What word or phrase that best describes the firm?

Stuart M. Grant, managing director: Tenacious.

The National Law Journal: What’s one interesting fact about your firm that few people know?

SG: A majority of the firm’s attorneys are female.

The National Law Journal: What traits do you respect most in opposing firms and lawyers?

SG: Integrity.

The National Law Journal: What do you think will be the most important development in the law/legal business that will impact your firm in the next 10 years?

SG: The significant [law school] debt burden that young lawyers are saddled with.