The firms recognized in this category successfully resolved cases with profound implications for workers’ health, safety, well-being and job security. In one case—a wrongful-death and injury lawsuit—one of our finalists held a company accountable for the death of one worker and injuries to five others from a 2012 refinery explosion. Another, while technically an antitrust case, serves as a warning to the country’s most prominent high-tech employers regarding their workers’ compensation. And our winning case sends an unmistakable message that harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated, even by so-called “beloved” celebrity employers.

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.

Greene Broillet & Wheeler

The Buzbee Law Firm

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

McNicholas & McNicholas

Schlichter Bogard & Denton

 


Greene Broillet & Wheeler

WINNER

LARGEST OFFICE: Santa Monica, California
ATTORNEYS: 15

The firm, led by partner Mark Quigley and associate Aaron Osten, sued celebrity yoga instructor Bikram Choudhury on behalf of plaintiff Minakshi “Micki” Jafa-Bodden, in a case that exposed a sexually hostile workplace environment.

Choudhury was accused of mistreating women in the workplace; the case included claims for retaliation, wrongful termination and sexual ­harassment by Jafa-Bodden, who worked for Choudhury from 2011-2013. The firm’s trial team showed the ­plaintiff was subjected to sexual harassment and was wrongfully terminated because she sought to stop his conduct against other women there. A California jury in January delivered a unanimous verdict of $7.4 million in damages, including $6.47 million in punitive damages.

The National Law Journal: Describe the national importance of your case.

Mark Quiqley, partner: Our trial team exposed the toxic work environment at the yoga college. … While Choudhury had amassed a personal fortune and enjoyed celebrity status, the plaintiff’s trial team successfully demonstrated that his motives were tainted by sexual deviancy and that young women who looked up to him were at great risk. This case highlights the larger struggle for social justice. Combatting sexual abuse by holding wrongdoers accountable for their behavior through the justice system is critical in protecting women from future harassment and ensuring the safety and well being of all workers.

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

MQ: Unrelenting, fierce advocates committed to exposing wrongdoing and obtaining justice for our clients.

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

MQ: Honesty, integrity, civility and fairness.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

MQ: That political influences may affect our client’s ability to obtain full and fair access to our courts, resulting in a denial of justice.

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

MQ: The lack of civility that has found its way into our relationships with opposing counsel.

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?

MQ: The use of analytics and ­technology by law firms lacking expertise in trial work to garner case generation.


The Buzbee Law Firm

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: Houston
ATTORNEYS: 11

The firm reports trying to verdict 10 cases in less than two years, winning all of those, and in six of them, the verdicts exceeded $10 million. A major win came in the case of five workers severely burned — and one killed — in an explosion at a Valero Energy Corp. refinery ­outside Memphis in 2012.

In August 2015, a Houston jury awarded $159 million to The Buzbee Law Firm’s clients, including to the five injured workers and to the family of the man killed, finding the corporate defendants negligent.

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

Tony Buzbee, managing partner: Just win.

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

TB: I practice with many of the same people I went to college and law school with.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

TB: That the courts will be closed by state legislators who swing too much in favor of corporate interests.

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?

TB: I hope the trial bar has an opportunity to rein in the case brokers who advertise and collect cases, and handle cases by the thousands rather than one at a time.


Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: San Francisco
ATTORNEYS: 70

In the High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, Lieff Cabraser won a final $415 million settlement for a class of high-technology workers from employers Apple, Intel, Google and Adobe, which received final approval in October 2015. Although technically an antitrust case, the NLJ felt the case merited inclusion in this category because of the strong message it conveyed to high-tech employers regarding their employees’ compensation.

Lieff Cabraser served as co-lead class counsel for employee plaintiffs charging that the giant tech firms violated antitrust laws in a widespread conspiracy to suppress the pay of technical, creative and other ­salaried employees. When U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh certified the nationwide class of approximately 64,000 persons in 2013, she described the evidentiary record as “without precedent.”

The National Law Journal: What’s a word that best describes the firm?

Kelly Dermody, partner: Tenacious.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

KD: That my clients won’t get justice.

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?

KD: The balance of the Supreme Court weighs heavily on my mind. It is important for judges to be fair and impartial and not be swayed by the power of big corporations over the little guy. It is unclear what will happen when, as ­predicted, many on our current court retires.


McNicholas & McNicholas

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: Los Angeles
ATTORNEYS: 12

The firm has been successful obtaining numerous employment verdicts and ­settlements against the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department for claims including retaliation, harassment and discrimination of employees.

Those include a $2.1 million verdict in April 2016 on behalf of former LAPD detective Maria Elena Montoya, who was allegedly retaliated against after taking an approved medical leave, and a landmark $12.3 million verdict in 2014 on behalf of five recruit officers who were injured during Los Angeles Police Department Academy training and then told that they must return to the academy before they fully recovered or be fired.

The National Law Journal: Describe the national importance of your case.

Matthew McNicholas, partner: A verdict of this magnitude has the power to change how police departments nationwide treat their esteemed recruits, officers and staff.

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

MM: Three generations of professional and dedicated lawyers who have secured more than $1 billion in client results.

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

MM: It sounds counterintuitive, but I’d much rather go up against a good, experienced lawyer, than one who is less experienced, or worse, sloppy.


Schlichter Bogard & Denton

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: St. Louis
ATTORNEYS: 23

The firm has pioneered cases against employers for charging excessive fees to employees who participate in ERISA-governed 401(k) plans. The firm reported that through settlements just in the past year, more than $100 million has gone to hundreds of thousands of people. One case, against Lockheed Martin Corp., was settled for $62 million; a second, against Boeing Co., was settled for $57 million.

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

Jerry Schlichter, founding and managing partner: We are the first law firm to ever bring cases for excessive fees in 401(k) plans. Before our work, no case had ever been filed alleging excessive fees in a 401(k) plan. … Just as important [as the monetary settlements], were the nonmonetary benefits that the settlements provided for these plans. The cases have served as a blueprint of reform for the entire retirement industry.

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

JS: Hard-charging.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

JS: Whether judges will have the time to dig into cases as deeply as required.

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

JS: Fewer cases get tried and mandatory mediation.

The firms recognized in this category successfully resolved cases with profound implications for workers’ health, safety, well-being and job security. In one case—a wrongful-death and injury lawsuit—one of our finalists held a company accountable for the death of one worker and injuries to five others from a 2012 refinery explosion. Another, while technically an antitrust case, serves as a warning to the country’s most prominent high-tech employers regarding their workers’ compensation. And our winning case sends an unmistakable message that harassment in the workplace will not be tolerated, even by so-called “beloved” celebrity employers.

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.

Greene Broillet & Wheeler

The Buzbee Law Firm

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

McNicholas & McNicholas

Schlichter Bogard & Denton

 


Greene Broillet & Wheeler

WINNER

LARGEST OFFICE: Santa Monica, California
ATTORNEYS: 15

The firm, led by partner Mark Quigley and associate Aaron Osten, sued celebrity yoga instructor Bikram Choudhury on behalf of plaintiff Minakshi “Micki” Jafa-Bodden, in a case that exposed a sexually hostile workplace environment.

Choudhury was accused of mistreating women in the workplace; the case included claims for retaliation, wrongful termination and sexual ­harassment by Jafa-Bodden, who worked for Choudhury from 2011-2013. The firm’s trial team showed the ­plaintiff was subjected to sexual harassment and was wrongfully terminated because she sought to stop his conduct against other women there. A California jury in January delivered a unanimous verdict of $7.4 million in damages, including $6.47 million in punitive damages.

The National Law Journal: Describe the national importance of your case.

Mark Quiqley, partner: Our trial team exposed the toxic work environment at the yoga college. … While Choudhury had amassed a personal fortune and enjoyed celebrity status, the plaintiff’s trial team successfully demonstrated that his motives were tainted by sexual deviancy and that young women who looked up to him were at great risk. This case highlights the larger struggle for social justice. Combatting sexual abuse by holding wrongdoers accountable for their behavior through the justice system is critical in protecting women from future harassment and ensuring the safety and well being of all workers.

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

MQ: Unrelenting, fierce advocates committed to exposing wrongdoing and obtaining justice for our clients.

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

MQ: Honesty, integrity, civility and fairness.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

MQ: That political influences may affect our client’s ability to obtain full and fair access to our courts, resulting in a denial of justice.

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

MQ: The lack of civility that has found its way into our relationships with opposing counsel.

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?

MQ: The use of analytics and ­technology by law firms lacking expertise in trial work to garner case generation.


The Buzbee Law Firm

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: Houston
ATTORNEYS: 11

The firm reports trying to verdict 10 cases in less than two years, winning all of those, and in six of them, the verdicts exceeded $10 million. A major win came in the case of five workers severely burned — and one killed — in an explosion at a Valero Energy Corp. refinery ­outside Memphis in 2012.

In August 2015, a Houston jury awarded $159 million to The Buzbee Law Firm ‘s clients, including to the five injured workers and to the family of the man killed, finding the corporate defendants negligent.

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

Tony Buzbee, managing partner: Just win.

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

TB: I practice with many of the same people I went to college and law school with.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

TB: That the courts will be closed by state legislators who swing too much in favor of corporate interests.

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?

TB: I hope the trial bar has an opportunity to rein in the case brokers who advertise and collect cases, and handle cases by the thousands rather than one at a time.


Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: San Francisco
ATTORNEYS: 70

In the High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation, Lieff Cabraser won a final $415 million settlement for a class of high-technology workers from employers Apple , Intel, Google and Adobe, which received final approval in October 2015. Although technically an antitrust case, the NLJ felt the case merited inclusion in this category because of the strong message it conveyed to high-tech employers regarding their employees’ compensation.

Lieff Cabraser served as co-lead class counsel for employee plaintiffs charging that the giant tech firms violated antitrust laws in a widespread conspiracy to suppress the pay of technical, creative and other ­salaried employees. When U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh certified the nationwide class of approximately 64,000 persons in 2013, she described the evidentiary record as “without precedent.”

The National Law Journal: What’s a word that best describes the firm?

Kelly Dermody, partner: Tenacious.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

KD: That my clients won’t get justice.

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?

KD: The balance of the Supreme Court weighs heavily on my mind. It is important for judges to be fair and impartial and not be swayed by the power of big corporations over the little guy. It is unclear what will happen when, as ­predicted, many on our current court retires.


McNicholas & McNicholas

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: Los Angeles
ATTORNEYS: 12

The firm has been successful obtaining numerous employment verdicts and ­settlements against the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department for claims including retaliation, harassment and discrimination of employees.

Those include a $2.1 million verdict in April 2016 on behalf of former LAPD detective Maria Elena Montoya, who was allegedly retaliated against after taking an approved medical leave, and a landmark $12.3 million verdict in 2014 on behalf of five recruit officers who were injured during Los Angeles Police Department Academy training and then told that they must return to the academy before they fully recovered or be fired.

The National Law Journal: Describe the national importance of your case.

Matthew McNicholas, partner: A verdict of this magnitude has the power to change how police departments nationwide treat their esteemed recruits, officers and staff.

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

MM: Three generations of professional and dedicated lawyers who have secured more than $1 billion in client results.

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

MM: It sounds counterintuitive, but I’d much rather go up against a good, experienced lawyer, than one who is less experienced, or worse, sloppy.


Schlichter Bogard & Denton

FINALIST

LARGEST OFFICE: St. Louis
ATTORNEYS: 23

The firm has pioneered cases against employers for charging excessive fees to employees who participate in ERISA-governed 401(k) plans. The firm reported that through settlements just in the past year, more than $100 million has gone to hundreds of thousands of people. One case, against Lockheed Martin Corp. , was settled for $62 million; a second, against Boeing Co. , was settled for $57 million.

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

Jerry Schlichter, founding and managing partner: We are the first law firm to ever bring cases for excessive fees in 401(k) plans. Before our work, no case had ever been filed alleging excessive fees in a 401(k) plan. … Just as important [as the monetary settlements], were the nonmonetary benefits that the settlements provided for these plans. The cases have served as a blueprint of reform for the entire retirement industry.

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

JS: Hard-charging.

NLJ: What is your biggest worry about practicing law?

JS: Whether judges will have the time to dig into cases as deeply as required.

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

JS: Fewer cases get tried and mandatory mediation.