John Pierce

Less than a month after picking up 13 lawyers in New York, a Los Angeles-based litigation boutique is expanding again in the Big Apple, and making some big-time promises in the process.

Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht announced this week that it has absorbed Creizman LLC, a small New York-based trial and white-collar criminal defense firm led by name partner Eric Creizman.

“We are, by orders of magnitude, I am confident in saying, the fastest-growing law firm in the history of the world in terms of law firms that have started from absolute scratch,” said an effusive Pierce Bainbridge managing partner John Pierce, a former partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Latham & Watkins and K&L Gates.

Founded as Pierce Sergenian in early 2017 by Pierce and his former Quinn Emanuel colleague David Sergenian, who has since left the firm, the litigation boutique has rapidly expanded and undergone several iterations in its short lifetime.

The latest addition to Pierce Bainbridge’s growing roster of litigators is Creizman, founder of a white-collar and investigations boutique bearing his name. Creizman comes aboard along with Melissa Madrigal, a partner at his former firm and now of counsel at Pierce Bainbridge.

Eric Creizman

“I’ve been looking for the right group of people and the right team to join where there will be synergies, where there will be other people who can really handle the cases that we’re working on and do a great job for our clients,” said Creizman, who began his legal career two decades ago at Sullivan & Cromwell. “I think Pierce Bainbridge really fit the bill.”

After two years at Sullivan & Cromwell, Creizman joined now-defunct Heller Ehrman, where he spent seven years. When Heller Ehrman collapsed in 2008, Creizman joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he spent nearly the next three years before forming his own shop in June 2011.

Creizman’s firm specialized in white-collar criminal defense work, complex commercial litigation and regulatory matters. Over the years he has represented a wide array of clients, including U.S. Air Force veteran Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, who in 2016 was accused of providing materials to ISIS. (Pugh was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 35 years in federal prison.)

But as his firm became more successful, Creizman said it became harder and harder to manage. After being introduced to Pierce Bainbridge by former Creizman associate and MSNBC on-air analyst Caroline Polisi, now of counsel at the firm, Creizman said the opportunity to join up with John Pierce and company was simply too good to pass up.

“I’m really happy to just be able to focus on my clients and I have the support and expertise of people who are at the top of their game in litigation,” Creizman said.

After his sudden exit from K&L Gates, where Pierce briefly served as co-head of the firm’s litigation group in early 2016, he re-emerged as managing partner and co-founder of Pierce Sergenian, which quickly nabbed a role on a high-profile case against Snap Inc.

Pierce’s firm also made several notable lateral hires, including former Kirkland & Ellis litigation partner Darin Beffa and Quinn Emanuel of counsel Joseph Ashby, and secured funding from Scottsdale, Arizona-based litigation financier Pravati Capital LLC.

But in November 2017, Sergenian and Ashby left to form their own Los Angeles-based shop, Sergenian Ashby, and their former firm took on the name Pierce Burns following its addition of former Quinn Emanuel associate Julian Burns King. She, too, would soon leave the short-lived Pierce Burns to form her own firm, Los Angeles-based King & Siegel, along with fellow former Quinn Emanuel associate Elliot Siegel.

Pierce Bainbridge took on its current name earlier this year after bringing on solo practitioner James Bainbridge and several other lawyers to open in New York.

“I’m often accused of hyperbole, but the world’s never seen anything like this before and I think people are finally starting to sit up and take notice,” Pierce said. “What you’re seeing now is just a natural flood of talent to our platform.”

And Pierce Bainbridge isn’t stopping its expansion anytime soon, Pierce said assuredly. With some 25 lawyers scattered across its offices in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., Pierce said the firm is eyeing a move to San Francisco and is working on an overseas acquisition, although he declined to discuss any specifics.

Pierce Bainbridge’s rapid expansion doesn’t mean a huge investment in capital, Pierce said.

“For us when we ‘launch’ in a major market, that just means that we’re investing in talent, we don’t get floors of skyscrapers and mahogany wood or glass. We’re more like special operations forces that travel light and strike hard,” said Pierce, a former tank platoon leader in the U.S. Army.

Since its launch, Pierce Bainbridge has picked up various roles in high-stakes cases, including a trade secrets suit filed against Stubhub Inc. and a class action filed against Facebook Inc., matters that its namesake thinks were possible in part to its unique litigation funding structure.

“We have litigation funders pounding on our door to try to get involved in what we’re doing,” Pierce said. “We fully intend to continue using litigation funding, because even though we don’t need it to keep the lights on, it provides rocket fuel to litigate these big cases against these massive firms.” 

As for where Pierce sees the trajectory of his firm, his prediction is unabashedly bold.

“I would say within five to seven years we’re going to replace Quinn Emanuel as the next dominant global litigation firm, no question,“ Pierce said.