In 2016, Wilmer dominated the litigation landscape like an armored vehicle, on offense and defense, in cutting-edge and traditional cases and across a wide swath of law.
“One thing that makes us stand out is the breadth of our practice,” said Amy Wigmore, vice chair of the firm’s litigation/controversy department. “We have great appellate strength and our government regulatory group has always been outstanding. We have expertise in areas involving class actions and really a huge IP litigation practice which has had great success as well. But I think we achieved greater heights this past year.”
The proof is in the cases: In September, lead partners Seth Waxman, Leon Greenfield, Danielle Spinelli and Catherine Carroll persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to overturn a $62 million jury verdict against their client, Avaya Inc., which had faced antitrust counterclaims after suing its competitor, Telecom Labs Inc., for deceptive practices.
Three months earlier, the Second Circuit denied class certification to homeowners alleging that Morgan Stanley violated the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and state law. David Ogden and Noah Levine represented Morgan Stanley in the four-year-long, novel litigation arising out of the housing crisis.
The Boeing Co. and United Launch Alliance, seeking price adjustments of $396 million from the U.S. Air Force, won liability rulings in June for three launches of GPS satellites. Wilmer’s Carl Nichols made the winning arguments in a three-week trial before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.
Later, Matthew Martens scored a rare, complete securities fraud victory for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against the Securities and Exchange Commission when a federal judge in the Lone Star State twice threw out all charges, the second time with prejudice.
The firm also notched four victories in the U.S. Supreme Court, one (Hurst v. Florida) upending Florida’s capital sentencing scheme, and another requiring greater fairness in the award of VA contracts to veteran-owned small businesses (Kingdomware Technologies v. United States). Waxman and Thomas Saunders argued those two pro bono cases, respectively.
“We have real superstars, but also a well considered plan to transition to the next generation of leaders,” Wigmore said. “We have more junior partners leading the charge and that gives us great enthusiasm about the future.”
What drives success at Wilmer — in demand by both Democratic and GOP leaders — is a deep commitment to pro bono and high-stakes litigation with important policy issues.
“Being on the cutting edge of where the law is going is something we always aspire to, and the year reflects that,” she said.
Name: Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
Founded: Washington, D.C./Boston
Total number of attorneys: 1,074
Litigators as percentage of firm: 50.4 percent
Litigators as percentage in D.C.: 16.3 percent
Litigation partners firmwide: 131
Litigation associates firmwide: 403
D.C. litigation partners: 54
D.C. litigation associates: 117
D.C. litigation other attorneys: 9
KEYS TO SUCCESS
Teamwork: We capitalize on our deep bench of talent by pooling our strengths to maximize the likelihood of success.
Adaptability: We approach each litigation challenge creatively, developing and adapting legal arguments and litigation tactics to the unique circumstances of the case.
Tenacity: We never settle for just good. We strive to make every brief and every argument the very best it can possibly be.
— Amy Wigmore