Michael Holmes of Vinson & Elkins. Courtesy photo

Tell us about your biggest trial win from January 2016 to July 2017 and how you achieved the result for your client.

I led the trial team for Energy Transfer Equity, which won a crucial decision from the Delaware Chancery Court confirming ETE’s right to terminate a $38 billion merger with The Williams Companies.

At issue was whether ETE should be forced to close the merger despite the failure of a condition precedent relating to the delivery of a tax opinion. Williams claimed that ETE failed to use its contractually required efforts to obtain the opinion and had instead conscripted its tax counsel to not issue the opinion.

The case was litigated and tried in under two months. I directed a cross-office, interdisciplinary team of attorneys to try the case. Following a highly compressed two-day trial, the court ruled in ETE’s favor.

Share two trial tips that have been key to your success.

1) Early determination of strategy and trial themes and conducting the same analysis from your opponent’s perspective are critical. Consistency in one’s approach, seeing an opponent’s likely moves, and setting traps along the way can be a potent combination.

2) Having the right size team, the right expertise and ensuring collaboration on all of the moving parts is essential to execution. — Michael Holmes