Facing criminal charges and massive civil liability in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, Transocean might have turned to a legal leviathan. Instead, the beleaguered company tapped a relative pipsqueak­ in Munger Tolles & Olson, a firm with just two offices and 185 lawyers.
Brad Brian, Michael Doyen and Luis Li negotiated with the DOJ for almost two years, reaching a $1.4 billion settlement just weeks before the first phase of trial in the multidistrict litigation was set to begin. The payment resolved all of the government’s claims against Transocean.
The firm took another mammoth case to trial: Bart Williams and Manuel Cachan, representing Wells Fargo, beat back claims the bank misrepresented a securities-lending program to institutional investors. The pair bested legendary plaintiffs lawyer Mike Ciresi of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in his home court and defeated sympathetic plaintiffs, among them a group of retired nuns and another of nurses and health care workers.
The firm notched another win for Wells Fargo, along with codefendant Bank of America, in a novel case challenging bank policies requiring employees to make trades in house. Malcolm Heinicke and Terry Sanchez fought putative class actions all the way to the Ninth Circuit and convinced the court that federal law permitted the restrictions to bolster compliance monitoring.