SAN FRANCISCO — The Recorder is pleased to announced the recipients of the 2017 Litigation Departments of the Year. The awards recognize law firms whose California litigators have delivered outstanding service—and wins—for their clients in the year’s most demanding litigation matters.

Recorder editors reviewed more than 90 entries looking for the most impressive victories in motions practice, at trial and on appeal. Entries were judged by the money at stake, the quality of the competition faced, and the importance of the cases to clients and their respective industries.

In the overall category, The Recorder chose a winner and two finalists, and named winners in eight specialties areas.

The Recorder is also recognizing 12 individual litigators: game changers who won big where others lost, giant slayers who bested bigger opponents and groundbreakers who won by staking out new arguments.

Winners will be recognized at an event at the Hilton San Francisco on Nov. 16. Details on the event will follow.

Litigation Department of the Year

Keker, Van Nest & Peters

Scored blockbuster defense wins for Google and Arista Networks Inc. in closely watched intellectual property trials, and secured a nationwide injunction barring President Donald Trump’s administration from enforcing its threat to withhold federal funds from sanctuary cities. It also displayed overall excellence in antitrust, consumer class actions, IP and labor and employment.


Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Won a $3 billion verdict for HP against Oracle, an extraordinary sanctions order terminating a case against client AEW Capital Management, and a $37-plus million verdict for Aetna Inc. in an overbilling case against a group of Bay Area surgical centers.

Jones Day

Won a $2.54 billion patent trial verdict for Idenix Pharmaceuticals against Gilead Sciences, the largest patent verdict in U.S. history, a seven-fold increase in distribution to its clients in the Caesars Entertainment bankruptcy, and two IP trials for Synopsys Inc. against rival ATopTech.


Latham & Watkins

Staved off ‘no-poach’ claims for Oracle, routed consumer claims against Cox Communications into arbitration, and took the lead for American Airlines and co-defendants to knock out claims they conspired to raise prices and block consumers from combining one-way ticket flights at lower costs than round-trips.

Consumer Class Actions

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Beat back claims that Yamaha boat motors were prematurely corroding, that the antilock braking systems of certain Toyota Prius models were defective, and got an early knockout for Aetna Inc. affiliates in a coverage dispute.


Munger, Tolles & Olson

Won an injunction against movie-filtering service VidAngel for studios, beat back a novel copyright suit against Warner Bros. and TMZ, and scored a defense win for the co-founders of Beats Electronics in a suit with $300 million in alleged damages.

Intellectual Property

Keker, Van Nest & Peters

Scored an IP trial win for Google against rival Oracle and then served up an encore by besting Cisco for Arista Networks Inc. It flipped a $14 million patent loss by winning a new trial for Pure Storage Inc. with rival EMC Corp., then helped reach a global settlement to end the parties’ patent battle.

Labor & Employment

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

Won two trials in eight months for SpaceX in cases brought by former employees, knocked out worker misclassification claims against Morgan Stanley and fought off an injunction bid from Zynga in a trade secret case against client Scopely.

Privacy & Data Security


Knocked down a pair of tracking cases against Facebook and won a right-of-publicity case for Twitter.


Irell & Manella

Scored appellate affirmation of a win for Tesla, won a rare securities class action trial for Public Storage, and persuaded the U.S. Department of Justice to terminate an investigation without bringing claims against former Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act.

White Collar

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton

Helped Pacific Pulmonary Services navigate parallel criminal and civil False Claims Act investigations, won dismissal of a qui tam suit against Accident Fire Insurance Company of America at the Second Circuit, and got the Ninth Circuit to affirm a qui tam win for Wells Fargo.


Robert Van Nest of Keker, Van Nest & Peters for scoring Arista Networks Inc.’s copyright defense win under the “scènes à faire” doctrine.

Perry Viscounty of Latham & Watkins for leading Craigslist’s campaign against web scraping.

William “Bill” Gaede of McDermott Will & Emery won a jury verdict affirming the validity of Amgen Inc.’s patents for a new class of medicines.

Ian Ballon of Greenberg Traurig for fighting and winning Telephone Consumer Protection Act class actions for clients including Yahoo, Crunch Gym and Taco Bell, rather than settling.

Game Changers

Juanita Brooks and Jon Singer of Fish & Richardson for turning a $200 million jury verdict against client Gilead on its head.

Dan Petrocelli of O’Melveny & Myers changed the tide of the pre-1972 recording cases for Sirius XM and the broadcasting industry with a win in the New York Court of Appeals.

Robert “Bobby” Schwartz of Irell & Manella for winning summary judgment for CBS, in a closely watched class action case involving pre-1972 recordings.

Clara Shin of Covington & Burling won a complete defense verdict for McKesson Corp. in a long-running trade secret case after subbing in for prior counsel five months before trial.

Giant Slayers

John Keker of Keker, Van Nest & Peters won a nationwide injunction for the County of Santa Clara blocking the president’s executive order stripping all federal funding from local governments across the country deemed “sanctuary jurisdictions.”

Marc Seltzer of Susman Godfrey for taking on the world’s largest animation companies, including Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm Ltd., Dreamworks and Sony, on behalf of animation employees and recovering nearly $170 million.

Douglas Muehlhauser of Knobbe Martens for scoring a comeback Federal Circuit win for One E-Way Inc. in a case involving some of the giants of wireless audio including Sony, Jabra and Jawbone.

James “Bo” Pearl of O’Melveny & Myers for helping recording artist Kesha navigate an ongoing legal battle with her former producer Dr. Luke—and to release new music.