Litigation: General Commercial - Mississippi


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What the team is known for Maintains an excellent reputation for product liability and class action work, especially for clients in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries. Also sought by financial institutions and clients in healthcare.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"Their people were top-notch, first class. They produce excellent quality work and we got some great representation."

"Their attorneys are very talented in their areas of focus and the federal law."

Work highlights Acted for Fidelity National Title Insurance Company on bankruptcy litigation in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals following a major defalcation by a former title insurance agent. The case was worth over $6 million and was the first in the Fifth Circuit to deal with the new Bullock standard of proof since the US Supreme Court's decision.

Represented Wells Fargo Bank in the successful dismissal of a putative class action concerning flood policies in the company's mortgages. The claim would have been worth more than $1 million.

Notable practitioners  

Bill Jones is described by peers as "a superb lawyer" and continues to be well known for his product liability work. He is also an experienced insurance defense lawyer.

Veteran litigator Scott Welch has been practicing for almost 50 years, and has substantial experience in gaming litigation, personal injury and commercial litigation, among other areas. Clients say he is "really outstanding," and praise his responsiveness, experience and the tactical direction he imposes on cases.

Clients appreciate that Bill Reed takes the time to "understand our company, culture and risk appetite. He's very good at communicating in a timely manner." His strengths lie in financial litigation, class actions, insurance coverage disputes and general commercial litigation.

Barry Ford is well regarded for his product liability expertise, especially in relation to the automotive industry. He also handles general commercial litigation. He previously served for over ten years as a state circuit trial judge. 

Carter Thompson is an expert in pharmaceutical and medical device product liability defense. One client enthused that he "is able to achieve success because he is respected and trusted by not only his clients, but also judges, co-counsel, and even opposing counsel," before adding: "Carter is the 'go-to' person you want in your corner on tough, bet-the-company litigation." 

Sheryl Bey continues to handle a range of commercial and business-related litigation, with notable mandates from financial institutions. She led the team's successful work for Fidelity National Title Insurance Company in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in bankruptcy litigation worth more than $6 million.

Significant clients Chevron-Texaco, American Modern Insurance Group, ExxonMobil, Ford, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems.

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What the team is known for Deep bench strength, with experts in areas including pharmaceutical product liability, insurance defense, construction litigation, toxic torts and commercial litigation. Also adept in appellate work.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They have a sophisticated litigation practice and some very fine lawyers." 

What's new? Partner Jay Stroble joined the firm, along with two associates. 

Work highlights Represented Southern Life in a successful appeal against a Florida federal court's $45 million judgment for securities fraud, and in a related breach of contract arbitration. This long-running dispute is worth more than $52 million.

Trial and appellate counsel for a breach of fiduciary duty claim against a co-trustee to a marital trust that held a controlling stock in a national bank. The successful outcome meant that the client retained control of the bank.

Notable practitioners  

William Purdy continues to be viewed as one of the preeminent construction lawyers in Mississippi. He has been practicing in the area for over 30 years and has represented contractors in state and federal litigation and arbitration.

Wayne Drinkwater is one of the state's leading trial and appellate lawyers. Sources explain that he is "resourceful and imaginative," and "captures the essence of a piece of litigation early on." He handles many of the team's most significant pieces of litigation, with clients in the past year including Southern Life and Sherwin-Williams.

Roy Campbell is described by one peer as "someone I would call on for a big piece of litigation and feel really comfortable about." Product liability is one area of strength, and Campbell recently obtained summary judgment for conveyor belt equipment seller Russell Brands in a claim for compensatory and punitive damages.

Commentators report that Stephen Thomas "is smart and just gets really good results." Recent mandates include acting for Rogers Group on a dispute over the sale of multiple aggregates plants.

William Manuel focuses on employment and commercial litigation. He recently represented a local plaintiffs' lawyer who was sued for fraudulent misrepresentation and breach of fiduciary duty following a settlement made by a client. The jury rejected the $3.5 million claim on all counts. 

Peers say Douglas Minor is "extremely bright and capable." He specializes in representing financial services and insurance companies, in matters including mortgage-related litigation, consumer fraud and product liability.

Star litigator Alan Perry is a new addition to the firm. He remains a leading figure for complex business litigation, at trial and in the appellate courts. Sources praise his commercial approach and gravitas, remarking: "When there is a bunch of people in a conference room, you listen to what he says."

Significant clients Cooper Tire and Rubber Company, 3M, Chevron, Citizens National Bank, Honda North America. 

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What the team is known for Diverse workload includes significant amounts of product liability, toxic tort and mass tort mandates. Also praised for its general business litigation practice, encompassing matters such as antitrust, contract disputes and securities litigation.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"The thing that I like is that they can handle a lot of different types of cases."  

Work highlights Acted for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi in litigation against the state's governor, following his executive order requiring Blue Cross to readmit ten hospitals to its network. Successfully obtained a temporary restraining order, following which the governor rescinded the parts of the executive order that mandated action by Blue Cross.

Acting for the Board of Supervisors of Lamar County following their decision to withdraw from the Pat Harrison Waterway District. This is the first case in which a county has decided to withdraw, and any decision may be important for future cases.

Notable practitioners  

David Kaufman is "widely respected and a great trial lawyer" who is able to "bring calm and patience to a hot-button issue." He handles a range of litigation, with recent work including trade secrets/employment litigation for Regions Insurance and a major wrongful death lawsuit for CenterPoint Energy. Interviewees were also quick to praise his effective preparation of cases, and his jury advocacy.

Construction expert Samuel Kelly earns praise from market sources for his technical knowledge and solution-oriented approach to disputes. He is also able to advise clients on noncontentious construction issues.

Senior statesman Christopher Shapley remains a key figure in the team, working with some of the firm's most significant clients. He offers expertise in insurance, product liability, mass torts and general business litigation. 

Significant clients St Dominic Health Services, C Spire Wireless, Mine Safety Appliances Company, Trustmark National Bank, Tronox.

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What the team is known for Very large team able to work closely with colleagues across the region. Maintains an excellent track record in mass torts and product liability, with key clients coming from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"It is the firm that I look to on the larger cases with a great deal at stake."

"They are very client-focused, eager to please and easy to deal with." 

Work highlights Successfully acted for pharmaceutical company Merial on defending a bid for class action certification in the federal court by plaintiffs alleging RICO violations in the marketing of a drug for dogs.  

Defending LG Display and LG Display America in a claim by the State of Mississippi under state antitrust and consumer protection laws, for alleged participation in an international conspiracy to fix the price of certain display products.

Notable practitioners  

Star practitioner Christy Jones is "a fabulous trial lawyer" and "the person you want to send out to try cases to a jury on behalf of pharmaceutical companies," according to sources. She specializes in representing pharmaceutical companies in product liability matters.

Market commentators regard Luther Munford as one of the premier appellate lawyers in Mississippi. Sources report that he "makes complex issues understandable."

Phil Abernethy offers experience and expertise in a range of construction and commercial litigation matters. 

John Henegan is a widely respected trial and appellate litigator. Sources agree that his outstanding quality is his detail-oriented approach, with one peer explaining: "The great strength he brings to a case is to make sure nobody misses anything. You won't get anything past him!"

Donna Jacobs is another key member of the firm's appellate team, and impresses interviewees with her technical skill and professional judgment. She is also able to handle pharmaceutical product liability defense and media defense.

Barney Robinson recently acted for AT&T on a dispute with the State of Mississippi Commercial Mobile Radio Service Emergency Telephone Services Board concerning more than $12 million unremitted E911 surcharges and interest. He is also well known for his work for financial institutions.

Robert Galloway has over 40 years' experience in litigation. He is adept in areas including general commercial litigation, professional liability defense and product liability.

Phillip Sykes recently joined the team from Forman Perry Watkins Krutz & Tardy LLP. While at his prior firm, Sykes defended Infrasource following the termination of employment of the president of a subsidiary. The complex dispute required multiple proceedings in the federal court and arbitration involving lengthy discovery, but was successfully resolved for the defendant. He is best known for financial services litigation.

Significant clients Regions Bank, State Farm, Boehringer Ingelheim, Johnson & Johnson, BASF.

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What the team is known for Maintains a formidable reputation for the defense of mass tort claims, particularly involving asbestos or silica issues. Also active in areas including environmental litigation, trade secrets and general commercial litigation.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"Excellent! They came in and turned an area of liability into a success."

"They are very thorough, take a practical approach and have done an excellent job defending us."

Work highlights Defended Ingersoll Rand in a claim concerning the death of an individual from mesothelioma following alleged exposure to asbestos dust from the company's marine pumps and compressors. Successfully obtained summary judgment.

Represented Infrasource in a complex dispute following the termination of the president of a subsidiary. After lengthy discovery, the arbitrator granted summary judgment in favor of Infrasource, which was upheld by the district court and the Fifth Circuit.

Notable practitioners  

Fellow founding partner Fred Krutz is best known for his mass tort work, especially concerning silica and asbestos. Admiring peers remark: "He's had some tremendous results at trial in some significant litigation."

Walter Watkins is adept across areas including mass tort litigation, product liability and environmental litigation. He has over 30 years' experience as a litigator in Mississippi, and remains a respected figure in the market.

Thomas Tardy is very well respected for his mass tort expertise, especially in asbestos cases. One commentator explained: "He is a recognized industry leader for addressing cutting-edge issues that plague the asbestos world." Recent mandates include acting for Ingersoll Rand on a wrongful death case, following alleged exposure to asbestos dust from its pumps and compressors.

Sources report that Edwin Gault is "the kind of lawyer that clients go to to get problems solved," and praise his courtroom ability and intelligence. His broad practice includes silica/asbestos litigation, product liability, personal injury and general commercial litigation. 

Significant clients C Spire, Chubb & Son, CVS Pharmacy, GE, Georgia-Pacific.

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What the team is known for Strong across multiple areas, with highlights including product liability defense, especially for the automotive industry. The client roster also includes major players in banking and finance, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"A firm of lawyers well versed in the law, whose meticulous preparation brings positive results." 

"The team has been absolutely superb. They bring to the case hard work, intelligence and common sense."

Work highlights Represented Trustmark National Bank in putative federal court class actions concerning alleged overcharging for overdraft fees, managing to reach a settlement outside of court.

Acted for the eighth largest public utility in the country, Jacksonville (FL) Electric Authority, in Mississippi litigation relating to its ash byproducts. 

Notable practitioners  

Michael Ulmer attracts considerable praise from peers and clients, who say he is "passionate in protecting his clients' interests and extremely persuasive in court." They also highlight his judgment, experience and technical knowledge. His practice includes significant product liability and commercial litigation mandates.

Sources are similarly complimentary about Paul Stephenson, highlighting that his "preparation was superb" and his "courtroom demeanor and how he handled himself in the courtroom were very good." He handles major litigation in the state and federal courts, in addition to significant class actions and defending banks and other financial institutions. 

Clients describe David Ayers as "an excellent trial lawyer who connects very well with the jury." He is best known for his product liability practice, with an emphasis on the automotive industry.

Head of department William Ray continues to be a go-to litigator for numerous banks and other financial institutions in the region. Highlights of late include acting for two banks on putative class actions in the federal court under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

The "very capable" Lewis Bell handles personal injury, product liability, premises liability and general commercial litigation.  

Michael Gwin makes his debut in the rankings this year. He has a broad litigation practice, and market commentators highlight his technical knowledge and negotiation skills.

William Goodman possesses "a quick legal mind" and "his reputation is unexcelled," according to sources. He continues to handle matters for key clients, including a very high-value contractor-subcontractor dispute in the Mississippi Supreme Court, following Hurricane Katrina cleanup work.

Significant clients Bayer, Toyota Motor Sales, Bridgestone Americas Holding, Chevron Texaco, Freightliner.

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What the team is known for Litigation-focused firm with particular strength in insurance-related matters. Remains busy in personal injury cases, for defendant companies or their insurers.

Notable practitioners  

Highly regarded Greg Copeland is best known for his insurance litigation practice. One peer remarked: "I respect him a lot – he is very effective and takes care of his clients." He is a founding member of the firm, and is now based in its Ridgeland office.

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What the team is known for Business and commercial litigation team active on matters including IP, antitrust and contract disputes. A dedicated construction team is experienced across a range of contentious matters.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"Their advice is very clear and they understand where we are coming from."  

Work highlights Representing the Pat Harrison Waterway District in litigation with Lamar County over the latter's withdrawal from the district. The dispute is worth more than $18 million, and could have important consequences for similar cases. 

Represented Forest River in a $2.5 million claim brought by Watson Quality Ford, concerning allegations of wrongly obtaining government purchaser prices for a non-government purchaser.

Notable practitioners  

Experienced litigator Keith Raulston has handled a range of matters for clients of late. Highlights include representing German and Irish manufacturers in product liability issues, and acting for a bank in high-value appellate litigation concerning certificates of deposit and cross-collateralization of business loans. 

Neville Boschert is praised by clients for his "thorough and methodical approach." Recent mandates include representing convenience store chain Major Mart in litigation against beer distributor Mitchell Distributing under the Robinson-Patman Act and the Sherman Act. 

Mitchell Cowan is another well-respected member of the team. He has experience in areas including banking and consumer finance litigation, insurance disputes, product liability and general commercial litigation.

Mark Herbert leads the firm's construction team and brings more than 30 years' experience in the area to bear. He has experience across a wide range of construction disputes, and is known for representing sureties in payment and performance bond claims.

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What the team is known for North Mississippi-based team with a diverse and well-respected litigation practice. Expertise includes professional liability, product liability, railroad litigation and insurance matters.

Notable practitioners  

"Outstanding lawyer" Sandy Sams is highly regarded in the market, with commentators praising his considerable experience as a litigator. He is adept across professional liability claims, product liability matters and a range of other general commercial litigation issues.

John Wheeler chairs the litigation practice at the firm and handles a broad range of matters, including professional and product liability. Sources report that he is "razor-sharp in his oral advocacy, his written skills and his analytical skills." 

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What the team is known for Strong in healthcare-related litigation, especially medical malpractice suits. Also well known for its railroad expertise. 

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They have excellent lawyers who work collaboratively with the client to get the best results." 

Work highlights Acted for Toshiba on a claim by the Mississippi Attorney General under the state's Consumer Protection Act. The team succeeded in having the matter removed to the federal court, a decision which is now being considered by the United States Supreme Court.

Represented Ford in the Mississippi Supreme Court, successfully overturning the trial judge's decision not to preserve the confidentiality of a settlement agreement.

Notable practitioners  

Michael Wallace continues to be known as one of the state's top appellate and trial lawyers. Peers praise his intelligence and strategic approach, explaining: "You want him in the case to help you think about how it needs to be organized and what the focus needs to be." Recent highlights include representing Entergy in a Consumer Protection Act claim by the Mississippi Attorney General, successfully having it removed to federal court.

James Robertson is a former Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court and remains an expert in appellate work. He was also part of the team that acted for Entergy on removing a claim by the Mississippi Attorney General under consumer protection laws to the federal court.

Significant clients Texas Petroleum Investment Company, Mississippi Hospital Association, Greenwood Leflore Hospital, Illinois Central Railroad Company.

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What the team is known for Offers diverse litigation expertise, with attorneys in Mississippi able to work closely with colleagues across the Southeast. Key industries include oil and gas, healthcare and pharmaceuticals. 

Notable practitioners  

The practice's key contact is Jackson-based William Brabec, head of business litigation and commercial dispute resolution. 

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What the team is known for Continued strength in disputes for clients in a range of regulated industries, including gaming, healthcare and energy. Recognized for its expertise in matters such as personal injury, environmental and commercial litigation. Experienced in both trial litigation and alternative dispute resolution.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"The firm has a lot of talent. They are very thorough and very responsive."

Work highlights Successfully represented Mississippi Power Company in the final ten lawsuits stemming from the third-party use of its fiber optic telecommunications lines. This concluded 21 years of litigation and 232 individual lawsuits.

Defended the Mississippi Transportation Commission in a jury trial in which the plaintiff sought damages of more than $8 million for alleged inverse condemnation and breach of contract. 

Notable practitioners  

Peers describe Jonathan Dyal as "a very bright and capable litigator," and clients appreciate his strategic approach to cases. Recent mandates include representing Mississippi Power Company in the final ten lawsuits regarding third-party use of fiber optics. He coordinates the litigation team in the firm's Gulfport office.

Significant clients Mississippi State Port Authority, Parkway Pipelines, Brown, Mitchell & Alexander Engineering, International Game Technology, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners.

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What the team is known for Boutique litigation practice frequently seen acting on cases in the insurance and construction industries. Strong track record in alternative dispute resolution, including significant arbitration mandates.

Work highlights Representing key client National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh in various coverage disputes, including against the owner of an iron ore concentrator plant in Utah, a claim potentially worth more than $25 million. 

Notable practitioners  

Myles Parker specializes in acting for insurance and reinsurance companies. He has recently handled a number of multimillion-dollar insurance disputes, including defending a $20 million claim in Texas arising out of a refinery outage caused by a freeze event.

Jim Warren is experienced in complex commercial litigation and arbitration, for both plaintiff and defendant. A significant amount of his work is based out of state, and recent clients have included the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Travelers, the Town of Gloster, and a group of insurance companies in Florida.

Significant clients Torus Insurance, XL Insurance America, Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company, Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe, Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK).

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What the team is known for Three-member firm with impressive niche expertise in appearing before federal and state courts on trials and appeals. The diverse practice covers business litigation, product liability, personal injury and environmental litigation.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They are hired on a lot of major litigation."  

Notable practitioners  

Veteran litigator John Corlew attracts outstanding praise from market sources, with one peer remarking: "When the lawyers get in trouble, they hire him!" He has experience across a wide spectrum of commercial litigation and administrative proceedings.

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What the team is known for Considerable strength in representing major financial institutions. Additional skills in matters such as antitrust, wrongful death cases and bankruptcy.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They're extremely responsive and push things forward."

"They have lots of local connections and this can be very useful."

Work highlights Local trial counsel for Japanese vitamin companies Eisai and Daiichi Pharmaceutical Company and Eisai's US affiliate in significant national litigation. The case was brought by the Mississippi Attorney General, and involved claims of conspiracy and violations of antitrust and consumer protection laws.

Successfully represented Green Tree Servicing in a class action lawsuit and several dozen separate Chapter 13 adversary proceedings brought by four Chapter 13 trustees alleging that Green Tree violated several aspects of the Bankruptcy Code.

Notable practitioners  

Hunter Twiford leads the team and also spearheads much of the firm's marquee work. This has recently included substantial antitrust and consumer protection litigation for Japanese and US vitamin companies. Commentators value his combination of technical ability and a creative approach to difficult litigation.

Dewey Hembree continues to represent leading financial institutions in various litigation matters, including consumer finance issues and insurance disputes. Clients praise his responsiveness, integrity and technical skill.

Significant clients JPMorgan Chase, Capital One, Wells Fargo, Bank of America.

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What the team is known for Solid presence in the Mississippi market, with strength in areas such as tort litigation, intellectual property and product liability. Also skilled in trade secrets, white-collar crime and appellate matters, among others.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They have some first-rate litigators." 

Work highlights Acting as lead counsel for Eaton Corporation on high-value trade secrets litigation in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Successfully defended shipbuilder Trinity Yachts in a dispute that arose following claims by a paint supplier that it has not been paid for a product used on the yacht.

Notable practitioners  

Appellate specialist Fred Banks is part of the team acting for Eaton Corporation on trade secrets litigation in the Mississippi Supreme Court. He is noted for his expertise at trial and appellate level, and is experienced in alternative dispute resolution.

Senior partner Ross Bass is a highly experienced member of the litigation team. Areas of excellence include commercial disputes and product liability matters, including complex class action and mass tort cases.

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What the team is known for Continues to be active in representing clients, particularly those in the insurance industry. Also sought by product manufacturers, and by financial institutions selling credit insurance and consumer loans. Also highly rated for its employment litigation work, including ERISA matters.

Strengths (Quotes mainly from clients)
"They've got common sense and a very good approach to litigation." 

"They're exactly what I'm looking for when I'm looking for a local firm that is big enough and strong enough to do whatever is asked of them." 

Work highlights Defended the employer and the workers' compensation insurer in a bad faith workers' compensation action that lasted for many years. The court dismissed the employer as a defendant mid-trial, and the jury returned a verdict for the workers' compensation carrier.

Defending Aetna Life Insurance Company in the trial and appeal of an ERISA claim concerning whether a double lung transplant obtained by the plaintiff was covered by a plan she had stopped paying for, but allegedly had been told was still covering her.   

Notable practitioners

Managing partner and litigator Kenna Mansfield is a key contact. 

Significant clients Assurant, Tyson Foods, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Claims Management, ITT Hartford Life Insurance, Pacific Life Insurance.

Other Ranked Lawyers 其他上榜律师

Cheri Gatlin of Burr & Forman LLP is a construction specialist praised equally by clients for her ability to try lawsuits and for her ability to bring parties together to negotiate. She has valuable experience advising European companies on building large-scale commercial and industrial projects in Mississippi.

Luke Dove of Dove and Chill is popular with market commentators, who describe him as "a very good lawyer with a very good reputation." They also highlight his experience in both complex commercial litigation and white-collar crime defense work.  

Appellate expert Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd specializes in cases involving civil rights issues. Peers are unanimous in their praise, and highlight that he has argued cases in the US Supreme Court.

The "very skilled" David Mockbee of Mockbee Hall Drake & Hodge is a widely respected construction expert. Peers praise his vast experience in the area, and highlight his work for subcontractors in particular. 

Gulfport-based Joe Sam Owen of Owen, Galloway & Myers appears in the rankings for the first time this year. He is adept in both criminal and civil litigation, and peers report: "He is a top-notch litigator and highly successful trial lawyer." 

Foreign Experts

Foreign Experts are individuals with expertise in a different jurisdiction to the one they are based in. These individuals are particularly highly regarded for international and cross-border work. Usually, they will be identified in the jurisdiction in which they are based and in their country of expertise.

Senior Statesman

A 'Senior Statesman' is a lawyer who no longer works hands-on with the same intensity but who, by virtue of close links with major clients, remains pivotal to the firm’s success.

Eminent Practitioners

'Eminent Practitioners' are highly influential lawyers in a particular practice area who, due to managerial or client relationship commitments, are less active in day-to-day work but remain key players in the team.

Other Noted Practitioners

Other Noted Practitioners are individuals who have not yet been ranked but are seen to be active and accomplished in this area of law.

Other Noted Firms

Other Noted Firms are firms that have not yet been ranked but are seen to be active and accomplished in this area of law.