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Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Washington, DC

  • 1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
  • Washington, DC
  • USA
  • 20036

Labor & Employment - Arizona

THE FIRM This team prides itself on its ability to provide a full service to clients, and on its ability to successfully argue complex matters before federal agencies, such as the NLRB and the EEOC, and the US Supreme Court. It has in-depth experience taking on union-organizing campaigns and is skilled at defending employers against breach of contract, civil rights and wrongful termination cases. It recently defended Red Door Spa Holdings against an 18-plaintiff case, including claims of discrimination. 

Sources say: "They're very good. We were very happy with the conclusion."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Lawrence Katz is head of the firm's labor relations and employment law department, and has deep experience handling union-related issues, including litigation. He also litigates in both state and federal court on common law employment rights and employment discrimination statutes and contracts. Peers refer to him as "the dean of labor and employment."

Stephanie Quincy is rated by peers as "a wonderful labor and employment lawyer," and is respected for the depth of her experience. She recently defended Banner Health against a $10 million claim including allegations of religious discrimination, breach of contract and a violation of the False Claims Act.

Steven Wheeless has a national practice and often advises clients in the Eastern USA. He acts on matters relating to NLRB representations, arbitration and collective bargaining.

Litigation - Arizona

THE FIRM This team receives praise for its ability to handle complex and specialized work. It represents clients in both state and federal court, and has been noted for its ability to take on cases of national importance. It is well known for handling financial fraud matters, and for the defense of insurance companies accused of acting in bad faith. It recently successfully defended the National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh against a multimillion-dollar claim relating to a directors and officers liability policy.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Floyd Bienstock is the leader of the firm's insurance coverage and bad faith group, and is admired for his specialty in complex bad faith insurance. In addition to leading on the National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh matter, he also represented Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Company in reducing punitive damages from a tortious breach case from a 4:1 ratio to a 1:1 ratio.

Paul Charlton recently joined the team from Gallagher & Kennedy. Charlton, who focuses his practice on white-collar defense and internal compliance, is a former US Attorney praised by sources as being "very professional and well prepared."

Environment - California

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Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation - District of Columbia

THE FIRM This team of ERISA experts offers a full service across the gamut of employee benefits issues and is particularly strong in the fiduciary sphere. Lawyers also advise a formidable selection of global banks, asset managers and broker-dealers on complex ERISA issues such as the new regulations on global fee disclosures. Key clients include Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and FINRA.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Melanie Nussdorf is described by one client as a "great ERISA attorney. She is excellent at her job and has many great contacts." She is a leading player in the representation of major financial service providers.

Paul Ondrasik has many years experience of ERISA class actions and of advisory work to major clients such as the National Electrical Benefit Fund.

Anne Moran has significant government experience at the ABA and DOL and advises clients on executive compensation and plan compliance issues, especially those arising as a result of recent healthcare reforms.  

Insurance - District of Columbia

THE FIRM Widely recognized as one of the best insurance carrier practices in DC, this group is chosen by clients for its depth of insurance expertise, which extends to a global reach. It regularly represents major insurers in the most sophisticated cases, such as acting for Hartford Accident & Indemnity and New England Reinsurance on torts filed by former NFL players relating to concussions and head trauma. Other major clients include Zurich, The Travelers Companies and Swiss Re.

Sources say: "It is a very good group of talented lawyers that we've continued to use on a regular basis. They have great knowledge across the board and are very sensitive to the company's particular outlook on cases."

KEY INDIVIDUALS James Rocap is unanimously acknowledged as an "outstanding insurance coverage lawyer" and "one of the smartest guys around." He has recently played a lead role on behalf of Travelers in a coverage dispute involving Tyson Foods.

According to peers, Roger Warin is a "formidable adversary," while clients report that "there's nothing he hasn't handled." He recently represented two Chartis Insurers in a lawsuit surrounding Secure Conveyancing Insurance Policy (SCIP).

Antonia Ianniello recently represented two Zurich affiliates in a complex coverage case. According to one client, she "brings the perfect blend of legal expertise, excellent communication skills and sensitivity to our corporate customers, with a common-sense, practical assessment of how to achieve the best result."

Harry Lee has a healthy reputation among peers for his courtroom litigation skills. He chairs the firm's global insurance and reinsurance practice group, and focuses on representing major insurers in long-tail claims involving mass tort-related bankruptcies.

Litigation - District of Columbia

THE FIRM This DC office has a significant bench of attorneys dedicated to litigation and renowned for their impeccable trial skills. The team is adept at handling sophisticated, multijurisdictional cases within the areas of white-collar criminal defense and complex commercial litigation. Its recent work includes representing UK-based IMI and its US subsidiary CCI in an extensive FCPA investigation.

Sources say: "They have a well-oiled team that worked relentlessly on my behalf, and they were masters at what they were doing."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Reid Weingarten is a star of the criminal defense Bar. He receives extensive praise from peers and clients, with one source stating: "I have never seen or heard a more eloquent and articulate advocate in the courtroom." Weingarten tackles cases "with courage and great skill," and provides clients with the "extremely important feeling that you're in good hands." 

Brian Heberlig is highly regarded for his experience in FCPA matters and is characterized as someone who "deals with matters clearly and efficiently." He recently successfully defended DOJ trial attorney Edward Sullivan in a long-running investigation into the prosecution of Alaskan senator Ted Stevens.

Tax - District of Columbia

THE FIRM This firm's 13-partner tax group incorporates the entire range of federal and international taxation. It has expertise in international and domestic transactional planning, tax exemption and employee benefits, international tax compliance, and state and local tax. Additional strength resides in the firm's considerable experience in litigation, and in its record of advocating before the IRS and the US Treasury.

Sources say: "They really put the client first. They have great depth of expertise, and this enables them to handle with ease all the work we send them."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Mark Silverman is best known for his distinguished planning and transactional practice, in which area he assists large public corporations in the structuring of spinoff transactions and M&A. 

Head of department Philip West handles international tax issues for a range of clients, both foreign and domestic. According to sources, he "brings a very unique and valuable perspective to issues that other advisers do not offer." 

Arthur Bailey specializes in controversy and litigation, with particular expertise in the defense of tax-advantaged and cross-border investments. He recently represented John Hancock Life Insurance in a matter concerning the treatment of leveraged leases. 

Telecommunications - District of Columbia

THE FIRM Steptoe & Johnson's internet and media practice is well known for its expertise in telecommunications matters, advising both national and international clients. The team is known for its breadth of expertise in the satellite and wireless fields, acting for clients such as DISH and Inmarsat; it has recently acted for DISH in numerous FCC proceedings, including defending a plan to roll out a hybrid satellite/terrestrial service to set up a US mobile broadband network.

KEY INDIVIDUALS "Consummate professional" Pantelis Michalopoulos is held in high regard for his wide-ranging industry knowledge. Clients praise his mastery of complex issues, with one noting: "He has unparalleled institutional knowledge of our company, coupled with a keen sense of strategy for how to navigate regulatory requirements at the FCC."

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation - Nationwide

THE FIRM This prominent DC-based firm is well known for its expertise in employee benefits and ERISA law, advising on Title I, Title II, Title IV and public plans. The team has substantial experience advising on IRS and DOL reviews and government investigations, as well as providing counsel to a range of interests, including plan sponsors, fiduciaries, banks and others. Key clients include the National Electrical Benefit Fund, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley. The firm also represents the pension plans of several states.

KEY INDIVIDUALS Melanie Nussdorf is described as a "magnificent lawyer," and a "star in terms of breadth of practice and high-profile projects." She focuses on ERISA fiduciary matters, and has recently worked with the DOL on exemptions relating to Dodd-Frank.

Energy & Natural Resources - Nationwide

THE FIRM Steptoe & Johnson is a powerhouse in the world of energy regulatory matters, with sources particularly quick to commend its strength in oil pipeline matters, especially when it comes to representation before FERC. The team is currently acting for ConocoPhillips on numerous Trans-Alaska Pipeline System-linked concerns. Market commentators are impressed by the attorneys' unrivaled experience and the high-quality advice that they provide, and do not hesitate to say that it is the preeminent firm when it comes to rates cases. The group has also seen considerable success in the electricity arena over the past year, particularly in its continued efforts in the electric transmissions legal market, in which it regularly acts for major clients such as Duke Energy, Enbridge and AEP. 

Client Service "The attorneys are great. They are consistently very responsive. We always feel we have the best in the whole industry."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Douglas Green "is a standout in the area of regulatory law and representation," say market sources. According to them, "this is an area where in-depth knowledge of the regulator, as well as the law, is required for valuable counseling and representation, and he possesses this special skill." He is also praised for his excellent litigation skills and his involvement in some of the largest cases in this space.

His colleague David Raskin is also singled out for being a "great regulatory lawyer and very able litigator" and is lauded by clients for his breadth of experience. He continues to lead the firm's transmissions work and is notably representing Northeast Utilities in a return on equity complaint that is imminently due to be heard before FERC. The result of this case will be very significant, not only for the client, but also for the wider community of developers in terms of their return on equity. 

Clients and peers alike have high regard for Richard Roberts, who is "very smart, creative and thoughtful, and handles relationships with co-counsel and opposing counsel and regulators very well." This "superb trial lawyer" has been involved in many high-profile matters such as the ongoing Southern California Edison refund matter, in which he recently managed to secure the highest-value refund claim to have been granted in the USA to date.

Steven Brose has an excellent reputation among peers, who describe him as "top of the heap in pipeline work." Clients laud his experience and knowledge of FERC matters and the respect that he is awarded by the regulators, judges and opposing counsel. 

"The very highly regarded" Steven Reed enjoys a significant practice in the oil pipelines area and is singled out for his "absolute wealth of knowledge in relation to the industry," "excellent judgment" and "very good negotiation skills." He has recently been acting for Enbridge on a variety of matters including the defense of the spot tariff rates imposed for US shippers.

The "outstanding" Daniel Poynor is another well-respected oil pipeline lawyer at the firm and is lauded for his "great depth of knowledge" and excellent writing skills. He is adept in the gamut of pipeline rates and regulatory matters and is currently representing TEPPCO in a cost of service matter valued at $350 million.

"Very strong performer" Steven Ross has been involved in work on behalf of a number of key clients including American Electric Power, Enbridge, Duke Energy and Westar Energy.

ERISA Litigation - Nationwide

THE FIRM Steptoe & Johnson regularly represents clients from a broad range of industries, and continues to successfully handle cases involving employer stock drops and excessive fees in 401(k) plans. The team has recently represented prestigious clients such as American Express and Bear Stearns Companies in complex disputes on a nationwide scale. A key highlight from the past year is acting as co-lead defense counsel for BP on obtaining the dismissal of a putative class action concerning breach of ERISA fiduciary duties.

Sources say: "I would recommend them to anyone who needed help with ERISA litigation."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Paul Ondrasik is widely recognized as one of the leading lawyers within the field. His peers agree that he is "very talented and very knowledgeable," and characterize him as "a key player, with a good way of approaching cases."

Government - Nationwide

THE FIRM The firm represents Kia Motors and CRE Finance Council, among other illustrious names. It also provides ongoing counseling to AOL and Facebook on legislative and regulatory issues relating to internet privacy and telecoms, requiring the team to effectively liaise with the FTC and FCC. The group has also represented the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, successfully campaigning for the inclusion of language in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act to clarify the meaning of tobacco 'manufacturers', which subsequently clarifies the tax position for these manufacturers.

Commercial Awareness "They are a law firm and lobby shop. They serve as regulatory counsel and help draft compliance guidelines for us. They've looked at our needs and are hired to service them, so I'm aware that when we have a need they'll help us."

KEY INDIVIDUALS The "talented" Scott Sinder is praised by clients, who state that "he is extremely well positioned and he gives us tremendous strategic and legal advice." Sinder is head of the department, and continues to represent the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers following the Dodd-Frank financial services overhaul, liaising with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the new Federal Insurance Office to ensure that state implementation efforts progress.

Insurance - Nationwide

THE FIRM This highly respected practice group advises insurers in big-ticket coverage matters from D&O to environmental. With an extensive domestic coverage, the firm boasts offices in Century City, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix and Washington, DC. Clients speak at length about the team's bench strength that enables it to seamlessly try large and complex cases. Steptoe & Johnson is playing an instrumental role acting for The Hartford in the high-profile NFL concussions case.

Client Service "The firm is highly responsive, outcome-focused and willing to partner with us in finding solutions."

Commercial Awareness "They have great knowledge across the board, and they are very sensitive to the company's particular outlook on cases. There is no need to reinvent the wheel with them."

KEY INDIVIDUALS "Very fine lawyer" James Rocap is an undisputed "leader in his field." He focuses on environmental matters and is frequently chosen to counsel The Hartford in complex insurance cases.

"Very effective lawyer" Roger Warin has a reputation in the market for his insurance work in connection to professional liability matters. Peers describe him as a "formidable" and "tough but fair adversary."

International Trade - Nationwide

THE FIRM Steptoe & Johnson is a well-known name in international trade across the globe, and the firm is often called on for its expertise in Asia-Pacific work. The group's considerable activity in WTO litigation has grown of late to include significant new mandates. The team represents respondents in numerous proceedings, and advised SKF on antidumping administrative reviews of imports of bearings. FCPA is another area of strength, and highlights include a multijurisdictional investigation for Hercules Offshore. The firm's skill set is rounded out by in-demand expertise in export controls and sanctions.

Client Service "I appreciate the quality of their service and enjoy our interaction. They are quite responsive and prompt."

KEY INDIVIDUALS "The patriarch of the practice," Richard Cunningham played a lead role in the firm's defense of LG Electronics in connection with its imports of bottom-mount refrigerator-freezers from South Korea and Mexico, as well as wider work relating to South Korea.

Edward Krauland is a popular choice for referrals among peers in the export controls arena. Clients value the fact that he is "really a specialist, and obviously did the right thing in both solving our problems and advising us at earlier stages."

Lucinda Low impresses commentators with her level of expertise - clients report that "she gave good advice and was practical and friendly." Another source enthused that she is "one of the best in the world at what she does."

Mark Moran is a lead partner in the firm's WTO work and is described as "a spectacular lawyer." He receives excellent feedback for his calm strategic reasoning as well as the strength of his technical legal advice.

Stewart Baker is frequently sought out for his CFIUS expertise, and sources are confident in relying on his abilities: "He was great, he was in the trenches with us and he was very attentive to our client."

Chair of the firm's international department, Susan Esserman is particularly active on trade policy matters and Chinese antidumping investigations. Her clients include global packaging company MeadWestvaco.

Partner Stephen Heifetz maintains a substantial CFIUS practice and is highly regarded for his knowledge of the field.

International Trade - Nationwide

THE FIRM Steptoe & Johnson has handled many major smartphone cases as part of its ITC practice. Motorola and SAMSUNG are both highly active participants which call on the firm for assistance. The firm's wider practice includes cases involving television and video technology, GPS equipment and luxury goods. The team also represented Louis Vuitton Malletier in an investigation against US and Chinese respondents accused of importing and selling counterfeit products.

KEY INDIVIDUALS According to interviewees, Charles Schill is "a wonderful guy" who is "widely respected." He leads the team at Steptoe that handles ITC work and he has extensive experience in this area.

Alice Kipel's practice includes a variety of international trade areas and considerable involvement in Section 337 investigations. She advised Dura Magnetics as respondent on a claim filed by Hitachi Metals.

Leisure & Hospitality - Nationwide

THE FIRM This firm is recognized for its participation in sector-leading litigation on behalf of its clients, and is also known for its work in transactions and negotiating hotel management agreements. The firm draws clients from all sectors of the industry including hotel owners, operators and developers, investors, franchisors and franchisees.  

Sources say: "They are very good litigators - smart and thoughtful."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Cecelia Fanelli is well respected in the hotel industry for her extensive litigation experience. Additionally, she has handled arbitrations, mediations and transactional matters for her clients. "When she speaks she knows what she is talking about, and it tends to be very persuasive, not just to the court but to her opposition," say sources.

William Bosch is a trial lawyer with a great deal of experience representing clients in the hospitality industry. According to commentators, "he is creative and thorough, and takes advantage of all the avenues that are open."

Tax - Nationwide

THE FIRM Steptoe & Johnson's superb team in Washington, DC continues to gain recognition for providing a strong and cohesive tax controversy and litigation practice. It handles all manner of administrative and tax shelter controversies, as well as IRS appeals and audits, and has seen particular growth in insurance and foreign tax haven-related controversies. Its recent highlights include representing John Hancock Financial Services in a US Tax Court dispute with the IRS relating to the treatment of certain leveraged leases. Key clients also include Liberty Global, Amazon.com and Eastman Kodak.

Sources say: "They are very skilled at negotiation with the IRS, strategy and tax litigation."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Arthur Bailey is considered an excellent tax litigator. His practice extends to disputes relating to cross-border investments and life insurance. He led in the John Hancock Financial Services matter.

Walker Johnson has a strong practice covering tax controversy and litigation, as well as tax planning. Sources also highlight his expertise in financial, life insurance and investment tax matters.

Tax - Nationwide

THE FIRM Steptoe & Johnson's DC-based group is consistently highlighted for its international tax prowess, and is increasingly highlighted for undertaking tax restructuring, spin-offs, bankruptcies and work with tax-exempt organizations. Key clients include Eastman Kodak, the Government of Puerto Rico and Dish Network.

Sources say: "They really put the client first. They have a great depth of expertise, and this enables them to handle with ease all the work we send them."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Based in DC, Philip West chairs the firm's tax practice.

Transportation - Nationwide

THE FIRM Steptoe & Johnson handles all aspects of rail litigation and regulatory work, and is widely recognized for its long history of association with the industry. The group handles work for a range of significant industry players including Genesee & Wyoming, the Association of American Railroads and Stagecoach Group. It continues to be active for key client BNSF Railway, for which it serves as lead counsel on a range of regulatory and litigious matters.

Commercial Awareness "Steptoe & Johnson has a dominant STB practice."

KEY INDIVIDUALS Samuel Sipe has an outstanding reputation for STB-related work, and is a considered a go-to lawyer for rail litigation. Sources report: "He is brilliant – he has complete command of railroad economics."

Anthony LaRocca chairs the firm's rail transportation group and works closely with many of the team's key clients. "He truly understands the industry and how it is regulated, and he has a very good skill set for addressing economic regulation issues," sources say. 

Betty Jo Christian is considered "the dean of the practice" by industry sources. She acted as lead lawyer on a number of rail transportation matters for the Port of Houston Authority.