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Chambers USA Awards 2016

The Chambers USA Awards ceremony and dinner was held on Thursday, May 26th in New York at Cipriani 42nd Street.

The awards are based on our research for the 2016 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and reflect a law firm’s pre-eminence in key practice areas.  They also reflect notable achievements over the past 12 months including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service.

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Winners 2016

Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession

Jonathan L. Mechanic

Jonathan L. Mechanic chairs Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s real estate department and has enjoyed nearly forty years of success, with an unparalleled reign atop the Chambers USA New York Real Estate rankings, including a decade as a Star Individual. Mechanic has advised on tens of billions of dollars in property deals, including representing the Whitney Museum of American Art on its development of a new 200,000 sq ft space, and advising CWCapital Asset Management on its $5.46 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village, Manhattan’s largest apartment complex. He is described in superlatives by sources who call him “a legend” and agree that he is “larger than life” and “at the top of his game.” One client calls him “a key asset,” going on to applaud his “unmatched understanding of the New York City real estate and political landscape.” Mechanic is also praised for cultivating thought leadership and his support of the ongoing development in the real estate legal market, chairing both the Board of Advisors for the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy and the Advisory Board for the NYU Shack Institute of Real Estate.

Lifetime Achievement

Elkan Abramowitz

Elkan Abramowitz of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello P.C. is a true luminary in the field of white collar criminal defense, emphatically praised by clients and peers for his superb intelligence, preparation, and service. Sources laud Abramowitz as “a great trial lawyer,” “first class and a delight to work with,” and “one of the greats of the New York Bar.” He has helmed dozens of successes, both in his time as an Assistant US Attorney - a post in which he recorded 30 trial verdicts before turning 30 - and his illustrious private practice career. His clients have included David Stockman, a former Congressman and Director of the Office of Management and Budget, for whom Abramowitz secured an extraordinary dismissal of a fraud indictment prior to trial. He recently led representation for Steven Davis, former Chair of Dewey & LeBoeuf, achieving jury acquittal on 23 felony counts and successfully convincing the district attorney to dismiss the remaining counts. Sources remain in awe of his inexhaustible commitment to clients’ causes, calling him “the best ever - the most attentive, knowledgeable and experienced. His quality of judgment is incredible from start to finish. He’s an extraordinary lawyer.”

Antitrust

Dechert LLP
Hausfeld LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
White & Case LLP

Winner: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

This superb team offers clients outstanding expertise and experience in antitrust matters from its Washington, DC and New York offices. Its group of talented attorneys can bring to bear decades of agency experience to some of the most significant and complex lawsuits and transactions in the market. On the litigation side, it has acted for JPMorgan Chase in the LIBOR litigation as well as KKR and Blackstone in the leveraged buyout class action suit. It continues assist with the antitrust aspects of major cross-border transactions including representing Ahold in its proposed $29 billion acquisition of Delhaize.

Bankruptcy

Brown Rudnick LLP
Jones Day
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
O'Melveny & Myers LLP
Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Winner: Jones Day

Jones Days is a US bankruptcy titan with exceptional nationwide scope and an extensive roster of standout practitioners. The group has gained a top-band ranking in New York this year to add to its market-leading teams in Ohio, California and Nationwide. It brings deep expertise to a plethora of major bankruptcy and restructuring matters including asbestos and mass tort reorganizations and distressed M&A transactions. Sources praise its tremendous handling of high-profile matters. Among its notable recent representations are its work for the City of Detroit in its Chapter 9 bankruptcy and acting for American Apparel on its Chapter 11 reorganization.

Construction

Farella Braun + Martel LLP
Jones Day
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
Peckar & Abramson, P.C.
Thompson Hine LLP
Varela, Lee, Metz & Guarino

Winner: Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton continues to be a dominant force in the construction world in the US, notably in its heartland of Georgia. The team is routinely hired to handle disputes involving some of the biggest and most complicated infrastructure projects across the country, acting for contractors, owners, engineers and architects. It has undertaken a range of significant matters of late, including representing contractor Kiewit-Turner in a dispute with the Department of Veterans' Affairs concerning a new Colorado medical center.

Corporate Crime & Gov’t Investigations

Covington & Burling LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Jones Day
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP

Winner: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Gibson Dunn is consistently recognized for its expert corporate crime practice, fielding a market-leading trial bench complemented by deep regulatory experience. Its international presence marks it out as a first choice for corporate giants facing investigations conducted by multiple agencies. The breadth of its coverage is reflected in its representation of clients as diverse as UBS, DraftKings and Petrobras, all of which seek global-wide expertise in navigating an increasingly complex regulatory environment. Its recent caseload exemplifies its versatile handling of internal investigations into issues such as Bridgegate, parallel criminal and civil proceedings involving market-rigging claims and FCPA compliance, and high-stakes trials.

Corporate Crime & Gov’t Investigations Client Service Award

Winner: Ropes & Gray LLP

Impressed interviewees are quick to note that “client service at Ropes & Gray is number one, and nothing interferes with this commitment.” Its “knowledge of the law and equal measure of dedicated client advocacy” is testament to the dedication the firm shows to representing entities such as pharmaceuticals, financial institutions and retail giants in regulatory investigations and enforcement actions. This expert corporate crime practice attracts a loyal client base that attests that “Ropes & Gray is completely resourced to handle the gamut of legal tasks and leaves not a single detail to chance.”

Corporate/M&A

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
White & Case LLP
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Winner: Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Skadden is a globally recognized force in the M&A space, offering cutting edge expertise in America's key markets and perennially taking a leading role in the kind of industry-defining corporate transactions that make headlines across the world. Among the many remarkable achievements of its unparalleled year is the firm's representation of the independent members of the board of directors of Time Warner Cable in connection with its acquisition by Charter Communications, a $78.7 billion deal that has led to the creation of one of the nation's largest telecommunications companies.

Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Groom Law Group
Latham & Watkins LLP

Winner: Latham & Watkins LLP

Latham & Watkins caps off an impressive year in the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation space with this award. It remains a key player in the California and New York markets in particular, deploying a strong team of highly experienced as well as up-and-coming practitioners. The team has advised on executive compensation matters on some of the world's largest transactions of late, including acting for Allergan on its $73 billion acquisition by Actavis, and for Avago Technologies on its purchase of Broadcom for $37 billion.

Energy/Projects: Oil & Gas

Baker Botts LLP
Caldwell Boudreaux Lefler
King & Spalding LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
Vinson & Elkins LLP

Winner: Vinson & Elkins LLP

This outstanding energy group maintains its position at the vanguard of the oil and gas market. Its attorneys are celebrated for their comprehensive knowledge and experience across the regulatory landscape and draw a wealth of acclaim for their counsel on FERC and DOE compliance matters. The team earns plaudits for its strength in the transactional space as well, excelling in the both the downstream and upstream markets, and also comes recommended for its counsel on LNG projects. The group was recently retained by BG North America to advise on regulatory issues raised by the development of an LNG liquefaction facility at Lake Charles, Louisiana, which included representations before both the DOE and FERC.

Energy/Projects: Power (Including Renewables)

Chadbourne & Parke LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Winner: Chadbourne & Parke LLP

This highly impressive team commands an excellent reputation in the power market and features a group of talented attorneys who are acclaimed for their depth of experience, commercial understanding and first-rate client service. The practice is an excellent destination for high-profile transactions and project financings and maintains a stellar track record for its expertise in the renewables space. Recent work has seen it act for NextEra in its acquisition of Oncor Electric Delivery Company from Energy Futures Holding, and provide counsel to Ormat Technologies concerning its public exchange offer for outstanding shares in Ormat Industries.

Environment

Arnold & Porter LLP
Beveridge & Diamond PC
Crowell & Moring LLP
Hunton & Williams LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Sidley Austin LLP

Winner: Beveridge & Diamond PC

This highly-esteemed boutique enjoys a fantastic reputation for its breadth of expertise across the full spectrum of environmental matters. It is regularly engaged by the world's largest companies for its adept advice on complex regulatory issues and also maintains a superb track record for its advocacy in high-profile environmental litigation. In a recent highlight, the group provided counsel to Union Station Redevelopment Corporation concerning environmental compliance issues in order to gain approval from the Federal Railroad Administration for the $10 billion, 20+ year transformation of the station.

Finance

Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP

Winner: Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP

A preeminent finance practice acting at the forefront of the market, Davis Polk & Wardwell continues to be a go-to firm for the world's leading financial institutions and corporate clients and draws particular praise for its excellent client service. The firm is well-equipped to handle the most complex domestic and international transactions and maintains an excellent reputation for its investment grade acquisition finance work. The group is additionally acclaimed for its strength in leveraged financing and also is also noted for its adroit handling of restructurings and recapilizations. Among the firm's recent highlights is its handling of $4.5 billion worth of credit facilities on behalf of the lead arrangers and administrative agent in the finance of Galleria Co's split-off of brands from Procter & Gamble.

Financial Services & Securities Regulation

Arnold & Porter LLP
BuckleySandler LLP
Covington & Burling LLP
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
WilmerHale

Winner: Sidley Austin LLP

Over recent years, Sidley Austin has gone from strength to strength in the securities regulatory space, expanding its team with a number of hugely impressive lateral hires and positioning itself as a true market leader for the broker dealer industry. This year has been no exception, with the overwhelming message of Wall Street insiders being that the group's extraordinarily deep bench marks it out as a go-to shop for both compliance and enforcement matters. The team's impressive client roster contains such industry luminaries as Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Credit Suisse.

Healthcare

Epstein Becker & Green PC
Hogan Lovells US LLP
Hooper Lundy & Bookman PC
Jones Day
McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP

Winner: Hogan Lovells US LLP

In an increasingly competitive healthcare market, Hogan Lovells remains a powerhouse of regulatory strength. It operates on an impressive nationwide scale, offering depth in key industry hubs such as DC, New York and Florida, and fielding additional capabilities in the pharmaceutical space. Regular involvement in reimbursement disputes, False Claims Act investigations and transactions sees the firm retained by major providers and blue-chip life science clients such as LabCorp, the American Hospitals Association and UnitedHealthcare. Its traditional healthcare practice is enhanced by cutting-edge involvement in areas such as privacy, antitrust and policy concerns.

Insurance

Covington & Burling LLP
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Jones Day
Latham & Watkins LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Squire Patton Boggs
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

Winners: Debevoise & Plimpton LLP (Insurer) and Latham & Watkins LLP (Policyholder)

Insurer:
In the words of one insurance industry insider, the work of this elite firm “stands among the best in the U.S.,” while another states that “they have a finger on the pulse in terms of where the market is at the time.” The Debevoise team stands out from its peers this year after excelling in a number of the most complex matters of the last twelve months. Perhaps most notable has been its outstanding representation of EXOR, acting as insurance M&A counsel in the contested $6.9 billion takeover of PartnerRe.

Policyholder:
This highly respected practice is named as the winner of our Insurance: Policyholder category after prevailing in one of the most widely discussed and potentially far reaching cases of recent years in Fluor Corporation v. Superior Court. The California Supreme Court's ruling in the case overturned its 2003 decision in Henkel Corporation v. Hartford, in which it had supported insurance companies' rights to enforce anti-assignment duties, and has widely been viewed as a landmark decision that will enable the transfer of insurance rights amid corporate acquisitions and reorganizations.

Intellectual Property

Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu PC
Irell & Manella LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Sidley Austin LLP

Winner: Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Kirkland & Ellis has long been considered a market leader in the IP space, and has had yet another outstanding year. In keeping with the firm's litigation strength, many standout pieces of work have been in contentious matters, most notably with respect to the technology industry. The team acts for clients of the caliber of Samsung, Cisco and Oracle, with one particularly grateful client affirming: “I am consistently wowed by the work product I get from them.”

Intellectual Property Client Service Award

Winner: Sidley Austin LLP

Sidley Austin's Intellectual Property team wins this Client Service award following high praise from blue chip clients across the United States. One hugely impressed interviewee told Chambers: "I'm very impressed with the team. From their initial case analysis, and their willingness to consider non-traditional fee agreements to their strategic advice and their work product - all has been first rate." Another source reported that the firm was "able to staff cases in a cost effective manner and coordinate resources across multiple offices, making it all seamless to clients."

International Trade

Arnold & Porter LLP
Cassidy Levy Kent LLP
Covington & Burling LLP
Hogan Lovells US LLP
King & Spalding LLP
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Winner: Covington & Burling LLP

This dominant international trade group continues to act at the forefront of the market and is renowned for its outstanding work across CFIUS, export controls, economic sanctions, trade remedies and policy issues. The team acts for a wealth of industry-leading clients and draws particular plaudits for its excellent client service and comprehensive understanding of the nuances in trade law. In a recent highlight, the group successfully advised Union Pacific on an antidumping and countervailing duty dispute concerning the import of intermodal containers from China.

Investment Funds

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP

Winner: Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton enjoyed a great year in the private equity funnd formation space, acting on some of the most prominent matters in the marketplace. The group services a hugely impressive stable of clients, notably excelling on behalf of TPG, for which it has formed funds with an aggregate value approaching $20 billion. Other leading private equity firms that rely on Cleary include KKR, The Blackstone Group and The Carlyle Group.

Investment Funds Client Service Award

Winner: Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

Clients of Fried Frank's investment funds practice are united in their praise of the team's outstanding commitment to client service, with many citing it as being just as important as the group's technical excellence to their choice of the firm. In the words of one ebullient interviewee: “Fried Frank's client service is the best I've ever seen. The responsiveness is amazing, the partners and the associates are all incredible experts in the subject matter and extra-commercial in the advice they give, and the work product is second to none."

Labor & Employment

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Jones Day
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC
Proskauer Rose LLP
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Winner: Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

An exceptional labor & employment group with a deep bench of renowned specialists in offices spread across the country. Morgan Lewis receives extensive plaudits for its representation of household names in big-ticket disputes, with one notable example being its Supreme Court victory on behalf of Amazon.com in a wage dispute over security screening time. Its expertise in contentious matters spans whistle-blower litigation, class actions and discrimination actions. The team has also has a wealth of experience providing employment counseling, as well as advising on labor relations and DOL regulatory issues.

Privacy & Data Security

DLA Piper LLP (US)
Hogan Lovells US LLP
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP
Wiley Rein LLP
ZwillGen PLLC

Winner: Morrison & Foerster LLP

This well-established practice group is held in high esteem for its strength across the board in assisting clients to manage information and guard against cybercrime. Its team of specialists is able to mobilize a highly effective response to crisis situations, as evidenced by its recent work with Anthem following its high-profile medical data breach. Morrison & Foerster also maintains its position as a leading authority on complex data transfers, audits and regulatory investigations. Further clients of the firm include prominent global names, such as 21st Century Fox, Adobe and Visa.

Product Liability

Bowman and Brooke LLP
Covington & Burling LLP
King & Spalding LLP
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
Sidley Austin LLP
Venable LLP
Wheeler Trigg O'Donnell LLP
Williams & Connolly

Winner: Williams & Connolly

This preeminent litigation outfit continues to be consistently praised for its excellence in the most contentious product liability cases. Washington, DC-based Williams & Connolly frequently acts as lead trial counsel for clients in disputes relating to well-publicized pharmaceutical and medical device defects. The firm has defended American Medical Systems in multiple lawsuits concerning complications from the use of pelvic mesh implants. Its impressive roster of clients also includes Pfizer, Takeda Pharmaceutical and BP. The team also demonstrates key aptitude representing clients in litigation relating to industrial accidents and chemical spillages.

Product Liability Client Service Award

Winner: Venable LLP

Venable attracts a standout client base in the product liability space, ably representing leading medical device manufacturers and pharmaceuticals in high-stakes proceedings across the US. Its “very client-oriented” approach garners particular praise, as does its ability to “anticipate needs” and provide “tremendous value.” As interviewees attest, the "very responsive and dedicated" team consistently demonstrates a commitment to client satisfaction that complements its wealth of industry expertise and deep trial bench, securing its position as a well-regarded player on the national stage.

Real Estate

Dechert LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Greenberg Traurig LLP
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Winner: Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Recognized as one of the leading lights in real estate matters across the US, New York-based Sullivan & Cromwell continues to impress for the full range of high-value deals, including financings and restructurings involving residential and commercial properties. Significant clients of the firm include Goldman Sachs, Barclays Capital and AT&T, the latter of which the team recently assisted in its sale of 595 cellular towers to Vertical Bridge Holdings, a transaction valued at approximately $159 million.

Real Estate Client Service Award

Winner: Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

“The most internally-integrated, client-focused and effective firm we use,” was one of the many enthusiastic responses provided by satisfied clients, praising Simpson Thacher's real estate offering. The quality of the bedside manner on hand was a recurring theme among commentators, who commended the team's “positive energy and sense of humor, adding: “They take stressful situations and create ease.” Further positives include the “high senior partner engagement” received and drive to achieve the best possible result: “They are focused on getting the right outcome for us and the deal.”

Tax

Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered
Latham & Watkins LLP
Miller & Chevalier Chartered
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Winner: Miller & Chevalier Chartered

Miller & Chevalier's outstanding abilities in tax controversy matters have been showcased again this year in its high-profile representations of Hewlett-Packard, Washington Mutual and Intel, among other clients. The team's most significant recent mandates include its work with Starr International in a complex suit concerning US tax treaty benefits. Extensive praise is also bestowed upon these practitioners for their expertise in tax planning, reorganizations and transactions. The tax group stands out further for its strong relationships with government agencies, with a number of former IRS lawyers working at the firm.

Litigation: Business Trial Lawyers (individuals)

David M. Bernick - Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
John C. Hueston - Hueston Hennigan LLP
William F. Lee – WilmerHale
Mike McKool - McKool Smith
Diane P. Sullivan - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Beth Wilkinson - Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz

Winner: David M. Bernick - Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

David Bernick is widely acclaimed as a consummate trial lawyer whose phenomenal courtroom prowess sees him regularly appear on behalf of major life sciences, tobacco and technology corporates. Examples of his high-stakes representations include his recent defense of Dow Chemical in a billion-dollar antitrust class action, arguing successfully over the course of a seven-week jury trial for the dismissal of a large portion of the claim. This well-evidenced antitrust expertise sits alongside his mastery of complex product liability and mass tort disputes, M&A litigation and environmental claims. Bernick is a new addition to Paul Weiss's New York office.

Litigation: White-Collar Crime (individuals)

Susan E. Brune - Brune Law PC
Mark S. Cohen - Cohen & Gresser LLP
Gary Lincenberg - Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks, Lincenberg & Rhow PC
Aaron R. Marcu - Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP
Matthew I. Menchel - Kobre & Kim
Paul Schectman – Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
David Schertler – Schertler & Onorato LLP
Debra Wong Yang - Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Winner: Debra Wong Yang - Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Standout white-collar expert Debra Wong Yang is at the forefront of Gibson Dunn's corporate crime practice, drawing on a stellar career in public office that includes serving as US Attorney for the Central District of California, Assistant US Attorney and state judge. This prosecutorial experience complements her handling of internal and external investigations, as well as multijurisdictional compliance reviews and monitorships. She played a key role in the firm's investigation into the involvement of Governor Chris Christie and his office in the Bridgegate scandal. Her recent caseload extends to defeating threats of criminal prosecution and advising wide-ranging industry stalwarts on FCPA compliance.