The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Ryan Hartman, Partner, and Yiqing Shi, Associate—Commerical Litigation (2023)
Ryan Hartman represents clients in civil litigation, criminal investigations, and regulatory enforcement actions, and advises companies on risk management, strategic transactions, and compliance. He represents clients in lawsuits, arbitrations, government and internal investigations, regulatory proceedings, and disputes, defeating billions of dollars in potential liability. Ryan’s experience includes litigating cases before federal, state, territorial, bankruptcy, and appellate courts, defending against investigations by enforcement agencies around the world, and representing clients in more than 100 lawsuits. His work spans 40+ countries with clients in energy, technology, financial services, healthcare, and other industries. With extensive experience in private practice and at one of the world's largest energy companies, Ryan combines robust advocacy for clients with a pragmatic and business-oriented approach to managing risk, satisfying regulatory expectations, leveraging technology, enabling transactions, and protecting individuals.
Yiqing Shi focuses on complex commercial litigation, including white collar and product liability actions. Prior to joining the firm, she clerked for the Honorable Pamela K. Chen of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. While attending law school, Yiqing served as the executive managing editor of the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law and served as a judicial extern for the Honorable Debra Ann Livingston of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She is fluent in Mandarin.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Ryan: I represent clients in civil litigation and government investigations. What is great about our litigation practice area is that our lawyers build skill sets, expertise, and experience that enable them to work with clients on a wide range of interesting problems and take ownership of cases much earlier in their careers than their peers at other firms.
Yiqing: I work on a variety of complex civil litigation and investigation matters. Being in the general litigation group allows me the freedom to pick up matters that interest me, regardless of the subject matter. I love the challenge that comes with working on cases that are so different from each other. I could be drafting a personal jurisdiction brief one day and making a presentation to the government the next. This versatility forces me to be open to new concepts and ideas and to always be humble.
What types of clients do you represent?
Ryan: I have the privilege of working with a great team to represent clients that have interesting and impactful businesses in traditional and renewable energy, technology, engineering, telecommunications, and other industries. We also have a thriving pro bono practice at the firm that is an important part of our culture.
Yiqing: I represent a broad range of clients across industries, including life sciences, art, and securities. I relish learning the workings and quirks of different industries. Being in different fields makes the clients and their employees approach issues in vastly different ways. However, I have found that experience with contrasting ways of thinking allows me to adapt to new situations more quickly and effortlessly.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Ryan: My work has involved everything from defeating one of the largest-ever recoveries sought by the SEC, to defending companies in billion-dollar lawsuits, to a fair amount of litigation on behalf of corporate plaintiffs.
Yiqing: I practice across areas. I have worked on bet-the-company complex commercial disputes, as well as product liability cases in states I had never visited before. I have defended clients before federal and state regulators on issues such as securities and consumer protection. Even though I have not been practicing for that long, I am fortunate in the variety of cases with which I have been involved.
How did you choose this practice area?
Ryan: As far back as I can remember, I have liked helping people solve complex problems and fighting hard to protect their interests. Fundamentally, that is what litigation is about, whether with private parties or the government. I also came to Arnold & Porter after serving as an executive and lawyer for one of the world’s largest energy companies and had the opportunity to observe the firm and numerous others as a client. I was thoroughly impressed with the strength of Arnold & Porter’s litigation practice and with how well the team works with each other. In my experience, we have a truly unique team.
Yiqing: The firm allows young litigators to remain in general litigation for their first three years of practice. This policy suited my curiosity about the different practice groups within litigation and allowed me to work on different skills in a range of situations, given the different timeline of every case. For instance, I have been able to draft dozens of briefs when one case is a motion-heavy phase and prepare witnesses for depositions when another is in discovery.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
Ryan: No day is typical here. One day, I might spend time working together with colleagues across offices on strategy, discovery, briefs, or other aspects of cases. Another day, I might be with clients advising them on how they can achieve their objectives. One of the nice things about our firm is the ability for lawyers to work seamlessly across offices on major matters, and for lawyers to have direct access to clients and outstanding development opportunities no matter whether they are in a large or small office.
Yiqing: There is hardly a typical day to speak of. I could be spending a whole day working through a particular thorny legal argument or be jumping from meet and confer calls to team meetings and strategizing on the fly.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Ryan: Fundamentally, when trying to help a new lawyer succeed in this area, I focus on their IQ, EQ, and drive. You have to immerse yourself in the law, know the rules, and develop good judgment and the skill sets needed in your craft as a lawyer. But that is just part of it—you also need the EQ to work collaboratively with other lawyers, empathize with the needs of clients, and be an inclusive leader. And finally, you need the drive to take ownership of your cases and do what is needed to succeed.
Yiqing: I recommend taking as many legal writing opportunities as you can, be it legal writing classes, journals, or internships/externships. Legal writing is obviously crucial to the practice of general litigation; but I have found that it helps train the mind to focus on the key issues and ignore the frills.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Ryan: The general counsel of a major company once told me that Arnold & Porter is full of brilliant lawyers who don’t let it get to their heads. I think that sums it up well. People here do incredible, groundbreaking work for clients, but they are easy to work with and supportive of each other, and let the results speak for themselves.
Yiqing: The versatility. It means that my day to day is never boring and new challenges come every day so that I will never fall into complacency. The variety also allows me to appreciate different industries’ roles in society and gaze into different people’s lives. The great thing about being a lawyer is the ability and the opportunity to reach into every corner of society and apply your skill in some hopefully meaningful way.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
Ryan: One of the great things about our litigation practice is that it is what you make of it. If you want to be on a trial team, depose a witness, or prepare outstanding briefs, there is no shortage of opportunities to do so. You have the opportunity to do things here that even some junior partners do not do at other firms if you focus on what interests you and devote the time needed to do it well.
Yiqing: I have been blessed with the people I work with, who allow me to take on as much as I want while providing ample support. As a result, I routinely draft dispositive motions, dive into the factual record, prepare witnesses for depositions and interviews, and prepare the team for oral arguments.