The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Lynn K. Neuner, Partner, and Jacob Lundqvist, Associate—Litigation
Lynn Neuner is a senior litigation partner with substantial experience in securities, insurance, false advertising, and other complex commercial litigation matters. Named one of Benchmark Litigation’s “Top 10 Female Litigators in America” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers,” Lynn has secured wins in cases ranging from a complex credit-default swap litigation on behalf of Hovnanian Enterprises to a significant Second Circuit victory on behalf of Pfizer in a longstanding false advertising battle to a critically important pro bono lawsuit on behalf of United States veterans. The recipient of dozens of awards and honors, including Crain’s “Leading Women Lawyers in NYC,” Lynn was honored in 2018 as a “Distinguished Leader” by the New York Law Journal. She graduated from Yale Law School in 1992 and from Williams College, summa cum laude, in 1989.
A native of Sweden, Jacob Lundqvist is a junior litigation associate and has worked on a broad range of matters on behalf of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Versum Materials, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Jacob obtained a B.A. from Yale, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in 2015. In 2018, he graduated from Stanford Law School, where he was an editor of the Stanford Law Review, and also obtained a Master of Laws, with distinction, from the University of Vienna.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Lynn: I was trained as a generalist and still am to this day. In a market with increasing specialization, I chose to remain a diversified commercial litigator, and the breadth of cases I handle has made my practice both fascinating and professionally rewarding. My work involves counseling clients daily on a wide variety of legal issues and advising on the best course of action when matters become embroiled. Court is my home away from home, and I’ve handled dozens of trials and appeals in state and federal courts throughout the country, guiding cases through fact and expert discovery and related motion practice. I work very closely with my corporate partners and am regularly brought in to advise on litigation-related concerns in connection with major corporate transactions.
Jacob: Like Lynn, I am also a generalist. My work runs the gamut, from performing document review to drafting letters and briefs to conducting research. In my pro bono cases, I handle everything from the ground up, counseling clients directly and managing all aspects of the litigation.
What types of clients do you represent?
Lynn: Our clients include large financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, mega insurers, tech giants, domestic manufacturers, and individual directors and officers. Over the past few years, I have represented TD Bank, Pfizer, Travelers, Bayer, Merck, Hovnanian, Weight Watchers, Avianca Airlines, CorpBanca, Ingersoll-Rand, and Hay Island Holdings, to name a few. Pro bono work is also a significant priority; I represent a group of United States veterans in a major lawsuit challenging the years-long delays in VA resolution of disability benefits appeals.
Jacob: Since I arrived at the firm in 2018, I’ve worked on litigation matters on behalf of Valeant Pharmaceuticals; Versum Materials; and NN, Inc. In addition, I’ve represented the Natural Resources Defense Council and individual clients seeking unemployment insurance from their former employers on a pro bono basis.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Lynn: I regularly handle all kinds of high-end corporate disputes and contract entanglements, including shareholder litigations, M&A disputes, insurance coverage matters, and false advertising disputes. I also represent pharmaceutical clients that manufacture over-the-counter brands like Advil and Claritin in false advertising disputes, which is a lot of fun.
One case I’m working on now is on behalf of The Toronto-Dominion Bank in connection with the Stanford International Bank litigation, alleged to be the second-largest Ponzi scheme after Madoff’s. Roughly $7.5 billion was lost through an Antiguan bank, which sold certificates of deposit to about 24,000 investors across the globe. We successfully defeated a class certification initiative that sought to certify a global class of investors, and we are now focused on a receiver litigation. Dozens of depositions are currently taking place across several continents.
Jacob: I’m working on a complex securities litigation involving Valeant Pharmaceuticals, and I’m also representing the Board of Pacific Gas & Electric in litigation arising out of wildfires in Northern California. In addition, I’ve worked on several internal investigations on behalf of clients in various industries. Having a diverse practice from day one has been very stimulating.
How did you choose this practice area?
Lynn: Litigation was a natural fit for my passions and abilities. I enjoy reading, analytical thinking, creative problem-solving, and writing. Litigation allows me to deploy my studious tendencies in a more extroverted way, through communication with the court, jury, clients, and adversaries.
Jacob: The advocacy part of litigation is what drew me to this practice area. I enjoy learning a new set of facts and analyzing them to determine what is at the core of the dispute. I also enjoy digging into the law to make the best possible case for our clients.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
Lynn: I don’t think I’ve had a typical day yet! I may begin the day thinking that I’m going to devote myself to reviewing a witness script for an upcoming trial, but two hours into the morning, I get an urgent telephone call about a potential dispute in connection with a contemplated merger working on a tight deadline. Emergency matters come up all the time, as our clients need to try to resolve litigation concerns as quickly and efficiently as possible so that they can get back to business. My days are exciting and fast paced, and I’m lucky to be busy.
Jacob: You never know what the day will bring when you walk into the office, which is part of the fun! I will often switch between drafting pleadings and letters to working on discovery and communicating with clients to brief them on issues where they have asked for our advice.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Lynn: I think it’s very important for students and new lawyers to get as much “on-your-feet” experience as possible. In law school, I was a member of the Barristers’ Union, which gives students the opportunity to learn trial-advocacy skills by assuming the role of attorneys in a simulated jury trial. We prepared witnesses, drafted pre-trial motions, delivered opening and closing statements, and conducted direct and cross examinations. Evidence is also a must for litigators, and for students who intend to practice in BigLaw, they should become well versed in corporations and business law.
Jacob: The ability to share information in a clear and concise way is a key skill for an attorney, so I would take any opportunity to practice your presentation skills. I would also re-commend taking a negotiation workshop.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Lynn: My favorite part of the job is going to trial. It’s the culmination of all the work that we do—the discovery process, the depositions, the briefing, the legal analysis. Trial is our chance to demonstrate to the judge, the tribunal, or the jury why our client has been wronged or why its interests should prevail. At trial, we leverage talent from across the entire team, which gives everyone the chance to shine.
Jacob: I really enjoy absorbing a new set of facts and learning what the client wants, what the law says, and piecing it together to advance our client’s interests. It’s crucial to keep these different aspects in mind. In law school, students are given a fact pattern and a set of governing legal principles. But when you’re working at a firm, you quickly realize that our clients have important commercial interests, and you need to learn how those interests come into play in any given matter and how to achieve the client’s commercial goals in the context of a large business dispute.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area?
Jacob: I would say, especially to people on the fence about litigation, that there are misconceptions about the “personality types” of litigators. In my mind, you don’t need to be a brash or super-aggressive person to succeed in litigation. The keys to becoming a successful litigator are being thoughtful about your work and capable of expressing yourself in a clear way to your colleagues and clients.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
Lynn: Simpson Thacher may offer a different experience because our associates are able to simultaneously handle a securities litigation, an antitrust investigation, a pro bono death penalty case, and a false advertising arbitration. They learn the substantive law in a wide variety of fields while improving their litigation skills and servicing our clients’ needs. I can’t imagine a more diverse array of clients and cases than what we offer here at Simpson.
I’d also add that we are a highly integrated firm, and I call upon the expertise of my colleagues in other practice groups all the time. For example, in the trial I recently completed, I looked to my corporate partners to provide advice about appraisal methodology, which is something they understand intrinsically in a highly nuanced way. And conversely, we litigators are brought into the transactional side of Simpson Thacher’s practice on a daily basis.
Jacob: Our firm is somewhat unique because young lawyers obtain broad experience from day one. Associates are not siloed into one practice area, but instead have the opportunity to work across a multitude of disciplines. Further, our close relationship with the firm’s corporate lawyers is very special. In my M&A litigation work, we rely heavily on the Corporate department, and so I’ve learned to think in a more “commercial” way. The variety of work is gratifying and makes it fun to come to the office every day.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
Lynn: In a recent trial, associates prepared witness scripts, the trial exhibits, and the pre-trial briefs. We also conducted a “mock trial,” and during that process, each associate on the team was responsible for his or her particular witness. During our mock examination, the associate then played the role of the witness—challenging me in the questioning. That sort of role-playing is crucial to our preparation and exploration of insightful lines of inquiry.
Jacob: I’ve been off to the races in terms of representing clients and getting hands-on experience. In my unemployment insurance cases, I’ve conducted hearings before an administrative law judge. And in a very interesting environmental contamination case on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council, I have already taken my first depositions. That litigation is scheduled to go to trial this summer, and I hope to be involved in presenting our client’s case in court.