The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Luna Barrington, Partner—Litigation
Partner Luna Barrington is an up-and-coming trial attorney with experience guiding clients through their most challenging legal and reputational issues, whether they be in the antitrust, commercial, or products spaces. Luna has a distinguished track record in litigating class actions, where she has achieved victories at all phases of litigation, including trial. Recently, Luna was recognized as a Future Star by Benchmark Litigation.
Luna is extremely active in firm and other professional organizations’ mentoring, diversity, and development initiatives. She is a co-leader of AsianAttorneys@Weil, the firmwide affinity group dedicated to the recruitment, retention, and professional development of Asian attorneys, and a member of the leadership development program at the Asian American Bar Association in New York. She was recently appointed as co-chair of AABANY’s Litigation Committee.
Prior to joining the firm, Luna served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard M. Berman, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, where she was a member of the Hastings Business Law Journal. Luna received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
I am a partner in the firm’s Complex Commercial Litigation practice, where I represent clients in high-stakes litigation, including consumer class actions, antitrust, contract disputes, and mass torts. I also have extensive experience at trial and in multidistrict litigations in state and federal courts across the country.
What types of clients do you represent?
I represent clients across a broad spectrum of industries—including consumer products, e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, metals and mining, and food services—in their most challenging and bet-the-company matters. Some of my current and past clients include ArcelorMittal USA, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Farmers Insurance, Johnson & Johnson, Serta Simmons, eBay, and Sanofi.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I’m typically involved in disputes that really target my clients’ core businesses and reputations. My work has included the successful defense of one of the few antitrust class actions tried to verdict in recent years—with nearly a billion dollars in damages at stake—on behalf of C&S Wholesale Grocers in Minnesota federal court, and successfully sustaining that victory before the Eighth Circuit; an Eleventh Circuit win for Farmers Insurance in an ongoing industrywide antitrust MDL targeting insurance carriers’ methods for reimbursing auto body shops across the country; complete defense verdicts for Johnson & Johnson in talc mass tort cases in New Jersey that turned the tide for the company as it prepared to litigate and try thousands more cases nationwide; and a landmark pro bono case in Arizona federal court that, following a multi-week bench trial, overturned an unconstitutional and racist ban on Mexican-American studies in Arizona public schools.
How did you choose this practice area?
When I clerked on the federal court, I was involved in a wide variety of cases, and I liked the challenge of learning new areas of the law. Weil’s Litigation department has a reputation for handling “bet the business” litigation and the most complex cases, which often involve issues of first impression or high stakes. It is incredibly exciting and challenging work.
The firm’s Complex Commercial Litigation practice, in particular, allowed me to create a more generalist, individual practice. I have found that as every litigation is different, it is critically important to be able to showcase a broad range of success in complex, high-dollar-value cases, regardless of the nature of the allegations. As a generalist, I am able to specialize in high-stakes trials without limiting them to specific practice areas.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
A typical day for me involves meetings with my teams—now conducted mostly over Zoom—where we discuss the status of our cases and strategize on next steps. I also spend time throughout the day advancing my clients’ interests and business goals, including counseling them on legal or case developments and corresponding with opposing counsel on various aspects of cases. Otherwise, I’m reviewing and finalizing work product with my teams and preparing for depositions and/or court conferences.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
I would strongly recommend any young lawyer wishing to pursue a generalist trial practice to pursue a state or federal clerkship. There is no better way to learn the ins and outs of litigation than through working with a judge. I also encourage young associates to be proactive with their careers and to look for opportunities to develop their practical skills. A great way to do that is through your mentor. I am fortunate to have a mentor who has always looked for opportunities for me and helped to facilitate them for me when I sought them out myself. My mentor has also taught me how to be an effective lawyer with a courtroom presence.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area?
I think there is a general misconception that BigLaw lawyers don’t go to trial, but that hasn’t been my experience. I have done a trial nearly every year that I’ve been at the firm, and it’s been incredibly exciting and challenging. Although my typical day doesn’t involve being on trial, there are enormous opportunities to get trial experience in big firms like ours and in practice areas like mine.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
One of the unique aspects of working at Weil is the level of exposure and opportunities presented to associates at every phase of litigation—but especially at trial. Weil’s trial resume is second-to-none, and Weil takes pride in instilling in every litigation attorney—regardless of level—a trial-ready approach. Our innovative associate training program allows senior practitioners to convey trial skills to junior lawyers. And our attitude toward staffing associates on trial teams presents them with primary responsibility over pleadings, dispositive motions, discovery management, witness preparation, and witness examination, among other skills. This exposure provides junior associates the experience and aptitude needed to excel at an early stage in their professional careers.
What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?
Summer associates in our practice are treated as regular members of the team. Summer associates are placed on case teams and are at the table when strategies are discussed and incoming projects are divvied up. Integrating them in this way enables them to see every aspect of a case during their time at the firm and understand how they interplay with one another and the client’s overall business goals—which isn’t commonly taught in law school. If something is happening on their case, they will be a part of it.
In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice? How have you adjusted to lawyering in the wake of COVID-19?
The pandemic has obviously required a lot of us to adjust to working from home and meeting over Zoom instead of commuting to the office and sitting in a conference room with our colleagues. And, of course, we have to conduct trials, depositions, and court conferences virtually, but the transition has been fairly smooth. In terms of my actual practice, the cases we see now have a lot to do with business ramifications in the wake of the pandemic, from handling breach of contract issues to counseling on restructuring of debt.