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Overview

In a litigation practice, lawyers represent clients in a range of disputes, which can be either civil or criminal. Depending on the case, litigators will counsel clients through the pleadings stage, at trial, in alternative dispute resolution, or during internal investigations. Among the tasks that a litigator may perform are researching issues and writing memorandums; doing such discovery work as completing document review, drafting and responding to pleadings, engaging in meet and confers, and taking or defending depositions; preparing for and going to trial; conducting internal investigations; drafting and submitting amicus briefs on behalf of a client or organization, etc. Litigation is a broad career path that offers opportunities to work in a various areas, including—but not limited to—antitrust, appellate, bankruptcy, criminal law, environmental law, general commercial, insurance, housing, human rights, labor and employment, media, patents and intellectual property, product liability and mass torts, securities, white collar, and more. Those within large law firms will often practice general commercial litigation through which they advise companies on their litigation matters. At some law firms, litigators will operate as generalists, taking on a range of matters and not specializing in a specific subspecialty. Many litigators apply to become judicial law clerks to gain insight into the judicial process.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Litigation from real lawyers in the practice area.
Evelyn Cai, Associate • Grace Brier, Partner
Kirkland & Ellis

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Evelyn: The litigation group at Kirkland & Ellis offers a wide variety of practice opportunities. These opportunities range from incredibly complex commercial cases (i.e., antitrust class actions and multi-district litigations) to bankruptcies involving major companies to fast-paced arbitrations and more. Because Kirkland & Ellis follows an open assignment system, litigation associates can—in fact, are encouraged to—work on cases that range in type and subject matter.

Grace: I work on litigation matters that come in the door at various stages of the case, from pre-complaint fact development work through discovery, pre-trial, and trial work. I often find myself working on tasks at all stages of the discovery lifecycle, from scoping the potential facts and relevant witnesses in order to understand the story early in the case, to intensive document, deposition, and expert discovery, to trial preparation and trial.  

What types of clients do you represent?

Evelyn: All thanks to the diversity of cases that Kirkland & Ellis gets, my clients range significantly. On one end of the spectrum, I help represent a Fortune 500 company tackling everything from small breach-of-contract disputes to sprawling class-action suits. On the other end of the spectrum, I recently represented a young mother in her civil suit against state actors. 

Grace: At any given time, I usually represent a varied slate of clients, ranging from large companies to individuals. I have represented defendants in large multi-district litigations, clients facing class action lawsuits, companies navigating chapter 11 bankruptcies, and companies litigating post-bankruptcy disputes. I have also represented individuals or companies who are under investigation by various government bodies.

In my pro bono practice, I have represented individuals on death row in habeas proceedings and evidentiary hearings.  

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Evelyn: I spend most of my time working on breach-of-contract disputes. One was featured in The American Lawyer. In that case—Endless River Tech. v. TransUnion—Kirkland was retained just months before a federal jury trial. With persistent motion practice and creative legal strategy, we were able to turn a $55 million damages claim into a zero damages judgment.  

Pro bono is also very important to me. I was part of a trial team that secured a $19.3 million verdict for a single plaintiff in a Section 1983 case involving sexual abuse at an Illinois female prison. This historic verdict was featured in the Chicago Tribune and The American Lawyer.  

Grace: As a general litigator, I work on many different types of cases. I really appreciate Kirkland’s focus on training its litigators to develop litigation skills early that can be applied across varied issues and matters.   

How did you choose this practice area?

Evelyn: In law school, I gravitated towards the opportunities that put me closest to real trials—working at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Public Defender’s Office. I found these internships to be the most exciting and substantively engaging parts of law school. While I was certain that I wanted to work in litigation, Kirkland also provided me with the flexibility as a summer associate to try out restructuring work and to participate in a mock corporate negotiation. 

Grace: I found myself drawn to the practice area based on discussions with lawyers who practiced in litigation and really seemed passionate about their practice and their cases. I also found that I enjoyed a lot of the litigation-focused classes and skills-based experiences in law school, like mock trial.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Evelyn: A typical day depends heavily on the key cases you are working on and the procedural posture of those cases. When cases are pre-litigation, a normal day would involve critically thinking about case strategy and weighing options informed by case law research. As a case moves on to the fact discovery period, associates are frequently given the opportunity to take and defend depositions. And before a trial, I’m drafting pre-trial motions, preparing exhibits and witness outlines, and jury testing.  

Grace: It’s hard to describe a “typical” day. I tend to be in trial prep or at trial at least once a year, if not more. Of course, those pre-trial and trial days are anything but typical. At other times, cases are in active discovery and involve a lot of travel and depositions as we’re deposing or defending witnesses. Whether we’re on the road or in the office, I’m often checking emails to be sure I’m up to date on the latest case developments, questions, or thoughts from clients or team members, and putting together some to-do lists for myself and my teams. While the days can be unpredictable, the variety keeps them interesting.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Evelyn: At Kirkland & Ellis, associates are given substantive opportunities right out of the gate; taking courses that mirror litigation work, legal writing courses, moot court, or trial advocacy courses are particularly helpful. Clinics typically offer another great opportunity to get stand-up litigation experience while in law school. There is no need to limit yourself to your school’s offerings; volunteering with local legal aid organizations or shadowing attorneys at public defenders’ or prosecutors’ offices can be extremely valuable, too.  

Grace: Get involved in skills-based classes or activities, like moot court or mock trial, and devote the time and energy to those activities to make them as educational—and fun—as possible. I joined a mock trial competition during my 1L year in law school. I really enjoyed it and continued to compete in mock trial competitions throughout law school, which are absolutely some of my favorite memories. It’s a fantastic way to get on-your-feet experience, so much so that Kirkland does a mock trial training program with its litigation associates every year as part of its Kirkland Institute for Trial Advocacy (KITA) training program.  

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Evelyn: Figuring out how to say “no.” Junior associates have so many options—be it with the types of cases they can take on or the partners they can work for—that it can be hard to know when to turn an option down. Being able to focus and commit to a core set of cases will allow you to dig in deeply and provide value to your team. Luckily, this is a challenge for many litigators, and partners at Kirkland & Ellis are more than open to helping associates navigate it.  

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Evelyn: One common misconception about being a litigation associate is that you spend the first several years performing legal research and document review. At Kirkland, this could not be further from the truth. Several friends at the firm were given the opportunity to take depositions when they had only been practicing for one or two years, and others were able to direct examine or cross examine witnesses at trial as juniors.  

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Evelyn: It’s Kirkland’s commitment to excellence. At every step, the firm provides associates with the tools and encouragement to be the best lawyers they can be. This includes formal training programs like the KITA where junior associates can practice running trials in front of a live jury, and robust formal mentoring that starts with summer associates and continues throughout your time at the firm.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Evelyn: With every case, our firm pushes the bounds of litigation further with new strategies and techniques. I’m excited to see how the litigation landscape evolves, but more importantly, the role Kirkland & Ellis plays in that evolution.

Evelyn Cai, Associate, and Grace Brier, Partner—Litigation

Evelyn Cai is a fourth-year litigation associate at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago, focusing on litigating complex commercial cases. She has represented clients at both trial and appellate levels in suits ranging from single-plaintiff claims to far-reaching antitrust class actions. Evelyn graduated from Yale Law School and received her B.A. in Economics and Philosophy from the University of Chicago.  

Grace Brier is a litigation partner in the Washington, DC, office of Kirkland & Ellis. Grace’s practice focuses on complex civil disputes in federal courts, state courts, and arbitrations across the country. She has experience representing clients in matters involving contract disputes, class actions, fraud claims, restructuring matters, and government-facing litigation and investigations. Grace also maintains an active pro bono practice.

Daniel Zaheer, Partner—Intellectual Property & Technology Litigation
Kobre & Kim

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I focus on high-impact intellectual property disputes, with a particular emphasis on patent and trade secrets matters with a cross-border element or in which my clients are pitted against major multinationals. Kobre & Kim’s conflict-free model and international footprint uniquely positions us to provide special value to clients seeking to protect their innovations against infringement and misappropriation.

What types of clients do you represent?

I’m privileged to represent innovators from government, startup, and academic backgrounds, as well as large publicly traded companies. As you would expect from our firm’s global model, my clients hail from North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. For example, I’m especially proud to have represented the Government of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, in protecting its groundbreaking wireless and biotech inventions.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

In addition to my work for CSIRO, examples of my patent litigation matters include representing a European engineering and design firm in asserting network infrastructure patents against several large U.S. companies and representing an Illinois-based startup against leading consumer electronics OEMs in relation to a patent on mobile device architecture. My recent trade secret work has included the successful defense of a Korean pharmaceuticals company against a competitor in relation to allegations concerning botulinum toxin processing techniques and bringing a suit on behalf of a U.S. life sciences company against former employees for misappropriation of patent rights to a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. I also have an active technology-related commercial litigation practice outside of the patent and trade secret contexts. For example, I defended IBM against breach of license and copyright claims brought by a former supplier, which resulted in summary judgment on all claims and a court order that the other side pay a substantial portion of IBM’s fees.

How did you decide to practice in your area?

I began my career as a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, where my judge’s docket was filled with complex and fascinating patent and other technology-centric disputes. I continued to work on intellectual property matters in the ensuing years as an associate at Quinn Emanuel and as a clerk on the Ninth Circuit. But I had a yearning to hone the craft of trying cases to juries, so I took a job as a trial attorney for the San Francisco City Attorney’s office. It was there that I learned how to digest difficult legal and factual concepts for consumption by laypeople. When I later returned to the private sector, I realized that I could bring unique value to my clients by leveraging my trial experience to solve one of the most difficult problems confronted by technology lawyers: how to translate dense and complex technical matters so that they can be understood by judges and juries. I’ve built my practice around that value, combining my love for trial advocacy with a lifelong interest in science and technology.

What is a typical day or week like in your practice area?

I am fortunate to see tremendous variation from day to day. My days may include interviews with clients or witnesses, meetings with experts, developing strategy with a client or with my excellent Kobre & Kim colleagues, or digging into an engineering text to develop my understanding of the science underlying my cases. Of course, I also relish the nuts and bolts of lawyering: taking depositions, writing briefs, arguing motions, or presenting at trial.

What is the best thing about your practice area?

In addition to the great pleasure of working with tremendous clients and the rush that comes with a trial-focused practice, I enjoy that I am constantly learning about new technological disciplines across the whole of the scientific continuum. This not only satisfies my natural intellectual curiosity, it also allows me to tell my clients’ stories in a way that is accessible and compelling.

What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?

One of the pitfalls of high-stakes IP litigation is that opposing lawyers sometimes have an instinct to fight tooth and nail on every issue, even on minor points that are likely to be meaningless to the end result. This can lead to unnecessary contentiousness. It is important, and sometimes challenging, to not be drawn into a wasteful tit-for-tat but instead to maintain a clear-eyed view of the client’s goals and the shortest path to reach them.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Find a way to get trial experience. Every day in my practice, I encounter lawyers on the other side who have never been to trial and, as a result, lack a sound understanding of how to prepare a case for trial. Discovery is not an end unto itself, but many lawyers fall into the bad habit of treating it that way.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area? What do you wish you had known before joining your practice area?

I often hear from non-IP lawyers that one needs a Ph.D. in order to be an effective patent lawyer. They don’t realize that technical knowledge is not valuable unless you can use it to be a persuasive advocate for your client. Some of the strongest patent lawyers in our profession have liberal arts backgrounds and virtually no academic training in the scientific disciplines in which they practice. But they possess the communication and strategic abilities to be fantastic patent lawyers. Their lack of technical knowledge might even be an asset, as they can more easily translate the science to judges and juries.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm, and how has it evolved since you have been at the firm?

My Kobre & Kim colleagues include lawyers working in subject matters that may, on the surface, seem far afield from IP litigation—including white collar criminal defense, trusts litigation, financial services litigation, and international judgment enforcement. But during my time at the firm, we have come to realize that our practices have substantial overlap. An IP client may obtain a judgment against a Chinese company that requires a sophisticated enforcement strategy; a creditor in a bankruptcy might need to determine if the debtor’s IP assets can be monetized; or a company accused of trade secret theft may also draw the attention of prosecutors, requiring an internal investigation.

What activities do you enjoy when you are not in the office, and how do you make time for them?

I enjoy spending time with my family, in particular, hiking among the redwoods or exploring the rest of the San Francisco area. It certainly is a challenge to be the best lawyer and father/husband I can be. But I’ve found that both are possible so long as I keep a well-organized calendar and stay disciplined about sticking to it.

Daniel Zaheer advises clients in high-stakes litigation with a focus on patent infringement, trade secret, and other intellectual property disputes. Mr. Zaheer’s practice centers on enforcing intellectual property rights and defending against charges of infringement in a variety of industries, including wireless communication systems, mobile device interfaces, biotechnology, and mobile applications.

Prior to joining Kobre & Kim, Mr. Zaheer practiced at Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP. Earlier in his career, Mr. Zaheer served as a law clerk to the Honorable Charles R. Breyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and the Honorable Raymond C. Fisher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Mr. Zaheer also served as deputy city attorney for the City and County of San Francisco and practiced at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges LLP.

Walter H Hawes IV, Associate—Litigation
MoloLamken LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

MoloLamken focuses exclusively on high-stakes litigation. The firm’s practice is nationwide and often involves cross-border issues. We concentrate on complex commercial litigation, white collar work, and intellectual property matters at every level of the judicial system, from trial courts to the Supreme Court of the United States. The firm does not have strictly defined practice groups.  Lawyers across the firm routinely work on civil and criminal matters, appellate and trial-level cases, and on both sides of the “v,” representing plaintiffs and defendants. The firm strongly believes that high-stakes advocacy has more to gain than to lose from expertise across a wide array of substantive practice areas. We say we’re advocates first and subject matter specialists second.

What types of clients do you represent?

MoloLamken’s clients span the globe and reflect the firm’s breadth of practice. We are relatively conflict free compared to large law firms, enabling us to pursue a variety of opportunities. We represent Fortune 500 companies, hedge funds, and private equity firms as both plaintiffs and defendants. We represent foreign sovereigns, patent holders, entrepreneurial startups, and household Wall Street firms. Through the firm’s white collar practice, we also represent a variety of prominent individuals, including legislators, high-ranking federal and state officials, and an array of CEOs and C-suite executives in congressional, criminal, and civil matters. On any given day, MoloLamken attorneys might try a nationwide class action, defend an internationally renowned executive in a criminal prosecution, and argue the merits of an inventor’s intellectual property rights in the U.S. Supreme Court. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

My personal practice reflects the firm’s varied workload. At the appellate level, I’ve argued issues before the U.S. Solicitor’s General’s office, briefed merits cases before the United States Supreme Court, and worked on a variety of federal appeals concerning patent law, criminal law, civil procedure, and antitrust. In one case, we successfully defended on appeal the outright dismissal of a complaint. In another, we secured a reversal on mandamus of an unfavorable district court ruling. I am also part of teams representing numerous executives and high-profile individuals in criminal and civil investigations brought by the DOJ, SEC, CFTC, and other federal and state regulators. In one such matter, we enabled several clients to avoid prosecution altogether despite significant focus on them in one of the most high-profile criminal investigations of the past year. In another, we successfully obtained a non-prosecution agreement from the Department of Justice on behalf of a banking executive.

How did you choose this practice area?

MoloLamken was an obvious choice. Coming out of my second clerkship, I wanted my practice to embrace some of the things I loved about clerking. I valued the comradery of chambers, the varied substantive docket, and the no-holds-barred intensity that were features of my clerkships. I wanted a serious workplace with well-adjusted people where I could grow through hands-on experience. And if that wasn’t specific enough, I wanted to work across substantive practice areas. MoloLamken was the only place in the country that fit the bill. Nowhere else allowed associates to work on Supreme Court merits cases and white collar criminal matters simultaneously, much less actively encouraged that broad practice as a means of associate development.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Each day brings its own surprises. Because we work on a wide variety of matters at all stages of litigation—from investigating a complaint to final appeal—attorneys have to employ different skills on an hour-to-hour basis. On any given day, I might prepare a client pitch, interview a witness in an investigation, present to the DOJ, or draft an appellate brief. The firm works in small teams and is highly collaborative across all three offices. While we avoid the large, weekly update meetings that weigh down larger case teams, we communicate often. I am virtually always calling colleagues across the firm’s three offices to leverage their expertise and experience. Very little work is ever unnecessarily duplicated as a result, and no experience goes unutilized. That dynamic makes the firm feel interconnected, even though we often work in teams of twos and threes.  

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Develop oral and written advocacy skills. Those skills are the currency of litigation, and they are not simply taught. You must find ways to practice them. I would encourage law students to participate in clinics, trial advocacy programs, moot court teams, writing competitions, and any other experiential learning opportunities they can find. Junior associates should explore bar association programs, inns of court, and other formal and informal professional groups that will provide similar opportunities to further develop their skills. Attorneys at large firms looking to move to a litigation boutique should also seek out matters where they will have an opportunity to take ownership of a whole case or a substantial piece of one. Learning how to simultaneously manage strategic issues, make judgment calls, and execute on specific legal tasks will help emulate the responsibilities those associates will have at a boutique like MoloLamken.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

The most challenging aspects of practicing at MoloLamken are also the parts I enjoy the most. No two cases are alike, which requires associates to constantly employ a wide range of skills. Attorneys must frequently shift between managing complicated discovery disputes, engaging with clients, drafting briefs, and fielding calls from opposing counsel or the government. The firm’s small teams also require associates to think big and small simultaneously. Even at a junior level, associates are required to make judgment calls and develop case strategy. That high-level thinking requires an appreciation for a variety of legal and practical interests. But attorneys are also required to be detailed oriented in executing specific assignments and understanding the factual and legal issues unique to each case. Luckily, the demands of the firm’s challenging practice are tempered by working with thoughtful mentors who are more than willing to invest time and resources in associates.   

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Unlike many law firms, MoloLamken hires associates with the expectation that they will become partners. It makes investments in its attorneys, both personal and professional, with that goal in mind. And it lives up to the promise. While not every associate makes partner, the firm regularly promotes from within. The business model is centered around developing talented attorneys and having them continue to build on the firm’s success as partners. That commitment generates low attrition rates. But when attorneys do leave, it is usually to serve in high-profile government positions or pursue unique opportunities such as working in-house at cutting-edge startups. One example is that an attorney recently left to become the Solicitor General of Indiana. While we would have loved for him to stay, it is hard to begrudge anyone that opportunity. 

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

MoloLamken’s commitment to attorney development is unique. The firm adheres to the edict that lawyers learn by doing. And it provides an excellent education. From day one, associates can expect to be handed substantive, on-your-feet opportunities. In my first month, on two separate matters, I had significant speaking roles in advocacy presentations to the U.S. Solicitor General’s office and leaders in the DOJ’s Criminal Division. That early experience set the tone for the rest of my time at the firm, where I’ve regularly had a significant role in court hearings, advocacy presentations, and depositions. Few places make such an effort to put associates and junior lawyers in the spotlight, as opposed to the back drafting room. That approach is also cyclical. Because junior partners at MoloLamken have generally benefitted from that same development, they often have far more first-chair experiences than counterparts at other firms. As a result, they are eager to provide high-quality substantive opportunities to associates.   

How is practicing litigation in a boutique different from practicing in a large law firm?

There are too many differences to count. Unlike large law firms, where practice groups often depend on large institutional clients or are limited to certain types of matters, MoloLamken has the flexibility to pursue a wider variety of complex disputes. The firm is largely conflict free, enabling it to pursue quality contingency work, represent high-profile individuals, and engage in other work that is usually off-limits to larger firms. The firm also avoids the hyper-specialization that usually comes with the size of today’s largest law firms. The greatest differences, however, are felt on an interpersonal level. Rather than having numerous tiers of attorneys and a corporate bureaucracy, MoloLamken employs a lean and flat structure, where the founding partners are personally invested in the firm’s cases, its management, and associate development. That structure puts more organizational responsibilities on the senior members of the firm. But it results in a collegial, tight-knit environment, where even the most junior attorney regularly interacts with the most senior partners—often working together on case teams without any intermediaries. Those close ties build trust and genuine friendships across the firm, which are critical to our success both inside and outside the courtroom. 

Walter Hawes’s practice focuses on white collar criminal defense, complex commercial disputes, and appeals.  He litigates in a variety of federal and state forums, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Mr. Hawes also represents clients in criminal, civil, and congressional investigations. 

Mr. Hawes regularly advocates for clients in court and before high-ranking government decision makers, including the U.S. Solicitor General’s office and other components of DOJ leadership. His experience covers a broad range of subject matter, including administrative and constitutional law, criminal law, antitrust, and intellectual property.

Prior to joining MoloLamken, Mr. Hawes served as a law clerk to the Honorable Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and then-Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Mr. Hawes previously worked as a litigation associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York City.

Jessica Carey, Litigation Department Co-Chair • Jaren Janghorbani, M&A Litigation Group Co-Chair
Paul, Weiss

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Jessica: I defend clients in their most threatening and sensitive regulatory and criminal matters and internal investigations, including regarding financial crime (anti-money laundering, economic sanctions, anti-corruption) and trading and markets. I also handle the litigation that often results from an investigation, including shareholder actions, and a wide variety of complex commercial disputes.

Jaren: I am chiefly a trial lawyer, handling all kinds of high-stakes disputes, including transaction-related matters—shareholder challenges and disputes among companies themselves—mass tort cases, and other complex commercial litigation, such as contract, trade secrets, or False Claims Act cases. I regularly try cases at the Delaware Court of Chancery, the premier venue for corporate disputes, and other courts nationwide.

What types of clients do you represent?

Jessica: I represent a variety of financial services companies, from leading banks, such as Citigroup, UBS/Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and TD Bank; to financial services firms like Virtu Financial and SS&C Technologies; to cryptocurrency firms like Coinbase; to leading private equity firms like General Atlantic. I also represent well-known companies in other industries, including Johnson & Johnson and Regeneron in the pharmaceuticals industry and Glencore in the commodities trading industry.

Jaren: I represent a diverse roster of companies, boards of directors, and board special committees, including, over the years, CBS, Citigroup, Expedia, Merck, media conglomerate Advance Publications, technology services provider Atos, multinational chemicals company Solvay, power company Pattern Energy, and plastic pipe manufacturer JM Eagle.

What types of cases do you work on?

Jessica: I recently co-led an independent, much-publicized review of Credit Suisse’s relationship with Archegos Capital Management following Archegos’ default and Credit Suisse’s related losses. I helped an Asian bank’s U.S. subsidiary resolve multi-regulatory anti-money laundering investigations, and I previously helped Citigroup resolve a multiyear AML investigation on very favorable terms. On the litigation side, I am defending Johnson & Johnson in an Anti-Terrorism Act lawsuit; I helped Glencore win dismissal of a multibillion-dollar antitrust, fraud, and corruption lawsuit; and I helped an SS&C subsidiary resolve a sprawling ERISA matter involving district court litigation and over 400 arbitrations.

Jaren: I represented the former independent directors of CBS in the successful resolution of extremely hard-fought shareholder lawsuits concerning the blockbuster CBS/Viacom merger, and I defended software company Nuance Communications against a shareholder challenge to its $19.7 billion acquisition by Microsoft. I have represented many clients, such as medical device companies Channel Medsystems and Alere, in M&A litigation with counterparties in multibillion-dollar transactions. I also lead several high-value matters for Atos, including a trade secrets dispute in which we defeated a $570 million damages award on appeal, and several high-stakes environmental liability cases for Solvay, including recently resolving a case brought by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

How did you choose this practice area?

Jessica: Early in my career, I was fortunate to be assigned to litigation, arbitration, and investigation matters in several substantive areas, and I got opportunities to argue in court. Upon returning from secondment in London when the financial crisis arrived, I asked the assigning partner if there were any interesting new cases. “Funny you should ask,” he said; “we have just been retained to represent Bear Stearns,” which had experienced a “run on the bank.” For much of the next decade, I worked on numerous investigations, arbitrations, and litigations related to Bear Stearns’ collapse and its aftermath—all of which I was well prepared for, thanks to the breadth of experience I had previously gained. In turn, the Bear Stearns matters helped me develop a significant financial services practice.

Jaren: I completed three clerkships, in district and circuit court and at the Supreme Court. The trial court clerkship, in particular, was the most fun. Then, within my first three months at Paul, Weiss, I got to be part of a trial team. These formative experiences established my love for trial work.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Jessica: There is no typical day. I’m always juggling a variety of tasks, unless I’m preparing for trial, in which case I focus predominantly on trial prep. Otherwise, every day involves some mix of written or oral counseling and advocacy. Regular tasks include editing briefs, discussing strategy, presenting to a government or regulator authority, negotiating with opposing counsel, meeting with my teams, and engaging in various formal or informal mentorship activities.

Jaren: My work frequently involves various dispute resolution-related tasks, such as arguing in court, writing or editing briefs, talking to witnesses, strategizing with my clients and teams, and so on. I also spend a lot of time on—and really enjoy—activities aimed at recruiting summer and junior associates.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Jessica: We are usually retained for novel, complex issues that can’t be addressed with cookie-cutter solutions, so the ability to think critically and creatively is crucial. Practice-specific expertise is important, but there are certain broader skills that are fundamental across practices. Litigator training at Paul, Weiss focuses on these skills—writing, oral advocacy, thinking through a problem, approaching a litigation, conducting or responding to an investigation, taking or defending a deposition, and so on. These fundamental skills will serve you well no matter what practice area you end up specializing in.

Jaren: I also highly recommend clerking. It is a unique opportunity not only to see how judges make decisions but also to observe a broad range of styles and quality of courtroom advocacy. It is invaluable experience that can help you define what kind of litigator you want to be.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Jessica: The famous Billie Jean King quote comes to mind: pressure is a privilege. We represent industry leaders who bring their thorniest problems to us. We often deal with novel issues that do not have an existing solution. And we regularly go up against the most accomplished practitioners in government or the private bar. So, the stakes are usually very high, and we can never phone it in. But it is a privilege, and truly rewarding, to practice at this level—to have the chance to do the most interesting and consequential work alongside the best in your field.

Jaren: I would add that, even when a particular issue looks familiar, you should still not become complacent and assume that, because something worked before, it will work again. The more familiar an issue looks, the more inclined you may be to overlook it, to assume you know how to address it. Don’t! It’s crucial that you always think creatively and critically, as if you’re encountering an issue for the first time.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Jessica: It’s endlessly fascinating! I love the constant intellectual stimulation of working through complex challenges, and the thrill of conquering them; I enjoy the great variety of meaningful work we do as Paul, Weiss litigators; and I cherish the privilege of collaborating on these engagements with colleagues and clients who are at the very top of their game.

Jaren: I echo what Jessica said, and I would also highlight trial work specifically—both the courtroom aspect of it and all the work leading up to it. You travel in lockstep with your teammates through every step of the case, every deadline, every twist, every breakthrough. You work incredibly hard, but once it’s all over, you realize you have forged strong connections with the team that last long after the matter is over. Plus, getting a great result for your client is tremendously gratifying!

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Jessica: At Paul, Weiss, junior lawyers are fully integrated into the case teams and perform a range of important, substantive tasks. Besides conducting legal research and observing senior colleagues—which, in addition to our formal training curriculum, is another great way to learn—they have the opportunity to draft motions, take witness interviews, take and defend depositions, and actively participate in team and client meetings. Pretty early on, they also get to argue motions and first-chair pro bono representations. I had many such opportunities as a junior associate, and they really helped me form meaningful client relationships and develop the skills I rely on to this day.

Jaren: Junior associates also have the opportunity to truly own some specific aspect of a matter, master the case-specific details, and be the team’s experts on the facts and the law. That makes them indispensable colleagues that the team counts on, and it begets more opportunity and responsibility, as Jessica described. There are many meaningful client-facing opportunities and courtroom speaking roles for junior lawyers at Paul, Weiss.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Jessica: People wonder what the emergence of AI will mean for the practice of law. The profession will no doubt evolve, but I expect the evolution will be largely positive. Over the past 20 years, technological advances improved the lives of lawyers, especially junior lawyers, in various ways. Document review is an obvious example of a task that is far less onerous today than it was when I started my career. I expect the next wave of technological innovation to be similarly beneficial.

Jaren: The practice of law has diversified a lot over the past 20 years, so that it more closely resembles society as a whole. I hope this progress continues in the future, leading to a more inclusive environment for all of us in the profession and a more just application of the law within society as a whole.

Co-Chair of Paul, Weiss’s Litigation Department and a member of the firm’s Management Committee, Jessica Carey has deep experience handling a broad range of sensitive criminal, regulatory, and complex commercial litigation matters, particularly on behalf of financial institutions. Jessica regularly guides clients through their most significant white collar matters, including investigations and enforcement actions by several federal and state regulators and congressional committees. An experienced courtroom advocate, Jessica has also won major trials and appeals for a variety of industry-leading clients. She earned her J.D., cum laude, from Fordham University School of Law, and her B.A, summa cum laude, from Boston College.

Co-Chair of Paul, Weiss’s M&A Litigation Group, Jaren Janghorbani is a standout commercial litigator and trial lawyer, especially sought after to first-chair complex, high-stakes M&A litigation and mass tort cases. She has tried multiple multibillion-dollar cases and regularly leads some of the most significant deal-related litigation and other complex shareholder disputes in the Delaware Court of Chancery. Jaren is also a member of the firm’s Management Committee and Co-Chair of the Partnership and Recruitment committees. She received her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her B.A. from Columbia College, and completed three clerkships, including at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Krysta Kauble Pachman, Partner • Ryan Caughey, Partner—Litigation
Susman Godfrey

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Ryan: I am a commercial trial lawyer. I come in when companies or individuals face particularly high value, complex, or important commercial disputes, regardless of the subject matter. In recent years, I have handled a significant number of high-profile, high-value antitrust and competition disputes and trials.

Krysta: I handle all kinds of litigation, with an emphasis on class actions. In the class action space, I’ve handled predominantly data privacy, securities, copyright, and antitrust matters. I’ve also handled several arbitrations and trials pertaining to business disputes. 

What types of clients do you represent?

Ryan: I represent some of the world’s largest companies. I have also won courtroom victories and valuable settlements for small businesses and individuals. Some of my representative clients include Chevron, Live Nation, Veeva Systems, Westlake Corporation, and World Market.

Krysta: I’ve represented many classes of wronged individuals, including victims of child pornography, consumers, and investors. I’ve also represented a number of corporate clients, like Everlywell and Fat Sal’s, and utilities, like Evergy.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Ryan: I have worked on numerous eight-, nine-, and ten-figure disputes for companies nationwide. Over my career, I have been involved in an extraordinary array of high-value, high-stakes cases. I defend environmental lawsuits; I sue for patent infringement; I pursue antitrust class actions; I represent aggrieved shareholders; I represent executives in employment disputes; and I even once handled a high-value divorce!

Earlier this year, I led a six-week-long arbitration pursuing trade secret claims for a major software company and defending against antitrust allegations. Last year, I tried and won a lengthy jury trial involving a nine-figure construction project in North Dakota. Next year, I anticipate handling jury trials involving patent infringement and environmental claims.

Krysta: I have worked on everything from multi-billion-dollar class actions to multi-million-dollar arbitrations and trials. 

How did you choose this practice area?

Ryan: I began my career at Gibson Dunn in Washington, DC, where I explored various practice areas. I learned quickly that what I wanted was to be something that has become all too rare: a generalist trial lawyer. I love trials, and I love learning the minutiae of various industries, companies, and areas of law.

Krysta: I always knew I wanted to be a litigator—that’s what attracted me to Susman Godfrey. I chose class actions in particular because a number of my mentors did a lot of class action work and gave me a ton of experience early on. 

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Ryan: Every day is different. I write a lot, as all litigators do. And I spend a fair bit of time in depositions and in court. I of course spend time with my clients. But the details are always different—my varied practice means that I’m always starting fresh on new issues and areas of law. A common misconception about litigation is that one is always in court or in trial. At Susman Godfrey, we are blessed to be in trial more than most law firm litigators. But still, much of the work is done in the day-to-day work of meticulously combing through documents and putting together extensive written work product. Standing up in court and at trial is fun, but success is not possible without the preparation that comes in advance.

Krysta: To be honest, there are no typical days. I am never bored. One day, I may be meeting with an individual class representative to prepare her for a deposition, and the next day, I am in trial cross-examining a CEO. I am constantly learning new industries and areas of the law, which is one of the best things about this job.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Ryan: Do everything you can to become a superlative writer. If you can unfailingly submit polished, professional, and persuasive writing, you will advance in your career. Every litigation firm in America values top-notch writing. The converse is also true: charisma and stand-up ability are not enough to overcome poor writing skills.

Beyond that, the best advice is to raise your hand. Law is a profession where, no matter how brilliant and fearless you are, you need experience to succeed. So when you have the opportunity in law school to join a litigation clinic, raise your hand. In private practice, raise your hand to take depositions. Grab every court appearance you can. Write the big briefs. A great way to do this is to join a firm—like Susman Godfrey—where you will be given stand-up opportunities early in your career.

Krysta: For those who are still in law school, I highly recommend taking Trial Advocacy. I learned so much in my clinic, and it reinforced my desire to be a litigator. Clerking is also tremendously helpful—not a day goes by in my practice that I don’t reflect on lessons learned while clerking. For those who are out of law school, there’s no substitute for the experience you get actually litigating a case. You need to go to the kind of firm that’s going to give you substantive experience from day one. When I came to Susman, I learned the rule was “if you write it, you argue it,” and I got to spend a lot of time in court as an early associate, and also got the opportunity to take dozens of depositions early on. There’s no better training than being entrusted with responsibility.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Ryan: The most challenging thing is also the most exciting. Everything is always new—even decades into the practice. Some lawyers focus on one client, one area of law, or one issue. We focus on being good trial lawyers. There is always a new judge, a new client, a new industry, or a new question. This can be unsettling. But it also makes you a better lawyer and a more interesting person.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Ryan: The teamwork. I played sports growing up, and there are a lot of parallels between a basketball team and a trial team. There is something unique and magical about working closely, over a long period of time—often away from home—with a small group of brilliant people focused intensely on the same goal: victory. It’s the best part of the job, by far.

Krysta: There are a lot of things I love about being a litigator, but nothing tops trial. I love being in the courtroom and litigating every case as if it is going to go to trial, which means being efficient and focusing on what matters.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Krysta: The sky is the limit. Our associates are the heart of our trial teams and write motions, argue motions, take depositions, and examine witnesses at trial. They contribute fully to cases by having a say in case strategy and are a key part of our firm’s success. And for summer associates, we try to ensure they get the full associate experience by participating fully in trial teams, writing motions, and everything else that comes along with being an associate.

How is practicing litigation in a boutique different from practicing in a large law firm?

Ryan: As someone who used to work at a large law firm, I can say that it’s almost as if a boutique is in a different industry. The community and culture are much tighter and more uniform. And the very structure of a boutique requires giving the newest attorneys intense responsibility for managing cases, handling court appearances, and standing up at trial. And then, our attorneys turn into major business generators earlier in their careers than at most big firms. I attribute that to the responsibility they receive early on.

Krysta: Being at a boutique is a big part of why we are able to give junior associates so much experience. We view our associates as future partners, and we want to train them to be great lawyers. That means investing time into their development and entrusting them with responsibility.

Ryan Caughey is a first-chair trial lawyer who has consistently been recognized as one of America’s leading litigators. Last year, Ryan was the co-lead trial lawyer in a five-week jury trial that resulted in an over $42 million judgment for his client Linde Engineering North America, in addition to more than $22 million in pretrial recoveries. This year, Ryan was one of the lead trial lawyers in a lengthy, nine-figure arbitration. In total, Ryan has recovered more than $950 million for his clients. On the defense side, Ryan has represented clients facing billions of dollars of potential exposure.

Krysta Pachman represents plaintiffs and defendants in high-stakes commercial litigation, including class actions, patent cases, trademark & copyright matters, and other disputes. Krysta has a track record of obtaining trial wins, favorable settlements, and arbitration victories for her clients, who range from small businesses and individuals to Fortune 500 companies. Krysta is serving as court-appointed lead counsel to plaintiffs in the Blackbaud Data Breach class action, and this year secured class certification for plaintiffs she represents in a massive class action against PornHub for alleged violation of sex trafficking and child pornography laws. Krysta secured more than $500 million in relief and settlements for her clients in 2023. 

Pirzada Ahmad, Associate • Caroline Li, Associate
Wilkinson Stekloff

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Pirzada: We are trial lawyers. Our firm does not have individualized practice groups broken down by subject matter, and our cases tend to be bet-the-company and high-stakes matters that have a relatively high likelihood of making it to trial. We are focused on trial strategy throughout the litigation, probably more so than litigation practices whose cases do not typically go to trial.

What types of clients do you represent?

Pirzada: The firm represents a wide variety of clients including large companies (Altria, Bayer, Microsoft, Glenmark, Cargill, Medtronic, Plaid, Allergan, and Georgia Pacific), sports associations (the NFL and NCAA), and pro bono clients. The pro bono cases are some of the most rewarding. Our client list is always changing as we get retained for new high-stakes and high-profile matters.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Caroline: We work on cases headed toward trial, and there is no single subject matter we focus on.  The firm is willing to take any case to trial, but has most recently tried antitrust, class action, criminal, products liability, and sports-related cases before judges, juries, and the FTC. Everybody at the firm floats between these areas and is exposed to all aspects of trial litigation.

How did you choose this practice area?

Pirzada: Frankly, trial work sounded like and is a lot of fun. While I did enjoy legal writing and research and discovery, the core of BigLaw litigation for a junior associate, I wanted to also prep witnesses, develop courtroom strategy, be in those courtrooms (often!), and learn how to connect with both judges and juries. Trial litigation is fast paced, interactive, and high stakes. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, and I’m excited to continue to learn from and with the best trial lawyers in the country.

Caroline: I always wanted to work in litigation, but during law school, did not appreciate the difference between a general litigation practice and one that is trial-focused. The latter began to feel more exciting during my district clerkship—I enjoyed the fast pace, the strategic storytelling, and how high stakes the work felt. I started looking for a firm that would give associates trial experience and substantive opportunities amidst challenging work. Wilkinson Stekloff was the perfect fit.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Caroline: Even though we always approach our work with an eye towards trial, the work is so varied that there is no “typical day.” Earlier on in a case, we might be fact gathering by interviewing witnesses, conducting depositions, or building issue modules. Then we might start working with experts to develop their reports, drafting dispositive motions and trial-related briefs, or testing our narratives to see what theories work best before a jury. Getting to trial, of course, is the most exciting part. We’ll work on voir dire, prepare opening statements, develop direct and cross examinations, and prepare our witnesses to testify. The entire team collaborates to analyze the evidence coming in and react quickly to new developments.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Pirzada: For law students, direct services clinics provide great experience generally but particularly if you want to be a trial lawyer. Direct services require client interaction and management, fact development, quick thinking, and creativity—all core tenets of trial work that are a bit different from the focus of most law school education. If you’re a private practice attorney, I would similarly recommend direct services pro bono work. In terms of classes, courses centered on trial strategy, depositions/examinations, and openings/closings taught by practitioners would be the most useful, including those offered by both law schools and CLE programs.

Caroline: So much of trial work centers around effectively communicating a narrative, and it’s never too early to start honing those skills—whether through taking an advanced legal writing class, reading briefs, or observing others. I learn so much just from watching trial lawyers in action, especially given how varied their styles of advocacy can be. Seeing examples of what works (and what doesn’t!) helps you figure out what kind of advocate you want to be.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Caroline: Going to trial is very demanding because of the sheer amount of work it takes to put on an effective case. Everything must be prepared meticulously to ensure we are jury-ready; work product from outlines to exhibit lists to demonstratives are endlessly iterated. Life at trial is fast-paced and constantly changing, so every member on the team must think on their feet and adapt quickly. But being at trial is also the most rewarding aspect of this job for the same reason. It’s so fulfilling to build storylines and solve problems together, and it's all very fun—especially when we win!

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Pirzada: At Wilkinson Stekloff, there isn’t really a division between junior and more senior associates. Associates work on all aspects of trial litigation, including leading preps for sophisticated fact and expert witnesses, preparing closing and opening arguments, developing and refining trial strategy with partners, drafting pretrial filings and dispositive briefs, taking depositions, conducting second-level discovery (we rarely do first-level doc review), communicating with opposing and co-counsel, and presenting to clients.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Pirzada: Trial work is conducive to all sorts of career paths involving strategic decision-making, advocacy, and social interaction. In law, trial lawyers have gone on to federal and state prosecutor and public defender roles, plaintiff-side firms, direct services, public interest litigation, in-house positions, federal government appointments, and federal and state judiciaries. Outside of law, trial lawyers have gone on to many business-oriented roles where their decision-making and communication skills are more relevant than their legal knowledge.

How is practicing litigation in a boutique different from practicing in a large law firm?

Caroline: Simply by nature of our size, teams are smaller than they might be at a large law firm and the team is involved in the matter from start to finish. This means that all associates, regardless of experience, hit the ground running as soon as they join a case. They are entrusted and expected to take ownership over substantive responsibilities, participate in strategy, and interact with clients. Also because of our size and how much we collaborate—especially when we go to trial together—everyone on the team becomes very close, which fosters a space where we can all learn and grow together.

Pirzada Ahmad and Caroline Li, Associates—Litigation

Pirzada is an associate at Wilkinson Stekloff and graduate of Yale Law School. He was a member of the Wilkinson Stekloff trial team that secured a groundbreaking victory for Microsoft, defeating the FTC’s efforts to enjoin its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard and winning the second-biggest merger trial in American history. He also represents a major chemical manufacturer in the Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) Products Liability MDL, considered the most significant PFAS litigation in the country, as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the House antitrust litigation.

Caroline is an associate at Wilkinson Stekloff.  After graduating from Harvard Law School, she clerked in the Eastern District of New York. Since joining the firm in 2021, she has worked on cases in all stages of litigation including fact discovery, expert discovery, class certification, dispositive motions practice, and trial, including as part of the team that secured the first verdict in favor of Monsanto in the Roundup litigation. She currently represents the National Football League and 32 member teams in an antitrust class action lawsuit scheduled for trial in February 2024.

Ryan Hartman, Partner • Yiqing Shi, Associate—Commercial Litigation
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP

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.

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.

Carmine Boccuzzi, Partner—Litigation
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I have been a litigation partner at Cleary Gottlieb since 2003. My practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and arbitration, usually involving cross-border disputes. I represent corporations of all kinds, including numerous financial institutions and manufacturers. I am also thrilled to be a part of our firm’s sovereign practice, meaning I represent and advise foreign states as well as a range of state-owned entities. My practice entails both prelitigation advice as well as litigating disputes in federal and state courts throughout the country, including before domestic and international arbitral tribunals.

What types of clients do you represent?

I represent financial institutions, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and BNP Paribas. I also represent manufacturers such as Bosch and Whirlpool. I represent foreign states that include the Republic of Argentina. I also am involved in pro bono with a particular focus on LGBTQ+ clients.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

My cases cover a range of matters involving complex financial products and transactions, cross-border disputes, and class actions. For many years, I defended the Republic of Argentina in connection with litigation arising out of its 2001 sovereign debt default. That work has involved litigation in courts at the district level, the appellate level, and the United States Supreme Court. I also represent Bosch in class actions across the country in connection with claims arising out of diesel vehicles.

How did you choose this practice area?

I always knew I wanted to be a litigator because I love legal writing, public speaking, and debate. Cleary’s practice drew me because of its historically generalist approach where commercial litigators develop subject matter expertise while litigating a range of different types of matters. Moreover, our international footprint means we are often involved in matters involving U.S. law, but also the laws of other countries. When I joined Cleary, our litigation group was quite small, which was very appealing because it meant getting more interesting experience sooner. While the success of our practice has brought considerable growth, we still remember the value of the “small firm” approach—both in how we interact with each other and the attention we give to our clients.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

In a typical day, I perform a range of tasks, which can include preparing for and appearing in court either in person or by Zoom, working closely with associates on revising legal briefs or other court submissions, having team meetings to go over strategy, and negotiating and dealing with opposing counsel. Interacting with my clients is often the most rewarding part of my day. I help them work through problems by learning about their business to craft practical solutions to any challenges they face. Of course, the day often involves firm management-type tasks too. For three years, I served as chair of our Talent Committee, which highlighted the importance of training and nurturing our associates, who remain essential to our efforts and represent the future leaders of our firm.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

I recommend engaging in all classes no matter what the subject matter is and training yourself to always think deeply and carefully about whatever topic you may face. It is helpful to take classes that require a lot of writing and clinics or other programs offered at the school that allow you to develop on-your-feet experience and gain confidence.
What do you like best about your practice area?

I like that there is always something new. There are always new laws to figure out and understand or analyze. Even where the law is “settled,” there is always some new factual situation that needs to be analyzed in that context. You are always meeting new people, and it is exciting to get exposed to new judges with different styles. In this practice, you learn how to make arguments to whatever audience you are before and protect the interest of your client.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

I always say that I want to give a junior lawyer as much experience as they are comfortable taking. The junior lawyer jumps right into developing legal theories and learning and investigating the facts of the case. I think it is critical that from day one a junior lawyer considers themself a full part of the team. The law has always been driven forward by its youngest members. I do not think there are any black-and-white limits on what a junior lawyer can do based on seniority. A junior lawyer can take depositions and interact directly with the client among other interesting tasks.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

At Cleary, we see summer associates as full members of the team. We include them in important meetings and hearings. I want summer associates to dive right in and write not just memos, but briefs that will be filed with the court. We want them to be the front-line person presenting at meetings and generating ideas. There are also always the fun experiences that come with our social events, which play a key role in exposing the summer associates to their future colleagues. We want the summer associates to get to know as many Cleary lawyers as possible and for Cleary lawyers to get to know the summer associates.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

One career path would be becoming a senior member of the litigation group—we have partner, counsel, and senior attorney positions. But most of our associates go on to great futures outside of Cleary—Cleary offers such good training, experience, and exposure that our associates are well equipped for a range of exciting positions, and employers of all stripes recognize that. Future employers know that someone who has litigated at Cleary is well suited to litigate or advise clients anywhere. Cleary’s litigation group alumni include general counsel, other in-house lawyers, law professors, government lawyers, and lawyers at non-governmental organizations and other public interest organizations. We are also proud of our former partners who are federal judges, prosecutors, and in government.

Carmine D. Boccuzzi is a partner based in Cleary Gottlieb’s New York office. His litigation and arbitration practice covers a broad range of complex civil litigation matters. He focuses on international disputes, including those involving foreign states and state-owned entities, as well as disputes involving the capital markets and antitrust issues.

Carmine has been recognized as a leading litigator and arbitrator by Chambers Global, Chambers USA, The Legal 500 U.S., The Legal 500 Latin America, Benchmark Litigation, Latin Lawyer, and Who’s Who Legal. He has also been honored by the Irish Repertory Theater for 25 years of pro bono service. 

Carmine joined the firm in 1994 and became partner in 2003.

He received a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University.

Kapri Saunders, Partner
Jones Day

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

The Business & Tort Litigation practice at Jones Day is a general litigation practice, where our trial lawyers serve clients from counseling through trial and appeal in business and government disputes, torts, and civil litigation. My practice also includes Investigations & White Collar Defense. In this practice area, Jones Day helps clients with U.S. and cross-border investigations and defends clients in white collar criminal defense matters.  

My practice focuses on preparing cases for trial; finding ways to strategically resolve cases, whether by motion or trying the case; and addressing any post-trial issues. We often work with our other litigation or disputes-based practice groups, who bring various other experience to the case—whether it’s cross-border or a specific area of law (securities, intellectual property, labor and employment, etc.). Our practice is truly national and international, and gives us the opportunity to work with our colleagues around the globe.

What types of clients do you represent? 

In civil cases, I defend companies against actions brought by other corporations or by individuals. In investigations and civil cases, I advise U.S. and foreign companies from a broad array of industries, including education, energy, financial, manufacturing, retail, and technology industries.

In criminal cases, I generally represent business executives accused of wrongdoing. My pro bono work involves representing persons wrongfully convicted of crimes and survivors of domestic abuse.

What types of cases/deals do you work on? 

I work on all types of business dispute cases. Some cases are business-to-business disputes, while others are individuals-to-business disputes. The disputes range from allegations involving breach of contract, trade secret theft, alleged public nuisance, personal injuries that occurred in the U.S. and abroad, and measures taken by businesses during the COVID pandemic.

As to criminal matters, my cases mostly involve allegations of fraud, or other crimes of deceit or concealment, and bribery. On the investigations front, I have worked on government investigations involving Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) regulations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations, the Department of Justice, and internal investigations involving possible employee or company misconduct.

My pro bono cases have been similarly varied. I’ve worked on asylum, prisoner civil rights, student rights, wrongful conviction, landlord-tenant, and domestic violence restraining order cases at both trial and appellate courts.

How did you choose this practice area?

In many ways, I feel that I did not choose this practice area, it chose me—or more accurately, it was a natural fit and next step. In law school, when I learned about what judicial law clerks do, I knew that I wanted to clerk. After clerking, I had gained so many skills that would make me a great litigator, it was natural for me to become a litigator. It wasn’t even a choice.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

There is no typical day in my world. Each day brings new challenges. As I have gained seniority, I spend far more time advising clients on a range of legal issues and discussing litigation strategy. I also am spending significant time taking and defending depositions, which involves taking a deep dive into documents and brainstorming on themes, what my witness will be asked, or the admissions I want to get from the deponent. Most importantly, when I defend a witness, I work with the witness to make sure they know what to expect and feel prepared to sit for the deposition. Lastly, I have been working with experts, helping them gain the case knowledge necessary to draft their expert reports. I like to dig into the facts and legal standards in my cases, so you can also still find me conducting research from time to time.  

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

I would recommend that you do whatever interests you in terms of training, classes, and experience. There is no right way to prepare to be a litigator. A broad range of experience will help you quickly learn new facts and adapt to the ever-changing space. Your life experience in general is also helpful, no matter what experiences you have had. Of course, interning or clerking for a judge is helpful. (And I highly recommend it.) Trial and appellate advocacy courses are also helpful. But in the end, a good litigator can think through legal issues; see potential issues before they occur; and understand, empathize, and connect with people. Those skills are not taught by a specific class or experience. In conclusion, do what you like. I assure you. It will be helpful to your career.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I absolutely love the variety of cases that I have as a litigator. I enjoy learning about new companies and new technology, and meeting people working in various business industries. I am a lifelong learner at heart, and this practice area allows me to learn something new every day.  

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

My favorite misconception about my practice area is that litigators love to argue. It is simply not true for all of us. As a litigator, the majority of my time is spent thinking about arguments in advance of having to write them out in a motion or present them to a court. Most arguments I (and others) make are well-orchestrated performances that we spend hours preparing for. Arguing with friends and family in a traditional sense is much different than the arguments litigators make to the court. (Although those types of “arguments” are great for figuring out how to think on your feet.)

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

There are a variety of tasks a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area. The availability of work is only limited by the lawyer’s desires. As long as you show a willingness and preparedness to handle a task, there is a good chance the work will be assigned to you. We have first-year associates who write the initial drafts of written discovery, sections of motions, and letters to opposing counsel about settlement or discovery disputes. They also research issues to support the development of case and trial strategy. Junior associates conduct fact interviews of employees and help prepare witnesses for depositions. Many junior lawyers also have opportunities to take depositions and take active roles in trials by examining witnesses or helping with other trial tasks.  

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

One of the best parts of the summer associate experience at Jones Day is the variety of experiences available. As a summer associate, you can work on varied projects from all practice groups. If a law student is not sure whether they want to do transactional work or litigation, or if they know they want to do litigation but are unsure about which practice area they want to work in, the summer associate experience at Jones Day is perfect for that law student because a summer associate at Jones Day can explore all areas.

Kapri Saunders, Partner—General Commercial Litigation (2023)

Kapri Saunders is a litigator who represents private and public companies, as well as business professionals, in complex civil litigation, government investigations, and white collar criminal matters. Kapri has advised clients on disputes arising out of business contracts, consumer fraud and protection, mortgage lending and real estate transactions, public corruption, and violation of federal criminal statutes, as well as governmental and internal investigations. She has experience at every stage of litigation. She has managed and conducted factual investigations and discovery, drafted successful dispositive motions and appellate briefs, argued motions, developed trial strategies, and negotiated settlements. She also has civil and criminal trial experience. Prior to practicing law, Kapri worked in higher education administration at a small private college, developing the residence life department, creating campus programming, and advising students. Kapri maintains an active pro bono practice with a particular focus on advocating on behalf of wrongfully convicted persons and helping domestic abuse survivors obtain restraining orders against their abusers.

Alex Eynon, Associate
MoloLamken LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

The breadth of cases at MoloLamken and the depth of expertise across trial-level and appellate practice mean that the docket here is ever varied and exciting. Our firm regularly takes high-stakes cases to trial—and wins—in federal and state courts around the country. Our attorneys also frequently appear before the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently granted two of our cert petitions on the same day. In addition, we have robust white collar, intellectual property, and bankruptcy practices. And associates are expected to practice across all of those areas, regardless of their experience prior to MoloLamken.

What types of clients do you represent?

MoloLamken represents companies, boards, funds, individuals, investors, and inventors in a diverse range of legal matters. We represent plaintiffs and defendants. For example, we might represent corporations defending against breach of contract or patent infringement claims. At the same time, we might be representing plaintiffs in a securities class action or institutional investors challenging the payout on a structured investment product. We also regularly undertake individual representations in white collar cases, where we represent both private citizens and government officials.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

My personal docket is as diverse as the firm’s. In the past year, I’ve worked on matters including a jury trial in a plaintiff-side securities fraud class action in the Southern District of New York, a Ninth Circuit First Amendment appeal, post-trial motions in a patent case in a Texas federal court, a cross-border judgment enforcement matter against a foreign sovereign, and a business dispute in the New York Supreme Court’s Commercial Division.

How did you choose this practice area?

My district court clerkship confirmed for me that I wanted to be a litigator. For me, that meant seeking a firm where I would be part of the action in my cases right away, rather than waiting years on the sidelines for substantive experience. I also loved working across a breadth of subject matter areas when I clerked, and I was unwilling to be siloed into a specialty just when I was beginning my career. MoloLamken offered the right mix of work and a culture that prioritizes mentoring associates and getting them real experience as early and as often as possible. That’s a rare combination, and it’s why I chose this firm.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Because of my varied caseload, my days also vary widely. This past summer, I spent two weeks at a jury trial where I examined a witness, second-chaired and prepped others, and briefed and argued evidentiary objections. This fall, I spent two weeks drafting and revising an appellate brief on First Amendment and standing issues. A typical day also involves meeting with my colleagues to discuss strategy, responding to emails, and ensuring that a given case’s upcoming filings or discovery requests are in order. MoloLamken staffs across its three offices and operates on a hybrid in-person and remote model. When I work from home, I communicate frequently with my teammates by phone, chat, and videoconference. During our two weekly in-office days, we typically eat lunch as an office, and I regularly stop by partners’ offices for advice on subjects ranging from business development to how to train for a marathon.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Because MoloLamken expects associates to jump in right away, we only hire associates who have clerked. Beyond that, the firm values excellent academic credentials, strong writing skills, and stand-up experience in law school or practice. Most importantly, the firm is looking for attorneys who fit MoloLamken’s culture: people with diverse backgrounds and experiences who are excellent teammates and collaborators and who have the common sense and self-confidence to learn new skills and manage challenging cases.
What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Our diverse practice is a double-edged sword; it means that I’m always a beginner in something on my docket. I often need to get up to speed on a subject area or a litigation skill quickly, which is occasionally stressful. For example, in a given week I might have to figure out both how to hire a private investigator to locate an unwilling subpoena target and what the scienter standard for a securities fraud claim is in the Second Circuit. That variety means that, while I sometimes wish I was an expert in something, I’m never bored.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Personally, I wasn’t convinced that MoloLamken really expected associates to have a true generalist practice, even though my now-colleagues told me so during my interviews. But I underestimated the degree to which the firm believes in the generalist model and backs it up by ensuring that associates have the mentorship they need to master particular skills and subject-matter areas. For example, when I started at the firm I was surprised that the firm’s appellate and Supreme Court practitioners wanted me on their cases even though I didn’t clerk on an appellate court—which is typically a prerequisite to joining an appellate practice. But they did. As a result of the mentorship I’ve received working on appeals, I’m not only developing an appellate practice, but am also improving my writing in general as well as my instincts about what issues to preserve at trial.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

MoloLamken is unusual in its lack of hierarchy and also in its relatively few conflicts, which allows the firm to take on such a broad array of cases. The result is that working at MoloLamken is a kind of “choose your own adventure” experience, with opportunities across all of the areas in which the firm practices—business disputes, IP disputes, and white collar defense and investigations. For example, I’m especially interested in trial work. Within eight months of starting at MoloLamken, I went to trial and took a witness. And I have upcoming trial opportunities where I expect to get similarly substantive experience. I’ve had the same experience seeking out particular subject-matter areas of interest. I know I would not be experiencing that breadth of opportunity and support at many—if any—other firms.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Because MoloLamken doesn’t operate according to a traditional hierarchy, both associates and partners frequently work “up” or “down” from their class year. There isn’t a hard distinction between junior and senior associates. Typical tasks for associates include drafting motions or briefs, mooting colleagues for upcoming arguments, working with expert witnesses, taking or defending depositions, drafting complaints, negotiating with opposing counsel, interviewing witnesses, or issuing and responding to requests for discovery. Unlike at some other firms, MoloLamken associates are also substantially involved in two other key aspects of running a firm: business development and recruiting.

 

Alex Eynon, Associate—Litigation (2023)

Alex Eynon represents plaintiffs and defendants in a broad range of trial and appellate matters. Before joining MoloLamken, Ms. Eynon served as a law clerk to the Honorable Lee H. Rosenthal of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. She also previously worked as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Ms. Eynon received her B.A. in Art History from Columbia University and her J.D. from Yale Law School. During law school, she worked as a teaching assistant for Professor Judith Resnik’s Federal Courts course and participated in Yale’s Samuel Jacobs Criminal Justice clinic.

Brad S. Karp, Partner and Firm Chairman • Karen L. Dunn, Partner—Litigation
Paul, Weiss

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Brad: I defend clients in “bet the company” litigations, regulatory/enforcement matters, and internal investigations. My practice essentially involves helping my clients avoid, manage, and mitigate existential risk across industries and subject matters. I work with CEOs, boards, and general counsel to address multifaceted crises involving potentially ruinous liability, an adverse court decision, an explosive news story, a crippling enforcement action, or a dangerous congressional investigation. My major focus is helping my clients manage the risk of existential litigation or enforcement actions and serving as a consiglieri to executive management. I also am very active in the community and, as chair of the firm, I help guide the firm’s strategy and lead the firm’s response to the mounting number of social justice and racial justice crises.

Karen: My practice focuses on two primary things: trials and crisis management. I have represented some of the world’s largest and most impactful companies in business-critical cases. Sometimes we build the trial strategy from the first day of the case, and sometimes we are brought in just for trial. I also advise executives and boards when their companies are truly in crisis, either because of government investigations, congressional oversight, litigation, media scrutiny, or all of the above. I also maintain a very active pro bono practice, which has included representing plaintiffs injured by the white supremacists who terrorized Charlottesville in 2017 and winning a two-year battle for budget autonomy on behalf of the District of Columbia. I have experience in government and politics, so I often work on cases where politics, social impact, and law intersect. 

What types of clients do you represent? 

Brad: I represent global banks like Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and others; sports leagues like the National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and others; leading alternative asset managers like Apollo, Blackstone, KKR, and others; and numerous Fortune 50 companies.

Karen: I represent some of the largest, most innovative companies in the world, including Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Oracle, and General Electric, but I also represent smaller companies like The RealReal, as well as universities, nonprofits, and individuals. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on? 

Karen: I just wrapped up a significant copyright infringement trial on behalf of Oracle related to support for enterprise software. In 2021, I was proud to try two of the highest-profile civil cases in the country: Epic v. Apple, an antitrust challenge to the App Store by the maker of Fortnite, and Sines v. Kessler, the case against the white supremacists responsible for the violence in Charlottesville in 2017. I’m defending Amazon in a series of unprecedented litigations challenging its low-price guarantee, a core of its business model. I’m representing Uber in an antitrust suit, Qualcomm in a major commercial dispute, and The RealReal in a suit brought by Chanel in an effort to shut down the resale market. In between, I am handling several congressional investigations. And I go to trial this March where I represent a group of children and their parents in a case against a preschool where the children were sexually abused. 

Brad: I handle all of the NFL’s most threatening, high-profile matters, including the massive, multidistrict concussion litigation against the NFL brought on behalf of more than 5,000 retired players alleging they suffered cognitive impairment due to their participation in professional football. I recently successfully represented General Electric in a multibillion-dollar trade secrets case against Siemens; Morgan Stanley in the dismissal of a massive class action alleging manipulation in the multitrillion-dollar Treasury securities markets; the independent directors of CBS in a lawsuit related to its merger with Viacom; Credit Suisse in an independent review of its relationship with the Archegos Capital, which collapsed, resulting in the bank losing billions of dollars; Citigroup in more than a dozen class action litigations and regulatory investigations; Blackstone in a multibillion-dollar claim that it misled state pension investors; and other clients in “bet the company” matters. I am also very active on pro bono matters involving reproductive choice, gun control, protecting voter integrity, and immigrant rights.

How did you choose this practice area?

Karen: I had no intention of being a lawyer for most of my early life and career. Following college, I worked in television news, then on Capitol Hill, then on a political campaign, and back to the Hill. I specialized in communications. One day it hit me that I could put my communications skills to work as a federal prosecutor, where I could try cases on behalf of the government. My current practice unites my love of trial work and my experience in government and communications.

Brad: My parents were both lawyers, and I knew early on that I wanted to be a litigator. I joined Paul, Weiss as a summer associate because the litigation department was renowned as a place where you could work with the world’s greatest lawyers on the biggest, most important cases, while also engaging in important, high-impact pro bono litigation. Early on, I had the privilege to learn from two giants in the litigation bar, Judge Simon Rifkind and Arthur Liman, both consummate trial lawyers.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Karen: One of the things I love most about my practice is that every day is different. On any given day, I am focused on trial prep, editing briefs or motions, learning the facts of a case, or, if trial is approaching, writing a cross-examination or an opening statement, or preparing a witness to testify. I do a lot of Zoom calls with clients and colleagues to discuss case strategies. And always, I work in close collaboration with a core team of brilliant colleagues. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Brad: People join our litigation practice from all academic backgrounds, but a track record of academic excellence is a baseline for future success. So much of what you learn in litigation is “on the job” training, so I tell law students to seek out a firm like Paul, Weiss that offers the best training, professional skills development, and the chance to work with the world’s best, most talented trial lawyers. 

Karen: The most important thing to bring to the job is a great attitude. I tell people starting out that when someone presents you with a new opportunity, no matter how intimidating, you should try to start from a place of “yes.” Put the fear aside and believe you can do whatever comes at you, including and especially things you haven’t done before. 

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Karen: Challenges of legal practice were redefined in many ways by the pandemic. It used to be that constant travel was a challenge; now, ironically, we all miss traveling and look for opportunities to meet our clients and colleagues. We were fortunate to have a few (masked) in-person trials during the pandemic, and they felt like a bit of normalcy during a crazy time.  

Brad: The exponential growth in digital data and communications produced in the average business litigation can be challenging. Our litigators need to keep abreast of the onslaught because the tiniest detail could prove outcome determinative. We have invested heavily in legal technology that can both improve outcomes for our clients and help them retrieve the knowledge they need faster and more efficiently, earning a recognition in December from the Financial Times for our innovations. Relatedly, our tech clients face unprecedented legal threats in areas where commercial, antitrust, and class action law are all implicated; that work has accelerated since we expanded into Northern California in 2021.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Karen: I love the intensity of working together with my colleagues and clients to solve hard problems, which often break new ground in law or business. I started my career working on political campaigns; I know the value of being in the trenches with your teammates, day in and day out. We are a team, and it makes the work all the more meaningful.

Brad: I treat my clients’ problems as my own, and so nothing is more gratifying than developing creative solutions to seemingly intractable problems, resolving existential threats facing my clients, and enabling them to focus on their business and strategic goals. As a result, so many of my clients have become close friends over the years.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Brad: Associates, even in their first year, play an important role in and make major contributions to litigation matters. There are myriad opportunities to get involved in important aspects of cases, from taking and defending depositions, to helping prepare pleadings and motions, to organizing documents for trial. We give our junior lawyers courtroom experience early on and encourage them to take on pro bono cases, where they can get real-world experience leading matters, while making a tangible difference in their clients’ lives and helping to improve society.

What makes practicing as a litigator at your firm uniquely enjoyable?

Karen: Trial work is a team sport. I regularly try cases with a small group of hyper-talented, wonderful people with whom I have worked over many years; I call us a “trial SWAT team.” We have a lot of fun together, even when the cases are high stress, and we are good at what we do because we love doing it.

 

Chairman of Paul, Weiss since 2008, Brad S. Karp is one of the country’s leading litigators and corporate advisers. Brad has successfully guided numerous Fortune 100 companies, financial institutions, sports leagues, and others through “bet the company” litigations, regulatory matters, internal investigations, and crises. He has received dozens of industry recognitions for his legal achievements and for his leadership within the legal profession. Brad is active in the community, serving on numerous public interest, educational, cultural, and charitable boards. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has spent his entire professional career at Paul, Weiss.

Karen L. Dunn is one of the nation’s top trial lawyers. In recent years, Karen has successfully tried some of the largest, highest-profile cases, including Epic v. Apple, Waymo v. Uber, Malden v. Uber and Oracle v. Rimini Street. In 2021, she won a historic civil rights victory, Sines v. Kessler, a landmark trial against the neo-Nazis and white supremacists responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. A veteran of all three branches of government and former debate adviser to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Kamala Harris, Karen is also a skilled crisis manager.

Geng Chen, Partner • Andres Healy, Partner—Litigation
Susman Godfrey

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Geng: Commercial litigation, including intellectual property, False Claims Act, and class actions.

Andres: Commercial litigation with a focus on patent infringement litigation. 

What types of clients do you represent?

Geng: My clients include institutions both large and small as well as individuals. For example, I represented General Electric in a major business dispute arising out of an M&A transaction, as well as a small pharmaceutical manufacturer, Genus Lifesciences, in a false advertising case against a larger competitor. I am also proud to represent clients like Yale University and the City of Baltimore in a major class action suits seeking to hold banks accountable for manipulating a benchmark interest rate around the time of the 2008 financial crisis.

Andres: I represent a broad variety of clients, including multibillion-dollar companies like Koninklijke KPN, institutional clients like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and smaller companies like Ancora Technologies and Arigna Technology.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Geng: I work on all types of cases within the general commercial litigation sphere. Some of my current cases include a patent infringement action in the medical device industry, a multibillion-dollar False Claims Act case against a major insurance company, and a dispute between an individual client and a former employer, among others.

Andres: I am working on a number of patent infringement actions in various jurisdictions around the country, including on behalf of Koninklijke KPN, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ancora Technologies, and Arigna Technology. For example, I recently tried a case on behalf of Koninklijke KPN against Ericsson in the Eastern District of Texas where the jury found in our favor on all issues and awarded KPN $31.5 million in damages.

How did you choose this practice area?

Geng: One reason why I was initially attracted to Susman Godfrey was the breadth of the firm’s practice. I knew I wanted to litigate but was not ready to pick a specific practice area coming out of law school. I’ve been grateful to the firm for giving me the opportunity to work in a variety of different areas of law and hone my skills as a litigator over a range of interesting and exciting cases.

Andres: I think it’s more accurate to say that it found me. I was assigned to a Koninklijke KPN patent infringement case as an associate and really enjoyed the work, including learning such a great deal about the telecom technologies that KPN had developed that were at issue. I decided I wanted to do more cases like that and have not looked back. 

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Geng: My work can vary greatly from day to day. Some days I am highly focused on one case or one task—drafting a major brief, for instance, or taking or defending a deposition. Other days I might be splitting my time between several different cases, which can often involve jumping from call to call to go over strategy with a client, negotiate with opposing counsel, discuss an issue with an expert, or just check in with other team members. That’s one aspect of my practice that I really enjoy—there is always something different and interesting to be working on.

Andres: I am lead or co-lead on a number of patent infringement cases, so my day to day involves managing various teams in various stages of litigation. In some cases, that can mean simply checking in with various team members and providing direction on next steps—both at a macro and micro level. In other cases, that can mean writing or editing briefs, taking depositions, and attending hearings. In short, my day to day can vary greatly, but everything I do is focused on making sure my cases are progressing toward a successful outcome for my clients. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Geng: One experience that the firm requires all new associates to have is a federal clerkship, and I highly encourage anyone interested in the type of work we do to pursue that opportunity. As a new attorney, clerking provides a tremendously informative window into how judges approach cases, and it also allows a new attorney to see how the court system works from the inside. 

Andres: I practice almost exclusively in federal court, where good writing is paramount—developing writing skills is critical to success as a lawyer. I also think that getting as much deposition and stand-up experience as possible is incredibly important for a young lawyer. I’m very grateful that Susman Godfrey not only provided that to me, but continues to prioritize providing that same opportunity to the next generation of brilliant Susman Godfrey associates. 

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Geng: The types of cases that I work on can be complex and take years to resolve, and I even have cases that for various reasons, such as appeals, have been ongoing for a decade or more. One challenge associated with that kind of timescale and complexity can be maintaining the momentum to drive toward a resolution. From my very first day, the firm has emphasized the importance of identifying specifically what is needed to move a case forward and focusing on those high-value tasks to really advocate for what matters most to our clients, which is achieving a successful outcome.

Andres: Two challenges come to mind. Number one, there’s the challenge of diving in and learning the ins and outs of different technologies. But that’s a good challenge. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoy this practice area. A not-so-good challenge is the degree to which the law itself has kept changing in recent years. From TC Heartland to the standards for convenience transfer to the abandonment of Fintiv, it has become much more difficult for a patent holder to get their day in court. 

What do you like best about your practice area?

Geng: One underrated aspect of general commercial litigation is the opportunity to dig deep into industries that might never otherwise come across your radar. I really enjoy this learning process and now understand more than I ever expected about a wide array of topics, ranging from medical devices to cryptocurrency to utility regulation. Also, while I enjoy representing both plaintiffs and defendants, there is something special about representing an individual plaintiff and helping them navigate our civil justice system to right the wrongs that they have suffered.

Andres: One of the things that I like best about this practice area is learning such a great deal about a number of different technologies. I also really enjoy helping clients protect their valuable technology—on both sides of the “v.” 

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Geng: One misconception that I personally had is that you must have a certain personality or style to succeed as a trial litigator. Growing up, no one in my family was a lawyer, and I’ll admit that most of what I thought I knew about the law came from TV and movies. One thing that I’ve appreciated in the years that I’ve been practicing is working with (and against!) a diverse group of successful lawyers who each have their own unique approach. My advice to anyone who wants to be a trial lawyer is to focus on your own strengths and what value you bring rather than worry about how you might compare to what you think a successful lawyer looks or sounds like.

Andres: I think the main misconception is that one needs to have a science or engineering background to work in patent litigation. At the end of the day, you need to be able to explain the technology to the judge and his clerks and—after that—to a jury. Rarely is anyone in those groups going to have science or engineering backgrounds. So, the key is to dive in and learn the technology to the point that you understand it and can explain it to other people who lack that technical background. 

How is practicing litigation in a boutique different from practicing in a large law firm?

Andres: The amount of opportunity. Certainly, there is more opportunity to do real case tasks earlier. Here, it’s rare for associates to not take solo depositions or argue in court in their first year. And on the financial side, there’s also more opportunity to forge your own path and be successful. Because we do not have the hierarchy of practice groups or many mandatory “anythings,” partners can focus on what we do best: winning cases and getting fantastic results for our clients.

Geng: Working at a smaller firm gives you the opportunity to really get to know all of your colleagues, and at a place like SG, that means spending every day with some of the most brilliant, fun, and generous people in our profession.

Geng Chen represents clients in complex commercial litigation in all areas, ranging from general business disputes to intellectual property to the False Claims Act and more. Geng has amassed an impressive collection of litigation victories and favorable settlements for diverse clients, including Fortune 500 industry leaders and classes of unfairly treated plaintiffs—for example in In re LIBOR Financial Products Antitrust Litigation, Geng secured settlements totaling over $500 million; and Melissa Ferrick v Spotify, she secured a settlement valued at over $100 million for songwriters and composers. Geng previously clerked for Judge Jacques Wiener, Jr., of the Fifth Circuit and, while at Harvard Law, served as an executive editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Lauded by one client as “one of the best patent lawyers in America,” Andres Healy litigates IP and complex commercial disputes and represents clients ranging from multibillion-dollar industry leaders to individual inventors. He has secured a significant number of wins on behalf of major players in the technology and telecommunications fields, including a $31.5 million patent infringement jury verdict on behalf of Dutch telecom company Koninklijke KPN against telecom giant Ericsson in 2022. Andres graduated first in his class from the University of Florida College of Law and completed two federal clerkships before joining Susman Godfrey. He was appointed to SG’s Executive Committee in 2022.  

Moira Penza, Partner • Anastasia Pastan, Counsel
Wilkinson Stekloff

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

We are a trial litigation boutique and pride ourselves on being able to take any case to trial. The firm’s attorneys have now tried more than 200 cases in a wide variety of areas, including over 20 trials since the firm opened in 2016.

While we take cases at every stage, we are often hired to represent clients at or near the end of discovery. This means our cases are normally ramping up for trial, and our job is to focus on taking what is often a very broad record and simplify it into a compelling narrative that will be persuasive to a jury. We also focus very strongly on diversity in the firm, as it is our goal that our attorneys be reflective of the juries to which we are presenting.

What types of clients do you represent?

The firm represents a wide variety of clients including large companies (Altria, Bayer, Microsoft, Glenmark, 3M, Cargill, Medtronic, Plaid, Allergan, and Georgia Pacific), sports associations (the NFL and NCAA), criminal defendants, and pro bono clients. The pro bono cases are some of the most rewarding, and Chambers & Partners has recognized the firm as having one of the two best pro bono programs of all law firms in the country, large or small.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Like all attorneys at our firm, we are focused on cases headed toward trial. In terms of subject matter, there is no single type of case on which we work. As a firm, we are willing to take any case to trial, but over the past several years we have had antitrust, class action, criminal, products liability, and sports-related trials. Everybody at the firm floats between these areas and is exposed to all aspects of trial litigation.

How did you choose this practice area?

Moira: I always had an inkling I wanted to be a trial lawyer, but it really was having the opportunity to work with Beth Wilkinson (now my partner) early in my career that solidified the desire. Watching her connect with juries and create a compelling narrative, I wanted to have that experience myself. My passion for trial lawyering was furthered when I served as a federal prosecutor and was able to experience having my own trials where I was leading case strategy. After serving as first chair for the government and obtaining a conviction in a major racketeering trial against the leader of a cult-like organization called NXIVM (which was the subject of HBO’s documentary The Vow), I decided to join Wilkinson Stekloff so I could continue trying complex, sophisticated cases.

Anastasia: After law school, where there is such a strong focus on legal research and writing, I expected that I would pursue an appellate practice. During my first clerkship, which was for a federal district court judge, I realized that I enjoyed the pace and strategy of litigation. Getting to observe trials clinched it for me: I was drawn to how the parties gathered facts and used them to tell stories about the claims at issue in their cases. I looked for firms where, even early in my career, I would have the opportunity to work closely with great trial lawyers on challenging, fascinating cases. As it turns out, that’s a great description of Wilkinson Stekloff.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Anastasia: After over five years here, I can honestly say that there is no such thing as a “typical day.” Although we are always focused on trial—whether a complaint has just been filed or we are preparing for a pretrial conference—tasks can vary a lot depending on the stage of the case. For example, early on we might be meeting with clients or vetting potential experts. As a case proceeds, we might be preparing witnesses for depositions, helping to develop expert reports, or participating in strategy meetings to ensure we’re developing a record that aligns with our trial narratives. Closer to trial, we typically shift our attention to preparing opening statements, developing direct and cross examinations, and preparing trial-related briefs.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Moira: Watch as many trials and as many different trial lawyers as you can. I still love observing trials and other trial lawyers, and it is such an incredible right that we have as citizens that our trials are public and we can just go watch. More people—especially people who say they want to be trial lawyers—should be taking those opportunities when they can.

Anastasia: Practical experience is best! Although much of our legal system is built around resolving disputes through trial, trials are relatively rare. But it is hard to know whether you will love the intensely focused—and highly thrilling—experience of trying a case without actually doing it. Law school clinics can be a great way to get these experiences, as can summer positions at firms or in government. Even if you’re not a member of the trial team, observing in court and doing anything else you can to get exposure to trials is a good idea.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Anastasia: One cliché about litigation generally, and trial specifically, is that it is always adversarial. While there is plenty of conflict, much of litigation practice involves negotiation and compromise. While some of our matters go to trial very quickly, others go on for a year or more, which means we spend plenty of time interacting with opposing counsel. Trying to understand their point of view and thinking critically about when to push is an important part of helping a case progress smoothly. Having a strong track record of interacting fairly with the other party can also pay dividends in front of judges.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Wilkinson Stekloff’s relentless focus on trial is part of what makes working here so rewarding. While many firms and lawyers view trial as a last resort, we are thinking about our presentation to the jury from the moment a complaint is filed or whenever a case first comes to the firm. We develop our trial themes early and use them to guide our decision making at every stage. That means we do everything, from depositions to document discovery to the briefing of dispositive motions, with an eye toward our ultimate trial strategy. Being able to make good arguments is critical but it will only get you so far—we want to make our case come alive for the jury. This approach is more difficult but also a lot more interesting and a lot more fun.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Anastasia: Because of our size, our summer class is small and we try to give summer associates as wide a variety of experiences as possible. If the stars align and there is a trial during their time here, we make every effort to include them in the trial team. Going to trial is high paced and challenging, but also incredibly rewarding—and having a chance to participate in a trial is an important part of deciding whether this is the right type of practice for you. Even absent a trial, summer associates can expect to be integrated into all aspects of associate work, from joining witness preps to observing jury exercises to helping draft briefs.

How is practicing litigation in a boutique different from practicing in a large law firm?

Moira: Practicing in a boutique—at least at Wilkinson Stekloff—is markedly different from practicing in BigLaw, which is where I started my career. We can be more discerning in who we hire and what cases we take on. Our model puts teamwork and camaraderie front and center, and the cases we take in are ones that are aligned with our model, which focuses on trial law. For our associates, a major difference is the amount of early ownership they get in matters as well as client contact, which is made possible due to our flat fee structure.

Moira Penza, Partner and Anastasia Pastan, Counsel—Litigation (2023)

Since joining the firm as partner in 2019, Moira has represented clients in product liability, antitrust, sports, and general commercial litigation. Moira recently served as trial counsel for Altria in an administrative trial related to the FTC’s challenge of Altria’s $12.8 billion minority investment in JUUL for which she helped obtain a full dismissal of claims against Altria. Before joining the firm, Moira served as Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where she led criminal investigations and prosecutions involving both white collar and violent crime, including her groundbreaking prosecution and trial conviction of Keith Raniere—the leader of purported self-help group NXIVM.

Anastasia Pastan was promoted to counsel on January 1, 2023. Since joining in 2017, Anastasia has represented clients in antitrust, product liability, environmental, and contract matters. She has extensive experience in trial strategy and preparation and was part of the trial team for Bayer that won a complete defense verdict in the third state-court bellwether trial involving Xarelto. Recently, Anastasia managed the trial team that defeated the FTC's efforts to enjoin Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Anastasia also maintains an active pro bono practice, representing clients in trial and post-conviction matters. 

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