National Law Journal: Introducing America’s elite trial lawyers

Posted on September 17, 2014

In the last year, plaintiffs’ lawyers helped their clients win billions of dollars in awards—in fact, the 100 largest verdicts of 2013 yielded more than $10 billion in recoveries. That sum is likely to be equaled or surpassed in 2014. The ripple effects of these wins reach beyond dollars, with plaintiffs’ efforts helping in many cases to reshape public policies or reform corporate behavior.

Recognizing the impact of this work, The National Law Journal and this year teamed to select law firms that are doing the most creative and substantial work on the plaintiffs side.

The result is our inaugural list of America’s Elite Trial Lawyers. The 50 firms named here pulled in big victories in complex cases that have a wide impact on the law and legal business.

To create our list, we vetted more than 100 firms, poring over nominations and reporting on performance. We recognized the work of the firms as a whole, understanding that successful trial work is usually the result of a team effort.

To qualify for inclusion, firms had to have scored at least one significant plaintiffs win between Jan. 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, and possess an impressive track record of wins within the past three to five years. A “significant win” meant prevailing in a bench or jury trial or in a major settlement where the stakes were high—for example, a substantial amount of money was at stake or the outcome could have affected litigation strategy or results in similar cases nationally. Also, firms had to devote at least 50 percent of their litigation resources to plaintiffs work and derive half or more of their revenue from plaintiffs-side activities. Firms with higher percentages of plaintiffs-side work were considered.

Among the factors we considered in selecting firms were:
•  Performance in significant cases, including key rulings, victories at trial and settlements;
•  Verdict dollar amount, size of punitive damages penalties, cash settlements;
•  Complexity of procedure and substantive law;
•  Duration of case, and/or number of class members;
•  Willingness to take on large cases and to persevere in the face of adversity;

  • Volume of cases handled in a particular time period (sum of accumulated verdicts or settlements);
    •  Novelty of the claim, cause of action or theory of recovery;
    •  Impact of litigation results that changed a government or business practice;
    •  Feedback or acknowledgment from the bench;
    •  Firm size in relation to impact or recovery amount.

    We’ll say more about the winners in print and online on Sept. 29. Until then, we offer the list of honorees in alphabetical order.

Baron & Budd
Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles
Berger & Montague
Bernstein Liebhard
Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann
Buzbee Law Firm
Clifford Law Offices
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy
Eglet Law
Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias & Ward
Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman, Mackauf, Bloom & Rubinowitz
Gibbs & Bruns
Girardi Keese
Grant & Eisenhofer
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
Hare Wynn Newell & Newton
Herman Herman & Katz
Hilliard Munoz Gonzales
Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer
Kline & Specter
Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto
Korein Tillery
Labaton Sucharow
The Lanier Law Firm
The Law Offices of Frank L. Branson
Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein
Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman
Morgan and Morgan
Motley Rice
Nagel Rice
Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik
Neufeld Scheck & Brustin
Nichols Kaster
Panish Shea & Boyle
Podhurst Orseck
Provost Umphrey Law Firm
Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd
Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi
Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis
Sanford Heisler
Seeger Weiss
Simmons Hanly Conroy
Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo
Susman Godfrey
Tycko & Zavareei
Weitz & Luxenberg