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Chambers USA Awards 2021

About our Chambers Awards

We are delighted to host Chambers USA Awards 2021. The awards recognise a law firm’s pre-eminence in key jurisdictions in the country. They also reflect achievements over the past 12 months including outstanding work, impressive strategic growth and excellence in client service. They honour the work of national and international law firms across the USA and based on the research for the recent edition of Chambers USA.

Event Details:
Event date
Thursday, 27 May 2021 - Thursday, 30 May 2024
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Event location

Lifetime Achievement Award:  

Ted Olson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP 

Theodore Olson’s five-decade career has cemented his reputation as one of the most respected and formidable appellate advocates of the modern era, having argued before the Supreme Court 65 times in some of the most complex constitutional questions and precedent-setting business disputes. His pioneering role in the creation of a dedicated Supreme Court Bar and his imperious track record before the Court has seen him consistently recognized as a star practitioner by clients and peers alike. â€œHe has a gravitas when he writes and when he speaks that is unparalleled,” says one client, while another adds: â€œHe is one of the few people who would add credibility just by signing a brief, he’s in a different class.” 

Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession Award:  

Lisa Sotto, Hunton Andrews Kurth 

The high regard in which Lisa Sotto is held for her work in the data security and privacy sphere is reflected in the breadth of complex issues on which blue chip clients seek her advice. Her capabilities in establishing global cybersecurity and data security policies are complemented by unparalleled experience in high-profile data incident response. She is particularly highly regarded for her track record in defending clients in government investigations. â€œLisa Sotto is a legend,” remarks a source: â€œShe was doing this stuff before it was cool. She works for great clients and has created an elite practice group at Hunton Andrews Kurth.” Another attests that “she really is a star. If you have a data breach you'd be lucky to get her to handle it. She is an absolute standout.” 

Antitrust Law Firm of the Year 

Arnold & Porter  
Baker Botts 
Cleary Gottlieb 
Gibson Dunn 
Latham & Watkins  

Winner: Cravath 

Confirming its status as a go-to practice for headline disputes, the antitrust team at Cravath represented Epic Games in highly publicized actions against Google and Apple; the Robinhood share trading platform which drew international attention when it suspended the trading of certain securities; and numerous BlueCross BlueShield Association plans in one of the USA’s largest antitrust class actions. The firm demonstrated its market-leading capabilities, achieving in August 2020 a total defense victory on behalf of Qualcomm before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, confirming the legality of the company’s business model. Not only do household name clients in the pharmaceuticals, finance and tech sectors seek out Cravath for representation in the most serious of class and competitor actions, they also look to the firm to secure clearance for high-value M&A including Mylan in its $50 billion combination with Upjohn and multiple billion dollar transactions for clients as diverse as Just Eat and Hasbro.  

Banking & Finance Law Firm of the Year  
Burr & Forman  
Davis Polk  
Mayer Brown  
Paul Hastings  

Winner: Dechert 

Dechert has substantially raised the profile of its financing group over recent years. It is perhaps best known for providing its roster of world-class investment company clients with advice on financing transactions. Such clients regularly seek the team’s connected global advice as borrowers in acquisition financings in addition to consulting its deep group of experts in direct lending.  “They have vast expertise in financing for funds,” says one source. “It’s been great working with the entire Dechert team,” reports another: “Across the board they are responsive, knowledgeable, and help drive solutions to our financing and other business needs.  

Bankruptcy Law Firm of the Year  
Kirkland & Ellis  
Latham & Watkins  
Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP  
White & Case  

Winner: White & Case 

White & Case is a leading firm in the US for its handling of complex, high-value bankruptcy matters. The team is particularly noted for its expertise in multijurisdictional cases,  and offers deep experience in sovereign debt restructurings across the world. The group acts for both creditors and debtors, and is often called upon for its skill in navigating Chapter 11 proceedings, as evidenced by its representation of the Boy Scouts of America in its $1 billion Chapter 11 cases.  The firm has recently expanded its offering with a number of hires in its New York, Chicago and Boston offices. "They are legally and strategically exceptional," reports one interviewee, while another says: "The firm has deep global reach and is able to work on large, complex transactions."  

Cannabis Law - Law Firm of the Year  
Dorsey & Whitney  
Moye White  
Vicente Sederberg  

Winner: Vicente Sederberg 

Perhaps the highest-profile specialist cannabis firm in the country, Vicente Sederberg's attorneys have long been handling landmark cases in the industry. “They’ve been there since the very beginning,” says a source, citing the firm’s presence since before recreational use was legalized in any state. This deep understanding has evolved with the market, and today the firm is a top-tier destination for complex regulatory advice. It can leverage its in-depth knowledge to advise multi-state, vertically integrated businesses, with experience in navigating federal law and intertwining state laws in an area where the current regulatory framework is often described as a patchwork. “They are a full-service cannabis firm that has delivered the total package time and time again,” enthuses a client.  

Capital Markets Law Firm of the Year  

Cahill Gordon  
Davis Polk  
Latham & Watkins  
Simpson Thacher  

Winner: Latham & Watkins 

Latham & Watkins is a powerhouse in the capital markets space. Its expert representation of clients such as issuers and managers across the US results in it being celebrated as a premier equity practice. Its strong capabilities in debt and securitizations matters also reinforce its standing in the capital markets arena as a fantastic choice for major financial institutions and multinational corporates. Sources consider it to be their “go-to law firm” for capital markets work and state: “I have the utmost confidence in Latham & Watkins.”  

Commercial Litigation Law Firm of the Year  

Gibbs & Bruns  
Gibson Dunn  
Hueston Hennigan  
Kirkland & Ellis  
Latham & Watkins  
Paul, Weiss  
Quinn Emanuel  
Susman Godfrey  
Williams & Connolly  

Winner: Gibson Dunn 

When it came to selecting the winner for the inaugural Chambers commercial litigation practice award, it quickly became clear that the US market throngs with expert civil litigators. It was however equally clear that Gibson Dunn stands out as the "absolute all stars" of the field, offering premier litigators from coast to coast and a glowing reputation as "an excellent all-around law firm with a very deep bench." From the firm's stellar bench of renowned trial lawyers to its market-leading appellate group, Gibson Dunn houses expertise across every aspect of commercial litigation, attracting a premier roster of global clients such as media, financial services and mining giants. The firm's recent caseload demonstrates its impressive versatility, while also pointing to a common thread that runs through the practice, as this peer notes: "Gibson is a very serious commercial litigation shop that gets bet-the-company disputes." Whether class action or institutional breach of contract claim, bench trial or jury, Gibson Dunn will bring to bear powerhouse litigation chops and a strong track record of success.  

Construction Law Firm of the Year  

Andrews Myers  
Johnston, Allison & Hord  
King & Spalding  
Peckar & Abramson  
Pillsbury Winthrop  
Smith Currie  

Winner: Smith Currie 

In a challenging year for the sector, clients looked to the construction specialists at Smith Currie for guidance through the unprecedented turbulence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm’s expertise in healthcare-related construction saw it well-placed to steer clients deemed nationally essential through their pandemic response. Smith Currie’s COVID-19 task force played a key role advising developers, owners, contractors and subcontractors on the latest pandemic-related developments, assisting them in remaining operational as lockdowns, delays, furloughs and materials shortages rocked the sector.   

Corporate Crime & Investigations Law Firm of the Year  

Covington & Burling   
Gibson Dunn  
Kirkland & Ellis  
Paul, Weiss  

Winner: Paul, Weiss 

New York-headquartered powerhouse Paul Weiss enjoys a stellar reputation for its corporate crime practice, regularly representing large corporates in litigation and investigations brought by the DOJ, SEC and other governmental agencies. Its deep bench features a number of star litigators, including the firm's chairman Brad Karp, legend of the Bar Ted Wells, DC-based Karen Dunn and Bill Isaacson, and Walter Brown and Melinda Haag on the West Coast. The firm continues to handle some of the biggest mandates in the corporate crime space, such as representing FIFA in bribery and corruption investigations brought by the DOJ, and boasts an impressive client base comprising global financial institutions and household-name corporations. The team is described as "incredibly thorough, analytical, goal-oriented and strategic" by sources.   

Corporate/M&A Law Firm of the Year  

Davis Polk  
Kirkland & Ellis  
Latham & Watkins  
Sullivan & Cromwell  

Winner: Latham & Watkins 

The M&A team at Latham & Watkins is a top-tier practice that offers world class expertise when it comes to the most challenging transactions. Industry-leading clients turn to the team for guidance on high-value deals given its strong track record in multibillion-dollar mandates and its experienced and deep bench of practitioners. Recent highlights include its representation of AMD in its purchase of Xilinx and advising AON on its combination with Willis Towers. Its skilled representation in such high-profile transactions is much appreciated by its clients, with one simply stating: “Latham & Watkins is truly the best of the best.”   

Energy & Projects Law Firm of the Year  

Allen & Overy  
Baker Botts  
Latham & Watkins  
Mayer Brown  
Vinson & Elkins  

Winner: Vinson & Elkins 

Energy stalwart Vinson & Elkins remained a key advisor for sector clients as they grappled with a turbulent year characterized by COVID-19 and the accompanying unprecedented fall-off in demand for power and petroleum products. Vinson & Elkins lawyers were a first call for clients rocked by the April 2020 oil price crash and the Texas Winter Energy Crisis as well as for advice on how to manage the regulatory changes coming in with the Biden administration. The firm handled numerous significant mandates for clients across the oil & gas sector including large-scale international LNG transactions and midstream work at home in the US. Sources say: “The firm’s M&A skillset in the Energy space is second-to-none.” Cementing its place in the clean energy sector, Vinson & Elkins built-out its Projects & Infrastructure practice with the lateral hire of a prestigious renewables project finance team and the opening of a new office in Los Angeles. This enhanced offering adds a full-service capability to a group already recognized for its “star player” attorneys in the projects space.    

Environment Law Firm of the Year  

Beveridge & Diamond  
Haynes & Boone  
Hunton Andrews Kurth  
Perkins Coie  
Sive Paget & Riesel  

Winner: Hunton Andrews Kurth 

Hunton Andrews Kurth is highly regarded for its representation of many of the USA’s largest energy corporations in highly sophisticated environmental work. Key recent mandates for the team include persuading the Supreme Court on July 6th 2020 to intervene to stay a district court order that prevented the use of the NWP 12 permit for oil and gas pipelines, a crucial victory for the oil and gas sector. In its representation Marathon Petroleum in 20 litigations filed across the USA, where plaintiffs seek damages for the alleged contribution of multiple large oil and gas companies to climate change, the firm demonstrated its ability to attract paradigm-defining mandates. The team is particularly well-known for its leading representation of industry associations in complex regulatory proceedings. Recent work has seen the firm working with the Air Regulatory Reform Coalition and groups from the automotive, steel and oil and gas industries, often securing favorable outcomes for whole tranches of the US economy. Clients speak to the firm’s “wealth of historical knowledge,” and say: “Hunton has the experience and resources to handle virtually any environmental case regardless of complexity or magnitude.”   

Healthcare Law Firm of the Year  

Epstein Becker  
King & Spalding  
McDermott Will & Emery  
Ropes & Gray  

Winner: Ropes & Gray  

Ropes & Gray commands a strategic presence across the US, fielding a deep bench of dedicated healthcare experts in key markets such as DC, New York, California and Massachusetts. Its superb coverage of transactional, regulatory and contentious mandates earns it high praise from peers and ensures it attracts a leading roster of providers and pharmaceuticals. While this breadth of expertise is regularly commended, the firm's deep roots in the private equity sector have seen it recognized as a leading choice for those investing in the healthcare market. The team has also risen adroitly to the unforeseen challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing to bear first-class expertise in data privacy issues such as those arising out of telehealth initiatives, as well as extensive clinical trial capabilities. Interviewees across state lines describe Ropes & Gray as "really exceptional" and "beyond the best firm I have dealt with in this space," with one concluding simply that it's "the cream of the crop."  

Insurance: Insurer Law Firm of the Year  

Chaffetz Lindsey  
Clyde & Co  
Simpson Thacher  
Steptoe & Johnson LLP  

Winner: Steptoe & Johnson 

Steptoe & Johnson remains synonymous with success in insurer-side litigation. The firm represents a laundry list of major insurers, having notably taken the lead as national coordinating counsel for all COVID-19-related business interruption matters for major clients including The Hartford and W.R. Berkley. As such, the team has played a major part in helping insurers weather the widely-predicted storm of business interruption claims set about by the pandemic. With significant depth and a leading presence in the Washington, D.C. market, the group is highlighted for its ability to “achieve extraordinary results” for insurers.  

Insurance: Policyholder Law Firm of the Year  

Anderson Kill  
Blank Rome  
Covington & Burling  
Neal Gerber  
Pillsbury Winthrop  

Winner: Covington & Burling  

As the perennial gold standard for policyholder representation, Covington enjoys another year as the undisputed leader of this field, with sources describing the firm as being “in a league of its own.” The firm houses coast-to-coast depth, with the likes of David Goodwin in San Francisco and Mitchell Dolin in D.C. serving as trusted advisors to an unrivalled client base of blue-chip companies. The group demonstrates exceptional strength across all areas of coverage litigation, with standout matters this year including the highly publicized representation of Major League Baseball in a suit seeking coverage for billions of dollars in losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Intellectual Property Law Firm of the Year  

Durie Tangri  
Gibson Dunn  
Kilpatrick Townsend  
Latham & Watkins  

Winner: Latham & Watkins 

[In a year in which COVID-19 has thrust pharmaceutical patent matters into the global spotlight,] Latham & Watkins continues to exhibit immense talent in all areas of Intellectual Property law, as well as significant depth of expertise across the country, with sources highlighting its “broad bench of trial lawyers and strong geographical spread across both coasts.” The firm is perennially recognized for its superb ability to handle cutting-edge patent disputes on behalf of household name clients from the technology and pharmaceutical sectors, as well as a host of technical copyright and trademark issues. The group’s outstanding Intellectual Property litigation prowess is perhaps best summed up by one client, who says “I would not hesitate to go in to battle with Latham & Watkins again.”  

International Arbitration Law Firm of the Year  

Chaffetz Lindsey  
Debevoise & Plimpton  
Foley Hoag  
King & Spalding  
White & Case  

Winner: Debevoise & Plimpton 

With no signs of decline in its popularity as a method of dispute resolution, it is to be expected that there are plentiful leading practitioners offering expert international arbitration capabilities across the US. One firm however consistently proves its worth as a behemoth on the world stage: Debevoise & Plimpton. The team is held out as a premier player by fellow counsel, arbitrators and clients alike, with sources labeling it "the best in the business," "top of the market" and "head and shoulders above." The consistent excellence of its bench from stellar stalwarts to junior leaders-to-be draws particular praise, as does its standout results in both commercial and investment treaty proceedings; the $6 billion ICSID award scored for TCC against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan serves as just one example of these. Major global companies such as pharmaceutical, mining and telecommunications entities regularly seek its services, as do sovereign states and individuals, drawn by its first-class offering both in the US and globally.  

Labor & Employment Law Firm of the Year  

Cozen O’Connor  
Fisher Phillips  
Morgan Lewis  
Outten & Golden  
Paul Hastings  
Seyfarth Shaw  

Winner: Paul Hastings  

In a uniquely challenging year for businesses navigating the impact of COVID-19, employment lawyers have continued to prove their worth by providing real-time advice on constantly evolving restrictions and guidance. Against this backdrop, Paul Hastings has solidified its position at the forefront of national employment practices, advising an enviable roster of multinational companies on their most significant employment challenges including defending business-critical disputes. Recent highlights include acting for Google, Disney and Goldman Sachs in high-profile gender discrimination class actions. Clients are impressed by the firm’s outstanding client service, pragmatic advice and exceptional litigation experience. One comments: “After you work with them, you will never want to work with anyone else. Each of the members is outstanding but together, they are near invincible.”  

Native American Law - Law Firm of the Year  

Akin Gump  
Holland & Knight  
Jenner & Block  
Kanji & Katzen  
Robins Kaplan  

Winner: Kanji & Katzen  

Kanji & Katzen has a stellar track record representing Native American tribes and nations in high-stakes and often precedent-setting litigation. Of particular note is the firm’s recent representation of the Muscogee Nation before the US Supreme Court in the McGirt v Oklahoma and Sharp v Murphy cases.  In addition to its unrivalled litigation prowess, the firm frequently represents Native American tribes in dealings with state governments and federal agencies. The firm receives universal acclaim, with clients describing the lawyers as “among the finest Indian Law practitioners in the country.” Kanji & Katzen's wide-ranging experience encompasses the full range of issues impacting Native American tribes, including tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, tribal jurisdiction and taxation.   

Private Equity Law Firm of the Year  

Debevoise & Plimpton  
Kirkland & Ellis  
Simpson Thacher  
Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP  
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP  

Winner: Kirkland & Ellis 

Kirkland & Ellis enjoys another highly successful year and remains a dominant force in the private equity arena. Its impressive roster of private equity clients continues to turn to the firm for leading counsel on high-profile transactions. The firm houses a plethora of highly-ranked practitioners across the country which enables it to provide a seamless, first-rate service to clients involved in complex buyouts, with one reporting: “The lawyers we work with at Kirkland & Ellis are among the strongest we’ve worked with in private equity.”  

Privacy & Data Security Law Firm of the Year 

Crowell & Moring LLP 
Hintze Law  
Venable LLP 
Cooley LLP 
Debevoise & Plimpton 

Winner: Venable LLP  

The team at Venable is notably active in the booming advertising privacy space, with an excellent track record of advising clients in technology-driven industries on hot-button issues. The team’s substantial bench was recently bolstered by the addition of Reed Freeman, a leading practitioner with outstanding expertise in privacy law in the context of consumer protection. The team boasts excellent relationships with governmental agencies such as the FTC and DHS. Clients call the team “the crème de la crème” and report that “Venable's expertise and advice in data privacy and security public policy is excellent.” Sources summarize that “Venable is known to be one of the top privacy firms in the US.”  

Real Estate Law Firm of the Year  

Fried Frank  
Gibson Dunn  
Holland & Knight  
Kirkland & Ellis  
Paul Hastings  

Winner: Kirkland & Ellis 

Kirkland & Ellis enjoys an outstanding reputation for its handling of high-value real estate work for leading investment companies, counting Blackstone and Oaktree capital among its roster of market-leading clients. Key mandates this year include the representation of Oak View Group in the formation of a joint venture to develop the new home of NHL team the New York Islanders. Furthermore, the firm continues to demonstrate its dedication to expanding its already impressive nationwide pool of talent, with recent additions in California, including the arrival of the prominent Robert Keane, cementing the group’s place among the leaders of the West Coast real estate market.  

White-Collar Lawyer of the Year  

Amy Jeffress (Arnold & Porter)  
Chris Morvillo (Clifford Chance)  
Carolyn Kubota (Covington & Burling)  
Karen Hewitt (Jones Day)  
Zach Fardon (King & Spalding)  
Brad Brian (Munger Tolles)  
Robert Luskin (Paul Hastings)  
Alexandra Shapiro (Shapiro Arato Bach)  
Linda Imes (Spears & Imes)  
Brian Heberlig (Steptoe & Johnson LLP) 

Winner: Robert Luskin of Paul Hastings 

Robert Luskin of Paul Hastings is widely regarded as one of the preeminent white-collar criminal litigators in the country, and continues to be a go-to practitioner for individuals and multinational corporates facing allegations of bribery, corruption and sanctions violations. His impressive track record includes some of the most high-profile, high-value matters of recent years, including acting for Airbus in securing a $3.9 billion settlement with the DOJ, the largest resolution ever in which the DOJ did not require a guilty plea. One interviewee says: "He is a legend, and justifiably so." Others note he is "a real heavy hitter" and praise his "extraordinarily good legal skills."   

Toby Eccleshall, Editor USA - Chambers and Partners
Before becoming Editor of the USA Guide in 2017, Toby was a researcher on the UK/USA team and then a USA Deputy Editor. He graduated from the University of Birmingham with a BA in German and Russian Studies, before completing the Graduate Diploma in Law. During his studies, he worked as an English teacher in a Moscow language school.
James Haggerty, Deputy Editor USA - Chambers and Partners
Prior to his current role, James has been an Assistant Editor on the Chambers UK Bar team, having originally joined the company as a researcher on the UK/USA team. James has an MPhil in Viking and Medieval Norse Studies jointly awarded by the University of Oslo and the University of Iceland. He also has a BA in History from the University of Birmingham. He speaks conversational Norwegian.
Alek Quick-Tomašević, Deputy Editor USA - Chambers and Partners
Alek joined Chambers in 2017, originally working as a researcher on the UK/USA team before becoming a Deputy Editor in February 2020. He completed the Graduate Diploma in Law at BPP Law School after graduating from the University of Reading with a degree in English Literature. Alek spent time living in the Netherlands and speaks some Dutch and Spanish.
Maddy Vincent, Deputy Editor USA - Chambers and Partners
Maddy joined Chambers as a researcher in the HNW team, before moving over to the UK/USA team as an Assistant Editor. She is now a Deputy Editor forChambers USA. She graduated from Durham University with a BA in English Literature.
Joseph Chapman, Deputy Editor USA - Chambers and Partners
Having started as a researcher on the first edition of Chambers High Net Worth, Joseph was promoted to Assistant Editor on HNW before taking his current position as Deputy Editor on the USA guide. His previous experience includes working for a men’s fashion and lifestyle magazine and completing a placement in international sales for a German agricultural producer. Joseph graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2015, with a BA in Russian and German, and from BPP University with a GDL.
Jane Pasquali, Deputy Editor USA - Chambers and Partners
Jane joined Chambers and Partners as a researcher in 2011, and was promoted to Deputy Editor on the US Guide in 2012. Her previous experience includes working within the financial spread-betting space, and as a professional guidance manager focusing on project management in the charity sector. She has also lived and worked as a teacher in Madrid and Barcelona. Jane graduated from the University of Exeter with a joint honours degree in Spanish and Italian, and also has a primary school teaching qualification with Spanish.
Zahra Damji, Deputy Editor USA - Chambers and Partners
Zahra has been a Deputy Editor on the USA Team since 2017, and was previously a researcher on the UK/USA team. She studied Law at the University of Birmingham, during which time, she was also a News Editor at the student newspaper, Redbrick. She also volunteers with local charity Edible London in her spare time.
Event Sponsors
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Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
Davis Polk
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Hueston Hennigan
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McDermott Will & Emery
Robinson Gray Stepp & Laffitte
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Thursday, 27 May 2021 • 04:00 pm
Chambers USA Awards 2021