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Practice Area Definitions: USA
Below are the legal practice area definitions and regional variations used by Chambers to rank lawyers and law firms in the USA Guide.
The Advertising: Transactional & Regulatory section covers corporate and other transactional work involving advertising and marketing agencies, and other clients in the advertising industry, as well as contractual and regulatory compliance work related to marketing campaigns, such as sponsorship, licensing and branding deals. This section also covers regulatory proceedings, but please note that we have newly created an Advertising: NAD Proceedings section which covers lawyers and firms who specialise in representing brands before the National Advertising Division. The Advertising: Litigation section covers disputes work related to the advertising industry. The core work covered by this section is Lanham Act disputes and consumer class actions involving false advertising. NAD proceedings are not on their own included in the Advertising: Litigation section.
Antitrust covers the body of laws that prohibits anti-competitive behaviour (monopoly) and unfair business practices - this includes practices that hurt business, consumers, or both, and that generally violate standards of ethical behavior. Antitrust litigation and M&A-related competition work is included in the Chambers guides.
This chapter covers the preparation, drafting and delivery of briefs before the appellate courts (state supreme courts, circuit courts and the US Supreme Court). Also includes interlocutory appeals and writs. Chambers USA features a Nationwide table of law firms who field teams of appellate lawyers. It also ranks appellate lawyers in each state where there is a prominent appellate bar.
Banking & Finance
This section covers lending transactions and recognizes those working on behalf of lenders and borrowers. Both banks and alternative lenders, such as credit funds, are recognized as lenders. Transactions may include acquisition financings, refinancings and general lending. All structures and methods of credit facility are relevant to this chapter.
In states where Project Finance is not recognized separately, such work may be submitted to that state's Banking & Finance section. While the financing of property transactions may be relevant as part of a broad practice, firms or lawyers with a financing practice which revolves entirely around this should submit to the relevant Real Estate section. Where a specific Real Estate: Finance section exists covering the same geographical area, property work should not be included in Banking & Finance submissions.
The focus is on corporate bankruptcy and restructuring and the legal processes related to distressed businesses, which can either be reorganized or go into liquidation.
Also, especially in the current economic environment, the chapter includes lawyers who advise on acquisition opportunities that arise out of distressed businesses. Lawyers in this chapter assist clients such as corporate debtors, investors and asset purchasers, secured and unsecured creditors and creditors` committees, bondholders, insurers, directors of distressed companies and any other interested parties in corporate restructurings and bankruptcy proceedings.
In addition to transactional work, bankruptcy also covers any related litigation, such as disputes between such parties in connection with distressed companies and Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 processes.
This section encompasses the full spectrum of work involving companies in the cannabis industry. Ranked firms and lawyers will show strong ties to the sector. Types of work may include, but are not restricted to; M&A and financings; intellectual property for cannabis-based products and medicines; and regulatory compliance and litigation, on either a state-wide or federal basis.
Chambers guides cover key areas of capital markets either as distinct tables or under the wider umbrella. The areas include: Debt & Equity; Derivatives; Securitization; Structured finance (repackagings, other synthetic products).
Equity Capital Markets includes advice on equity offerings transactions such as: Initial public offerings, follow-on offerings, right offerings; capital increases; ADR/GDR offerings; accelerated bookbuilds; block trades.
Debt Capital Markets covers legal advice on the following transactions: investment grade debt offerings (standalone bond issues; MTN programs, Commercial Paper programmes); equity-linked offerings (regulatory capital, convertibles and exchangeable offerings) and High Yield debt offerings.
Derivatives includes the regulatory and transactional legal advice regarding derivatives products. These include: Exchange-traded derivatives; OTC derivatives; Securitized derivatives; Interest rate, currency, equity, credit and commodity-linked products. Law firms advise on product development and regulation; market regulation; structuring and documentation of transactions, related tax issues and derivatives litigation.
Securitization covers the entire range asset classes, including (among others): Commercial loans; derivatives exposure; bonds and corporate debt; project cash flows; trade receivables; credit card and trade receivables; commercial and residential mortgages; life insurance and annuities; auto loans; CDOs (both cash and synthetic) and CLOs.
Structured products also encompasses repackagings; and hybrid synthetic and structured note products
This practice area covers a range of regulatory, transactional and litigation work in a specific climate change context. Regulatory work such as compliance program design and implementation, as well as operational and project-related compliance advice is a central aspect of work in this area. This area also covers representation of clients in proceedings before domestic and foreign government panels, agencies and regulatory bodies, including handling rulemaking challenges. Climate change-related government relations and policy advice work is also covered here. Climate change litigation and carbon markets transactions are also important in this practice area.
This area focuses on regulatory compliance, administrative proceedings and other litigation arising from the communications sector.
Construction covers contractual advisor work within the construction industry for both the suppliers (e.g., developers, contractors, engineers and architects), and those clients employing these types of companies (e.g., corporates or state authorities) on their building plans. Our construction sections cover both litigious and non-litigious matters.
Corporate Crime & Investigations
While Chambers recognizes that there is some crossover with this nationwide section and state Litigation: White-Collar Crime sections, there are some key differences. This area focuses just on institutional representations rather than individual and considers both civil and criminal investigations. It highlights practices demonstrating strength in internal and external investigations, including those taking place across a range of regulated industries such as healthcare.
This chapter includes company acquisitions, dispositions and related financing arrangements, mergers, joint ventures capitalizations, entity selection and formation, operating and partnership agreements and governance matters.
Also covers those transactions designed to help restructuring within companies and their subsidiaries by change of ownership. Priority is placed on primary representatives, those acting for buyers and sellers, whilst those acting for financial advisors, underwriters and the banks financing such transactions are also considered.
This table consists of leading private practice lawyers who play a key role in mobilising firm resources and managing multidisciplinary teams to advise corporate and individual clients following catastrophic events, regulatory actions, compliance failures and broader corporate crises. This research will aim to highlight lawyers who are considered a first choice to quarterback a corporate response to a crisis, without necessarily fronting the client’s criminal defence legal team.
Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
This section covers the full range of matters involving employee benefits and compensation plans including advising on the design and implementation thereof, as well as related taxation issues. It also includes advice on executive compensation agreements and benefits matters pertaining to corporate transactions. Moreover, it includes contentious matters pertaining to the implementation of benefit plans. Please also see ERISA litigation for disputes brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
Although Chambers is aware of the overlap with Projects and project financing, the energy chapters focus on corporate / commercial, regulatory and capital markets issues arising from the energy sector. These include the regulatory components of M&A and other transactional work, pure regulatory work related to the application for licenses and compliance and enforcement with regulatory bodies. Our Energy section is divided into the following subsections:
Energy: Electricity (Finance)
This practice area covers capital markets-related financing in the electricity space. The type of work considered here includes electricity bond structuring, private equity financing in the electricity space and utility rate securitizations. Clients in this area are exclusively electric utilities and the financing parties on the other side. We also consider capital markets-derived financings in support of power portfolio transactions and electricity M&A relevant here. This practice area does not include project financing structures, which are covered in the separate relevant Projects sections.
Energy: Electricity (Regulatory & Litigation)
This section covers all regulatory work and associated regulatory litigation concerning the power sector, including compliance work, and FERC and other government investigation and enforcement actions as well as related appellate proceedings.
Energy: Electricity (Transactional)
This section covers M&A, A&D, joint ventures strategic alliances and corporate financing work as well as wholesale and retail energy trading and market transactions in the traditional power and renewable energy sectors. Clients typically include generation and transmission owners, utilities, yield cos and energy majors.
Energy: Mining & Metals (Transactional)
Work covered in this practice area includes exploration, development and production agreements as well as transactions pertaining to royalties, sales structures and taxation. Engineering, processing and refining contract work is also included in this subsection.
Energy: Nuclear (Regulatory & Litigation)
This practice area concerns all regulatory and litigation issues pertaining to the nuclear industry with particular focus on proceedings before the NRC. Work includes licensing and operation, reactor oversight, enforcement and compliance, whistleblower statutes and non-retaliation policy, as well as nuclear waste and fuel procurement issues.
Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation)
This practice area covers regulatory work in the oil & gas industry at a federal level as well as regulatory litigation. Work can include regulatory compliance advice, approval proceedings, and regulatory litigation before FERC and the DOE as well as any related appellate work including pipeline emission matters and rate disputes. Clients typically include pipeline and LNG facility operators but also include any company interacting with the regulated side of the oil & gas industry.
Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional)
This subsection covers oil & gas industry-specific transactions as well as large corporate transactions for oil & gas industry clients. Types of work typically include M&A between large oil majors, joint venture agreements, service contacts and A&D including portfolio transactions. Clients include oil & gas majors, producers, pipeline companies, services operators and petrochemical companies. This subsection also includes LNG-specific transactions.
Energy & Natural Resources – State Level
As with the Nationwide chapter, state-level Energy sections cover the corporate, commercial, and regulatory issues arising from the energy sector. This includes the regulatory components of M&A and other transactional work as well as pure regulatory work related to the application for licenses and compliance. Contentious matters are also considered here, including enforcement actions, government investigations and rate disputes. These chapters focus on state-level representation, federal-level work is mostly considered in the nationwide chapter.
This practice area looks to recognize firms and individuals assisting companies with energy transition, i.e., the move away from traditional reliance on oil and gas and a move towards “clean” and renewable energy. This may include the reshaping of asset portfolios and energy consumption across both the operational and supply chain sides. The work covered in this section includes the financing of low-carbon and de-carbonization projects, capital markets work and associated regulatory/compliance advice. This section does not consider associated environmental work as this is covered in our Climate Change chapter.
The environment chapter features both litigation and advisory/transactional support to clients. This includes general corporate issues, (e.g., due diligence on mergers), the development of brownfield sites, and pollution issues.
Traditional environment work includes regulatory compliance, litigation and enforcement actions related to air, water, wetlands, waste and endangered species.
We also feature advice to corporate and financial clients on the environmental aspects of M&A, financings, securities offerings and other transactions, which involve due diligence and environmental insurance issues.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is the federal statutory framework that governs the administration of employee benefit plans and the rights of the beneficiaries under the plan. The interpretation and enforcement of the Act is handled by the US Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service.
False Claims Act
This section includes the full spectrum of litigation, investigation and disclosure work as it relates to the False Claims Act, covering both intervened and non-intervened qui tam actions. Clients will include government contractors, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and healthcare systems.
Financial Services Regulation
This section covers regulatory compliance work and advisory matters on behalf of banks, bank holding companies and other systemically important financial institutions. Areas include Dodd Frank compliance, including Volcker, resolution planning, enhanced prudential standards and anti-money laundering. Also covered are other regulatory frameworks such as Basel III. The section also covers engagement with the rulemaking process, including comment letters, lobbying, etc.
Banking Enforcement & Investigations
This section covers the handling of regulatory investigations and enforcement actions on behalf of banks, bank holding companies and other systemically important financial institutions. Actions may originate from all parts of the US regulatory apparatus. This includes, but is not limited to, actions brought by the Federal Reserve, SEC, OCC, CFPB and OFAC, and may also include matters with a parallel DOJ investigation. Internal investigations into banking operations and regulatory procedures are also covered here.
[*Note: Broker-dealer enforcement matters are NOT included in this section.]
Broker Dealer (Compliance & Enforcement)
This section covers the full range of regulatory matters specific to the broker dealer industry. Firms are ranked according to their ability to handle both compliance and enforcement matters; individual attorneys may be ranked either for their compliance work, or for their enforcement work, or both. Compliance covers areas such as Dodd Frank and Volcker compliance for broker dealers, including SEC compliance for traders and investment banks. It also covers matters under SROs such as FINRA. Enforcement covers investigations and enforcement actions brought by the full range of regulatory bodies overseeing the broker dealer industry, as well as internal investigations.
In all Consumer Finance sections, a significant focus on consumer lending and its regulation should be demonstrated. Relevant clients include both dedicated consumer finance providers and the consumer finance arms of larger financial institutions; work which revolves solely around banking-focused regulations such as Volcker and Dodd Frank is not considered relevant here.
Compliance covers all aspects of compliance with CFPB and state regulations regarding consumer lending, including matters pertaining to mortgage lending, credit cards, autofinance and other forms of consumer credit.
Enforcement and Investigations covers enforcement actions and investigations by regulatory bodies, such as the CFPB and the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, into consumer lending.
Litigation covers the defense of class actions or significant single plaintiff suits on behalf of mortgage lenders and servicers, credit card issuers and other providers of consumer credit. Issues often featured include fair lending cases, False Claims Act litigation and cases concerning unfair and deceptive practices.
Financial Institutions M&A
The Financial Institutions M&A table covers all M&A (including proprietary deals, joint ventures, IPOs, etc) involving financial institutions. This can include M&A involving banks, credit card companies, insurance companies and other types of financial institution. Lawyers and firms who are ranked in this section are assessed both in terms of their deal making strength and in terms of their handling of the regulatory aspects of such transactions.
Food & Beverage
This chapter focuses on legal advice surrounding FDA matters, concerning all food, including dietary supplements as well as meat and poultry, which the USDA scrutinizes. Issues relating to the FTC also feature, such as consumer protection and advertising and point of sale concerns.
Regulatory concerns such as health claims, IP issues are key areas in this sector, and the chapter also features commercial issues such as taxation, franchise arrangements and antitrust. Legal issues surrounding so-called functional foods (also known as nutraceuticals), foods marketed as having specific health benefits or effects and blurring the lines between foods and medicines are also covered.
The chapter also covers significant litigation and legislation in the beverage alcohol sector, relating to the ability of wineries and other vendors to make interstate sales of wine to both consumers and retail customers.
This section includes those acting for Franchisees and Franchisors and covers both transactional and contentious work. On the non-contentious side, this includes setting up a franchise arrangement, expanding a system and closing-down arrangements. Disputes arising from the sector such as disputed closing down of a system or contractual obligations.
This chapter has three main components: Government Contracts, Government Relations and Political Law.
The Government Contracts section refers to supply contract arrangements (with, for example, Army, Navy, Airforce, Department of Homeland Security) and bid protests before the agency forum, General Accountability Office (GAO) or Court of Federal Claims (CFC). Litigation arising from the sector includes costs disputes, matters relating to the False Claims Act and other contractual disputes (such as late completion and overrun costs). Other non-contentious issues include services contracting, scheduling issues and organisational conflicts of interest.
The primary focus of Government Relations is legislative lobbying conducted by qualified lawyers for a range of corporate and nonprofit clients, including hospitals and universities. This is usually either regarding a specific proposal for legislation (e.g., Asbestos reform) or ongoing appropriations work. This work crosses industries from defence to education.
Political Law features advice on the organisation and financing of election campaigns (McCain-Feingold Act) as well as advice to corporations and independent advocacy groups on their election activities. Contentious matters include challenging decisions by election authorities such as the Federal Election Commission.
Healthcare covers a wide range of work, including transactional, advisory and contentious matters. Transactional work is primarily the sale and purchase, of some or all of a health system or health insurance company. Law firms advise on antitrust issues and assorted regulatory matters for clients such as hospitals, health systems and insurance companies.
Litigation includes matters like qui tam (whistleblower) suits and the defence of parties involved in federal investigations. Advisory and regulatory compliance matters include Medicare Part D, the subsidizing of drugs through the federally-run Medicare program. Also covers Stark Law, which governs referrals of physicians accepting Medicare and Medicaid funds, and the False Claims Act.
This chapter also features advice on pharmaceutical and medical products regulatory issues covering the drugs and devices approved by the FDA. Please also see Product Liability for litigation arising from pharmaceutical and medical devices defects. The regulation of these areas also features in our Life Sciences chapter.
This section covers hedge fund formation and launches, spinouts, strategic acquisitions, distressed debt investments and restructurings.
The immigration section predominantly focuses on corporate matters in the area, including compliance and auditing work. Firms will advise clients on issues such as immigration programs, visa petitions, mobility strategies, immigration aspects of M&A, as well as in investigations and enforcement defense.
Insurance includes both contentious and non-contentious insurance and reinsurance matters. On the contentious side, we feature coverage claims litigation, broker`s negligence and both 'facultative' and 'treaty' reinsurance disputes. There is also an element of professional negligence issues arising from insurance disputes.
On the non-contentious side, we include all forms of M&A, capital raisings, demutualisations and other regulatory issues.
Intellectual Property covers disputes related to patent, copyright and trademark infringement. Litigation concerning trade secrets also features. We also cover related non-contentious issues such as licensing and IP commercialization (US patent prosecution).
A number of key markets are divided into specialized subsections, with distinct rankings for Patent and Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets work.
Our Patent coverage encompasses all aspects of patent work, including infringement disputes and other litigation, related appellate proceedings, and non-contentious patent work such as prosecution and portfolio commercialization.
The Trademark, Copyright & Trade Secrets tables focus on work including prosecution and portfolio management, anticounterfeiting, complex infringement disputes and appellate proceedings before bodies such as the TTAB. Trade Secrets matters are also included in this section.
Related sections include International Trade: Intellectual Property (Section 337), which covers International Trade Commission proceedings involving intellectual property rights, and Nationwide Life Sciences, which includes IP-specific rankings for firms with significant expertise in areas including medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
Chambers USA recognizes firms and individuals for their practice as both counsel and arbitrators in our International Arbitration section. Individuals are ranked in the International Arbitration: Counsel and International Arbitration: Arbitrators tables, depending on whether we are recognising them for their work serving as counsel or sitting as arbitrators. They may be included in both tables, if appropriate. Firms are ranked for their overall International Arbitration offering in either International Arbitration: Elite or International Arbitration: Highly Regarded. Chambers USA International Arbitration also includes a spotlight table highlighting those firms and individuals particularly noted for their arbitral enforcement expertise. This is designed to complement the core rankings. There is no Public International Law coverage in the Chambers USA guide, and so investment treaty arbitration mandates are included within Nationwide International Arbitration.
Our core International Arbitration rankings recognise firms and individuals for their handling of both commercial and investor-state international arbitrations. These include disputes seated across the globe and held under a wide range of institutional rules, as well as ad-hoc proceedings. Examples of these disputes include ICC, UNCITRAL, SIAC, ICSID and LCIA proceedings. These may be held before either a sole arbitrator or a panel. Chambers USA does not recognise domestic arbitrations; these would instead usually appear in state commercial litigation tables. Chambers USA also includes separate coverage of insurance and international trade disputes, and so would not prioritise this work within International Arbitration.
The Customs section covers a range of issues including customs planning, compliance and enforcement. Typical highlights will include customs valuations, voluntary disclosures and representation before the CPB. Common clients will include domestic importers.
The Export Controls and Economic Sanctions area of research revolves around trade controls affecting multinational clients, many of whom operate in the financial, oil and gas, defense and technology sectors. Matters that we take into consideration include compliance programs in connection to US trade controls and economic sanctions restrictions, export licensing issues, internal investigations and enforcement issues. Work highlights often relate to key regulations such as EAR and ITAR, in addition to OFAC-related matters.
Trade Policy and Trade Remedy includes issues such as WTO and other treaty-based trade and investment disputes, bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, and market access issues. Clients will include large corporations and national governments. In terms of trade remedies, we primarily focus on cases before bodies such as the ITC, DOC and Court of Appeals. This includes antidumping and countervailing duty cases, and we welcome both petitioner and respondent-led highlights. Common clients include domestic and international manufacturers, industry associations and national governments.
CFIUS is a niche area that focuses on national security as it relates to transactions and investments. Typical highlights include obtaining CFIUS approval on behalf of foreign companies buying and investing into the US. We also consider FOCI mitigation work and SSA’s.
The Nationwide sections which make up Chambers’ investment funds coverage are listed below, with some differences in the categorisation on a state-wide level.
In California, all venture capital work, including both transactions and fund formation, is covered by the Venture Capital section.
In Massachusetts, formation of both venture capital and other private equity funds, for both sponsors and investors, qualifies for Private Equity: Fund Formation. Hedge and registered funds, including related regulatory compliance, are covered in Hedge & Mutual Funds.
Investment Funds: Venture Capital Fund Formation
The nationwide section covers venture capital fund formation work for sponsors; it does not cover investments made by funds (see Startups & Emerging Companies) or Limited Partners (see Investor Representation).
Investment Funds: Private Equity: Fund Formation
The entirety of private equity sponsor-side fund formation work, with the exception of venture capital funds, is covered in this section. Funds covered include, but are not limited to; buyout, secondaries, hybrid and debt funds. The formation of sector-focused funds, such as those investing in real estate and infrastructure, is also covered here.
Investment Funds: Investor Representation
All work for Limited Partners, including institutional investors and secondaries funds, is covered here. Typical examples of work involve contributing capital to funds in their formation and the acquisition and sale of secondary interests.
Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance
This section covers regulatory and compliance work for non-registered funds, including SEC and CFTC matters.
Please note: Regulatory compliance issues under the 1940 Act related to registered funds are covered in the Investment Funds: Registered Funds section.
Investment Funds: Hedge Funds
This section covers hedge fund formation and launches, spinouts, strategic acquisitions, distressed debt investments and restructurings. SEC and other regulatory compliance is not covered here, but rather in Investment Funds: Regulatory & Compliance.
Investment Funds: Registered Funds
This section covers a broad range of registered funds, including mutual funds. It encompasses fund formation and transactional work, as well as regulatory compliance issues under the 1940 Act. Work for business development companies and both open and closed-ended and exchange traded funds (ETFs) is also covered.
Labor & Employment
In Chambers USA, Labor - as distinct from employment – refers to the representation of corporates in their dealings with labor unions, including collective bargaining negotiations, strike avoidance and NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) proceedings. The section also covers wage and hour class and collective actions, as well as OSHA (Occupational health and safety act) and other workplace safety issues, which are also recognised in the Nationwide Occupational Safety and Health section.
Employment covers litigation related to sex, race, age and national origin discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination and employment-related restrictive covenants. This section also covers non-contentious matters relating to day-to-day business issues as well as workforce restructuring, and employment issues related to mergers and takeovers. Lawyers also advise on the writing of policy handbooks for major corporates and HR training.
Law Firm Defense
This practice focuses on the defense of US and international law firms in high stakes civil litigation, focusing particularly on malpractice claims. Additional areas of relevant work may include bankruptcy and fraud claims.
Leisure & Hospitality
This is an industry section covering all strands of legal services carried out for clients involved in the Leisure industry, ranging from ranging from hotels and amusement parks to casinos. The key strands of legal advice related to real estate, employment and OSHA, corporate/commercial matters and financing.
Life sciences focuses on the commercialisation of life sciences products (pharmaceuticals, medical devices and biotechnology programs etc). IP issues dominate as large pharmaceuticals seek to obtain innovative, impending blockbuster drugs from biotechs and other pharmaceutical companies. Also includes the licensing and acquisition of new products from other sources (often smaller biotechs to larger suppliers).
This chapter includes advice on FDA issues and the increased focus on drug and device safety, which also appears in Healthcare. Litigation centring on claims of product liability can be seen in the Nationwide Products Liability chapter of Chambers USA.
The Chambers USA litigation chapters focus on commercial proceedings before state and federal court, circuit courts and US Supreme Court. The work covers the full course of a dispute such as pre-trial negotiations, documentation and preparation for trial, summary judgement motions, trial, appeals and enforcement proceedings. Chambers USA focuses on two main types of litigation: commercial disputes before civil courts and white-collar crime, including government investigations. Alternative dispute resolution, involving non-court mediation is also featured. Many commercial contracts contain arbitration clauses, which are handled by commercial litigators. Chambers USA has also identified those firms which field arbitration specialists. Please refer to the Nationwide: International Arbitration table for further information. In the USA, the Bar is sufficiently specialised for Chambers USA to identify litigators by the sector in which they practice. Areas such as Insurance, Construction, Environment, IP and Media all contain litigators who are experts in their field.
Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations
Our White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations research will cover both individual representations and company representations. Work typically undertaken in this section will include external and internal investigations, enforcement proceedings, white-collar criminal trials and appeals. Attorneys will generally represent individuals or companies involved in matters investigated by bodies such as the DOJ, US Attorneys' Offices, state AGs and Congress committees. These investigations and enforcement proceedings may involve a range of issues, including insider trading, healthcare fraud, antitrust issues, corruption allegations and FCPA breaches.
We also have a standalone FCPA section, as well as a Corporate Crime section - FCPA work should be prioritized in the FCPA rather than the state White-Collar tables, and Corporate Crime focuses on institutional representations (excluding individual-only mandates). There are also sections like, False Claims Act, Healthcare and Antitrust that will cover some of the work that comes up in White-Collar.
Litigation: General Commercial
Our definition of general commercial litigation will always take into consideration the other practice areas that we cover in a given state. It is therefore a fairly broad interpretation of commercial litigation, perhaps more easily defined by what is not included within it. If, for example, we are looking at a state where we have coverage of IP, antitrust and bankruptcy litigation in standalone tables, we would not expect too much of this work to be included in a commercial litigation table and would be looking more for business disputes such as breach of contract claims. The work should be civil and should involve disputes between business entities.
If we have states with separate securities litigation rankings for firms, you should be able to see on the research schedule that you can submit to these separately. If we have smaller states with just a commercial litigation table, you can include securities litigation in the commercial litigation submission. For the full definition, please refer to Securities: Litigation.
Litigation: Medical Malpractice Defense
This section covers the representation of medical professionals facing claims of medical malpractice. Lawyers ranked in this section may act for doctors, physicians and nurse practitioners, as well as hospitals and other healthcare providers. Clients may also include insurers, delivery systems and long-term care facilities. This section covers all stages of litigation, including trials, administrative proceedings and appeals on both a state and federal level.
Media & Broadcasting
This section covers all aspects of work related to the broader media and entertainment sector, encompassing film & television, music, publishing, theatre and art as well as social and other digital media.
Within these sectors, we spotlight those firms and lawyers who concentrate on either contentious or non-contentious matters. Litigation includes intellectual property, contractual and antitrust disputes as well as First Amendment litigation (which encompasses defamation and access disputes on behalf of news organisation, journalists and other publishers). On the non-contentious side, Chambers recognises lawyers who advise on all aspects of the creation and distribution of content, including production, financing and distribution concerns.
Native American Law
Firms operating in this area represent tribes or private companies or state governments in their dealings with tribes. Gaming law and regulatory work and casino development have traditionally been key areas of this market. There is also a growing emphasis on land, energy, water rights and environmental matters.
The Natural Resources sections focus on mining and minerals exploration, development and production agreements, including royalty issues, project finance, taxation and other financing arrangements. Engineering, processing and refining contracts, sales structures and environmental issues are also covered.
Occupational Health and Safety
The Occupational Safety and Health sections covers the full gamut of work involving health and safety in the workplace, including assisting employers with federal and state-level regulatory compliance and proceedings such as OSHA and MSHA inspections and audits. This section also recognises firms and lawyers representing plaintiffs and employers in litigation pertaining to workplace injuries and workers’ compensation.
This section covers transactional and contentious work in a specific offshore energy context. This includes oil rigs, terminal facilities, renewable energy infrastructure and maritime offshore services. Clients may include energy companies and financial institutions. We do not consider environmental permitting or other environmental regulatory work in this chapter.
Oil & Gas Litigation
This practice area covers contentious matters, principally in the up-stream oil and gas industry, particularly pertaining to issues arising in shale plays across the USA. Work covered in this section includes subsurface and surface rights disputes; lease interpretations and litigation concerning traditional and novel lease forms; nuisance claims; royalty class actions; contentious work concerning the rule of capture; and further disputes stemming from horizontal drilling and other industry developments. Regulatory litigation is covered in Nationwide: Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation) and Texas: Energy: State Regulatory & Litigation (Oil & Gas) while large scale commercial litigation affecting energy companies and energy industry participants is covered in Texas: Litigation: Energy & Natural Resources and other state litigation sections.
Outsourcing covers legal aspects of the transfer of business administration and services to external providers, both domestically and internationally. The section includes every variation of this process, including IT outsourcing, business process outsourcing, and legal process outsourcing. Occasionally unsuccessful outsourcing contracts can result in disputes and this type of work is also covered in the section.
This practice (also known as Private Debt) focuses on the representation of non-bank investors, particularly private equity and other investment firms, acting as lenders in private credit transactions. Please note, debtor-side work should be included in the relevant Banking & Finance submission.
Privacy & Data Security
The US Privacy and Data Security section covers compliance with a vast array of US federal and state privacy and information management laws. At the federal level, such laws are predominantly sector-specific and include the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
At the state level, a particularly notable area is advice on data security breaches and on the ramifications and requirements of various state data breach notification laws. Such data security breaches can also attract the attention of various state Attorneys General and federal bodies such as the FTC, which can lead to firms being required to represent clients in investigations, enforcement actions or litigation.
Work of an international nature can include advising clients with multinational operations on data security issues relating to cross-border transfers of data, such as in large-scale outsourcing transactions involving several countries, and on global or multi-jurisdictional privacy compliance programmes.
The AdTech subsection covers a wide spectrum of matters in the AdTech space, including regulatory and compliance issues, notably those related to the California Consumer Privacy Act, and litigation. The clients relevant to this section include burgeoning AdTech organizations, as well as companies stemming from a range of sectors, such as retail and media.
Private Equity: Buyouts
This section focuses on the transactional aspect of private equity funds work. It takes into account LBOs, M&A, recapitalization and restructuring-related matters at both the high-end and mid-market level.
Private Equity: Fund Formation
This section covers the formation of private equity funds, ranging from LBOs, secondaries and infrastructure funds, to hybrid funds, mezzanine and distressed debt. Particular attention is paid to the sponsor side, because this incorporates the actual structuring of the fund.
Private Equity: Secondaries
This practice area focuses on the handling of both GP-led and LP-led transactions in the private equity secondary market, particularly the buying and selling of existing interests in private equity funds.
This chapter encompasses legal claims that allow an injured party to recover financial compensation from the manufacturer or seller of a product. This can include faulty brakes, contaminated food and medicine lacking appropriate label warnings.
Law firms advise manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, retailers and others who make the product available to the public. It also covers toxic tort, relating to the exposure to chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs or occupational hazards. Most pharmaceutical claims are mass tort cases because drugs are consumed by thousands of people. Occupational toxic tort cases occur where industrial and other workers have been exposed to toxic chemicals.
Most of the law in this area has traditionally arisen from asbestos exposure.
The chapter also recognizes firms who represent plaintiffs in products liability litigation.
Products Liability: Regulatory
concerns primarily non-litigated matters encompassing all manner of regulatory and compliance advisory work. It covers work relating to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, including negotiating or challenging potential product recalls, as well as regulatory advice provided in the context of broader litigation, transactional matters, pre-product launch risk assessments and compliance with labelling/warning requirements. Pharmaceutical, medical device and other healthcare-specific work should be submitted to Life Sciences: Regulatory/Compliance or Healthcare sections.
Projects: Power, Projects: Oil & Gas and Projects: Mining & Metals are firm only tables. Individual lawyers who practice across these three areas are recognized in the overall projects table. This section may include projects practitioners with broad-based projects expertise who are also ranked in Projects: LNG, Projects: PPP, Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy or Projects: Agency Financing. Please see the sub-section definitions below for the type of work covered by practitioners ranked in this section.
Projects: Agency Financing
Firms and attorneys highlighted in this section are exclusively those with significant capabilities in the agency financing space. This practice area covers energy and infrastructure project financings with involvement from US based and international agency lenders, including development finance institutions (DFIs), export credit agencies (ECAs) and multilateral agencies (MLAs).
This practice area covers Public Private Partnership (PPP/P3/PFI) financing structures for infrastructure projects, principally in the transportation sector such as bridges, roads and airports as well as social and service infrastructure projects including military housing, hospitals and parking garages when financed as a PPP. This section also includes the growing area of sale and purchase of PPP contracts. We do not consider PPP work outside of the Projects context in this section.
Projects: Oil & Gas
This practice area includes all Oil and Gas project financing and development work in the Upstream, Midstream and Downstream sectors. We also consider DrillCo structures applicable here. Typical projects include petrochemical facilities, pipelines and shale gas extraction assets. LNG-specific projects are considered separately in Projects: LNG.
This practice area covers traditional power generation projects; coal, gas and combination fired power plants; electricity transmission projects and energy storage solutions. This practice area does not include renewables work. Only project financing work is considered in this category.
Projects: Power & Renewables: Transactional
This practice area covers transactional work pertaining to traditional power and renewable energy projects. Specific matters highlighted here include the acquisition and divestiture of existing projects and stakes in project companies as well as project portfolio transactions. This practice area does not include project financing structures or development work, which are covered in the relevant Projects: Power and Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy subsections. PPP projects work is covered separately in Projects: PPP and all other transactional matters in the Energy Industry are covered in Energy: Electricity (Transactional) and Energy: Oil & Gas (Transactional).
Projects: Renewables & Alternative Energy
This practice area covers renewable energy projects including solar, wind, hydro-electric, biomass and other sources of power generation. Projects covered typically range from utility scale solar and wind facilities to community level generation. This section is focused on generation asset projects also includes related transmission and energy storage projects. We also recognize expertise in renewable project-specific tax credit financing. This practice area does not include A&D transactions, which are covered in the separate Project: Power & Renewable - Transactional subsection.
Projects: Mining & Metals
This table focuses on mining and metals projects including the financing of new projects and the refinancing of existing projects. This table recognizes US-based mining project expertise in international jurisdictions.
This practice area includes all LNG-specific project financing and development work for new LNG facilities as well as expansion of existing LNG facilities. Typical projects include USA-based LNG export terminals, LNG pipelines and other midstream assets and FSRUs. We also recognize work concerning international LNG facilities.
The practice area covers the financing of transport and social infrastructure through the use of public funding, not including through PPP/P3/PFI structures which is considered specifically in our Projects: PPP chapter. Firms may represent the public entity or the relevant financial counterparty.
This section covers corporate matters related to real estate, including M&A of large real estate holding companies, complex fund and REIT transactions, private equity and public securities. These real estate lawyers are distinct from pure corporate lawyers in that they typically come from a real estate background, have an understanding of the underlying asset and do aspects of `dirt law` real estate for their clients.
In the USA, zoning and land use specialists often form an identifiable category. They perform an important role in major developments, advising on zoning regulations and municipal restrictions used by some cities to control development within their borders. Easement and eminent domain (or condemnation) is also covered.
Real estate finance matters are also included. Lawyers do not need to act exclusively for lenders but should have a healthy lender client base which gives them the volume of work in this field. Some of these lawyers will also handle aspects of complex debt capital markets - such as securitization - but the decision to include them in a real estate table will be based on their understanding of the underlying asset.
The structuring and transactional advice provided to REITs (real estate investment trusts) impacts on our real estate tables. For attorneys who practice exclusively in the field of REITs, please also consider the Chambers USA Nationwide REITs table. However, Chambers real estate chapters will always cover this part of the market.
This section covers a broad range of registered funds, including mutual funds. It encompasses fund formation and transactional work, as well as regulatory compliance issues under the 1940 Act. Work for open and closed-ended and exchange traded funds (ETFs) is also covered.
This chapter features structuring and transactional advice related to specialist real estate investment trusts. The work involved includes: IPOs, going private transactions, joint ventures, M&A, REIT formation and investment work, restructurings, REIT tax issues, litigation, 144As that involve REITs, financings, Special Committee representations and UPREIT and DOWNREIT structure implementation.
The REITs: Maryland Counsel table is targeted at the counsel who specialise on REITs formed under specific Maryland law.
Retail is an industry table covering law firms which have developed a track record in serving the needs of large national retailers. Naturally, real estate, planning and land use matters will feature prominently, but the firm must also advise on franchise, IP, trademark and e-commerce matters.
Furthermore, firms should ideally demonstrate aptitude in employment matters and be able to respond to the majority of tax, advertising and regulatory and consumer protection issues, as well as disputes both nationally and internationally.
Securities Litigation includes: insider trading; shareholder disputes; contested M&A bids; reorganisations and restructurings; corporate governance disputes; director, officer, issuer and investment dealer disclosure and; liability matters and other non-compliance matters.
Corporate governance disputes arise where it is alleged that management has breached the rights and responsibilities agreed with shareholders.
Securities Regulation covers advisory and enforcement matters, internal audits and investigations before the SEC. These include SEC investigations into accounting irregularities, mortgage and credit market matters, short selling, auction rate securities and matters related to financial fraud. Clients include accounting firms, corporates, investment funds and broker-dealers.
Focuses on the legal advice required for taking a Special Purpose Acquisition Company public. Firms often act for issuers and underwriters, as well as other interested parties, in this alternative to a traditional IPO and assist in taking these shell companies public, ensuring that the SPAC is able to complete this equity capital markets transaction while securing enough capital to target a separate company for acquisition. Also includes de-SPACs, often known as a back-door M&A, where a blank-check company and the target complete the purpose of the SPAC so that it is no longer an empty shell but a functioning company, in essence, elevating the target to a public and functioning company with the advantages of the financing and structure of the initial SPAC. Practitioners frequently act for the SPAC or the target in the transaction. Lawyers often stem from the capital markets and M&A sectors but will be specialists in this particular product.
Startups & Emerging Companies
Nationwide Startups & Emerging Companies covers work on behalf of emerging growth companies, startups, individual investors and VC funds. It does not include VC fund formation (See Investment Funds: Venture Capital Fund Formation). Work might include early and late-stage venture financings, venture capital partnerships, regulatory compliance issues, other advisory work, and IPOs. Emerging markets of focus include technology, life sciences and clean energy.
Tax covers transactional and controversy-related work (the latter area is reviewed at a national level). Tax on the transactional side covers corporate partnerships structures, tax planning, spin-offs and negotiating tax-free acquisitions.
Tax controversy encompasses any contentious tax issue, predominantly at the federal court stage. This includes tax-based litigation, IRS examinations (usually concerning federal income tax issues) and tax shelter investigations. This section also takes into account transfer pricing.
Technology focuses on contractual agreements in the technology field and includes transactional matters such as M&A and financing. Law firms often work with clients such as investors or startup enterprises on a range of business issues including employment law, strategic alliances and joint ventures, stock exchange listings, mergers, acquisitions and corporate governance issues. E-commerce arrangements, licensing agreements, strategic alliances and blockchain/cryptocurrency-related work will also be considered, in addition to cybersecurity matters. IP mandates are also included in this section, although shouldn’t represent the majority of the submission as we include separate IP categories in most states. Along with technology companies, typical clients will also include blue-chip corporations from all industries, investors, financial services institutions and fintech companies.
The telecommunications section concentrates on a range of legal issues arising from the heavily regulated areas of telecommunications and broadcasting.
Work includes transactional and litigation advice to telecoms companies, wireless operators, TV and/or radio broadcasters and the regulatory issues that such companies face. These issues might be government-sponsored inquires, investigations or compliance proceedings. Other matters include interconnection and resales laws, multimedia agreements and licensing activity.
This table concentrates on matters such as financings, leasings, capital markets transactions, M&A, loan restructurings, workouts and bankruptcies. Clients include airlines, banks, operating lessors, lenders, governments authorities, private equity firms and corporate jet operators.
This area covers traditional accident defense litigation, including advising aviation insurers on coverage and other issues, as well as product liability claims, wrongful death disputes, putative class actions and general commercial disputes affecting the aviation industry. Clients will include manufacturers, domestic and international carriers, helicopter companies and insurers.
This table spans representation before the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and other federal administrative agencies. Key issues include the reauthorization of air traffic control systems and their funding, issues of congestion, global alliances, market entry, licensing matters, UAS-related matters, regulatory proceedings and regulatory elements of transactions. Firms will represent clients such as manufacturers, commercial and cargo carriers, airports, financial institutions and trade associations.
This section includes advice to both railroads and the shippers. Key issues include rail rates litigation, fuel supply/surcharges, access rights, M&A, contract litigation, regulatory issues and proceedings before the Surface Transportation Board.
Transportation: Road (Automotive)
This practice area covers a range of transactional and contentious work pertaining to the automotive industry. Matters highlighted here often include vehicle and product safety, franchising, environmental and labor and employment issues in the automotive sector. This section also covers autonomous vehicle issues and other matters at the intersection of technology and automotive work. Clients typically include automotive parts and vehicle manufacturers, transportation companies, technology companies and industry associations.
Transportation: Road (Carriage/Logistics)
Firms and attorneys highlighted in this area are those offering significant capabilities in transactional, regulatory and contentious issues affecting road carriage and logistics operations. Work typically includes the acting for trucking companies, logistics providers, customer groups and industry associations in regulatory compliance; government investigations and enforcement actions; major accident litigation; freight-related contracts and disputes; and other logistics and transportation agreements
This tables focuses on transactional matters such as acquisitions, financings, leasings, restructurings, IPOs, private placements and joint venture agreements. Clients will include underwriters, ship owners and operators, banks, private equity funds, lenders, borrowers and institutional investors.
These tables concentrate on shipping disputes often arising from casualty events, cargo damage, contracts, environmental events and federal investigations. The section also includes charter party disputes, bankruptcy-related litigation, salvage claims, liability defense, indemnity claims and shipping arbitrations. Typical clients will include P&I clubs, underwriters, terminal operators, ship owners and operators, charterers and banks.
Work pertaining to this area includes, but is not limited to, Jones Act compliance, antitrust matters, regulatory issues arising from M&A, environmental compliance, international treaties, cybersecurity-related work, sanctions concerns and trade compliance. Firms will often advise ship owners and operators, cargo interests, insurers, ports, trade associations and terminal operators.
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