Earlier this week The National Law Journal released their eighth annual Plaintiffs' Hot List, a self-described "subjective take on the major players in the plaintiffs' bar," with a focus on firms that are performing "exemplary, cutting-edge work on the plaintiffs' side and with "an impressive track record within the previous three to five years."
The list, which names fifteen plaintiff side firms, is heavy on the securities litigation firms, with all but two firms having a securities litigation practice. Another common theme - the repeat players, with most of the firms having spent a number of years on the list at this point.
Here is the list together with a brief blurb about each firm from the article.
Barroway Topaz Kessler Meltzer & Check
With 72 attorneys, the firm is among the largest pure plaintiff side firms in the securities litigation world. World being the key word, as the firm has "expanded its practice into Canada and Europe," and just opened their first satellite office, in San Francisco.
Berger & Montague
One of the oldest firms doing plaintiff side work, during the past year, the Philadelphia firm reached nine figure settlements on behalf of two large classes and established aiding and abetting liability as a cause of action for securities fraud in New Jersey state court.
From humble beginnings in 1993, the firm, which specialized in shareholder litigation, now has 30 attorneys, and played a key role in the recently (and finally) settled IPO litigation.
Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann
The firm has been lead or co-lead counsel in five of the 10 largest securities class action settlements of all time. The article also notes that "[a]s a percentage of recoverable damages, the firm consistently achieves the highest returns for investors - multiples above the averages reflected in national studies."
Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy
The firm, also known for their antitrust work, filed one of the first cases against Bernard L. Madoff's feeder funds. In addition, CP&M partners "were the only attorneys to interview Bernard Madoff in prison after filing actions on behalf of his victims."
Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins
The firm, took a rare securities class action to trial in May, securing a verdict that opened the door to $1 billion in damages, and in 2008 settled the UnitedHealth Group stock-options backdating litigation for $895 million - a settlement that "represented more than twice the total recoveries from the 11 other options backdating cases completed at the time."
Grant & Eisenhofer
Entering just the 12th year of it's existence, the firm is a major player in the securities litigation arena. The article highlights the Genentech merger litigation, where the firm opposed the $43.7 billion buyout of Genentech by Roche Holding Ltd. The settlement added $3.9 billion to the pot.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
With 43 attorneys in six offices, the firm has a nationally recognized practice in class action and complex litigation. Major victories during the past year included large settlements in the AWP litigation, which centered on allegations that McKesson Corp., in concert with First DataBank Inc., manipulated wholesale drug-pricing benchmarks to inflate the price of more than 400 commonly prescribed drugs., and a Consumer Protection Act case against Expedia, which settled for $123.4 million, the largest in Washington state history for a consumer class action. Plus, they are probably the only law firm to sponsor an elite level cycling team.
With more than four decades of achievements under the belt, the firm is not resting on their laurels, having secured a $109 million settlement with Ernst & Young in the HealthSouth litigation, the eighth largest with an outside auditor. The firm is also a founding member of the Institute for Law and Economic Policy.
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein
Based in San Francisco, the 50 attorney firm was one of the earliest firms to establish a formal relationship with non-US attorneys (Toronto's Rochon Genova) to co-venture cases. Though known for litigating a diverse range of cases, the firm has serious securities litigation chops, having secured more than $118 million in settlements in the Broadcom stock-options backdating derivative case.
The firm returns to the list after a several year hiatus. Hardly down and out, the firm added eight attorneys this year, launched a new bankruptcy practice, and opened offices in Tampa, Fla., and Detroit. Milberg was co-lead counsel in the IPO litigation, as well as the $750 million settlement in the Xerox Corp. litigation.
Phillips & Cohen
One of only two firms on the list with no securities litigation practice, the firm is a powerhouse in the area of whistle-blower and qui tam litigation. According to the article, "[o]f the $13.6 billion in government recoveries under the False Claim Act, the firm was responsible for more than $3.5 billion."
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges
According to their website, they are "the only firm in the United States that has won four nine-figure jury verdicts in the last seven years. In the same period we won four nine-figure and two ten-figure settlements." While the firm has a strong securities litigation practice, the cases they take are generally individual actions, and not class actions. As a side note, a blurb on their website noting that they have "achieved these results for plaintiffs even though most of our practice is on the defense side," might theoretically prevent the firm from returning to the list in the future.
While more known for their pharmaceutical and mass tort cases, the firm was among the first to bring Madoff-related investor suits, and has partnered with Milberg on a number of such cases.
The second firm on the NLJ list without a securities litigation practice, the Philadelphia based firm is well known for their prowess in intellectual property litigation.