This "brain trust" law firm is known for quietly (and smartly)
going about its business-that business being antitrust, litigation,
corporate, IP and regulatory work, with particular strengths in the
sports, insurance, life science/pharma, export controls, data
privacy, energy, tech and media/entertainment industries.
Counsel of Record
Judge J. Harry Covington and Edward B. Burling founded their
firm in Washington, DC in 1919, with a (then unique) concept of a
firm focused on regulatory issues. Since that founding, it would be
hard to find many members of the Fortune 200 that have not worked
with Covington. The firm played significant roles in many of the
leading legal matters that arose from the New Deal. Later, in the
1950s, Covington lawyers wrote the key briefs in the Steel Seizure
cases. As the federal government expanded, so did Covington, with a
particular emphasis on issues involving FDA, the IRS, the FAA, the
FCC and any number of other multi-lettered agencies.
This unique mix of work attracted an astonishingly talented
array of young lawyers to the firm, many of whom have gone on to
senior positions in the government. Both Eric Holder, former U.S.
Attorney General, and Lanny Breuer, former Assistant Attorney
General in charge of the Criminal Division, were Covington
partners, and Lanny Breuer returned to the firm in 2013. And
Covington's lawyers are bi-partisan. Mike Chertoff, the first head
of the Department of Homeland Security, joined Covington after
leaving the Bush Administration. John Dugan, who was the
Comptroller of the Currency during the financial meltdown of 2008,
was a partner before his service as Comptroller, and has since
returned to the firm. Retired Republican Senator Jon Kyl and
Democratic Representative Howard Berman are also at the firm.
The strong team of lawyers assembled by Covington continues to
attract some of the largest companies in the world as clients.
These days the firm's clients include JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft,
Samsung, Hewlett Packard, Wells Fargo, Merck, Eli Lilly &
Company, AstraZeneca, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter &
Gamble, Abbott Laboratories, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, to name just
a few. The practice has moved far beyond government regulation, and
the firm's lawyers now focus broadly on litigation, white collar,
corporate transactions, intellectual property, antitrust,
international trade, and regulatory issues.
Formerly Local, Now Global
Early on, Covington eschewed typical BigLaw expansionist
tendencies, maintaining just one office in Washington, DC. In 1988,
the firm opened its doors in London-a strategic move followed two
years later by the establishment of a branch in Brussels to focus
on EU competition, regulatory and litigation work. The firm grew
its domestic presence in 1999 with the addition of offices in San
Francisco and New York, and in 2008, Covington set up shop in
Beijing, San Diego and Silicon Valley. Offices in Shanghai and
Seoul opened during 2012 and 2013. The firm opened an office in Los
Angeles in early 2015 and closed San Diego to reorient its focus in
Southern California. And the firm does work elsewhere
around the globe, including in Latin America, India, and the Middle
Worldwide White Collar
Lanny Breuer, the former Assistant Attorney General for the
Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, successfully
represented Hyperdynamics Corporation in an investigation conducted
by the U.S. Department of Justice into potential violations of the
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act related to its business activities in
the Republic of Guinea. The Justice Department completed its
investigation in May 2015 without bringing any charges against the
company. The Justice Department noted the value of the
Houston-based company's full cooperation in its declination letter.
Mr. Breuer's successor as head of the U.S. Department of Justice
Criminal Division, Mythili Raman, joined Covington in 2014. Its
team of over 115 white collar lawyers represents clients globally,
and is one of the few firms with lawyers who recently held senior
positions in both the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.K.
Serious Fraud Office.
Check the Scoreboard
With over 50 years of experience, Covington's sports law
department is an all-star team in itself. The group, which includes
former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, has represented dozens of
teams, leagues and sponsors in transactions, litigation, media
rights, antitrust, contract, labor and tax law matters. The firm
represented the NFL before the Supreme Court in the American Needle
case, and advised the NFL throughout the media tumult provoked by
Michael Vick's arrest and eventual suspension. Covington knows its
way around the baseball diamond too-the firm counseled retired
pitcher Roger Clemens as he dealt with allegations of steroid use
and a federal indictment for perjury and represented Major League
Baseball in the development of its proprietary television channel.
Not surprisingly, Covington alums Jeff Pash and Rick Buchanan are
currently general counsel to the NFL and NBA, respectively. The
firm has also counseled college sports leagues on a variety of
matters, and advised both the pros and colleges on their broadcast
Smooth Sailing on Troubled Seas
During the recent financial crisis, Covington was one of the few
major law firms that had no layoffs of lawyers or staff. Instead,
Covington promoted fifteen associates and counsel to partner in
2014, nine in 2013, fifteen in 2012, ten in 2011, six in 2010, ten
in 2009 and twelve in 2008.
IN THE NEWS
New DC Digs
Covington officially opened its new Washington, DC office in
CityCenter, anchoring the landmark, mixed-use development in the
heart of downtown DC. With more than 1,100 lawyers and staff in DC,
the firm now occupies 420,000 square feet in two connected office
towers on the 10-acre development. Built by Foster + Partners and
designed by LSM, the interior space reflects a cutting-edge and
functional architectural approach. The building is certified by the
U.S. Building Council as LEED Gold.
Crystal Display > Crystal Ball
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected Motorola
Mobility LLC's attempt to hold Samsung Electronics and several
other of the world's largest liquid crystal display manufacturers
liable under U.S. antitrust law for allegedly fixing prices of
mobile phone displays sold to Motorola's foreign subsidiaries. The
ruling affirms a district court order that threw out a $3.5 billion
set of antitrust claims shortly before trial. Covington partner Rob
Wick argued the appeal on behalf of all defendants.
Stop Right There!
In a win for Covington's clients, a federal appeals court on
November 4, 2014 denied an effort by police unions to intervene in
a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the New York Police
Department's stop-and-frisk tactics. The decision by the U.S. Court
of Appeal for the Second Circuit clears the way for the
implementation of court-ordered stop-and-frisk reforms.
Covington advised the Special Conflicts Committee of the Board of
Directors of Atlas Pipeline Partners in its $5.8 billion merger
with Targa Resources Partners.
The Stockholm District Court dismissed the Russian Federation's
jurisdictional challenge to a previous arbitration ruling that
ordered Russia to compensate a group of Spanish investors for the
losses they suffered when the government expropriated the Yukos Oil
Company, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world.
Covington & Burling advised Steve Ballmer on his agreement to
purchase the Los Angeles Clippers from The Sterling Family Trust
for $2 billion.