With around 200 attorneys working out of its
single outpost in Manhattan, Patterson Belknap may seem like a
modest operation relative to New York's megafirms, but the firm
holds its own. Handling litigation and corporate matters on behalf
of clients from such disparate fields as media, private equity and
Big Pharma, the firm also represents nonprofits and foundations on
a wide range of matters.
Patterson Belknap was founded in 1919. Leading
name partner Robert P. Patterson was a Harvard Law grad, who
interrupted the early stages of his legal career to fight with the
New York National Guard in Mexico in 1916. He then became a
decorated soldier during World War I. Upon returning to the home
front, he was tapped to sit on the U.S. District Court by President
Herbert Hoover. His career toggled between law and war
Patterson was elevated to the Second Circuit in
1939, but he then stepped down to join the infantry in World War
II. From there he became Truman's Secretary of War, serving until
the war's end. President Harry Truman tried to persuade him to stay
on as Secretary of Defense, but another kind of duty called:
Patterson went back to his office in New York City, joining
partners (and Harvard Law classmates) Vanderbilt Webb and Chauncey
Belknap. The firm promptly adopted all three men's names. Fourth
and final name partner Harold R. Tyler was an eminent New York
federal judge, Deputy U.S. Attorney General and a leader of the New
York City Bar Association. He spent three decades with the firm
until his death in 2005.
Today Patterson Belknap is a full-service firm
with commercial law and litigation strength across 20 practice
groups. It hasn't made any efforts to grow beyond the city in which
it began, but it has found other ways of keeping up with the times.
In 2007, the firm established a dedicated team to tackle subprime
lending and credit crisis matters. The group kept busy working on
disputes related to residential mortgage backed securities, CDOs,
credit default swaps and other complex financial instruments.
And the firm couldn't have chosen a better
location for its art and museum practice. Patterson Belknap has
worked with several of the city's largest museums, collectors and
art estates (including the Jean-Michel Basquiat authentication
Patterson has carved out a key niche with its
law firm defense practice, which represents individual attorneys as
well as other law firms-from small local shops to large regional
and national practices. In fact, Patterson has become one of the
nation's heavy hitters in defending legal malpractice and fraud
claims. In addition, Patterson helps other lawyers and practices
settle disputes about partnership compensation, manage disciplinary
proceedings and handle conflict disclosure claims.
On behalf of a medical device manufacturer, the
firm's patent litigation team won a reversal of a $593 million
verdict on appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit. The court found that its client did not infringe the
plaintiff's patent on heart devices and that the trial court in the
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas erred in its
interpretation of the patent in question. The American
Lawyer named partner Greg Diskant "Litigator in the Spotlight"
for the month of June for his work on the case.
Patterson Belknap elected Michelle Cohen, James
Murdica, and Harry Sandick, all members of the Litigation
Department, as partners of the firm. Jean Tom, a member of the
Tax-Exempt Organizations Group became counsel.
The firm successfully secured the dismissal of
a multi-million dollar federal antitrust lawsuit against its
client, a major pharmaceutical manufacturer. The Third Circuit
Court of Appeals dismissed all antitrust claims against its client
on the grounds that the plaintiff did not have the antitrust injury
that is necessary for antitrust standing under Sections 1 and 2 of
the Sherman Act.
In 2012, firm attorneys, law clerks and legal
assistants spent a record-high 31,310 hours on pro bono matters.
This marked the ninth consecutive year of 100% attorney
participation in pro bono matters. Firm attorneys' work earned
recognition from Legal Aid Society, MFY Legal Services, Inc., Legal
Services of New York and many other not-for-profit providers of
free legal services to low income New Yorkers.
After securing dismissal of a False Claims Act
("FCA") complaint for a major pharmaceutical client, Patterson
Belknap successfully defended that victory before the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In a unanimous decision addressing
the pleading demands for complaints filed under the FCA, the Fourth
Circuit rejected the relator's request to apply a more lenient
pleading requirement in cases in which a relator is unable to show
that actual false claims were submitted for government
The firm announced that its inaugural Patterson Belknap
Webb & Tyler LLP Diversity Fellowship was awarded to a
second-year student at Brooklyn Law School. Each year's Diversity
Fellow receives a financial award of up to $15,000, a paid summer
associate position, as well as an assigned mentor at the firm for
her remaining law school career. Launched earlier in 2012, the
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP Diversity Fellowship is an
important part of the firm's Diversity Program, dedicated to
recruiting, retaining, and promoting attorneys who contribute to
the diversity of the firm and the legal profession.