Since its inception just over 20 years ago, the young firm of
Susman Godfrey has quickly established itself as one of the
Southwest's premiere litigation firms. Its trial practice is
diverse, but many of the firm's largest clients come from the
energy and technology sectors.
In 1980 Steve Susman formed a Houston firm, and was soon joined
by Lee Godfrey. The two had a vision of trying commercial cases on
contingency, a practice then largely confined to personal injury
The firm's very first case, widely known as the Corrugated
Container antitrust trial, resulted in one of the nation's
highest-ever antitrust jury verdicts and established the firm as a
go-to option for plaintiffs in antitrust cases. In 1980, the
newly-formed seven-attorney firm represented the plaintiffs in a
suit alleging that 40 corrugated box manufacturers fixed prices.
All but one of the defendants settled. That proved to be a costly
mistake for the remaining defendant, Mead Paper. Following a
three-month trial, the jury returned a verdict affirming that Mead
had conspired to fix prices for at least 12 years. The jury awarded
nearly $1 billion in damages (in addition to the settlements, which
were in excess of $500 million). The firm has since represented
such companies as Gateway, Novell and Caldera in successful private
antitrust actions against Microsoft.
Every small-to-midsized firm likes to think of itself as a
boutique-a smaller, specialized firm that attracts high-end clients
and recruits high-end lawyers. Count Susman Godfrey, however, as
one of the true boutiques. The litigation star maintains five
offices-its Houston headquarters, a smaller Dallas branch, two
offices on the west coast and a branch in New York-that house a
total of 107 attorneys. Its small size notwithstanding, the firm
handles truly megawatt cases. Its associates earn as much as (or
often more than) their peers at much larger firms.
Theater of Law
Because of the scientific and technological basis of much of the
firm's work, a large percentage of Susman Godfrey attorneys,
unsurprisingly, have technical backgrounds. The firm also places a
special emphasis on research and writing backgrounds: a majority of
its attorneys were members of their schools' law reviews and nearly
all clerked for federal judges (including eight for justices of the
U.S. Supreme Court). If you make partner at the firm, you can
expect to go through a ritual fitting for your very own pair of
designer cowboy boots, as per firm tradition.