Highlights Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP
A Global Leader
Gibson Dunn is a world-class firm in every sense of the word. Renowned for our litigation practice – The American Lawyer named us to an unprecedented second term as the 2012 Litigation Department of the Year - and acclaimed for our corporate work, we hire the best and the brightest and provide the mentoring and opportunities our associates need to succeed. Founded in Los Angeles in 1890, Gibson Dunn has grown to include over 1,000 lawyers in 17 offices located in major cities throughout the United States, Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia. While we have deep roots in Los Angeles and the West Coast, our New York office is now the largest single office with nearly 300 lawyers, who, along with the rest of the firm, represent the world’s leading corporations and financial institutions. We pride ourselves both on our ability to provide excellent, seamless client service from each of our offices and our success in maintaining our core values of collegiality, teamwork, and mutual respect. In recognition of our achievements, The American Lawyer repeatedly has named Gibson Dunn to its A-List of the nation’s 20 elite firms.
Gibson Dunn is one of the most stable law firms in the country. We have posted 15 consecutive years of increasing profitability, and since 2010, have exceeded $1 billion in gross revenue. In fact, the firm is still growing, having added 21 lateral partners in 2011. The firm owes its stability to prudent fiscal management and a diverse practice and client base, but the firm’s culture has played an equally large role in the way we weathered the recession. The firm has had no associate layoffs and has run full summer programs.
The Complete Game
In selecting Gibson Dunn as the 2012 "Litigation Department of the Year," The American Lawyer recognized the firm's "stack of victories in some of the country's thorniest cases." Our back-to-back victories were "a first for our magazine's decade-old competition," and the publication, which dubbed the firm’s litigators “The Game Changers” in 2010, declared that the firm possesses “The Complete Game.” As one source put it, “They’re incredible trial lawyers and superb on appeal.”
Gibson Dunn was also chosen the winner in the Labor and Employment category because "The group uses a winning combination of smarts, creativity, and pluck, clients say, to turn each case into an opportunity to not only win on the facts … but to reshape the legal landscape."
Appellate department co-chair Ted Olson was named a finalist in The American Lawyer’s first-ever Litigator of the Year competition, where the publication noted, "When it comes to litigating cases that have an outsize impact on the public sphere, Ted Olson is in a class by himself."
Perhaps the firm’s most high-profile current litigation is its representation of the plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 litigation, the first federal constitutional challenge to California’s ban on gay marriage. In February 2012, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a decision by the trial court that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. In affirming, the court wrote, “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California …. The Constitution simply does not allow for ‘laws of this sort.’” The plaintiffs have sought a rehearing en banc from the Ninth Circuit, and an appeal to the Supreme Court is expected.
In Dukes v. Wal-Mart, one of the most important cases of the term, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed class certification of the biggest employment discrimination class actions in history, where the firm represented the retailer. Rejecting a decision by the en banc Ninth Circuit, the Court held that a class plaintiff must come forward with "significant proof" that an employer operated under a "general policy of discrimination."
In the previous term, we secured a landmark decision in the Citizens United case. The Court’s holding that corporations have a First Amendment right to contribute to political campaigns already has had a profound effect on campaign advertising.
Last summer, Gibson Dunn played a pivotal role in ending the lockout of NFL players. After the owners locked out the players, the players disbanded the union and filed an antitrust class action in federal court in Minnesota. They obtained a preliminary injunction barring the lockout, but the owners obtained a stay from the Eighth Circuit. Represented by Gibson Dunn at a hearing on the merits, the court decided that the district court could enjoin the lockout as to all rookies and free agents and remanded the case. Crucially, the court refused to rule that the owners were insulated from antitrust damages. That decision paved the way for a 10-year collective bargaining agreement and an on-time start to the season.
In a highly publicized suit, we are defending Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg in a breach of contract case filed by Paul Ceglia, who claims a 50 percent share in Facebook based on a purported 2003 agreement with Zuckerberg, who was a freshman at Harvard at the time. Since the litigation began, we have uncovered extensive evidence that the document was altered and supporting e-mails are a complete fabrication.
Gibson Dunn’s Paris office obtained a landmark ruling from France’s highest court, which reversed a lower court and held that the owners of Coeur Défense, the largest office complex in Europe, could remain under court protection while they restructure their debts. The case is important because it opens the way for businesses in France to use safeguard procedures, similar to Chapter 11 protection.
Gibson Dunn consistently plays a major role in headline-making deals. Our corporate practice is consistently ranked among the top firms by Chambers USA. Among our numerous household-name clients are Intel, Hewlett Packard, Kraft, Tenet and Vivendi.
We participated in two high-profile hostile tender offers in 2011. Our securities team successfully defended Tenet Healthcare against a hostile tender offer by Community Health Systems. We uncovered evidence that Community had been improperly admitting patients to the hospital rather than treating them in “observation,” which generates substantially less revenue. After Gibson Dunn filed a complaint against Community, its stock price dropped 40%, and less than one month later, Community withdrew its offer to acquire Tenet.
We also represented Transatlantic Holdings, a leading international reinsurance company, in its $3.4 billion merger with Alleghany Corporation and successful defense against a hostile exchange offer by Validus Holdings. Transatlantic originally proposed a merger with Allied World Assurance, but there were a number of suitors, including Validus, which sought to replace the board as part of its hostile bid. Alleghany’s offer had a higher bid price and the support of the largest shareholder. Validus finally dropped its takeover bid a week after Transatlantic agreed to sell itself to Allegheny.
The firm’s global transactional practice is thriving. In a major cross-border deal, we represented Hewlett-Packard in its $11.3 billion acquisition of Autonomy Corporation, Britain’s second largest software maker. We also represented the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of Harbin Electric, a U.S.-listed Chinese manufacturer of electric motors, in its $750 million going private transaction. The transaction closed in November.
In the previous two years, we handled many major deals, including representing Heineken in its cross-border acquisition of FEMSA Cerveza; Intel in the sale of its subsidiary Numonyx; Kraft Foods in its successful $21 billion unsolicited bid for Cadbury, and defended Emulex Corporation from a hostile takeover bid by Broadcom.
Gibson Dunn takes the professional development of its attorneys seriously. It is one of the main reasons we were ranked No.4 among the Global 100 firms in The American Lawyer's 2011 Mid-Level Associates Survey. We provide comprehensive orientation, mentoring, and training to make sure that our attorneys receive the skills and support they need to excel in a fast-paced law practice environment. Shortly after their arrival, our new attorneys attend our annual New Lawyer Academy, a three-day intensive training and orientation program focused on firm philosophies, policies, management and resources. We do not require associates to commit to a practice area for the first two years they are with us, allowing new lawyers to gain real world experience in several practice areas before deciding upon their chosen career path. Our attorneys also receive personalized mentoring designed to ensure that each associate is developing a proper career track and gaining the right type of experience. Our firm-wide Professional Development Department manages all of the mentoring, training, and professional development activities around our system. We also have developed a mid-level associate academy that focuses on the skills, including marketing and business development, that are most critical to associates as they progress in their careers and move toward consideration for partnership.
Diversity is a top management priority at Gibson Dunn. We have developed initiatives to increase the retention and promotion of diverse attorneys. In addition, we are pursuing strategic collaborations with clients and organizations and increasing the involvement of the entire Gibson Dunn community in the firm’s diversity efforts Gibson Dunn has a two-tiered approach to its diversity efforts, including the global diversity committee, which oversees the firm’s strategic efforts, and local diversity committees, which oversee efforts for each office. The firm’s Chief Diversity Officer is one of the firm's top administrative positions with a direct reporting relationship to our senior management. A Management Committee member oversees the global diversity efforts to ensure that diversity remains one our highest priorities. We expect to expand the ranks of diverse attorneys in leadership through the advancement of our junior classes; we actively encourage all our associates to participate on our local diversity committees to allow them to contribute meaningfully to the future of the firm.
Gibson Dunn has a long tradition of service to the community and provides much-needed pro bono legal services on a wide variety of matters. We signed the Pro Bono Challenge in 2005, committing to use our best efforts to dedicate at least 60 hours per lawyer to pro bono matters each year. We have exceeded that target every year. In 2011, attorneys in our U.S. offices worked an aggregate of 108,906 hours on pro bono activities and an average of 115 hours per attorney. The firm honors the pro bono work of attorneys and staff by awarding its own annual Frank Wheat Award to one team and one individual. The recipients of the award receive a $2,500 prize that is donated to a pro bono organization designated by the recipients.
The winners of the team award obtained a landmark settlement for eight day laborers in Connecticut, who were the target of an illegal sting operation involving racial profiling. The case, Barrera v. Boughton, received national publicity. Our individual winner coordinated the work of hundreds of volunteers for the Holocaust Survivors Justice Network, which helped elderly Holocaust survivors obtain benefits from the German government.
The firm’s pro bono achievements also have been recognized outside the firm. Among the honors received this year are: The National Law Journal named Gibson Dunn to its 2012 Pro Bono Hot List for its work on Barrera v. Boughton; The National Association of Immigration Lawyers awarded its Beacon of Justice Award to Gibson Dunn for extraordinary commitment to pro bono legal representation in the area of immigration law; Legal Community Against Violence named the firm Pro Bono Counsel of the Year for successfully defending the group against a demand by gun rights advocates for membership information, legislative strategy and other confidential information; The Alliance for Children’s Rights awarded Gibson Dunn the Frank Wheat Community Service Award.