Highlights O'Melveny & Myers LLP
Founded in 1885 in Los Angeles, the Firm gained traction by handling land litigation and the legalities of bringing electric power to a growing Southern California. The character of founder Henry O'Melveny, who was a leading lawyer of his day and noted for his civic leadership, shaped the Firm into one noted for its community service, integrity and excellent legal representation.
During World War II, the Firm represented several major military contractors, some of whom remain on the client list today. The post-war investment boom drove the growth of O'Melveny's transactions practice, while success in landmark court cases solidified its reputation as a premier litigation firm. By 1990, the Firm consisted of over 500 lawyers and was a bona fide national firm unified by a strong sense of core values. O'Melveny has since expanded into the UK, Europe, and Asia to become a global leader.
Values at the Core
In the fall of 2002, O'Melveny senior partner and former US Secretary of State Warren Christopher led an initiative to document the Firm's values: Uncompromising Excellence, Distinctive Leadership and Superior Citizenship. Today, the principles detailed by Mr. Christopher provide the benchmark for O'Melveny's collective and individual conduct and direction—from governance and management; to recruiting, compensation, evaluation, and advancement decisions; to the approach to client service.
O'Melveny's values are evident in everything from its pro bono policy, which gives billable credit for each pro bono hour worked and encourages at least 50 hours of annual pro bono service by each attorney; to the relocation of the San Francisco office in 2008 into innovative, "green" space; to its representation of the winning bidder in a groundbreaking, billion-dollar deal involving the first privatization of a major US airport.
Dedicated to Diversity
When it comes to increasing the diversity of its attorney ranks, O'Melveny's actions reflect the commitment to diversity enunciated in its Values Statement. Among other diversity initiatives, the Firm funds networking and outreach efforts for its 24 Diversity Affinity Groups, consisting of people who share a common affinity on such basis as gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, as well as their allies. O'Melveny also devotes time and resources to several national organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and service to the community, including Lambda Legal, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Another highlight of O'Melveny's strategic diversity efforts is the Firm's Women’s Initiative, which focuses on identifying and addressing issues of particular concern to women at O'Melveny and in the legal profession. The Firm launched its formal women’s initiative in 2007 with its first ever Women’s Leadership Academy, followed by the establishment of an internal Women’s Advisory Board. And, in 2008, the Firm launched "WomenConnect," an online site where O'Melveny lawyers and alumni share ideas and resources, and make business connections.
The Best and the Brightest
O'Melveny takes a holistic approach when it comes to developing talent. The Firm's comprehensive training program includes both legal and business skills courses, while its mentoring programs teach junior to mid-level attorneys such intangibles as balancing work and home life, and how to develop the right career path. Recent investments in technology streamlined the Firm's work coordination system with the goal that all attorneys receive the types of assignments that further their professional development. Additionally, several US associates and summer associates have been given the opportunity to work in one of the Firm's Asia offices, further enriching their understanding of the international market.
To prepare future generations of O'Melveny lawyers for leadership roles, a number of innovative initiatives have been implemented. The crown jewel of these efforts is the O'Melveny & Myers Leadership Institute at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Recognizing that more leaders are made than are born, participants at the intense, comprehensive, week-long retreats on the Northwestern campus receive leadership and strategic business education of the highest caliber through a curriculum developed jointly by Kellogg and an O'Melveny team. The class work is tailored to the competitive landscape and other external factors affecting O'Melveny, as well as its unique priorities, structure, culture, values, and leadership criteria.
O'Melveny recognizes that every lawyer's career trajectory is different, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" career plan. The Firm facilitates opportunities for their attorneys to customize their careers according to their unique goals and needs. For some attorneys, this means elevation to partnership; for others, it means an in-house position with a Firm client or a position in government. The Firm maintains a strong connection to its alumni, some of whom work for clients such as Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Yahoo! Inc., as well as the federal government. Nothing demonstrates the strength of this connection better than the many alumni who have returned to practice at the Firm after public service, including Senior Partner Warren Christopher (former Secretary of State) and Firm Chair A.B. Culvahouse (former White House Counsel).
Although O'Melveny isn't a "life-style" firm, neither is it a "face time" firm. Along with modern technology and efficiency tools for attorneys, the Firm established a progressive Reduced Workload policy to give its attorneys the flexibility to best manage their work and personal commitments. Under the Firm's policy, lawyers on an approved reduced workload schedule are paid directly pro rata, remain eligible for bonus consideration, and may be considered for promotion to partner.
Additionally, the Firm offers emergency child and adult care benefits, which one attorney calls "the best offering you have for employees with children -- and one that is critical to productivity and morale."
Pillars of the Community
O'Melveny & Myers' active involvement in pro bono representation goes back to the earliest days of the 20th Century. Jack O'Melveny (son of Henry) was a founder of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and Firm partners have sat continuously on its Board for more than 75 years. In 1963, O'Melveny lawyers were among the few invited by President Kennedy to a White House meeting which spawned the Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law. In 1970, the O'Melveny & Myers Community Legal Services Committee (CLS Committee) was formally chartered, making the Firm one of the first to institutionalize its pro bono practices.
O'Melveny paves the way to pro bono service for its lawyers through the leadership of Lee Blalack and David Lash, its Partner-in-Charge and Managing Counsel of Pro Bono and Public Interest Services, respectively. The Firm recorded 91,260 hours of service on behalf of the poor in 2009, an average of 113 hours per lawyer. The American Lawyer, which named the Firm to its "A-List" in 2008, 2009, and 2010, singled out O'Melveny's pro bono program for special praise.
In keeping with its obligation to be a responsible citizen of the communities in which its lawyers practice, O'Melveny launched its Green Office Initiative in 2007 to conserve resources and reduce its carbon footprint. As part of that commitment, O'Melveny & Myers' new San Francisco office space, located in San Francisco's Financial District, was custom-designed exclusively for the Firm using "green" construction and design materials. Consistent with the Firm's environmental consciousness, the renovated space is expected to achieve silver certification under the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. O'Melveny will be one of the first law firms to achieve LEED certification for refurbished space in an existing building. The new office's design will reduce environmental impact, promote water and energy efficiency, and use green building materials, furniture and techniques.
Additionally, the Firm is among the first law firms to achieve compliance with the ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge Best Paper Practices program. All US offices met the program's goals in 2007.
O'Melveny is an acknowledged national leader in high-profile pro bono work.
In the 2010 case Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that immigrants with convictions for minor offenses can seek discretionary relief from removal to enable them to remain in the country. The outcome of the case, which was handled by an O’Melveny pro bono team, was applauded by editorials in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Huffington Post. As The New York Times wrote on June 17, “the decision gives hope to other immigrants fighting deportation on minor charges that are taken far too seriously by the government.”
Also in 2010, O'Melveny served as advocates for plaintiffs representing a class of food stamp applicants and recipients in Blackstar v. Orange County whose benefits had been unlawfully denied or delayed due to cutbacks at the County's Social Services Agency. Working as pro bono co-counsel with the Western Center on Law & Poverty, Public Law Center, and Rothner Segall & Greenstone, O'Melveny reached a settlement with the County that included a three-year Consent Decree designed to ensure more timely processing and approval of food stamp applications. For its work, O'Melveny was named “Law Firm of the Year” by the Public Law Center.
In 2009, the Firm worked with Bet Tzedek Legal Services to win the first-ever jury verdict under California’s new human trafficking statute, securing more than US$750,000 for an Indonesian woman who had been imprisoned and abused as a victim of human trafficking. The case was named one of 2009’s “Top Verdicts” in a special Daily Journal report and resulted in Bet Tzedek and O’Melveny receiving statutorily provided attorney’s fees. The state Superior Court noted that this was a “classic civil rights case involving a fundamental right” to be free.
In 2008, O'Melveny was involved in the US Supreme Court's first substantive review of the Constitution's Second Amendment in 70 years. Representing the nation's capital and working on a pro bono basis, O'Melveny partner Walter Dellinger, former Solicitor General, led the District of Columbia in appealing a lower court's ruling that Washington, DC's handgun ban violates the amendment's interpreted provision of an individual's right to bear arms.
O'Melveny's Asia Practice is extremely diverse and has a proven record of tackling the most challenging and groundbreaking legal matters throughout Asia. O'Melveny lawyers in Asia engage in matters including cross border M&A, foreign direct investment, corporate restructurings and insolvencies, multi-currency fund formations, US and Hong Kong public offerings, competition and regulatory advising, US and China tax structuring and advising, litigations and arbitrations, and private equity and venture capital investments, as well as the full suite of corporate advisory work, such as labor and employment and intellectual property issues.
In mainland China, O'Melveny has one of the largest practices among all international law firms. In Hong Kong, unlike many US firms, O'Melveny is licensed to practice Hong Kong law, giving it a distinct advantage in understanding local legal conditions. In Tokyo, the firm has nearly 30 US-qualified lawyers and bengoshi who engage in a wide range of domestic and international M&A, financings and adversarial matters. In 2008, the Firm opened a Singapore office, its fifth in Asia, which serves as a hub for regional work in South and Southeast Asia.
Litigation Beyond Borders
After more than a decade of counseling Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. on antitrust issues relating to Intel Corp, a global O’Melveny team assisted AMD in negotiating a settlement in which Intel agreed to pay US$1.25 billion to AMD in November 2009—one of the largest antitrust settlements ever achieved in litigation by a single plaintiff—and also agreed to abide by a series of reforms of its marketplace practices and to cross licenses of its patent portfolio. The settlement capped off a series of victories that O’Melveny helped AMD achieve around the world since its fight with Intel began. In 2005, the Japan Fair Trade Commission ruled that Intel had violated Japan’s competition laws. The Korean Fair Trade Commission followed suit in 2008 when it issued a US$25 million fine against Intel for violations of Korean competition laws. Then, in May 2009, a Brussels-based O’Melveny team helped AMD achieve a record-breaking win when the European Commission fined Intel US$1.45 billion—the largest fine ever imposed by the Commission.
Also in 2009, acting for client Vivendi Universal, O’Melveny successfully resisted a challenge to an LCIA arbitral award in the English High Court. The award was obtained in a London-seated arbitration, one of a series of large arbitrations in a dispute worth approximately US$3.6 billion relating to Vivendi’s investment in Polish telecommunication assets. O’Melveny obtained an important ruling from the English Court of Appeal concerning the application of the European Commission Insolvency Regulation to international arbitrations seated in Europe. The client’s adversary applied for permission to appeal to the English Supreme Court, but, in one of the first orders made by the new Supreme Court, the Court refused permission to appeal and upheld the award in favor of Vivendi.
O’Melveny litigators are routinely involved in some of the highest-profile, highest-impact matters in the profession. From achieving a dismissal of an alleged US$4 billion putative securities class action against Bank of America on sanctions grounds, to persuading the US Supreme Court to reduce a punitive damages award by US$2 billion against ExxonMobil, the Firm’s lawyers represent clients in their highest-stakes litigation, sparing them from billions of dollars in exposure. These results have been recognized by the nation’s most reputable publications. When The American Lawyer announced the results of its 2010 “Litigation Department of the Year” contest, O’Melveny was named among five finalists. Likewise, for two years running, The National Law Journal has included O’Melveny on its Appellate Hot List, in recognition of the Firm’s skill in handling “some of the most important cases on the high court’s docket.”
Clients also benefit from the innovation and commitment of lawyers in O’Melveny’s transactions group, who serve as “trusted advisors,” working creatively and collaboratively across geographies and practices to help clients successfully achieve their most complex and strategic objectives. This leadership does not go unnoticed. In 2010, Corporate Board Member named O’Melveny to its list of the best corporate law firms in the US for the third consecutive year. The 2009 edition of the International Financial Law Review 1000 ranked O’Melveny among the world’s leading law firms for Banking, Capital Markets, M&A, Private Equity, and Restructuring and Insolvency. The Firm was also ranked the number one debt issuer’s counsel in The American Lawyer’s 2009 Corporate Scorecard, which noted that O’Melveny completed more investment-grade debt issues than any other firm. And the Firm transacted a high volume of merger and acquisition deals, closing out 2009 ranked among the year’s top 10 most active law firms in league tables by Bloomberg, Mergermarket, and MergerStat.
In 2009, the Firm represented Credit Suisse and UBS as the lead underwriters in the US$248.4 million initial public offering of American Depositary Shares of China Real Estate Information Corporation (CRIC) on NASDAQ, and represented 7 Days Group Holding Limited in its US$127.8 million initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, to name a few. And O'Melveny lawyers worked on half of all IPOs by Chinese companies on US exchanges in 2009.
Clients entrusted O’Melveny with more than 100 announced M&A transactions in 2009. The Firm represented a syndicate comprising leading secondaries investors Coller Capital and HarbourVest, and managed by DFJ Esprit, in the funds’ acquisition of the healthcare and technology venture capital portfolio of 3i Group, advised Corinthian Colleges on its US$395 million cash acquisition of all outstanding membership interests of Heald Capital, and transacted the sale of privately held BiPar Sciences.
In a groundbreaking transaction closed in 2010 that marked the first arrangement of its kind in the US ports sector, O’Melveny represented the Port of Oakland in connection with a long-term concession and public-private partnership or “P3” transaction valued at more than US$700 million for the operation and further development of a land and water-side site comprising approximately 175 acres of its maritime operations area.
Lawyers in O'Melveny's Intellectual Property and Technology Group regularly tackle complex matters and prevail in must-win cases. One such matter involved the representation of NDS Group PLC, a subsidiary of News Corp., in a technology-intensive, multi-billion dollar case hailed by the Daily Journal as one of the top 10 defense verdicts of 2008.
The team litigates patent and technology matters in forums around the nation, both at the trial and appellate levels. O’Melveny secured a favorable judgment for Quiksilver, Inc. in a complicated federal trademark infringement action involving its US$400 million “ROXY” brand of juniors’ apparel and accessories. The victory in court followed six years of heavily contested litigation, including two jury trials and an appeal to the Ninth Circuit. The Firm also obtained a complete victory in the Federal Circuit for You Technology Inc, putting an end to a long-running patent infringement suit brought against the company. At issue was the ownership of fifteen valuable patents related to tokenless biometric computer systems.