The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Omid H. Nasab, Partner—Litigation Department
Omid H. Nasab is a partner in Cravath’s Litigation Department and a member of the Firm’s Financial Restructuring & Reorganization practice. He has handled a wide variety of litigation cases, including intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, environmental, securities and bankruptcy matters.
Omid received a B.A. from Duke University in 2002 and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2006, where he was a Stone Scholar and was awarded the Whitney North Seymour Medal. After a clerkship with the Hon. Bruce W. Kauffman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and a clerkship with the Hon. Deborah L. Cook of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Omid joined Cravath in 2008 and became a partner in 2015.
Please provide an overview of what, substantively, your practice area entails.
I handle a wide variety of significant and complex litigation cases, including mergers and acquisitions, securities and environmental matters. Additionally, I am actively involved in the Firm’s Financial Restructuring and Reorganization practice, and am currently representing several clients in disputes arising from debtor/creditor relations.
What types of clients do you represent?
I represent a range of clients, including Credit Suisse, NCR, IBM, Precision Castparts, Allied World and YPF S.A.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Right now, I am representing Precision Castparts and its former board of directors in a purported shareholder class action litigation related to Precision’s $37 billion acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway. I am also representing Credit Suisse in pursuing in excess of $1 billion in claims in the Lehman bankruptcy related to the early termination of certain derivative trades by Lehman.
I have also been part of a team representing NCR in several trials and appeals related to legacy environmental matters, including securing precedent-establishing rulings from the Seventh Circuit on the viability of the “divisibility defense” and “useful product defense” in Superfund litigation.
How did you decide to practice in your area?
Growing up, I always imagined I would be a litigator. I am not sure where the vision came from—my dad is a doctor and my mom is a teacher, and there were no lawyers in our family. Even so, I always imagined myself in a courtroom, and I followed that impulse to law school and then to Cravath as a summer associate. I was hooked from the first case I worked on as a summer associate—a pro bono matter that went to trial and ultimately settled during closing arguments.
What is a typical day or week like in your practice area?
Working with a range of clients on a variety of matters across jurisdictions, no two days are the same. I can, however, use yesterday as an example: I spent the first half of the morning reviewing a deposition outline for an associate preparing to take a deposition later this week, and providing suggestions and tips. The second half of the morning was devoted to preparing for an upcoming oral argument in a bankruptcy matter. That afternoon, I interviewed a potential damages expert for a securities matter and went for coffee with associates on my team.
What is the best thing about your practice area?
Hands down, the answer is trials. For me, nothing beats the exhilaration of trials, which is often mixed with a healthy dose of terror and drama. It is an incredible feeling to see all the time and effort you and your team have put in over the course of months or years come to life and pay off for a client during the course of a trial.
What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?
The most challenging aspect of my practice is the scale and complexity of the disputes we handle. For example, I have been involved in cases involving valuation disputes over thousands of different, esoteric financial products, pharmaceutical patent disputes and disputes over the sources of decades-old pollution into complex river systems. There is no shortcut to rolling up your sleeves and throwing yourself into fields and areas you may know nothing about, but need to master in order to litigate the case effectively. Having to scale so many steep learning curves can be challenging, but the intellectual variety is one of the aspects of this job that is also rewarding and fun.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
The rotation system at Cravath provides exceptional training. As a result of the Firm’s rotation system, I had the chance to work closely with a partner for a period of time and then switch to work with a different partner within the department several times. Working side-by-side and learning from a number of amazing advocates, each with their own style, was incredible, and it helped me to develop my own style of lawyering.
More generally, for anyone who wants to be a litigator, I would recommend taking advantage of opportunities that allow you to stand up on your feet and make arguments. I thought both the moot court competition and the trial advocacy course at my law school were very helpful experiences to have had when I did my first argument at Cravath as a second-year associate and when I examined my first witness at trial as a fourth-year.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area? What do you wish you had known before joining your practice area?
There can be a misconception that litigation departments at large law firms do not go to trial often, and it could not be further from the truth at Cravath. As an associate, I went to trial on nine different occasions, and it would be rare for some team within the department to not be at trial or be gearing up for trial. At Cravath, we are trial lawyers at our core and I think going to trial is one of the greatest parts of being a litigator generally.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm, and how has it evolved since you have been at the firm?
The most unique aspect of our practice at Cravath is the extent to which we are willing to give responsibility to associates. Within my first two years at Cravath, I had taken and defended depositions, drafted summary judgment papers and argued motions. By the time I was a mid-level associate, I examined both fact and expert witnesses in multiple billion-dollar trials and was regularly permitted to take lead roles in meetings with senior client representatives. There is incredible support and opportunity at Cravath for associates to play key roles on our teams and I think that’s a really unique attribute of the Firm and its ability to develop talent.
What activities do you enjoy when you are not in the office, and how do you make time for them?
When I am not working, I like to spend time with my wife, my three-year-old daughter, Emma, and one-year-old son, Aidan. The weekends are filled with visits to the playground, puzzles and legos, and reading books. Our work is unpredictable and demanding, so you need to stay flexible, but carving out time for my family is always a priority.