The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Edward Moss, Partner—Litigation
Edward Moss is a trial lawyer who represents companies and individuals in state and federal courts across the country in a wide range of high-stakes commercial litigation, with a focus on securities, antitrust, and merger-and-acquisition-related lawsuits. Edward has conducted 10 trials, hearings, or evidentiary hearings and teaches a trial-skills workshop for junior antitrust lawyers. Benchmark Litigation has recognized Edward as a “Future Star” and named him to its “40 & Under Hot List” in Antitrust, General Commercial, and Securities. Edward also maintains an active pro bono docket.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
My practice spans various areas—securities, antitrust, and general commercial litigation. I litigate all aspects of cases, from motions to dismiss through post-trial motions and hearings. These types of cases are filed (and our clients are) everywhere, and so at any given time, I find myself litigating in many different courts throughout the country.
What types of clients do you represent?
I work on a broad range of matters for clients across several industries. For example, I have represented banks and investment companies, technology companies, energy providers, medical device providers and pharmaceutical companies, sports franchises, manufacturers, and airlines—to name a few.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I most often help defend companies against antitrust, securities-fraud, or contract claims. There is a lot of class action work, but I also represent companies in disputes against business partners or competitors—and sometimes I even wind up on the plaintiff’s side in those types of disputes. Although the substantive legal issues can overlap between cases, every case involves different businesses and different personalities. There’s always something new to learn and a new challenge (or many) to overcome.
How did you choose this practice area?
Coming out of college as an Economics major, I was torn between starting law school and going into finance. In law school, my favorite class was Business Associations—which was basically Delaware corporate law. And entering the profession, I knew I wanted to work on high-stakes, bet-the-
company matters. Putting all those together, securities litigation was a natural fit.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
I spend many days in depositions or in court, and those are always the most fun. But the other days are exciting, too—always challenging and full of strategic decisions. I spend a lot of time preparing for depositions or court, writing briefs, negotiating with or writing to opposing counsel, advising clients, and meeting with my teams to discuss projects and status. On some days, things are relatively quiet, and I can focus on one or two cases. On other days, everything seems to hit at once, and I’m putting out fires on up to 10 or 12 matters—all in one day. But no matter what kind of a day it is, I usually end up accomplishing a lot—while also having more on my to-do list than when the day started!
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
In many ways, being a securities litigator is a lot like litigating in other areas: It’s important to develop strong writing and oral-advocacy skills. But in my view, learning how to try cases is the biggest key to success. Preparing for and conducting trials teach all the skills you need to be a strong litigator, including writing, advocacy, and time management, as well as having grace under pressure, working on teams, gaining trust of clients, and thinking strategically. And once you know how to try a case, that type of mindset makes you better at all of the pre-trial phases, especially developing a record in discovery. In all litigation, but particularly in the context of federal securities cases that most often don’t go to trial, having a lawyer who is not afraid to try the case gives clients a big advantage. I’d recommend that law students who want to be litigators take trial-advocacy classes (especially those that involve mock trials) and that new litigators try to get staffed on as many trials as possible. Although the latter involves some luck, one good way to make your own luck is to take on pro bono cases, which often provide stand-up court experience for more-junior attorneys.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Federal securities cases often present high stakes and large potential liability, and clients tend to focus intently on M&A litigation because it typically involves important transactions. As a result, securities litigation gives lawyers an opportunity to truly partner with clients, spend time with them, and learn their business, and also develop a strategy that not only meets the needs of the case, but also of the client’s overall business objectives.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area?
I think there’s a misconception that securities litigation is dry and repetitive and that cases can drag on for years with little activity, but my experience has been the opposite. Federal securities cases at their core are about how companies represent their business to the market, and litigating them requires a deep dive into fascinating issues like how companies operate and what drives their business, as well as an understanding of what types of information move stock prices and how. And M&A litigation is often fast paced and can provide the chance to essentially try a case, soup to nuts, in a matter of weeks.
How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?
Like me, many securities litigators on the defense side tend to practice across several areas, including white collar, antitrust, and general commercial litigation. I believe that trend not only will continue, but will increase. Securities litigation skills are transferrable to other types of cases. For example, there have been several antitrust class actions in recent years that allege collusion by financial institutions in setting interest rates or terms under which they offer debt. These types of cases require the type of in-depth understanding of financial products that securities litigators have (and many of these cases are filed by plaintiffs’ firms that we know well because they also play in the securities space). Similarly, ERISA cases involve many of the same concepts as securities and M&A litigation, and there’s obvious overlap between securities litigation and SEC work. As some clients look to partner with a smaller number of law firms for the bulk of their work, I expect securities litigators to work on an increasing number of related but different—and equally challenging and interesting—types of cases.
What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?
In my view, strong litigators with training in complex cases can do anything across the profession. Many securities litigators stay at law firms or go into government, but there are also a wealth of in-house opportunities at banks and financial-services and investment companies, as well as at public and private companies across nearly every other industry. Although many in-house opportunities are targeted to transactional lawyers, I think someone with deep experience litigating contract and other commercial disputes is extremely well-suited even for transaction-heavy in-house roles because he or she understands what types of provisions (in contracts, disclosures,
etc.) are most likely to cause problems and will be particularly adept at seeing around corners and assessing and advising on risk.