LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

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JerkyBoys92

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LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby JerkyBoys92 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:12 pm

Hi all,

What are the best firms in the Los Angeles market for litigation, and specifically for a future exit into trial work (either Plaintiff side or USAO). Specifically I'm looking for information on firms that would provide the best early, substantive, and trial related experience, as well as that are generally good in litigation. So far I'm mainly between GDC, Latham, Kirkland, and Quinn.

From my initial take it seems like GDC is the most prestigious followed by Latham, but neither provide much substantive early opportunities due to their size, and Latham appears to be weaker in litigation.

Kirkland in LA sells themselves as "trial attorneys" not just litigators, and I'm not sure if this is just hype or actually representative, while Quinn is known to have that reputation. However, both firms, and Quinn especially I've heard to be sweatshops.

Any takes on the LA litigation market in general and specifically on the firms above, or other suggestions (aside from MTO>Irell>GDC prestige talk) would be helpful!!

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby ashrice13 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:04 pm

All these firms are basically the same except Quinn, in that Quinn (1) is litigation-only, (2) has an unconventional culture (no formality/dress code) and (3) does plaintiff-side work.

IMO all biglaw firms are virtually identical in just about every respect. Any perceived differences are generally just incepted into law students’ brains via firm marketing.

That said, there are minor variations among biglaw firms (and their individual offices) re: the strength of particular practice groups (EG Covington for white collar, Wachtell for M&A, etc.). I’d just consult Chambers on that, or ask around during your callbacks to get a sense of what type of work the associates are actually doing.

Re: exit opportunities, they are pretty much the same at all peer firms (all of the places you mention are peer firms), and will be shaped largely by your individual performance and the personal relationships you build. Some partners at some firms have connections with certain prosecutors’ offices, but that’s only relevant if you plan to hop on the AUSA --> white collar defender revolving door (which hopefully will be legislated out of existence one day). A handful of firms built on ancient relationships with institutional clients, many being banks (Cravath) may have a slight edge re: in-house counsel exit opportunities at those specific companies.

Culturally, biglaw firms range from formal to ultraconservative/authoritarian.

All biglaw firms are sweatshops to pretty much the exact same degree, and no biglaw firms are trial law firms.

But short answer: I’d go to any of these except Latham for litigation.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby JerkyBoys92 » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:All these firms are basically the same except Quinn, in that Quinn (1) is litigation-only, (2) has an unconventional culture (no formality/dress code) and (3) does plaintiff-side work.

IMO all biglaw firms are virtually identical in just about every respect. Any perceived differences are generally just incepted into law students’ brains via firm marketing.

That said, there are minor variations among biglaw firms (and their individual offices) re: the strength of particular practice groups (EG Covington for white collar, Wachtell for M&A, etc.). I’d just consult Chambers on that, or ask around during your callbacks to get a sense of what type of work the associates are actually doing.

Re: exit opportunities, they are pretty much the same at all peer firms (all of the places you mention are peer firms), and will be shaped largely by your individual performance and the personal relationships you build. Some partners at some firms have connections with certain prosecutors’ offices, but that’s only relevant if you plan to hop on the AUSA --> white collar defender revolving door (which hopefully will be legislated out of existence one day). A handful of firms built on ancient relationships with institutional clients, many being banks (Cravath) may have a slight edge re: in-house counsel exit opportunities at those specific companies.

Culturally, biglaw firms range from formal to ultraconservative/authoritarian.

All biglaw firms are sweatshops to pretty much the exact same degree, and no biglaw firms are trial law firms.

But short answer: I’d go to any of these except Latham for litigation.


I'm interested in big-law lit in LA as well, and was looking at Latham v. Gibson. Any explanation for why not Latham for lit?

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby dixiecup » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:31 am

Latham's litigation practice may be overshadowed by its transaction practice, but it's fine and those are practically identical firms for general lit. To distinguish them, we'd have to know if you want to specialize in a specific area of litigation (the Chambers ranking will tell you the best firms for each area.)

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby HenryHankPalmer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:55 am

Anonymous User wrote:All these firms are basically the same except Quinn, in that Quinn (1) is litigation-only, (2) has an unconventional culture (no formality/dress code) and (3) does plaintiff-side work.

IMO all biglaw firms are virtually identical in just about every respect. Any perceived differences are generally just incepted into law students’ brains via firm marketing.

That said, there are minor variations among biglaw firms (and their individual offices) re: the strength of particular practice groups (EG Covington for white collar, Wachtell for M&A, etc.). I’d just consult Chambers on that, or ask around during your callbacks to get a sense of what type of work the associates are actually doing.

Re: exit opportunities, they are pretty much the same at all peer firms (all of the places you mention are peer firms), and will be shaped largely by your individual performance and the personal relationships you build. Some partners at some firms have connections with certain prosecutors’ offices, but that’s only relevant if you plan to hop on the AUSA --> white collar defender revolving door (which hopefully will be legislated out of existence one day). A handful of firms built on ancient relationships with institutional clients, many being banks (Cravath) may have a slight edge re: in-house counsel exit opportunities at those specific companies.

Culturally, biglaw firms range from formal to ultraconservative/authoritarian.

All biglaw firms are sweatshops to pretty much the exact same degree, and no biglaw firms are trial law firms.

But short answer: I’d go to any of these except Latham for litigation.

Not to derail the thread, but how, and perhaps more importantly, why would any legislature do this?

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby dixiecup » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:31 am

HenryHankPalmer wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:All these firms are basically the same except Quinn, in that Quinn (1) is litigation-only, (2) has an unconventional culture (no formality/dress code) and (3) does plaintiff-side work.

. . . Some partners at some firms have connections with certain prosecutors’ offices, but that’s only relevant if you plan to hop on the AUSA --> white collar defender revolving door (which hopefully will be legislated out of existence one day). . . .

Not to derail the thread, but how, and perhaps more importantly, why would any legislature do this?


Because it's disgusting to see government prosecutors try to cash in on the "connections" and obscure knowledge they have about the AUSA office? It's right out of third world stereotypes. How I don't know.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby HenryHankPalmer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:49 am

Anonymous User wrote:
HenryHankPalmer wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:All these firms are basically the same except Quinn, in that Quinn (1) is litigation-only, (2) has an unconventional culture (no formality/dress code) and (3) does plaintiff-side work.

. . . Some partners at some firms have connections with certain prosecutors’ offices, but that’s only relevant if you plan to hop on the AUSA --> white collar defender revolving door (which hopefully will be legislated out of existence one day). . . .

Not to derail the thread, but how, and perhaps more importantly, why would any legislature do this?


Because it's disgusting to see government prosecutors try to cash in on the "connections" and obscure knowledge they have about the AUSA office? It's right out of third world stereotypes. How I don't know.

How is that different than any other industry? Moreover, why should AUSAs doing a public service be penalized for gaining knowledge of federal criminal prosecutions? I guess they should just have to stay in the federal government monastery once they go to work for DOJ? That makes 0 sense to me. I have a million problems with the criminal justice system, particularly the federal system, and I dislike a lot of the tactics the feds employ, but it is ridiculous to say that we should bar public sector employees from going into the private sector because they have "connections" and "obscure knowledge." Aren't connections and obscure knowledge 99% of the reason people hire lawyers in the first place?

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby JerkyBoys92 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:51 pm

I know Quinn probably does the most, both amongst Latham, GDC, and Kirkland do any of them have a larger and well known products liability practice in LA? I feel like at a minimum, products is transferable to plaintiff side. Chambers hasn't been helpful on that front.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby hlsperson1111 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:All these firms are basically the same except Quinn, in that Quinn (1) is litigation-only, (2) has an unconventional culture (no formality/dress code) and (3) does plaintiff-side work.

IMO all biglaw firms are virtually identical in just about every respect. Any perceived differences are generally just incepted into law students’ brains via firm marketing.

That said, there are minor variations among biglaw firms (and their individual offices) re: the strength of particular practice groups (EG Covington for white collar, Wachtell for M&A, etc.). I’d just consult Chambers on that, or ask around during your callbacks to get a sense of what type of work the associates are actually doing.

Re: exit opportunities, they are pretty much the same at all peer firms (all of the places you mention are peer firms), and will be shaped largely by your individual performance and the personal relationships you build. Some partners at some firms have connections with certain prosecutors’ offices, but that’s only relevant if you plan to hop on the AUSA --> white collar defender revolving door (which hopefully will be legislated out of existence one day). A handful of firms built on ancient relationships with institutional clients, many being banks (Cravath) may have a slight edge re: in-house counsel exit opportunities at those specific companies.

Culturally, biglaw firms range from formal to ultraconservative/authoritarian.

All biglaw firms are sweatshops to pretty much the exact same degree, and no biglaw firms are trial law firms.


But short answer: I’d go to any of these except Latham for litigation.


Strongly disagree with the bolded. The fact that you mention Wachtell, Covington, etc. makes me think that you are either a law student or practice on the east coast. By contrast, I have practiced in LA for 4 years (and am married to a midlevel who has worked at multiple LA firms), and there are significant differences between firms in terms of work-life balance, culture, and quality/quantity/type of work. There are also significant differences culturally (in terms of dress code, face time requirements, politics, etc.). I broadly agree that there are few if any lifestyle firms out there, but there is a big difference between billing 2000, 2400, and 3000 hours, and you are more likely to bill more hours at some firms than others.

OP, here are my thoughts:

(1) The big, prestigious, sweatshop firms in LA are GDC, Latham, and OMM, which is conspicuously absent from your list. (Munger is sort of in this tier too - it's too big to be a boutique, but much smaller and more selective than GDC/Latham/OMM.) These firms do not specialize in trial work. They specialize in very large cases that involve an immense amount of discovery and require a ton of bodies.

(2) K&E is not a big player in LA for litigation (I understand that it is pretty good for transactional work). It is one of the million satellite offices in LA, which can be fine places to work (and often will give you better experience because they are not as highly leveraged), but is not an especially "prestigious" or well-renowned firm in LA.

(3) Quinn is a big player and probably goes to trial more than most big firms, but it's a horrible place to work (both by virtue of its culture and poor work-life balance).

(4) In LA, there is a critical mass of firms that specialize in (or at least do a significant amount of) entertainment litigation. It sounds like that is not really what you are looking for, but you should be aware that a lot of the litigation in LA will entail copyright work, film finance disputes, or just garden-variety business disputes with an entertainment overlay.

(5) Much of the trial work in LA is handled by smaller boutiques. A lot of them don't hire straight out of law school or even from clerkships, but they can be good places to get experience and frequently pay market (or at least close to it).

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby JerkyBoys92 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:56 pm

Any examples of good boutiques who do trial work to look at?

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby HenryHankPalmer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:27 pm

https://www.irell.com

https://www.susmangodfrey.com/attorneys/

https://www.hueston.com/

http://www.kbkfirm.com

MTO is already listed, but they exist on a plane between the GDCs of the world and the true boutiques.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby dixiecup » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:08 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:(1) The big, prestigious, sweatshop firms in LA are GDC, Latham, and OMM, which is conspicuously absent from your list. (Munger is sort of in this tier too - it's too big to be a boutique, but much smaller and more selective than GDC/Latham/OMM.) These firms do not specialize in trial work. They specialize in very large cases that involve an immense amount of discovery and require a ton of bodies.

(2) K&E is not a big player in LA for litigation (I understand that it is pretty good for transactional work). It is one of the million satellite offices in LA, which can be fine places to work (and often will give you better experience because they are not as highly leveraged), but is not an especially "prestigious" or well-renowned firm in LA.

(3) Quinn is a big player and probably goes to trial more than most big firms, but it's a horrible place to work (both by virtue of its culture and poor work-life balance).

(4) In LA, there is a critical mass of firms that specialize in (or at least do a significant amount of) entertainment litigation. It sounds like that is not really what you are looking for, but you should be aware that a lot of the litigation in LA will entail copyright work, film finance disputes, or just garden-variety business disputes with an entertainment overlay.

(5) Much of the trial work in LA is handled by smaller boutiques. A lot of them don't hire straight out of law school or even from clerkships, but they can be good places to get experience and frequently pay market (or at least close to it).


Do you work for OMM hlsperson? Can you comment on the O'Melveny blog? http://brian-boyle-omelveny-torture-att ... gspot.com/

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby HenryHankPalmer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:33 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
hlsperson1111 wrote:(1) The big, prestigious, sweatshop firms in LA are GDC, Latham, and OMM, which is conspicuously absent from your list. (Munger is sort of in this tier too - it's too big to be a boutique, but much smaller and more selective than GDC/Latham/OMM.) These firms do not specialize in trial work. They specialize in very large cases that involve an immense amount of discovery and require a ton of bodies.

(2) K&E is not a big player in LA for litigation (I understand that it is pretty good for transactional work). It is one of the million satellite offices in LA, which can be fine places to work (and often will give you better experience because they are not as highly leveraged), but is not an especially "prestigious" or well-renowned firm in LA.

(3) Quinn is a big player and probably goes to trial more than most big firms, but it's a horrible place to work (both by virtue of its culture and poor work-life balance).

(4) In LA, there is a critical mass of firms that specialize in (or at least do a significant amount of) entertainment litigation. It sounds like that is not really what you are looking for, but you should be aware that a lot of the litigation in LA will entail copyright work, film finance disputes, or just garden-variety business disputes with an entertainment overlay.

(5) Much of the trial work in LA is handled by smaller boutiques. A lot of them don't hire straight out of law school or even from clerkships, but they can be good places to get experience and frequently pay market (or at least close to it).


Do you work for OMM hlsperson? Can you comment on the O'Melveny blog? http://brian-boyle-omelveny-torture-att ... gspot.com/

Not hlsperson but that blog seems to be the rantings of a crazy person.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby hlsperson1111 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:54 pm

I do not work at OMM (or GDC, Latham, MTO, Kirkland, or Quinn). I can’t comment on the blog.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby dixiecup » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:56 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Not hlsperson but that blog seems to be the rantings of a crazy person.


What did you think was crazy? I thought it had interesting stuff, like:

I recall how O'Melveny's partners pushed respondents with voice-mails, emails and meetings -- similar to a tactic reportedly used to get Trump University a 98% approval rating. And the results are suspicious. O'Melveny received a "#1 firm for hours" ranking that is probably wrong, as is its "#2 firm for diversity" ranking. In fact, O'Melveny rated itself so highly that it scored #1, 2 or 3 in almost all eighteen of the best firm and diversity subrankings. Due to this consistency, I wonder if any of its respondents gave the highest score on each question without even reading it -- because they work in a frighteningly retaliatory organization.
http://brian-boyle-omelveny-torture-att ... firms.html

Can an O'Melveny Associate confirm if this is true?

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby hlsperson1111 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:00 pm

My understanding - again, without having worked there - is that it is not a particularly pleasant place to work. But it is silly not to include it on a list of LA’s most prestigious litigation shops.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby dixiecup » Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:08 pm

Agreed it's conventionally prestigious. Incidentally, I found another site that OP might find useful. It tells you where firms place their Associates. I think it has a three month lag, though.

https://laterally.com/move-tracker

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby DoveBodyWash » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:06 pm

Quinn associates only get three weeks of vacation.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby dixiecup » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:08 am

Does Quinn let you bank all unused vacation days so you can use them in the future, or receive compensation if you leave without using them? One firm whose name I forget gives unlimited vacation but doesn't let you roll any of it over.

Getting back to the O'Melveny blog, read this:

Still, it's unfortunate that the legal system is so broken that people should rather complain on social media. Take as an example Ms. Ashley Matthau. She had faith in the system and got a lawyer after being sexually assaulted. Then she found herself in a meeting with her lawyer, her assaulter, and the assaulter's lawyer O'Melveny -- where she was reportedly humiliated by O'Melveny's threat to drag her by her hair if she did not comply. The majesty of the law. One can imagine how emboldened Mr. Weinstein became watching this, seeing the woman he assaulted degraded like this. Who knows how many of Mr. Weinstein's later acts this spurred; how many of those assaults would have been prevented if -- instead of relying on the legal system -- Ms. Matthau complained on Twitter.
http://brian-boyle-omelveny-torture-att ... ow-to.html

This is creepy sh*t. Biglaw is tough, but if O'Melveny is pressuring Associates to give high Vault scores, scaring sexual assault victims and doing the other stuff in that blog then it's a particularly frightening place to work. O'Melveny threatened to sue the author of the blog in early June, but he posted their threat and claimed everything he wrote is true, and there is no lawsuit yet.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby LBJ's Hair » Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:50 am

Quinn gets a lot of hate on here and I don't really get it. Is it just the shitty culture? Cravath sucks too. Anyway, they're a tier above K&E/Latham/GDC/etc (which are all very good firms), right? By whatever metric you want to use -- PPP is second only to WLRK, hiring is substantially more selective than traditional "BigLaw", they actually *go to trial*, lit-only, plaintiff work, low associate/partner leverage, w/e.

I don't care where OP goes, but she specifically mentioned trial and plaintiffs work...I mean

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby JerkyBoys92 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 1:13 am

Can anyone confirm Quinn ACTUALLY does "plaintiff-work"? ... Aside from their one time swing where they decided to sue the big banks instead of represent them after the housing collapse on contingency, and their occasional securities litigation Plaintiff side, does anyone have any examples of Quinn doing plaintiff work? Would love insight from someone who personally knows or has encountered Quinn on the plaintiff side.

All their reported plaintiff's work I've seen has been representing hedge funds, or stockholders as plaintiffs suing other wealthy individuals. Not true Plaintiff's work IMO.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby dixiecup » Fri Jul 20, 2018 2:25 am

I've seen them act as plaintiff's lawyers for wealthy individuals and companies, but I think you're asking if they filed class actions on behalf of the little guys? Good question.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby dixiecup » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:32 am

HenryHankPalmer wrote:How is that different than any other industry? Moreover, why should AUSAs doing a public service be penalized for gaining knowledge of federal criminal prosecutions? I guess they should just have to stay in the federal government monastery once they go to work for DOJ? That makes 0 sense to me. I have a million problems with the criminal justice system, particularly the federal system, and I dislike a lot of the tactics the feds employ, but it is ridiculous to say that we should bar public sector employees from going into the private sector because they have "connections" and "obscure knowledge." Aren't connections and obscure knowledge 99% of the reason people hire lawyers in the first place?


I don't know. It's just gross to hear a former AUSA tell clients he can get them a better result, because he knows the people in the AUSA office. If you've been practicing, you've heard that line. On this topic, did you read about this AUSA->Akin Gump partner? On his way out of the AUSA, he stole complaints the government was planning to file, and used those complaints to develop business from the defendant clients! I think he's in jail now. https://abovethelaw.com/2018/01/he-want ... omplaints/ Stories like this are why I recommend going to the most prestigious and elite firm. Don't go to bottom feeders that have to disgusting things.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:39 am

Anonymous User wrote:Can anyone confirm Quinn ACTUALLY does "plaintiff-work"? ... Aside from their one time swing where they decided to sue the big banks instead of represent them after the housing collapse on contingency, and their occasional securities litigation Plaintiff side, does anyone have any examples of Quinn doing plaintiff work? Would love insight from someone who personally knows or has encountered Quinn on the plaintiff side.

All their reported plaintiff's work I've seen has been representing hedge funds, or stockholders as plaintiffs suing other wealthy individuals. Not true Plaintiff's work IMO.


As far as I can tell you're right that Quinn doesn't do big plaintiff's-side class action work—that's pretty limited to a particular universe of smaller firms that specialize in that work + Susman. The general idea that they only do plaintiff's work insofar as they as aren't conflicted out of plaintiff's side work in big financial, antitrust, and commercial litigation because they have no transactional practice to generate conflicts.

Actually, after looking into a bit more, see recent representations: https://www.quinnemanuel.com/practice-a ... itigation/, it looks like they do some consumer class-action work.

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Re: LA Litigation Market/Best Trial Firms (Latham, GDC, Kirkland?)

Postby BlackAndOrange84 » Fri Jul 20, 2018 10:47 am

Anonymous User wrote:I don't know. It's just gross to hear a former AUSA tell clients he can get them a better result, because he knows the people in the AUSA office. If you've been practicing, you've heard that line.


This is a poor take. There's empirical research out there that the revolving door pushes people in government, including AUSA offices to work harder to take scalps. See: https://scholarship.law.ufl.edu/cgi/vie ... facultypub for a summary of the recent empirical research.

Here's the summary of recent empirical research:

A closer examination of the empirical evidence on the capture effect of the revolving door, however, reveals that the capture narrative has been built largely on presumptions. A growing body of empirical literature either finds no conclusive evidence that the revolving door leads to capture, or finds exactly the opposite evidence.14 For instance, a recent study finds that SEC lawyers are more, not less, aggressive in their enforcement efforts when they subsequently leave the SEC to join law firms specializing in defending clients charged by the SEC.



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