More than 25 attorneys from Weil, Gotshal & Manges' New York office were among the recipients of The Legal Aid Society's 2011 Pro Bono Publico Awards for "delivering life-changing legal assistance to our City's most vulnerable residents." The awards were presented by chief judge of the State of New York and chief judge of the Court of Appeals Jonathan Lippman at a reception on November 9, 2011 in New York City.
Attorneys working on the following Weil legal teams were honored:
• Partners Carl Lobell, R. Bruce Rich, and Elizabeth Weiswasser, counsel Gregory Silbert, and associates Adam Banks, Brian Chang, Aaron Huang, Kami Lizarraga, Lucy Muzzy, and Danielle Rosenthal, and paralegal Daniel Decker for their "extraordinary" capital defense work on behalf of an inmate who has been on death row in Alabama since 1992
• Partners Konrad Cailteux and Debra Dandeneau, associates Frank Grese, Isabella Lacayo, Adam Lavine, Arielle Lenza, Jesse Morris, Kyle Ortiz, and Emily Pincow, and paralegals Nicole Aliseo, Elizabeth McConville, and Andrea Wilmer for "outstanding" work as co-counsel with The Legal Aid Society on a class action to enjoin New York City from cutting off rent subsidy payments that the City had guaranteed to 16,000 formerly homeless families and individuals, which has been litigated at the trial and appellate level
• Partners Ronit Berkovich and Bruce Colbath, and associates Stacey Harkey and Victoria Vron for "zealous and expedited counsel" on the development of a proposed class action to address the New York City Housing Authorityís termination of families from the Section 8 subsidy program without providing proper legal notice
• Associates John Goldman and Carlos Larkin for "outstanding" real estate assistance in a matrimonial case
In addition, the firm was recognized for pro bono assistance provided to The Legal Aid Society through its externship and deferred first year associate programs.
Weil Gotshal received the highest ranking for client service in the UK, according to the Legal Week Intelligence's eighth annual Client Satisfaction Report, which was released today.
The survey asks clients to grade law firms on six criteria, cost/billing practices; service delivery and responsiveness; use of IT and knowledge management; personal/partner relationships; and the quality of commercial and legal advice, and is based on responses from more than 1,000 companies, including 78 percent of the FTSE 100 companies.
Weil outperformed all other magic circle firms in the survey and was particularly well-ranked by clients for the quality of its legal advice, receiving an average of more than 9 out of 10 in this area.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges represented Archstone-Smith Trust in a major victory in an arbitration involving claims of over $100 million in tax payments and damages that investors in the company claimed they were owed in connection with the $22 billion leveraged buyout of Archstone by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Tishman Speyer in 2007, the second largest real estate investment trust (REIT) leveraged buyout in history.
Investors who were hit with tax consequences from the 2007 deal have sued Archstone, one of the largest REITs in the US, in courtrooms across the country, seeking billions of dollars in payments and damages. The arbitration panel’s decision, issued on October 26, 2011, is the first such case to reach a ruling and could have favorable repercussions in these other actions.
In the current case, filed in 2008, the investors accused Archstone of breaching tax-related covenants in tax related agreements signed with the investors in connection with their $1.6 billion property contribution to Archstone. The investors argued that the agreements could reasonably have been understood to protect investors against the taxes they could incur if Archstone entered into a leveraged buyout.
The arbitration panel rejected the investors’ argument, finding that Archstone did not breach the tax-related covenants of the tax related agreements, and that the investors were therefore not owed any payments under these agreements. As a result, the panel said, there was no need to proceed to the damages phase of the arbitration.
On November 7, 2011, Weil asked the California judge presiding over the investors’ lawsuit to confirm the arbitration panel’s bellwether ruling.
The Weil team representing Archstone in the arbitration included partners Jonathan Polkes, Scott Sontag and Ashley Altschuler, and associates Ashish Gandhi, Mark Schwed, Caroline Zalka, Melanie Conroy, Jennifer Larson, and Raquel Kellert.
Weil’s litigation talent was recognized in the recently released Benchmark Litigation 2012. A publication of Euromoney/Legal Media Group, the guide focuses exclusively on the leading US law firms and attorneys.
The Bankruptcy Litigation practice area was ranked in the top tier nationally. Complex Commercial Litigation, Antitrust, Intellectual Property, Products Liability, Securities, and White-Collar Crime practice groups were also named leading practice areas.
Fifteen attorneys were ranked as national "stars" in their areas of expertise: Joseph Allerhand, William Burck, Greg Danilow, Mark Davis, James Egan Jr., Melanie Gray, Helene Jaffe, Arvin Maskin, Ralph Miller, Steven Newborn, Yvette Ostolaza, Jonathan Polkes, James Quinn, Richard Rothman, and Edward Soto. Twenty-two of Weil’s attorneys were named as “local stars” in their respective states, including all of the aforementioned nationally ranked litigators, along with Nicolas Barzoukas, Vance Beagles, Kevin Kudlac, Steven Reiss, Bruce Rich, Chip Roh, and John Strasberg. Additionally, two New York attorneys — John Neuwirth and Randi Singer — were tapped as "future stars."