Litigation Departments of the Year

The Go-To Firm for the Defense

Morgan Lewis in Princeton represents employers in key and growth industries

New Jersey Law Journal

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Morgan Lewis' litigation department
Left to right, Morgan Lewis' Sean Lynch, Prashanth Jayachandran, Michelle Seldin Silverman, James Walsh Jr., Rene Johnson, Drew Wixted, Richard Rosenblatt and Thomas Linthorst

Morgan Lewis has made management-side labor and employment a mainstay of its corporate services, both nationally and in its Princeton branch. The Labor and Employment Practice represents 125 Fortune 500 companies, of which 43 are in the Top 100, 11 in the Top 20 and seven in the Top 10.

Of the firm's 1,400 lawyers across 24 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia, more than 270 practice labor and employment law. And 180 of those are litigators, comprising 30 percent of litigators firm-wide.

New Jersey, generally considered an "employee-friendly" state, presents special challenges to a management-side defense firm, requiring knowledge and expertise about compliance with an array of employee rights and protections beyond those accorded by federal law.

New Jersey continues to be a hotbed for wage-and-hour litigation in multiple industries, including financial services, food, health care, insurance, chemical, military defense, technology, pharmaceutical, public utilities, petroleum, real estate, transportation and entertainment, and Morgan Lewis lawyers have been at the forefront.

Sample industries are:

Life Sciences: When the plaintiffs' bar filed industry-wide litigation against pharmaceutical companies seeking overtime on behalf of pharmaceutical sales representatives, many companies turned to Morgan Lewis. New Jersey partners Thomas Linthorst and Rich Rosenblatt have been at the center of the firm's engagements and are or were counsel of record in the overtime class or collective actions filed against Astellas, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Daiichi-Sankyo, Eisai, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi Aventis, Takeda and Wyeth. The work also includes representation of global health-care companies like Novo Nordisk. Partner Rene Johnson regularly counsels clients on employment issues, discrimination, harassment claims and reorganizations in this industry.

Financial Services: Princeton partners are also at the center of Morgan Lewis's financial services industry practice. Johnson and Linthorst maintain active practices advising financial services firms with respect to counseling and litigation involving whistleblower claims under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and other whistleblower programs under Dodd-Frank. Johnson is currently handling a SOX case for Moody's where an analyst, who criticized the company after allegedly being demoted and then, suspended for complaining internally about its practices, sued the firm, its credit-ratings unit and its chief executive officer for defamation.

Public Utilities: Morgan Lewis has represented one of the state's largest employers, PSEG, in a variety of litigation and advice matters. It has also represented a number of subsidiaries of a major national water company operating in New Jersey and Long Island, N.Y. These representations run the gamut from providing advice to litigating discrimination and ERISA matters, to handling labor arbitrations.

Technology: In addition to representing "old economy" clients, the New Jersey office is fully engaged in the new economy, driven by technology companies. Examples include such Fortune 500 companies as Amazon.com, Cisco Systems, Cognizant Technology Solutions and SunGard Data Systems in a wide variety of matters both within New Jersey and around the country.

Morgan Lewis by the Numbers
  Firm-wide N.J. Office
Department Size 624 19
Department as percentage of firm (head-count) 47% 57%
Department as percentage of firm (revenue) 47% 57%

 

Major Litigators:

• Richard Rosenblatt, partner — has practiced exclusively in labor and employment law since 1990. He has served as Morgan Lewis's operations partner for the Labor and Employment Practice since 2008. In that role, he is heavily involved in all aspects of the practice group's administration and in developing the firm's cutting-edge experience handling matters under alternative fee arrangements. He is certified in legal process management. Though based in Princeton and Philadelphia, his practice is national in scope and includes wrongful discharge and other individual employment litigation; large-scale wage-and-hour matters; and restrictive covenant and trade secret litigation.

• Thomas Linthorst, partner, co-leader of the Labor and Employment Practice Group's Wage and Hour Practice, Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Practice, and Life Sciences Industry Initiative — His practice is concentrated in defending employers against wage and hour class and collective actions, whistleblower claims, and claims for wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation. He represents employers before state and federal trial and appellate courts and administrative agencies.

• Rene Johnson, partner — represents employers in litigation and disputes under federal, state and local statutes, including ERISA, in federal, state and administrative forums and in arbitration. With extensive experience representing clients in the financial services industry, she has worked closely with employers in that industry since 1993. Johnson has handled a number of trials, including jury trials and bench trials, as well as AAA and NASD arbitrations.

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