Litigation Departments of the Year

The Best Blend of Best Practices

Greenberg Traurig puts its collective brainpower to work in New Jersey

New Jersey Law Journal

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Left to Right: Marc Groves, Kerry Jean Moore, Michael Nicodema, Eric Aronson, Kristine Feher, Theodore McEvoy, Robert Epstein, Todd Schleifstein, Jason Kislin, Jacqueline Greenberg Vogt, James Manning, Helen Kleiner, Michael Slocum, Philip R. Sellinger, Geoffrey Berman, David Sellinger, Aaron Van Nostrand, Cory Mitchell Gray, Eric Wong, Rodman Law, Michael Glanzman, Micala Robinson, Louis Smith, Shevani Jaisingh, Ian Marx, Colleen Giusto, David Jay

In gauging the relative strengths of legal departments at New Jersey firms this year, the best yardstick we found was each firm's success in applying best practices to its work — not just in management of resources and technology, but also in strategic and logistic decision-making. By those measures, Greenberg Traurig led the field.

Based in Florham Park, the firm's New Jersey branch is, by the numbers, a sliver of its national and international presence: 75 lawyers out of a total 1,750 in 33 offices. Yet, it is closely integrated with larger practice groups. New Jersey managing partner Philip Sellinger is chair of Greenberg Traurig's Global Litigation Practice and in that position helps determine and develop broad firm litigation initiatives.

Greenberg Traurig exemplifies best practices in its use of technology and maintenance of infrastructure. New Jersey litigators are equipped to work with other litigators throughout the firm regardless of physical location, which allows local clients to take full advantage of the firm's broad geographic reach and depth of subject area expertise.

This interaction works particularly well in litigation. New Jersey lawyers are able to use the firm's in-house teams of creative professionals to produce demonstrative exhibits and other presentation-related materials for trial efficiently and economically. New Jersey litigators also have access to the firm's centralized document center, fully staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The ability to rely on the litigation support services and infrastructure of one of the country's largest law firms enables New Jersey litigators to handle massive document reviews and productions in-house.

Particularly helpful in the discovery phase of litigation is Greenberg Traurig's 40-lawyer eDiscovery & eRetention Group, formed as part of the firm's best practices program to ensure compliance with the law and reduce litigation risk. The group's specially trained attorneys consult on all major litigation, including litigation handled out of the New Jersey office, and they advise clients on how to manage, retain and produce documents. New Jersey clients also benefit from the firm's quality control and risk management program, which is designed to ensure high-caliber service and promote accountability.

Another quality-control measure is the firm's in-house continuing legal education program — the Hoffman Professionalism Center — which conducts 200 CLE programs annually. These and other programs offered through the Practicing Law Institute are made available to all the firm's lawyers and externally to firm clients at no cost.

Litigators are also able to take advantage of the firm's rigorous in-house training and workshop program, which offers extended seminars in specialized litigation areas, including taking and defending depositions, motion practice techniques and strategies, conducting direct and cross-examination, handling expert witnesses, brief-writing and the like.

Another indicia of best practices is the firm's innovation of alternative billing methods. Depending on the nature of the case, these methods may include fixed-fee arrangements whereby the client pays a sum certain for specified tasks, success premiums, volume discounts, shared-risk arrangements or some combination of these.

This well-tuned litigation machine is also adept at devoting its resources to pro bono work. In the last year, Greenberg Traurig New Jersey litigators appeared in numerous matters, including cases involving prisoners' rights, criminal appeals, domestic violence and immigrants' rights.

Greenberg Traurig by the Numbers
  Firm-wide N.J. Office
Department Size 545 27
Department as percentage of firm (head-count) 32% 40%
Department as percentage of firm (revenue) 36% 50%

 

Major Litigators:

• Philip Sellinger, managing partner for New Jersey — co-chairs Greenberg Traurig's 600-plus member Litigation Practice and serves on the firm's Executive Committee. A former assistant U.S. attorney and New Jersey federal clerk, he has more than 30 years of trial experience in a wide variety of class actions and complex cases around the country. Sellinger serves on, and is a former chair of, the Lawyers Advisory Committee to the New Jersey federal court. He founded and is the former co-chairman of the N.J. State Bar Association's Class Action Committee.

• Geoffrey S. Berman, co-managing partner for New Jersey — has more than 25 years of legal experience in the public and private sector. A former Third Circuit law clerk, he was associate counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel Iran-Contra and was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. He focuses his practice on commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense and recently represented a major U.S. financial institution in all of its auction rate securities litigation. He also successfully represented that entity in a New Jersey trial involving the sale of over $100 million of distressed debt in the WorldCom bankruptcy.

• David Jay — handles a wide variety of complex, multiparty commercial cases from inception through settlement, trial and appeal. He has defended consumer fraud, health-care and computer class-action claims involving hundreds of millions of dollars and is a founding member of the Class Action Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

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