How We Picked The Litigation Department of the Year Winners

, The American Lawyer

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Drumroll, please. After a five-month-long process of reviewing firms' detailed written submissions (looking at their best litigation results from August 2011 through July 2013), extensive vetting sessions with clients and cocounsel and, ultimately, in-person interviews with our finalist firms at our New York office, The American Lawyer is delighted to announce the winners of our seventh Litigation Department of the Year competition. We are also pleased to unveil the winners of our three practice group contests (intellectual property, securities and antitrust) and our six Litigators of the Year. 

• Debevoise & Plimpton won the general litigation competition, which had a hefty 62 entries from The Am Law 200. The Debevoise litigators are like the Army Rangers—a small but elite group that works seamlessly and handles the most challenging cases. Over the contest time period, they produced two $25 billion results, nailed two trial defense wins worth $3.5 billion each and secured the biggest investor-state award in arbitration history ($2.3 billion), as senior international correspondent Michael D. Goldhaber eloquently points out. General litigation finalists were Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Covington & Burling, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, O'Melveny & Myers and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. We also awarded 10 firms honorable mentions for their stellar work during this period.

• Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr won the IP competition. The finalists were Fish & Richardson, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Winston & Strawn.

• Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison nailed the inaugural securities contest. The finalists were Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Davis Polk & Wardwell and Sullivan & Cromwell.

• Simpson Thacher & Bartlett captured our first antitrust crown. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati were finalists.

Congratulations also go to our Litigators of the Year: Juanita Brooks, Miguel Estrada, Robert Giuffra Jr., Roberta Kaplan, George Lombardi and Harold McElhinny.

Finally, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the firms (especially the litigators and their hardworking marketing teams) who participated in our contest. We recognize how much work is involved in compiling the detailed information for the submission forms, and we thank you for those efforts.

I was deeply indebted throughout this process to Litigation Daily editor David Bario and senior reporter Jan Wolfe. The two write about these matters every day and kept me and the other judges—and the firms—on our toes on even the most obscure points of the mortgage-backed securities litigation.

I also want to thank Morris Stubbs (our art director) and Maggie Soladay (our photo editor) for organizing and overseeing the wonderful photos of the winners and finalists. 

Finally, I want to acknowledge everyone else in the newsroom who served as a judge: Emily Barker, Amanda Bronstad, Vivia Chen, Tom Huddleston Jr., contributing editor Mark Obbie, Jim Schroeder, Ed Shanahan, Lisa Shuchman, Ross Todd and Julie Triedman. Thank you for the tremendous amount of time and care that you put into this rigorous and labor-intensive process. The results speak for themselves. 

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