Financial Services Litigation

Capitalizing on a wealth of financial services industry experience, our litigators and regulatory lawyers have achieved outstanding results for the world’s major financial institutions in their most complex disputes, while also providing compliance counseling to avoid litigation and regulatory risk.

Named in 2016 by The American Lawyer as one of the nation’s top litigation departments, and the winner of numerous litigation practice group awards, our litigators on both the East and West coasts and in offices worldwide have established a winning record across a variety of forums for our financial institution clients. We have particular strength in securities and other claims related to complex financial products; the full range of employment disputes, including novel Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower issues and high-profile discrimination claims; Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML); and other white collar enforcement matters. We also offer a market-leading Supreme Court & Appellate practice.

A third of our global practice is dedicated to the financial services sector, enabling our litigators to draw on transactional teams with deep understanding of the products and market practices underlying the claims. With this insight, we focus on developing creative solutions – in and out of court.

Counseling and Compliance to Avoid Disputes

The last thing any financial institution wants is a major litigation or regulatory problem. Our first priority is to help our clients avoid the distraction of litigation and regulatory disputes through prevention and early detection of issues. We help our clients do this, and correct potential issues, by developing compliance programs that are tailored to their specific situations.

We provide counsel on the many compliance areas affecting financial institutions, including regulations promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). We help our clients implement procedures to ensure effective compliance with Anti-Money Laundering, OFAC, and FCPA rules and regulations, and Sarbanes-Oxley Act whistleblower complaints. We bring vast experience as former regulators and prosecutors to this advice . Three members of our team are former prosecutors from the DOJ’s Fraud Section, the unit charged with enforcing the FCPA; one is a former Assistant Chief for FCPA Enforcement. The team also includes a former Deputy Chief for the DOJ’s Money Laundering & Bank Integrity Unit, the unit charged with Bank Secrecy Act criminal enforcement, as well as a former key advisor on the DOJ’s anti-money laundering policy, and former U.S. Attorneys for the Northern and Eastern Districts of California.

We work to help shape applicable laws and regulations through academic writing, public speaking and working with our Public Policy group to influence state or federal legislation. SIFMA and other financial market associations regularly call on us to write amicus briefs. And we authored the leading treatise on whistleblower defense, "Corporate Whistleblowing in the Sarbanes-Oxley/Dodd-Frank Era."

Integrated Solutions Deliver Litigation Wins

Even the best compliance programs cannot prevent all litigation. Our Chambers-ranked litigators defend private litigation, including major class action litigation, commercial disputes and securities litigation, and enforcement matters. Here are just a few of our recent engagements:

  • Defending Credit Suisse against billions of dollars in exposure from numerous lawsuits brought by monoline insurers and trustees of several residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) trusts
  • Securing a precedent-setting victory in the 9th Circuit for Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse in a case that raised the pleading bar in Section 11 cases based on secondary offerings
  • Achieving numerous victories for David Sambol, former President and COO of Countrywide Financial, including multiple dismissals and a landmark settlement on the eve of trial in a case brought by the SEC
  • Representing Fidelity Investments in an ongoing Lehman derivatives dispute in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

We are keenly aware of the challenging business and regulatory environment in which you operate. Our litigators will work with you to provide efficient delivery of legal services by ensuring that each matter is staffed leanly and appropriately and that fee arrangements offer optimal cost certainty and risk sharing. We offer sophisticated budgeting, monitoring and reporting tools to avoid surprises. We also offer a unique, cost-effective in-house Analytics operation based at our Global Operations Center in Wheeling, West Virginia.

  • Employment Litigation

    Another pillar of our integrated financial services offering is our market-leading Employment practice. Our Employment practice has represented nearly every major financial institution in the world and many mutual funds, private equity funds and hedge funds. And we’re a go-to resource for SIFMA, the industry association, to prepare its amicus submissions on the employment law issues most important to the industry.

    We were chosen by Law360 in 2015 as a "Practice Group of the Year" and by The Recorder as the "California Labor and Employment Department of the Year," and our Employment litigators are consistently top-ranked by Chambers and other peer directories. Our team has won time and again – often setting important precedents for the industry – in whistleblower, class action, high-profile discrimination, wage-and-hour, and other matters. In addition, we have conducted sensitive internal investigations at the highest levels, often involving C-suite executives, and at the direction of boards of directors. We also provide strategic advice to management and boards of directors on the most important employment issues facing financial services firms today. We are a global team, providing employment litigation and compliance advice in the United States and other major financial centers throughout Europe and Asia.

    A few examples:

    • Clinching a total defense verdict for venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins against former partner Ellen Pao after headline-making allegations of gender discrimination in the venture capital technology industry went to a lengthy jury trial.
    • Winning a case of first impression for Morgan Stanley before the 9th Circuit in Douglas K. McDaniel v. Wells Fargo Investments, with the court finding that federal securities law pre-empts the enforcement of California’s "forced patronage" statute against brokerage firms that forbid their employees from opening outside trading accounts.
    • Convincing the California Court of Appeal to affirm summary judgment in Valdez v. Bank of America, which confirmed the power of the National Bank Act to pre-empt state law claims.
    • Securing an important win in a FINRA arbitration that was brought by the former head of the U.S. Infrastructure Banking group for the Royal Bank of Scotland. After the bank employee was terminated, he filed a claim under various common law theories challenging his failure to receive a discretionary bonus.
    • Nabbing a trial victory for Rabobank, which faced six employment-related claims brought by a current employee. Our team obtained summary judgment on five claims, including claims of age discrimination, misrepresentation and retaliation. The remaining public policy claim was tried by a jury, which returned a complete defense verdict.
    • At the direction of its board of directors, representing a major international financial services firm in a sensitive internal investigation of allegations of potentially criminal wrongdoing by its CEO North America.
    • Counseling several leading financial institutions on their global pay equity strategy, including in responding to an activist shareholder proposal targeted at an alleged gender pay gap at that institution.
    • Acting for a major financial institution in a highly publicized whistleblower retaliation claim growing out of the financial crisis.

    "Brilliant" Appellate Coverage

    As one of the only Chambers-ranked appellate practices chaired out of New York, our Supreme Court & Appellate team is a natural leader in the financial services area. And in recognition of our coverage in this area, our Supreme Court & Appellate team is frequently called upon by other major law firms to handle some of the most complex financial services appeals. Chambers USA has recognized appellate talent at Orrick, describing the "brilliant analysis and judgment" and "perfect combination of persuasiveness, intelligence, wit and deference" that it takes to "mastermind" unlikely victories in cases involving "the most complicated legal or technological issues."

    Our representations include:

    • Persuading the Second Circuit to overturn a jury verdict against a senior executive of Countrywide Financial, who also had been ordered to pay a $1 million civil penalty, in connection with the "Hustle" mortgage program. In an unprecedented enforcement action, the government tried to portray our client as the face of the subprime crisis and had secured crushing, career-ending penalties. But the Second Circuit panel unanimously agreed with our legal position, finding that this case was a massive government overreach.
    • Representing Royal Bank of Scotland in a Second Circuit appeal of an $800 million RMBS litigation decision.
    • Representing JPMorgan in a Second Circuit appeal arising from the erroneous termination of a $1.5 billion loan in the General Motors bankruptcy.
    • Representing Credit Suisse in a $2 billion RMBS matter.
    • Obtaining an industry-sustaining win for Bank of Utah in an appeal that challenged the validity of the secondary market for life insurance policies.
    • Persuading the Second Circuit to dismiss a putative class action filed against UBS by shareholders seeking $800 million in lost "merger premium" value resulting from a failed merger.
    • Representing First Republic in a cert. petition addressing when the statute of limitations for securities fraud claims should begin to run (resulting in the Court’s request for the Solicitor General’s views, followed by a cert. grant in Merck & Co. v. Reynolds).

    Global Reach

    Our practice spans most of the world’s key financial centers, and our lawyers in the U.S. and abroad regularly handle sophisticated matters for international banks and funds. We also help U.S. clients navigate the unfamiliar terrain of foreign tribunals and regulatory schemes.

    In Europe, in particular, we are known for our compliance and dispute resolution teams. In France, our lawyers are counsel to the top French banks and funds in the highest-stakes matters. We recently obtained a "mega win" in a dispute known as L’affaire Tapie, representing Consortium de Realisation, the government-controlled entity liquidating the assets of Crédit Lyonnais, in one of the longest-running and most closely watched financial institution disputes in France’s recent history. Our Litigation team in France is rated Band 1 by Chambers Global, which reports that we are known for our "outstanding disputes practice" that "often represents leading international financial institutions." Our U.K. Litigation team advises on regulatory compliance and assists with internal investigations, including regularly supporting a Fortune 50 company in investigations in Europe and emerging markets. We’ve represented one of the largest creditors of Lehman Europe, and assist a Big 4 accounting firm with disputes arising out of the financial crisis.

    In Italy, we are recognized as one of the top corporate governance advisors and are especially known for our compliance practice. Our Chambers-ranked lawyers "frequently advise on the establishment of compliance programmes." Our team has assisted hundreds of Italian and international financial institutions and other clients in complying with Legislative Decree 231, which introduced the direct liability of corporate entities for crimes committed by directors, executives and their subordinates. For this work, we were named Corporate Law Firm of the Year in 2015 by Legalcommunity.

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