When clients face complex commercial disputes, Sutherland litigators tailor strategic approaches to meet our clients’ business objectives.
Clients facing complex litigation want both the focused attention of a sophisticated boutique and the resources of a national law firm. Sutherland offers both. With a national reputation for helping clients meet their complex business needs, the attorneys on Sutherland’s Complex Litigation team are experienced in resolving disputes efficiently and effectively. While many disputes facing our clients fall within our well-established specialty areas, such as securities or employment law, many disputes that we litigate for clients are sui generis or independent events that arise from the breach of a significant contract, a clash with a competitive business, or an intra-organizational conflict. These types of cases are a major part of our litigation practice – for local, regional, national, and international clients involved in a wide range of industries.
Our litigators are regularly singled out by their professional peers for recognition in many of the top legal directories and rankings, including Chambers USA: Guide to Leading Business Lawyers, Legal 500 United States, The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers®. We have tried cases in federal and state courts throughout the United States and have appeared before the Supreme Court of the United States, all 13 United States Courts of Appeals, and state appellate courts around the country. We also have extensive experience before federal and state administrative agencies and arbitration tribunals in the U.S. and abroad.
We bring experience and resources to help clients resolve even the largest and most complex business and commercial issues, including:
Breach of contract
Business torts, including fraud, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices claims
Commercial real estate disputes, including leasing and foreclosure
Trade secret and noncompetition matters
Insurance coverage disputes
Shareholder and partnership/LLC disputes
Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) litigation
We are keenly aware of the frustration that business clients often experience in litigation – including, sometimes, frustration with their own lawyers – and believe that we offer a different, client-focused approach. Here are some of the guidelines and practices we follow:
Our client’s problem is not our opportunity. Our objective at all times is to be rigorously aligned with our client in finding the least expensive and quickest route to a successful resolution of the case – not a billing opportunity for us. Some cases can be resolved without costly discovery, if the lawyers are intent enough about problem-solving instead of reflexively launching the standard “litigation 1-2-3.”
We define objectives early and re-evaluate them often. We urge clients to define, at the outset of the case, what a “win” would be, with attention to litigation’s collateral consequences. Because new facts often emerge during litigation, we encourage clients to regularly reassess objectives and case valuations.
Work product should be what the client wants – not what we want. Sometimes clients feel they are trapped on a runaway train once they hire a law firm. We believe that listening is especially important when it comes to delivering what the client needs. A 200-page research memorandum could be written on practically any subject, and occasionally that kind of product is exactly what the client wants and needs. Most often, however, the client is seeking well-founded advice and analysis, concisely and efficiently delivered, and scaled to the circumstances. We discuss with clients the range of options and costs before undertaking significant research.
We don’t train on your nickel. Appropriate staffing is a cornerstone of our practice. We don’t train our new attorneys at our clients’ expense, and we match the task at hand with the appropriate level of staffing and experience.
We manage costs with budgets and creative billing approaches. We have worked successfully with many clients on a retainer basis. We are accustomed to providing litigation budgets – and sticking to them.
Preventative counseling can reduce litigation and potential liability. The adversary process often sheds light on structural or business practice risks that were difficult to foresee. An important element of our service to clients is to point out ways to lower the risks of future litigation.
Vendor and expert costs should be managed. Clients involved in high-stakes litigation are besieged by third-party vendors – expert witnesses, class-action administrators, e-discovery managers, trial consultants, mediators and arbitrators, and the like. The costs associated with these service providers are sometimes not fully accounted for or effectively monitored. It is Sutherland’s practice to regard ensuring vendor efficiency as part of our service to clients, unless the client prefers otherwise.
An inside lawyer is co-counsel, not the client. We understand the proper relationships among our clients, inside co-counsel, and ourselves. We address conflicts swiftly and ethically.
Teamwork and cooperation matter. Teamwork and cooperation are imperative for success and cost-effectiveness when conducting national, multi-defendant litigation. Outside counsel need to check their egos and competitive instincts at the door for the achievement of the common objectives.
Volume of paper seldom corresponds with quality of advocacy. Some lawyers seem to view litigation as a contest to see who can generate the largest documents laden with footnotes and defined terms. Particularly in trial courts, there is seldom a correlation between the length of the briefs and the quality of advocacy.