Financial Times Commends Latham & Watkins in US Innovative Lawyers Report

Financial Times

December 13, 2010

Latham & Watkins was recognized among the leading innovative US law firms for 2010 in research conducted on behalf of the Financial Times by RSG Consulting, which stated: “Latham & Watkins’ most innovative work featured a heavily scientific and technological slant, enabling it to score wins in medical patent and pollution cases, as well as crafting new forms of biotech alliances and project financing. Their ability to bring colour and imagination to the way in which they conducted litigation cases was notable.”

In the inaugural Financial Times US Innovative Lawyers report, Latham received praise across its transactional, litigation, regulatory and pro bono practices.

The firm’s corporate and finance teams earned recognition for a number of ground-breaking deals, including:

• advising OncoMed in its strategic alliance with Bayer to fund research and development of biologic and small molecule therapeutic products identified through use of OncoMed’s cancer stem cell technology platform, with the Financial Times singling out the option-based agreement, which involved an upfront payment of $40 million to OncoMed, a potential total deal value in excess of $1 billion, and long-term flexibility for both sides.

• representing Centerbridge Partners, a private equity firm, in the acquisition of Greatwide Logistics outside of a chapter 11 plan of reorganization pursuant to section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code, which the Financial Times described as “creating a precedent for credit bidding by private equity firms in distressed transactions,” adding: “[Latham] lawyers found a way of dragging along dissenting minority lenders to a credit bid in a ‘section 363’ asset sale, which has since been followed in other expedited asset sales.”

• representing the underwriters in the $615 million private activity tax-exempt bond component of the LBJ Freeway (IH-635) project financing, with the Financial Times stating: “Valued at $2.8 billion, the project entailed an unusual combination and integration of financing sources to succeed. The firm represented the underwriters in the $615 million private activity bond of this transaction, which was part of a sequence of US-based project financings to re-establish the credibility of private-public partnerships.”

A number of litigation and regulatory practices also garnered praise for their innovative and commercially-astute counsel, including:

• the Supreme Court and environmental practices for their work on behalf of clients BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad in a “landmark case” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), in which “Latham attorneys successfully challenged the imposition of joint and several liability for clean-up costs and a site leased by the railroads to a polluter that later became insolvent.” The Financial Times cited Latham’s “creative solution to client’s environmental dispute that involved a return to first principles and 19th-century law,” and “delv[ing] deeper into the common law of joint tortfeasors than anyone had done before” in a CERCLA case.

• the intellectual property litigation practice for its work advising medical technologies company C.R. Bard, Inc. in a complex patent litigation battle with W.L. Gore & Associates. In recognizing the matter, the Financial Times coverage noted: “Latham & Watkins commissioned $650,000-worth of animations and graphics to help a jury understand a complex court battle over the patent for an artificial blood vessel that has revolutionized vascular surgery. The law firm secured a victory for CR Bard, a medical technologies company, after $658 million in litigation that had raged for decades.”

• the environmental practice for its work on behalf of Poseidon Resources regarding all land use approvals, entitlements, litigation challenges, and other legal issues related to the Carlsbad Ocean Water Desalination Plant in San Diego County, California. After more than 11 years of planning and permitting, construction recently commenced on the plant, markings the first time a large-scale desalination facility in California reached the construction phase of development. The Financial Times recognized the firm’s role in “helping to set up one of the largest desalination plants in the US,” adding: “Breaking ground on the Carlsbad Ocean Water desalination plant in San Diego required an expert team of lawyers to jump over regulatory and litigation hurdles as well as help the sponsor, Poseidon Resources, meet its voluntary commitment to a carbon-neutral project.”

The firm’s pro bono practice was commended in the report’s “Responsible Business” coverage for a major, nation-wide research and advocacy project regarding reforms to the US immigration court system. “Working with Appleseed, a non-profit network of public interest justice centres, the firm put together an in-depth report assessing the US immigration court system, including recommendations for reform that were presented to members of the president's transition team,” the Financial Times stated.