The Financial Times has recognized Dechert LLP as the most innovative law firm in North America for legal expertise. In the 2019 Innovative Lawyers Awards for North America, the FT recognizes firms whose lawyers have “made a critical contribution to transforming their clients’ businesses.” Firms are ranked according to the originality of their legal work, the leadership displayed and the impact on clients’ business.
The FT consistently ranks Dechert among the world’s most innovative law firms across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
This year, Washington, D.C. antitrust partner Mike Cowie was selected as one of the ten most innovative lawyers in North America. Mr. Cowie, who formerly managed antitrust merger investigations at the Federal Trade Commission, has continued to lead on significant antitrust representations in private practice. His representation of Medco Health Solutions in its US$29 billion merger with Express Scripts won the Corporate Law award in the FT’s 2012 Innovative Lawyers Awards. This year, he overcame loud opposition to secure clearance for CVS Health’s US$70 billion merger with health insurer Aetna, the largest healthcare services deal ever.
A number of Dechert matters were recognized in the 2019 FT report:
Winner/Standout – A team led by Washington, D.C. tax partner William Cejudo won the “Accessing new markets and capital” category for devising a first-of-its-kind tax structure for Fannie Mae’s credit-risk transfer securities program. The structure helped boost investment in the U.S. housing market by removing tax impediments that had hindered investment by real estate investment trusts and foreign persons in more traditional credit-risk transfer structures. The work was awarded “Standout” ranking—the highest possible—and Cejudo was personally commended by the FT. A legal team at Fannie Mae was also “Commended” by the FT in the in-house category.
Standout – A securities litigation team led by partners Matthew Larrabee and Joshua Hess was awarded a “Standout” ranking in the “Litigation and disputes” category. The team devised a “silver bullet” defense strategy for Charles Schwab to neutralize an earlier Ninth Circuit ruling that had created new, unprecedented forms of common-law liability for mutual funds. The Dechert team’s victory effectively shut down a swath of new liability risks for the US$18 trillion mutual fund industry.
Highly Commended – In the “Accessing new markets and capital” category, a team led by partners Ralph Mazzeo and Timothy Spangler was “Highly Commended” for guiding Figure Technologies in the development of a blockchain-based home-equity business. After helping Figure launch a proprietary blockchain (Provenance.io) with its own native digital asset (Hash), Dechert provided a number of sophisticated legal solutions allowing Figure to secure a landmark billion-dollar financing facility from Jeffries. Spangler was personally commended by the FT. Figure Technologies’ legal team also received a “Commended” ranking in the in-house category.
Highly Commended – A team led by antitrust partners Mike Cowie and Rani Habash was “Highly Commended” in the “Managing complexity and scale” category for its representation of CVS Health in the company’s US$70 billion merger with Aetna. Dechert countered one of the broadest-ever merger investigations, involving the DOJ, 19 state attorneys general, 38 state insurance departments and Congress, along with the opposition of the American Medical Association and other influential groups. After unprecedented Tunney Act proceedings, CVS secured unconditional court approval for the deal in September 2019.
Commended – Partners Michael Sage and David Rosenthal led a team that was “Commended” by the FT in the “Enabling business growth and transformation” category for re-inventing a troubled pharmaceuticals manufacturer by means of an M&A acquisition that was carried out from within Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Winners and ranked lawyers were honored at an award ceremony held at Gotham Hall in New York City on December 9.