GIR 100 2021

Boies Schiller Flexner

Boies Schiller Flexner

Professional notice

Boies Schiller Flexner's investigations team represents an impressive book of clients from large companies to high-profile individuals, including Uber, Nike and Jeff Bezos.

The firm

Boies Schiller has been one of the biggest names in US litigation over the past 20 years and the firm’s chair, David Boies, remains among the most high-profile lawyers out there.

The firm’s global investigations and white-collar defence practice includes, by its own count, over a dozen former federal prosecutors, as well as former officials at agencies including the US SEC and the Federal Trade Commission.

In New York, this includes former Manhattan federal prosecutors John Zach and Peter Skinner, who co-heads the white-collar practice, and Matthew Schwartz.  

In London, the firm added Tracey Dovaston, Barclays' former head of litigation, investigations and regulatory enforcement, as a partner in 2020; listed in GIR’s Women in Investigations for 2021, she now co-heads the group with Skinner. Clients praise her as an industry leader with a deep and nuanced understanding of the clients she represents and the cases she handles. Another significant London partner is Matthew Getz, who predominantly acts for large financial institutions and multinationals in investigations by the SFO as well as the DOJ.

Boies Schiller’s leadership is in a state of flux at the moment, after the deputy chair, co-managing partner Natasha Harrison, stepped down from the position in September 2021 and her former co-managing partner, Nicholas Gravante, left the firm for Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft 10 months earlier. Both had been appointed in December 2019 to oversee the firm’s planned restructuring, which reportedly prompted the departure of some 30 partners including some white-collar defence attorneys.

Those earlier departures came in the wake of a series of controversies surrounding the firm co-founder Boies concerning his prior representation of Harvey Weinstein and health tech company Theranos, as well as a reported decrease in revenue and disagreements over compensation.

Despite all the upheaval, the firm has continued to attract top talent from the DOJ in 2020 and 2021. Among the recent additions are the likes of Los Angeles-based partners John Kucera, who previously had a leading role in corruption investigation into Malaysian development fund 1MDB, and Alison Anderson, a former assistant chief in the Criminal Division’s fraud section at Main Justice. In Washington, DC, the firm also added partner Lauren Bell, who was a senior adviser to former Criminal Division chief Brian Benczkowski.

Recent events

High-profile clients, including prime ministers and CEOs, consistently turn to the firm for help.

The firm is leading the international team overseeing the defence of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak in US and Malaysian cases linked to the alleged embezzlement of billions of dollars from development fund 1MDB. In 2020, Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $50 million in a Malaysian case linked to the matter. He faces another 21 charges of money laundering in the country. He has consistently denied wrongdoing.

The firm obtained a decision from the DOJ not to prosecute client Uber Technologies following an investigation into allegations some of the company’s staff conspired with a former Google engineer to steal trade secrets related to self-driving cars.

Boies Schiller advised Nike over the course of federal investigations into celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti who threatened to reveal harmful information over the sportswear company’s purported role in a college football corruption investigation; the firm conducted a separate internal investigation of the allegations and represented the company in an investigation by the Manhattan US attorney’s office into the same issue. A court sentenced Avenatti to 30 months’ imprisonment in July 2021 after convicting him of extortion the previous year.

It is lead counsel for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a US government investigation into the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, which had threatened to publish nude selfies of the businessman. A report commissioned by Bezos and conducted by a pair of UN officials determined last year that individuals linked to Saudi Arabia, whose crown prince Bezos has criticised, had compromised his phone.

It represented UK geosciences company Bridgeporth and its onetime owner Erik Prince in a UN Security Council investigation into alleged violations of Libya sanctions. While the investigation has determined there were violations in a report released in February 2021, it has not taken action against the firm’s clients.

Network

The firm has white-collar partners located in DC, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Outside of the US, the firm has a presence in London.

Clients

The company has acted for a diverse group of clients from global banks to US sportswear brand Nike and the Kazakh bank BTA Bank.

In terms of individuals, the firm acts for Erik Prince, the founder of private military company Blackwater (now called Academi), and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Track record

The firm has represented UK-headquartered bank HSBC on US state and federal investigations into the issuance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities.

In 2015, Boies Schiller obtained dismissal of the first-ever anti-money laundering action in the virtual currency industry, against client Ripple Labs and its wholly owned subsidiary XRP II, securing a purely civil settlement.

The firm guided Hollywood production company Red Granite Pictures – co-founded by Najib Razak’s stepson – to a $60 million settlement with DOJ in 2018 over allegations the company funded several films with money embezzled from 1MDB.

Boies Schiller Flexner is a firm of internationally recognized trial lawyers, crisis managers, and strategic advisers known for our creative, aggressive, and efficient pursuit of successful outcomes for our clients.

Because we are, first and foremost, trial lawyers, we consider how each engagement would play out in a courtroom. This approach enables us to negotiate favorable outcomes on behalf of our clients, most often without a trial; however, when the government decides to initiate civil or criminal proceedings, we are deeply experienced, highly effective advocates at the pre-trial, trial, and appellate stages.

Our team regularly conducts independent internal investigations and whistle-blowing investigations on behalf of corporations and their boards, providing presentations and recommendations that are credible, thorough, and minimally disruptive to their businesses. We also work closely with clients to establish and maintain effective compliance programs, including corporate reform and remedial compliance programs. We regularly provide counsel on appropriate responsive actions, including compliance or governance reforms, personnel action, and, when necessary, referral to regulators, law enforcement or public disclosure. 

Lawyers in the Global Investigations and White Collar Defense group include former federal prosecutors and DOJ trial lawyers, former federal regulators, state and local prosecutors, and former in-house counsel in leadership positions. We use our experience running investigations and prosecuting matters globally, both to strategize on behalf of our clients and to credibly negotiate with our former government peers. We also leverage this experience when called upon to negotiate with federal prosecutors and regulators, including DOJ, SEC, CFTC, IRS, FTC, FinCEN, and OFAC, state Attorneys General, Congress, U.K. prosecutors and regulators, including the FCA, PRA, SFO, OFSI and FRC, and many other global regulatory agencies.

We help clients caught up in government investigations, often leading to discontinuances, and we also frequently assist clients that have been victims of crime to seek justice—whether by presenting their cases to law enforcement or regulators, bringing civil claims in court, or both. Based on our meticulous presentations of law and evidence, and our credibility before government officials, our team has had notable success in convincing authorities to bring charges where our clients have been harmed.

Our clients range from global financial institutions and multinational corporations to well-capitalized startups and high-net-worth individuals. We regularly represent clients in matters regarding securities and commodities law, including insider trading and market manipulation; anti-corruption laws, including the FCPA and U.K. Bribery Act; criminal antitrust violations; theft of trade secrets; Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering violations; FIRREA; export control and sanctions violations; data privacy and cybersecurity; accounting fraud; criminal tax offenses; False Claims Act; asset freezing and forfeiture; national security issues; and health care fraud and POCA.

Our attorneys also help clients address the crisis management issues that may arise in conjunction with an investigation or prosecution. We work seamlessly across the firm’s broad international network, often in collaboration with our Crisis Management and Government Response group, to provide clients with comprehensive guidance wherever their legal issues arise.

With offices located throughout the United States and in London, we operate as one firm with a seamless approach to building the most skillful and cost-effective team possible for every matter.

Website: www.bsfllp.com

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