To Our Clients and Friends:
O’Melveny is delighted to present its 2019 annual report, showcasing some of the terrific results we helped our clients and communities achieve over the past year—results that have shaped industries, public policy, and society.
In one of 2019’s highest-profile courtroom battles, we defended Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the first opioid case to go to trial. Following a seven-week bench trial spanning 33 days of testimony and 109 witnesses, a state court judge in Oklahoma awarded just 2.6% of what the state attorney general was seeking. The case—now on appeal—is among more than 2,750 opioid suits across the US that O’Melveny is handling as J&J’s lead litigation counsel.
We cemented our trial victory for AT&T and Time Warner when the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rejected the government’s second attempt to thwart the companies’ landmark US$100 billion merger and unanimously affirmed the district court’s earlier blessing of the deal. The decision brought the case to a close, paving the way for a new wave of innovation. As The New York Times observed, the “blockbuster deal … has already begun to reshape much of the media industry.”
With climate change posing an increasing threat to California’s water supply, we preserved the Coachella Valley Water District’s rights to Colorado River groundwater, a resource that sustains 40 million residents across the American Southwest. On a critical issue for the entertainment industry—the enforceability of fixed-term employment contracts—we obtained an injunction ending Netflix’s campaign to target, recruit, and poach Fox executives. And in cutting-edge fintech litigation, we successfully defended Chinese technology company Xunlei in one of the first shareholder class actions seeking to exploit China’s ban on initial coin offerings.
Our victories on behalf of clients have garnered praise from top legal publications. The American Lawyer ranked O’Melveny second in the nation in its prestigious Litigation Department of the Year contest. Citing our distinctive performance in litigation “ripped from the headlines,” AmLaw created a “runner-up” category specifically to highlight our successes in one groundbreaking case after another. With this honor, O’Melveny remains one of only two firms to have been singled out for recognition—as a winner, runner-up, finalist, or honorable mention recipient—in every Litigation of Department of the Year contest since AmLaw launched the awards nearly two decades ago. Read the magazine’s January 2020 profile of O’Melveny here. We were also thrilled that AmLaw ranked us the number one litigation firm in California and named us a nationwide finalist in product liability, while the National Law Journal selected us one of three top winners of its DC Litigation Department of the Year contest.
On the corporate front, we had another strong year, closing more than 300 M&A transactions—some 20 of which topped US$1 billion—for an aggregate deal value of more than US$150 billion. Among the highlights, we advised Finisar, a supplier of laser and optical equipment, on its US$3.2 billion sale to II-VI; digital printing company Electronics For Imaging on its US$1.7 billion sale to private equity firm Siris Capital Group; and Wi-Fi technology developer Quantenna Communications on its US$1.07 billion sale to ON Semiconductor. On the buy side, we counseled biotech company Glaukos on its US$455 million acquisition of Avedro, ViacomCBS on a US$375 million deal to acquire a 49% stake in Miramax, and Chinese investment firm Joy Bright on two deals totaling more than half a billion dollars.
Our restructuring group continued its groundbreaking work restructuring billions of dollars in debt for Puerto Rico, forging deals that have shaped every aspect of the island’s recovery. We also advised California Governor Gavin Newsom on the bankruptcy of the state’s largest utility, advocating for its 16 million customers, its employees, and the victims of catastrophic wildfires.
We advised on more than US$50 billion of securities and finance transactions, including notable initial public offerings in US and Hong Kong venues and credit transactions with some of the market’s biggest institutional lenders.
We helped emerging companies realize their full potential: In 2019, we advised on the “exit” via sale or IPO of nearly 70 venture-backed companies, generating more than US$12 billion in proceeds, and we worked with more than 30 “unicorns”—private companies valued at more than US$1 billion.
Clients also turned to us for guidance on some of the largest, most notable projects under development, including the multibillion-dollar redevelopment of passenger terminal complexes at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the financing and development of a US$1 billion practice and mixed-use facility for the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers, and more than two dozen renewable energy projects across the US.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AND PRO BONO
Giving back to the community has always been an essential facet of the O’Melveny tradition, and 2019 was no different. We demonstrated our commitment to the greater good through volunteer work, charitable giving, scholarship donations, environmental initiatives, and many other civic endeavors. We championed causes such as immigration, housing, women’s rights, children’s rights, education, veterans’ affairs, criminal justice reform, and community building.
Our pro bono program played a crucial role. Nearly 90% of our lawyers participated in pro bono matters in 2019, devoting more than 71,500 hours to those efforts—an average of more than 114 hours per lawyer, equal to 6.5% of the firm’s total billable output.
Taking community building quite literally, our offices in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong have banded together to build an elementary school for underprivileged children in Yunnan province, China. Once complete, the “O’Melveny Hope School” will replace the teaching facility of an existing school, which is slated for demolition due to safety concerns in an earthquake zone. The new school will ensure continued access to education for children in a remote and underdeveloped mountainous area.
Our ability to tackle cutting-edge legal, business, and societal issues flows directly from our commitment to recruiting the best lawyers and creating an inclusive workplace environment where everyone can contribute and grow. Those efforts earned us an unprecedented “trifecta” in Vault’s most recent Associate Survey, which ranked us number one across all three of Vault’s key measures: Best Firm to Work For, Best Overall Diversity, and Best Summer Program.
Our dedication to advancing diversity and inclusion remains steadfast. Our incoming new partner classes have been majority diverse for each of the past five years. The managing partners in the majority of our US offices are women or LGBTQ, and about half of our firm’s Policy Committee is diverse.
To support our organic growth, we made several strategic lateral hires last year, welcoming lateral partners recognized for their work in corporate and aviation finance, antitrust, corporate and government investigations, and appellate matters.
Balancing professional success with an investment in our people and the communities we serve is one of the reasons AmLaw again selected us to its “A-List,” our eighth consecutive year on that measure of the most well-rounded firms.
It was a remarkable year in many ways. These videos help prove the point.
With the new year under way, everyone at the firm—from our most recent hires to those who have been with us for decades—looks forward to doing the utmost to help our clients and communities thrive in 2020.
Bradley J. Butwin
Chair, O'Melveny & Myers LLP