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Fenwick Team Profiled as Litigation Department of the Year

December 06, 2013

​Fenwick partner Susan Muck was quoted and featured in The Recorder profile of the firm’s award-winning securities litigation team, along with team member litigators Christopher Steskal, Dean Kristy, Catherine Kevane, Jay Pomerantz and Kevin Muck.

The profile described how Fenwick lawyers struck an early settlement with plaintiffs in a massive securities class action against Diamond Foods, a nut distributor with little cash on hand at the time, in the fall of 2013. To settle the claims stemming from its failed bid to acquire Pringles, Diamond agreed to pay out $96 million—mostly in shares of its own stock.

“We had to be creative about the kind of consideration the company could offer to settle the claims without hampering its ongoing business,” Muck told The Recorder.

The settlement also provided novel protections for class members through a proviso giving Diamond the option to sell 4 million settlement shares through a unified process, which would maintain the stock’s price for all shareholders.

“One aspect of this settlement is we are trying to effectuate a more orderly distribution of those shares,” Muck said. “That’s a very unusual feature, and it’s intended to protect the class.”

Diamond’s general counsel, Stephen Kim, praised the team’s cost-conscious approach to resolving the case.

“Instead of just lawyering for lawyering’s sake, we were all looking for practical solutions,” Kim said. “That’s what the situation demanded, and that’s what the Fenwick lawyers excel at.”

He relied on Fenwick to handle the litigation, Kim added, because Diamond only has two in-house counsel. “Throughout that process, Fenwick has acted like an extension of the company,” Kim said. “I think it’s almost a model of how in-house and outside counsel can work together.”

The Recorder also noted Fenwick’s work on a number of other securities cases in 2013, including the dismissal of class actions filed against prepaid credit card issuer Green Dot, as well as the dismissal without prejudice of claims filed against Equinix, Symantec and Cisco.

Even before the opening of Fenwick’s new office in China, several Chinese companies had engaged the firm to handle investigations into compliance with American securities laws. Given the booming investment in China by U.S. venture capital and private equity, Muck anticipated even more work following the opening of Fenwick’s Shanghai office.

“I’ve been spending a great deal of time thinking about ways in which we’ll be able to take advantage of that office,” Muck told The Recorder.

The full article is available here.