Practice Area Insights: Just What Is "General Commercial Litigation?"

Published: Aug 22, 2023

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In a litigation practice, lawyers represent clients in a range of disputes, which can be either civil or criminal. Depending on the case, litigators will counsel clients through the pleadings stage, at trial, in alternative dispute resolution, or during internal investigations. Among the tasks that a litigator may perform are researching issues and writing memorandums; doing such discovery work as completing document review, drafting and responding to pleadings, engaging in meet and confers, and taking or defending depositions; preparing for and going to trial; conducting internal investigations; drafting and submitting amicus briefs on behalf of a client or organization, etc. Litigation is a broad career path that offers opportunities to work in a various areas, including—but not limited to—antitrust, appellate, bankruptcy, criminal law, environmental law, general commercial, insurance, housing, human rights, labor and employment, media, patents and intellectual property, product liability and mass torts, securities, white collar, and more. Those within large law firms will often practice general commercial litigation through which they advise companies on their litigation matters. At some law firms, litigators will operate as generalists, taking on a range of matters and not specializing in a specific subspecialty. Many litigators apply to become judicial law clerks to gain insight into the judicial process.

In our guide, Practice Perspectives: Vault’s Guide to Legal Practice Areas, attorneys from law firms with top-ranked General Commercial Litigation practices share insights about their practice, including what their practice area entails and what types of cases & deals they work on. Keep reading for their insights!

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Ryan Hartman, Partner—Arnold & Porter: I represent clients in civil litigation and government investigations. What is great about our litigation practice area is that our lawyers build skill sets, expertise, and experience that enable them to work with clients on a wide range of interesting problems and take ownership of cases much earlier in their careers than their peers at other firms.

Carmine Boccuzzi, Partner—Cleary: I have been a litigation partner at Cleary Gottlieb since 2003. My practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and arbitration, usually involving cross-border disputes. I represent corporations of all kinds, including numerous financial institutions and manufacturers. I am also thrilled to be a part of our firm’s sovereign practice, meaning I represent and advise foreign states as well as a range of state-owned entities. My practice entails both prelitigation advice as well as litigating disputes in federal and state courts throughout the country, including before domestic and international arbitral tribunals.

Kapri Saunders, Partner—Jones Day: The Business & Tort Litigation practice at Jones Day is a general litigation practice, where our trial lawyers serve clients from counseling through trial and appeal in business and government disputes, torts, and civil litigation. My practice also includes Investigations & White Collar Defense. In this practice area, Jones Day helps clients with U.S. and cross-border investigations and defends clients in white collar criminal defense matters.

My practice focuses on preparing cases for trial; finding ways to strategically resolve cases, whether by motion or trying the case; and addressing any post-trial issues. We often work with our other litigation or disputes-based practice groups, who bring various other experience to the case—whether it’s cross-border or a specific area of law (securities, intellectual property, labor and employment, etc.). Our practice is truly national and international, and gives us the opportunity to work with our colleagues around the globe.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Ryan Hartman: My work has involved everything from defeating one of the largest-ever recoveries sought by the SEC, to defending companies in billion-dollar lawsuits, to a fair amount of litigation on behalf of corporate plaintiffs.

Carmine Boccuzzi: My cases cover a range of matters involving complex financial products and transactions, cross-border disputes, and class actions. For many years, I defended the Republic of Argentina in connection with litigation arising out of its 2001 sovereign debt default. That work has involved litigation in courts at the district level, the appellate level, and the United States Supreme Court. I also represent Bosch in class actions across the country in connection with claims arising out of diesel vehicles.

Kapri Saunders: I work on all types of business dispute cases. Some cases are business-to-business disputes, while others are individuals-to-business disputes. The disputes range from allegations involving breach of contract, trade secret theft, alleged public nuisance, personal injuries that occurred in the U.S. and abroad, and measures taken by businesses during the COVID pandemic.

As to criminal matters, my cases mostly involve allegations of fraud, or other crimes of deceit or concealment, and bribery. On the investigations front, I have worked on government investigations involving Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) regulations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations, the Department of Justice, and internal investigations involving possible employee or company misconduct.

My pro bono cases have been similarly varied. I’ve worked on asylum, prisoner civil rights, student rights, wrongful conviction, landlord-tenant, and domestic violence restraining order cases at both trial and appellate courts.