The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Scott D. Musoff, Practice Leader—New York Complex Litigation and Trials Group, and Co-Deputy Head—Securities Litigation Group
Scott Musoff serves as the practice leader for Skadden’s New York Complex Litigation and Trials group and is co-deputy head of the firm’s nationwide Securities Litigation group. Mr. Musoff has extensive experience in securities and other complex commercial litigation. He repeatedly has been selected for inclusion in Chambers USA, The Legal 500 U.S., The Best Lawyers in America, and the Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America. Mr. Musoff and two of his Boston-based colleagues were named Litigators of the Week by The Am Law Litigation Daily for their trial victory on behalf of certain subsidiaries of BlackRock, Inc. following an eight-day bench trial. He also was named Litigator of the Week for his role in the dismissal of a Section 10(b) shareholder class action against Société Générale.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Skadden’s global securities litigation practice is widely regarded as one of the most preeminent groups of attorneys focused on challenging, high-stakes securities litigation matters—
“bet-the-company” cases that demand a full range of skills, in and out of the courtroom. I handle securities and other complex commercial litigation in both federal and state courts. I’ve also successfully argued cases in the New York Court of Appeals and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorneys on our team cover practically every type of matter, including financial restatement issues, M&A-related litigation, class actions, whistleblower claims, derivative actions, and ERISA claims, just to name a few.
What types of clients do you represent?
We represent public and private companies, financial institutions, and individuals in federal and state trial and appellate courts, as well as in arbitration proceedings. Our clients come from every major industry, including education, energy, health care, financial services, technology, and transportation. It’s exciting to tackle the wide range of unique challenges they face.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Skadden’s successful track record reaches as far as the U.S. Supreme Court, including a unanimous win in Merrill Lynch v. Dabit. We have secured victories on behalf of clients in jurisdictions throughout the United States—we have experience in securities cases before all 12 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. We also take many cases to trial, such as the successful representation of certain subsidiaries of BlackRock, Inc. in a precedent-setting, eight-day bench trial in federal court. Many of the cases we handle carry significance throughout a particular industry. For example, I helped secure a victory for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, holding that banks cannot be forced to extract money from offshore indirect subsidiary banks. I also won a landmark summary judgment for Merrill Lynch, addressing the interpretation of credit default swap agreements with a monoline insurer.
How did you choose this practice area?
As a law student, I was interested in securities and corporate law, but I knew I wanted to be a litigator and not a transactional attorney. At the beginning of my career at Skadden, Congress passed the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PSLRA), which altered the securities litigation landscape. Working with Jay Kasner, one of the deans of the securities litigation bar, I had the opportunity to focus on the PSLRA, its legislative history, and its application to some of the earliest cases in this field. I enjoyed that work and knew I wanted to continue in that direction.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
Every day is different, which is one of the attributes I love about this practice. Whether it’s working on briefs, taking depositions, arguing in court, or counseling clients, you have the opportunity to utilize your knowledge of the securities laws and the panoply of skills that constitute being an exceptional litigator and attorney more generally. We pride ourselves on being both litigators and overall business lawyers when counseling clients, whether in the boardroom or the courthouse.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Classes in securities and corporate law as well as litigation-focused classes (e.g., complex civil litigation, evidence, and federal courts) are helpful to any attorney who wants to focus on trial and litigation work.
What do you like best about your practice area?
I love that each day brings a new set of challenges and experiences. My day can vary from advising corporate boards to arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court and everything in between: drafting briefs, taking and defending depositions, advising clients, preparing oral arguments, and trying cases. Attorneys in my group also have the opportunity to dive deeply into the businesses and industries of our clients. For example, while working on a federal court case on behalf of an Israeli semiconductor company, we went to the semiconductor “fab,” donned clean suits, and learned in person how the company manufactured the same wafer chips at work in the printers we were using to produce our court briefs.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
We have secured more wins for defendants and resolved more cases as defense counsel in federal U.S. securities litigation than any other law firm since January 2017. Our broad-based practice allows us to represent a wide array of clients, ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small-cap companies in nearly every industry, as well as nearly every major financial institution and individual officers and directors.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
Our junior lawyers are given tremendous responsibilities. From the start, Joe Flom entrusted young Skadden lawyers with important duties, and that tradition has become part of the firm’s fabric. Junior lawyers immediately begin drafting briefs, attending client meetings, and assisting with and taking depositions. Our associates also are frequently given opportunities to argue in court and participate in trials.
How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?
Our practice is truly global, and we expect that to remain an asset as the world economy grows ever-more interdependent. We represent companies throughout Latin America, Asia, and Europe in U.S. securities litigation as well as abroad. Even U.S. companies now typically have some international element to their business. We are uniquely equipped to handle this global expansion of securities litigation, as we have offices with litigation and investigatory capabilities throughout Europe and Asia, as well as in Brazil.
Published in 2020.