The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Bradley Wilson and Carrie Reilly, Partners—Securities Litigation
Bradley R. Wilson is a partner in Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz’s litigation department. His practice focuses on complex commercial, transactional, and securities litigation, as well as regulatory enforcement proceedings. Bradley received a B.S. magna cum laude from Case Western Reserve University in 2001 and a J.D. summa cum laude from Cornell Law School in 2004, where he was an articles editor for the Cornell Law Review and a recipient of the Boardman Prize. Following graduation from law school, Bradley served as a law clerk for the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Carrie M. Reilly is a partner in the litigation department at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Her practice focuses on transactional and securities litigation as well as complex commercial litigation. Carrie received her B.S. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated summa cum laude, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude. She serves on the Steering Committee of the Kate Stoneman Project.
Please provide an overview of what, substantively, your practice area entails.
Our practice involves a mix of securities litigation, merger litigation, and complex commercial litigation. In the realm of securities litigation, we represent major corporations and financial institutions named as defendants in significant securities class actions proceeding in federal courts around the country, and we also have been involved in a variety of securities law matters arising outside the typical class action context. We also represent a wide variety of clients in contract disputes, mergers and acquisitions related litigation, and complex settlements.
What types of clients do you represent?
Practicing at Wachtell Lipton affords us the privilege of representing companies, executives, and directors from a broad spectrum of industries. This is a rewarding aspect of the practice, because we are constantly meeting new and supremely talented people and learning about their businesses and the challenges that they face. We have recently represented prominent investment banks, including Goldman Sachs & Co. and Bank of America, the pharmaceutical manufacturer Allergan, Inc., and a leading resort and gaming corporation, Wynn Resorts, Limited, among many others.
What types of deals and/or cases do you work on?
One of the great things about securities litigation is that it touches on a number of interesting substantive issues. We’ve handled a variety of matters in this area, ranging from Section 11 and Section 10(b) class actions, to federal proxy litigation, to a recent case involving a claim under the Investment Advisors Act.
One particularly interesting case we worked on was Morrison v. National Australia Bank, 561 U.S. 247 (2010), an important Supreme Court case that dealt with the scope of the extraterritorial application of U.S. securities laws. We successfully represented the defendants in that case, as the Supreme Court held that Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act does not apply extraterritorially to so-called “foreign-cubed” securities claims.
How did you decide to practice in your area?
One of the most attractive things about securities litigation is that the practice exists at the intersection of litigation and corporate law. This is particularly true at Wachtell Lipton, as a number of the litigations that we handle arise in the context of an ongoing corporate dispute.
What is a typical day or week like in your practice area?
There is no typical day or week in our practice, which is part of what makes litigation so interesting. We spend a significant amount of time writing briefs and advising our clients on litigation strategy, and depending on the case, we may also take depositions or advocate in court. The one constant about Wachtell Lipton, however, is that we are constantly brainstorming ideas with our partners and colleagues and sharing thoughts on legal arguments and strategy. We try to take advantage of the depth of our practice group as we prepare each case for litigation.
What is the best thing about your practice area?
We have been fortunate enough to handle many different kinds of securities actions on behalf of a wide variety of clients. This has been both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. The securities laws are constantly evolving, and the opportunity to craft and present creative arguments on new and important issues is exciting.
What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?
When a case does not easily fit within precedent, that’s exactly the type of case we like to take on because it allows us to explore the nuances of the securities law, as well as to think through creative arguments that we can make on behalf of our clients. The same is true when we are approaching a complex commercial issue for our clients and litigation is one of the possible options, but not the only one. These types of cases are the most challenging aspects of our practice, but also the most rewarding.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone hoping to enter your practice area?
The securities laws are always developing to address new issues and trends, but for a young attorney entering the practice, it’s important to build a strong base of knowledge by studying the leading cases that continue to shape the law today. In addition, as with any litigation-practice area, it’s important to develop writing and advocacy skills by taking on challenging assignments whenever the opportunities present themselves.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area? What do you wish you had known before joining your practice area?
A common misconception is that securities litigation is fairly routine. In reality, each case is different, whether because it involves novel or developing legal issues, or because it arises from a unique set of facts that challenge the boundaries of existing law. Practicing in this field, you learn quickly that you need to monitor carefully cases happening in courts all over the country to make sure you’re on top of the law as it develops in real time.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
The securities litigation practice at Wachtell Lipton is unique in terms of the breadth of matters that we handle, which extend beyond traditional securities class actions. For example, we have done a substantial amount of work litigating issues related to residential mortgage-backed securities. In particular, we’ve represented Bank of America in its comprehensive multi-billion dollar settlement with the Department of Justice, federal agencies, and state attorneys general, as well as its groundbreaking $8.5 billion settlement of claims relating to 530 mortgage-backed securitization trusts issued by Countrywide and its multidimensional settlements with MBIA and AIG.
What activities do you enjoy when you are not in the office, and how do you make time for them?
We both have young children, so outside the office we like to spend our free time with our families. It can be challenging at times, but we’ve found that if you are thoughtful about how you organize your work day, it’s possible to find time to maintain a rewarding personal life.