The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
John A. Neuwirth, Partner and Co-Head of Securities Litigation Group
John A. Neuwirth is co-head of Weil’s nationally recognized Securities Litigation practice. He focuses on the nationwide litigation of securities, M&A, derivative, and complex corporate disputes at the trial and appellate levels in both federal and state courts and before arbitration panels. Mr. Neuwirth also counsels boards of directors and senior management on M&A, corporate governance, securities, disclosure, regulatory, and other issues and provides representation in connection with governmental, regulatory, and internal investigations.
Mr. Neuwirth is consistently recognized among the country’s leading litigators. He is ranked among the top lawyers for Securities Litigation in New York by Chambers USA and is a top-ranked “Leading Lawyer” nationwide for both Securities Litigation: Defense and M&A Litigation: Defense by The Legal 500. Among his numerous other accolades, he was selected by the National Law Journal as one of 25 “Litigation Trailblazers” nationwide in 2017.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Consistent with Weil’s Securities Litigation practice, I focus on representing companies and their directors and senior executives in all manner of shareholder disputes, including securities class actions asserting claims under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; shareholder derivative, breach of fiduciary duty, and other corporate governance-related litigation; and M&A litigation. I also regularly counsel boards of directors and senior management on M&A, corporate governance, securities, disclosure, regulatory, and other issues and provide representation in connection with governmental, regulatory, and internal investigations.
What types of clients do you represent?
I represent clients across a broad spectrum of industries, including private equity, pharmaceuticals, health care, energy, and financial and professional services, among others. My clients are national, and often global, companies and organizations, and I represent them in courts and jurisdictions around the country and, at times, in international engagements. Some of my current and past clients include the Campbell Soup Company, Willis Towers Watson, Sanofi, American Securities, Brookfield Asset Management, and AMC Entertainment.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I work on a wide variety of securities litigation cases. For example, my representation of the Campbell Soup Company involves working on a pending securities fraud class action, as well as litigating (and defeating) a hotly contested matter arising out of a proxy fight. For AMC Entertainment, I’m handling a securities class action and derivative litigation arising out of several of the company’s acquisitions, as well as an unrelated breach of fiduciary duty suit in Delaware Chancery Court. And after securing a successful outcome for Brookfield Asset Management in a stockholder class action relating to a $2.8 billion acquisition, I am again representing the company in another fiduciary duty class action arising out of a $15 billion acquisition.
How did you choose this practice area?
The work I do encompasses high-stakes litigation and trials and counseling boards of directors and senior company management on securities and corporate governance issues. I find it appealing to practice in a field that presents a variety of challenging legal issues and different types of disputes that often make the front pages of the business press.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
Every day is different, and I am routinely in court, writing briefs, taking and defending depositions, and meeting with my incredible colleagues at Weil to discuss our clients’ cases.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
For any area of law, including securities litigation, the ability to write concisely and in a clear, persuasive manner is an invaluable skill for any new lawyer to develop. The ability to synthesize information and present it succinctly to courts and clients orally is equally important.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
One of the things that differentiates our Securities Litigation practice is that we have almost 70 lawyers who focus exclusively on securities litigation matters. As a result, our practitioners possess a real depth of securities litigation expertise.
How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?
The securities and M&A litigation spaces will continue to be busy, as securities plaintiffs continue to focus on event-driven and other stock price dislocations, and the M&A market remains active.
What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?
Many Weil securities litigation associates become counsel or partners at the firm, and a number of our former associates work in high-profile in-house roles at public companies and private equity funds. Notably, one of our former associates is now a Delaware Supreme Court justice.
How important is it for securities litigators to have a business background and understanding of corporate law, and what should junior attorneys do if they don’t?
It is certainly not a prerequisite. Most of the associates in our practice join Weil straight from law school without prior experience in a corporate or business role and without extensive law school coursework in securities or corporate law.