We defend businesses and individuals in criminal investigations, regulatory enforcement actions, and prosecutions.
We have extensive experience in all types of complex civil litigation.
We represent businesses and individuals from pre-litigation investigation through trial and appeal. Our clients include start-ups, publicly traded companies, large financial institutions, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the State Bar. We secure favorable outcomes for our clients by quickly becoming experts on the complicated issues in each case, and focusing on what matters most.
Arbitration and Mediation
Litigation can be costly and time-consuming. Mediation or arbitration of commercial disputes and internal matters may preferable for clients looking for out-of-court resolutions that are expeditious and cost-effective. Additional advantages of arbitration and mediation include confidentiality, reduced costs because of limited discovery and motion practice, and the ability to select neutral third parties who have specialized expertise.
We have successfully mediated dozens of cases and have conducted arbitrations before leading arbitral institutions such as the American Arbitration Association (AAA), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and JAMS. We help clients choose the right arbitrators and mediators based on our collective knowledge and experience, and guide our clients through the process of negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and adjudication.
We specialize in handling complex disputes that companies face with other businesses, government entities, and individuals. Our attorneys regularly advise and litigate cases concerning issues involving breach of contract and UCC-related matters, breach of fiduciary duty, business torts, fraud, federal and state antitrust laws, federal and state securities laws, shareholder and partnership disputes, corporate governance, unfair competition, tortious interference, bad faith litigation, employment disputes, antitrust, regulatory investigations and litigation, trade secret and other intellectual property claims, product liability, insurance disputes, real estate transactions, and bankruptcy proceedings. We practice in state and federal courts, as well as in mediation, arbitration, and negotiation settings. We work with our clients to solve their most challenging issues, whether it is facing monetary damages, potential criminal sanctions, or intense scrutiny in the court of public opinion. We are prepared to take the largest and most complex cases to trial, as plaintiff or defense counsel. In multi-party litigation, we work collaboratively with co-counsel, often taking a leading role in dictating strategy and drafting pleadings. We apply our experience and advocacy skills to achieve successful and cost-effective results for our clients.
We regularly represents individuals and companies in actions involving state and federal claims of unfair competition, consumer fraud, false and misleading advertising, breach of warranty, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. Among other cases, we have litigated cases alleging violations of California's Consumers Legal Remedies Act and Business and Professions Code Sections 17200 and 17500, false advertising actions brought by consumers, competitors, and the Federal Trade Commission, and cases asserting violations of federal statutes such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). We also have considerable experience with investigations and regulatory enforcement actions by local, state, and federal authorities, including Attorneys General and District Attorneys.
We advise clients on the full range of corporate governance issues that companies and their officers and directors face, including board committee structure and composition; risk identification and management; executive and director succession planning; executive and director compensation policies and planning; representation of boards and board committees; review and updating of charters and bylaws; fiduciary duties and responsibilities; indemnification of officers and directors; internal investigations; and the development of best practices and practical alternatives.
In addition, we also counsel clients on conflicts of interest, contested takeover contests, director election contests, federal and state law compliance issues (including matters involving the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the Dodd-Frank Act), Foreign Corrupt Practices Act inquiries and investigations, government inquiries and investigations, reporting and disclosure obligations, shareholder proposals and demands, and securities enforcement and litigation.
We understand the challenges that companies, boards of directors, management teams, and business owners face. In addition to providing subject-matter counseling to solve problems, we actively litigate matters involving labor and employment issues, such as non-compete clauses and trade secrets, employee raiding, unfair competition, litigation management, workplace privacy, compliance issues, sensitive internal and external HR-related issues, contracts and procedures, employee benefits, and labor-management relations.
In addition, we advise and represent employees challenging wrongful employment practices, including claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, unpaid wages, wrongful termination, whistleblower issues.
We provide counseling and litigation-avoidance strategies concerning all aspects of the employment relationship.
We have experience handling a variety of civil and criminal environmental matters involving issues relating to the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”), the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), NPDES permits, and enforcement actions.
We have represented clients in civil and criminal investigations and litigation involving both government and non-government litigants. Our attorneys developed an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the relevant state and federal environmental laws and regulations in private practice and in their former careers as government prosecutors. While at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Bienert investigated a multi-national oil company for civil and criminal Clean Water Act and NPDES Permit violations relating to wastewater discharge into the Pacific Ocean.
With our unique insights and significant trial experience, we know how to strategically plan for and litigate complex regulatory and scientific issues in ways that are persuasive to juries and judges. When litigation does not seem appropriate to achieve a client’s goals or business objectives, we work towards achieving early, cost-effective, and successful resolutions of environmental matters.
We represent financial advisory firms, brokers, financial professionals, investors, and advisers in Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) arbitrations concerning employment, compensation, repayment of loans, hiring and firing, broker misconduct, and other issues. We have been through every stage of the complex FINRA arbitration process, from the selection of the arbitrator panel, through the exchange of relevant information germane to the claims, to the arbitration hearing at which we call and cross-examine witnesses and offer evidence for consideration by the panel. FINRA arbitrations closely resemble specialized court proceedings and include specific procedural rules that require careful preparation and strategic planning. We have extensive experience to help its clients navigate through this process.
Insurance Coverage and Recovery
We represent insurance policyholders, insurers, and reinsurers in complex insurance coverage litigation, arbitrations, mediations, and negotiations. Our attorneys have significant experience and knowledge in many insurance coverage issues, including those relating to directors and officers liability, property/casualty matters, business interruption losses, toxic tort and environmental liabilities, intellectual property, professional indemnity/errors & omissions, crime/fidelity losses, defamation and invasion of privacy, construction defects, financial insurance products, employment-related liabilities, self-insurance, transactional and private equity insurance, and government investigations.
We handle disputes arising under commercial general liability (CGL) policies, errors and omissions policies (including professional liability policies for attorneys, physicians, engineers, and accountants), directors and officers (D&O) liability policies, employment practice liabilities, specialty lines, and excess and umbrella policies.
We also represent clients in contract and bad faith actions, coverage matters involving multiple insurers, and claims seeking reimbursement of defense costs, settlements, or judgments. We assist clients in evaluating the role of their insurance policies in their risk management programs, address loss or liability issues, and provide guidance on insurance-related strategic concerns.
We defend professionals, law firms, accounting firms, and other businesses and organizations in malpractice litigation, internal and government investigations, disciplinary and regulatory enforcement proceedings, and criminal cases involving professional responsibility, ethics, and liability issues. We are cognizant of, and sensitive to, the unique and complex legal, ethical, and reputational issues inherent in professional liability claims.
We have represented law firms and accountants in investigations by professional licensing bodies, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and state and federal governmental agencies. We have also represented professionals and firms in connection with threatened claims and investigations. Our goal is to resolve matters prior to the initiation of legal proceedings. To the extent legal action is filed, we are well-positioned to defend against the most serious and complex claims that professionals and firms face in any jurisdiction.
We defend professionals in third-party actions as well as in direct lawsuits filed by clients or former clients of those professionals, including trustees, receivers, and liquidators of insolvent companies standing in the shoes of the former clients. These lawsuits often involve claims of breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, professional negligence, negligent misrepresentation, aiding and abetting, civil conspiracy, RICO act violations, and other federal and state law causes of action which BKLW has extensive experience litigating and resolving.
Securities litigation is a complex, highly specialized area of practice. Federal and state securities laws are complex and securities claims, which present the risk of substantial damage awards and negative publicity, could potentially result in immeasurable damage to individuals and companies.
Our team of civil litigators and white collar lawyers (including two former Department of Justice attorneys) have significant experience with several types of securities claims, including insider trading cases, securities and financial fraud cases, shareholder class action lawsuits, shareholder derivative suits, U.S. Attorney and SEC enforcement investigations and litigation, insider trading cases, investment fraud cases, “claw back” actions by receivers and trustees, corporate control disputes, director and officer liability cases, accounting irregularities, regulatory compliance, litigation involving the Investment Company Act and the Investment Advisory Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) violations, breach of fiduciary duty claims, violations of federal and state securities laws, and other complex litigation and counseling involving shareholder suits and corporate governance.
We regularly advise who have suffered substantial financial losses, drawing on our wealth of knowledge and understanding of government process to critically assess each matter and implement strategies tailored to the particular case and client needs. Moreover, we have considerable experience dealing with often-overlapping internal investigations, derivative actions, and investigations by federal and state agencies.
Shareholder and Partner Disputes
Disagreements within management or between shareholders, partners, and members can be costly, endanger the financial health of a business, and impede a company’s growth.
We have extensive experience advising clients and litigating claims in high-stakes shareholder and partnership disputes involving issues such as fraud, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of the duty of loyalty, breach of contract, diversion or misuse of assets, freeze-outs, buyout agreements, minority shareholder oppression, business direction disagreements, corporate deadlock disputes, appraisal rights, dissolution, liquidation, embezzlement, self-dealing, and corporate governance.
We understand what parties risk losing in a business dispute and we help our clients identify the most effective and efficient solution for their unique circumstance. In these difficult situations, a possible resolution may be achieved in pre-litigation negotiations or through the use of mediation, arbitration, or another form of alternative dispute resolution. If litigation is required, our attorneys are fully prepared to aggressively litigate the issues up through and including trial.
Trade Secret Litigation
We are experienced in federal and state court litigation involving issues relating to trade secret identification, the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act, preemption, inevitable disclosure, misappropriation of trade secrets, covenants not to compete and non-compete agreements, nondisclosure agreements, unfair competition, and protection of customer lists and other confidential information, among others. Our attorneys are skilled at obtaining restraining orders and injunctions to protect our clients’ rights, and at defending similar actions brought by our clients’ adversaries.
Whether our client is the trade secret holder or the target of a misappropriation claim, our goal is to identify and obtain the best resolution for our client with minimal business disruption and reputational damage.
False Claims Act / Qui Tam
We have handled both criminal and civil actions alleging the submission of false claims against the Government. The FCA allows private individuals to file a lawsuit – called a “qui tam” action – to recover for violations of the FCA on behalf of the government. The person filing the qui tam action, referred to as a “relator,” typically receives between 15% and 30% of any recovery. Most states, and many municipalities, also have False Claims Acts.
Qui Tam suits can be burdensome for businesses and lucrative for whistleblowers. We have successfully litigated FCA investigations on behalf of entities from a variety of industries, including medical providers, pharmacies, senior care facilities, medical device companies, research facilities and federal and local government contractors. We have the strategic advantage of having represented relators as well as defendants. We rely on our expertise representing relators to anticipate the government's next move, and we leverage our experience on the defense side to obtain sizable awards for relators.
Additional Practice Areas
White Collar Criminal and Regulatory Defense
We prosecute and defend virtually every type of issue that may arise during a bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding.
We defend businesses and individuals in whistleblower investigations. We also advocate for whistleblowers.
We conduct expedient, discreet, and comprehensive internal investigations to help companies address potential problems.
Reassuring, articulate, knowledgeable, and effective. They made the process so much easier and gave me peace of mind in a stressful but successful outcome.