Practice Areas & Industries: Sullivan & Cromwell LLP


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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Sullivan & Cromwell has one of the premier appellate practices in the country.

Its lawyers have achieved success for the Firm’s clients in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, federal courts of appeals and administrative agencies, state supreme and appellate courts, and numerous international tribunals. In the past five years alone, S&C lawyers have argued 10 times in the Supreme Court and dozens of times in other federal and state appellate courts.

These cases have spanned the Firm’s practice areas, including:

  • antitrust,
  • banking,
  • bankruptcy,
  • corporate and securities,
  • criminal procedure,
  • environmental,
  • false claims,
  • intellectual property,
  • labor and employment,
  • products liability, and
  • tax law.

Clients turn to S&C for their high-stakes appeals because of the Firm’s extensive appellate expertise and its deep understanding of their industries, issues and concerns. What sets S&C’s appellate practice apart is that its lawyers have handled virtually every phase of civil and criminal litigation on behalf of clients.

In addition to arguing and briefing cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals, S&C lawyers have also tried and arbitrated cases, conducted internal investigations, and represented clients in governmental investigations. Because of that broad experience, they are able to work collaboratively with trial teams to frame arguments persuasively at any level.

S&C’s appellate practice draws on the experience of 15 former U.S. Supreme Court clerks and more than 130 clerks to judges on all 13 federal courts of appeals and many state courts and international tribunals.


Recent appellate practice experience includes representations of:

  • Microsoft, as it prevailed before the Tenth Circuit in September 2013 in the company’s long-running antitrust battle with Novell.  After an eight-week trial led by S&C, the district court granted Microsoft’s post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law, which dismissed Novell’s $4 billion suit.  On appeal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed that dismissal and agreed with the district court that Microsoft had not engaged in anticompetitive conduct.  Microsoft also prevailed before the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed the dismissal of more than $10 billion in claims by indirect purchasers of its software.
  • JPMorgan Chase, as it prevailed before the District of Columbia Circuit in May 2013, when that court refused to let creditors intervene in a dispute over Washington Mutual Bank’s obligation to repurchase defective loans out of mortgage-backed securities.
  • Enbridge, as it prevailed before the Delaware Supreme Court in May 2013, when that court declined to unwind the critical restructuring of an oil pipeline.  The Delaware Court of Chancery had dismissed various claims against the defendants and, after two separate arguments on appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed because there had not been any showing of bad faith.
  • Goldman Sachs, as it prevailed before the Second Circuit in March 2013, when that court reversed a lower court order declining to enforce an arbitration agreement with a former employee.  Because the issue was whether to carve out an exception to mandatory arbitration provisions for discrimination claims, the case drew the participation of many business and labor advocacy groups, as well as the attention of several national media outlets.
  • The St. Joe Company, as it prevailed before the Eleventh Circuit in February 2013, when that court affirmed the dismissal of a highly publicized shareholder class action concerning real estate valuation and disclosure.
  • J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Société Générale, UBS, Wachovia Bank, and many other of the world’s leading financial institutions, as they prevailed before the New York Court of Appeals in their challenge to the $5 billion restructuring of MBIA Insurance.
  • BP and its directors, as they prevailed in multiple appeals before the Fifth Circuit arising out of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the ensuing Gulf of Mexico spill.  The court of appeals repeatedly affirmed the dismissal of various shareholder, derivative, and other class actions.
  • Barclays, as it prevailed before the Fifth Circuit in the Enron securities class action—widely considered to be the largest and most complex securities class action ever—when that court reversed class certification.  Barclays subsequently obtained summary judgment and dismissal of the claims in the district court.