Clockwise from top: Joseph L. Caverly, Scott T. Whittaker, Susan G. Talley, and Phillip A. Wittmann
With 24 attorneys included in the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyers in America
in 24 areas of the law, Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C. has established a formidable group of some of the most experienced lawyers in their fields. The firm’s attorneys are known throughout the Gulf South for their work in complicated transactions and high-stakes lawsuits; and together they have made Stone Pigman a “go-to” law firm for sophisticated matters.
“We’re a mid-size firm with 57 lawyers on staff and 38 members, so we’re gratified to have more than 60 percent of our members listed in Best Lawyers
,” says Barry Ashe, who chairs the firm’s Management Committee and Appellate Practice group. “That percentage reflects the talent at our firm, which is ultimately the reason why we have consistently been able to put together the best team to handle major, high-profile matters.”
In addition to having 24 lawyers included in The Best Lawyers in America
, Stone Pigman had four attorneys selected as Best Lawyers’
2014 New Orleans Lawyers of the Year: Phillip Wittmann for “bet-the-company” litigation, Susan Talley for real estate law, Scott Whittaker for venture capital law, and Joseph Caverly for corporate law. For Wittmann, this recognition represents the fifth time since 2009 that he has been named a Best Lawyers
Lawyer of the Year; Talley, Whittaker, and Caverly have also all been previously selected for the award.
“We handle many areas of the law in our practice, and it’s clear from the peer recognition we’ve received that we have excellent people working in their areas of expertise,” says Ashe, noting as an example that the firm has received a Tier 1 New Orleans ranking from U.S. News – Best Lawyers
“Best Law Firms” in 21 practice areas for 2014. “When we need to assist clients and there are multiple issues involved in their matters—a business transaction, some litigation, finance, or real estate—we can be nimble and effective in putting together a high-level team to take care of each problem.”
Founded in 1929, Stone Pigman has been solving its clients’ most challenging legal issues for decades. Early on, the firm was known for its corporate, tax, and real estate practices. But beginning in the 1970s, its litigation practice grew from its base in antitrust litigation into securities, oil and gas, utility regulation, bank regulation, insurance, toxic tort, environmental, class action, and multi-district litigation. The firm’s business practice evolved as well, expanding to meet its clients’ needs for real estate development, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, family wealth planning, and intellectual property.
“We have a very strong litigation practice, and for years we have handled a lot of high-profile litigation in Louisiana and the Gulf South,” says Wittmann, who joined Stone Pigman in 1961 and concentrates his practice on commercial litigation, class actions, toxic tort litigation, products liability, and antitrust matters.
For example, Stone Pigman served as counsel for Cameron International Corporation in the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast Oil Spill multi-district litigation. The firm also obtained the dismissal of multiple class actions brought against Washington Group International alleging causation of floodwall breaches during Hurricane Katrina. Recently, the firm successfully defended MoveOn.org against trademark infringement claims brought by the lieutenant governor in an effort to force the removal of a MoveOn.org billboard that criticized the governor’s decision to refuse federal Medicaid expansion dollars using a parody of the state’s tourism marketing campaign. Moreover, Wittmann served as defendants’ liaison counsel on behalf of Merck in the Vioxx multi-district litigation. “Our reputation is based on a longstanding record of successful client representation in complex litigation,” Wittmann notes.
On the business side of its practice, Stone Pigman has a history of being involved in some of the region’s most significant transactions, ranging from major industrial projects along the state’s petrochemical corridor to office, retail, and mixed-use projects to sports and entertainment and hospitality venues. Recent representative transactions include handling the redevelopment of Benson Tower and Champions Square; representing the city’s development entity in the redevelopment of the historic Saenger Theatre and other Canal Street properties; representing the Saints and Pelicans in stadium and arena negotiations; handling the acquisition and development of the Royal Orleans, Windsor Court, Loews, and Wyndham Riverfront hotels; representing domestic and foreign companies coming into Louisiana to develop or finance projects along the Mississippi River; and working with a major research university for its new on-campus stadium.
Talley, who co-chairs the firm’s Real Estate Practice group, observes: “Our firm has been honored to work on these projects. Although the transactions are diverse in nature, the common thread is the experience, hard work, and team approach that we bring to the table.”
“We’re very proud of the fact that Stone Pigman is frequently the counsel of choice for local, national, and international companies doing business in Louisiana,” says Whittaker, who chairs the firm’s Business Section and led its efforts in the Saenger Theatre project as well as in some of its most notable corporate transactions, such as Chicago Bridge and Iron’s acquisition of the Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group in 2013. “Our lawyers have deep experience, as well as an in-depth understanding of the unique issues of Louisiana law, and our work in these high-profile projects shows that we know how to achieve our clients’ desired results.”
An important part of Stone Pigman’s success has been its selectivity in hiring lawyers and its development of young lawyers. The firm, which makes a point of taking on attorneys who are distinguished by their academic leadership, encourages involvement with bar and legal associations and industry groups in order to stay abreast of new and developing legal issues.
“Not only do we have that senior level of expertise, but we have the next generation of Best Lawyers
,” notes Caverly, who co-chairs the firm’s Corporate and Business Law Practice group. “You go down the list of Stone Pigman lawyers named in Best Lawyers
, and many of them are some of our firm’s younger members—we take pride in that because we feel it reflects the quality of our firm throughout.”