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Most innovative North American law firms 2016: Great legal ideas

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StandoutPaul Hastings99826A multi-disciplinary team of lawyers was responsible for a series of ideas to create a model sharing agreement for the Federal Communications Commission’s auction of television spectrum, a first of its kind. Critical to creating a successful contractual instrument was enabling broadcasters to share spectrum, foresee how future technologies would develop, and write these eventualities into the contract. Commended: Eric Greenberg and Sherrese Smith
Highly CommendedLatham & Watkins88824The firm acted in a landmark Supreme Court case (Fisher v University of Texas) that reinforced the constitutional legality of race-based affirmative action in US college admissions. One idea was to argue that student body diversity included not only diversity among races but diversity within races too. This “diversity within diversity” was critical to achieving the university’s educational objectives, including breaking down racial stereotypes. Commended: Gregory Garre
Highly CommendedMorrison & Foerster88824In the final stages of Icelandic bank Landsbanki’s restructuring, lawyers realised they could employ a little known exemption to the bankruptcy code that allowed creditors of the bank to sell their securities more easily and also stopped further claims. Commended: James Tanenbaum
Highly CommendedPillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman87924The firm partnered with Paladin fs, a consulting company, to create the Golden Contract Coalition. This enables community banks and credit unions to join forces to negotiate fairer contracts with core IT vendors, which had been delivering an unsatisfactory service.
Highly CommendedSkadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom98724The firm created insurance to help foreign investors mitigate their risk of paying large breakup fees on deals that do not win approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. CFIUS can block foreign companies buying US companies on the grounds of national security.
CommendedCravath, Swaine & Moore88723Lawyers advised Alliant Techsystems (ATK) in the spin-off of its sporting group and the subsequent merger of its aerospace and defence groups with Orbital Sciences. They used a Morris Trust structure to complete what was in effect a merger of equals in a tax-efficient way. Commended: Damien Zoubek
CommendedSkadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom87823The firm counselled EMC in its sale to Dell and in particular helped implement a tracking stock structure, which allowed them to unlock value in EMC’s fast-growing subsidiary VMWare to finance the $67bn acquisition. Commended: Margaret Brown and Peter Atkins
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