Securities Class Action Services (SCAS) has issued its annual ranking of the top firms that exclusively represent plaintiffs in securities class actions. The full SCAS rankings are available here. The top position, by some distance, is occupied by relative upstart Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, with nearly $1 billion in settlements during 2010.
Bernstein Litowitz has been accumulating accolades in recent years. The 54-lawyer firm is reputed to be selective in it hiring. Moreover, Bernstein Litowitz devotes an entire page on its website to complimentary remarks from judges. One of the twelve quotations on the Bernstein Litowitz webpage, from an unspecified judge sitting in the Southern District of Texas, reads “A tremendous job . . . [N]ot only in the monetary result, but the substantial and very innovative programmatic relief obtained in this case . . . these lawyers did an outstanding job trying to make sure that’s the kind of thing that the case left behind.”
The second-place firm in the SCAS rankings, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, has 190 lawyers to Bernstein Litowitz’s 54. And although Bernstein Litowitz settled only 16 cases in 2010 (to Robbins Geller’s 31), the average Bernstein Litowitz settlement of $62.4 million was nearly three times that of Robbins Geller, and more than any other firm with more than two settlements during 2010. The Milberg firm, which was once the perennial first-place securities firm, was ranked thirteenth in 2010, with $137 million in settlements.
Bernstein Litowitz’s most prominent and potentially lucrative, though also risky, representation is of the institutional investors that opted out of last year’s record $624-million settlement on behalf of Countrywide Financial Corp. shareholders. If Bernstein Litowitz can negotiate a comparable settlement on behalf of the Countrywide opt-outs and maintain its extraordinary relations with the judges who approve class action settlements, it is likely to not only retain its top SCAS position, but widen its lead.