The co-managing partners of my firm issued the message below for Susman Godfrey’s friends and clients, including you.

Expect updates on COVID-19 developments here and @contingencyblog.

Be well.

Barry Barnett

To Susman Godfrey clients and friends:
In this time of concern and disruption because of COVID-19, we at Susman Godfrey have taken steps to safeguard our firm family and to protect our clients’ interest. We hope that you, your colleagues, and your families are healthy and safe. This public health crisis and its related economic impacts pose great challenges for everyone. We are here to help you navigate these challenges. Below we provide basic information about what we are doing, what you can expect from us going forward, and what you might do to preserve your legal rights.
We encourage you to contact the SG lawyers you are working with if you have specific questions or concerns. We are eager to keep the lines of communication open and strong.
What SG is Doing
We are open. Our offices-in Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle-are physically closed but very much “open for business.” Through our heavy investments in technology over the last few years, and our superb IT staff, we have easily and efficiently migrated to working remotely. We are actively working on clients’ cases through phone and video conferences, on-line platforms, and e-filings. Most courts are physically closed, but we are participating in hearings and depositions by phone and video. Legal research and brief writing proceed apace.   In many of our cases, key documents are hosted on secure on-line platforms. Our lawyers continue to meet “virtually” and conduct business of the firm.
We are accustomed to working remotely (and securely). As a firm with only 4 physical offices but a national practice that has us litigating in almost all states, we are uniquely accustomed to, and adept at, remote work. Our Information Technology department remains online and is actively monitoring our secure remote systems including our virtual private network and secure document-sharing platforms. Our clients’ confidential data and documents are just as secure as they were before this crisis hit.
We are taking precautions. Though none of our personnel have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, we have ended most travel, and almost all of our personnel are working from home. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and obviously will comply fully with advisories and orders from all government authorities.
We are continuing to deliver wins for our clients. Even in the time that we have been working remotely, we have resolved major matters for clients, including settling a large IP claim for a plaintiff client on the eve of trial and obtaining a large judgment on a counter-claim for a defendant client in a matter that we tried prior to the crisis. We continue to pursue our clients’ claims and defenses with diligence and vigor.
What You Can Expect From Us
We are pressing ahead. We will continue moving cases forward, and conducting evaluations of potential cases, as much as possible. Our lawyers and staff have access to robust platforms that enable them to work outside the office and conduct business remotely, including factual and legal research, document review and management, and filing and service of pleadings, motions, notices, and briefs.
Our trial-team calls will continue. Each of our cases has a trial team, typically headed by an SG partner and including one or more client representatives. In ordinary times, each trial team convenes weekly, generally by teleconference, to review case status and discuss items on the evergreen task assignment memo for the case. These trial-team conferences will continue to the extent needed to make progress towards favorable resolution of disputes. With courts having slowed or postponed the scheduling of trials and hearings, trial-team tele-conferences may become less frequent, depending on the circumstances of the particular case.
We are staying on top of court deadlines. Courts and arbitral bodies across the country have cancelled or postponed trials and hearings and, in some instances, courts have authorized suspension of case deadlines and/or statute of limitations periods. Many courts have authorized the conduct of certain evidentiary proceedings and depositions by phone or video conference. We will be actively assessing the impact of these and future decisions on our clients’ cases, as the legal landscape continues to evolve in response to Covid-19.
We will give you periodic updates. Depending on the response we get to this email, we may also set up a site that provides general answers to common questions and points to potentially helpful resources our clients may wish to consult.
Expect a call from us. We have encouraged the SG lawyers who are working with you to check in with you to see whether you have specific questions, concerns, or needs.
Some Things You Can Do
Contact us. Our lawyers remain available to consult with clients as needed. Do not hesitate to call them when you have a question or concern. Our office lines are ringing to our cell phones; we are monitoring email continuously; and our lawyers are available for video conference with you by Zoom or other platforms.
Stay on top of deadlines. Although schedules, deadlines, and even statutes of limitation may in some instances be extended by a court or court system, there are some contractual deadlines that you need to be aware of, e.g., times for invoking force majeure or material adverse event clauses. Whether these clauses have been triggered may require a lawyer’s advice about the governing law, but you should be able to determine the existence of contractual deadlines by reading your contracts. It is not safe to assume that any schedule, deadline, or limitations period has been suspended or lengthened. If you have any questions regarding timeliness of taking any action, raise them promptly with any of the SG lawyers you are working with.
Reach out about new disputes. We have been handling complex commercial disputes, including contract disputes, for both plaintiffs and defendants for 40 years. The COVID-19 public health crisis will produce an unusual number of conflicts regarding compliance with or breach of commercial obligations. There will be many disputes about contractual duties whose performance may have been prevented, hindered, or delayed by the effects of COVID-19. “Force majeure” provisions and related doctrines will be implicated by many of these situations. Some businesses may be tempted to take advantage of the disruption to engage in anticompetitive practices, such as price-fixing or customer allocation-a concern about which the U.S. Department of Justice recently has warned.
Be safe. There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our firm family and you and your family. We urge you to follow directives and guidance on best practices for avoiding and mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
Stephen D. Susman
Neal Manne
Co-Managing Partners
Susman Godfrey L.L.P.
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Photo of Barry Barnett Barry Barnett

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck…

Clients and colleagues call Barry Barnett an “incredibly gifted lawyer” (Chambers and Partners) who is “magic in the courtroom” (Who’s Who Legal), “the top antitrust lawyer in Texas” (Chambers and Partners), and “a person of unquestioned integrity” (David J. Beck, founder of Beck Redden).

Barnett is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, and Lawdragon has named him one of the top 500 lawyers in the United States three years in a row. Best Lawyers in America has honored him as “Lawyer of the Year” for Bet-the-Company Litigation (2019 and 2017) and Patent Litigation (2020) in Houston. Based in Texas and New York, Barnett has tried complex business disputes across the United States.

Barnett’s background, training, and experience make him indispensable to his clients. The small-town son of a Texas roughneck and grandson of a Texas sharecropper, Barnett “developed an unusual common sense about people, their motivations, and their dilemmas,” according to former client Michael Lewis.

Barnett has been historically recognized for his effectiveness and judgment. His peers chose him, for example, to the American College of Trial Lawyers and American Law Institute. His decades of trial and appellate work representing both plaintiffs and defendants have made him a master strategist and nimble tactician in complex disputes.

Barnett focuses on enforcement of antitrust laws, the “Magna Carta of free enterprise,” in Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall’s memorable phrase. “Barry is one of the nation’s outstanding antitrust lawyers,” according to Joseph Goldberg, a member of the Private Antitrust Enforcement Hall of Fame. Named among Texas’s top ten antitrust lawyers of 2023, Business Today calls Barnett a “trailblazer” among the “distinguished legal minds” who “dedicate their skill and expertise to the maintenance of healthy competition in various sectors” of the Lone Star State’s booming economy. Barnett is also adept in energy and intellectual property matters and has battled for clients against a Who’s Who list of corporate behemoths, including Abbott Labs, Alcoa, Apple, AT&T, BlackBerry, Broadcom, Comcast, Dow, JPMorgan Chase, Samsung, and Visa.

Barnett commands a courtroom with calm and credibility and “is the perfect lawyer for bet the company litigation,” said Scott Regan, General Counsel of former client Whiting Petroleum. His performance before the Supreme Court in Comcast Corp. v. Behrend prompted the Court to withdraw the question on which it had granted review. The judge in a trial involving mobile phone technology called Barnett “one of the best” and that his opening statement the finest he had ever seen. Another trial judge told Barnett minutes after a jury returned a favorable verdict against the county’s biggest employer that he was one of the two best trial lawyers he’d ever come across—adding that the other one was dead.

A versatile trial lawyer, Barnett knows how to handle a case all the way from strategic pre-suit planning to affirmance on appeal. He’s tried cases to verdict and then briefed and argued them when they went before appellate courts, including the Second, Third, Fifth, and Tenth Circuits, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and (in the case of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend) the Supreme Court of the United States.

Barnett is a sought-after public speaker, often serving on panels and talking about topics like the trials of antitrust class actions and techniques for streamlining complex litigation. He also comments on trends in commercial litigation and the implications of major rulings for outlets such as NPR, Reuters, Law360, Corporate Counsel, and The Dallas Morning News. He’s even appeared in a Frontline program about underfunding of state pensions, authored chapters on “Fee Arrangements” and “Techniques for Expediting and Streamlining Litigation” (the latter with Steve Susman) in the ABA’s definitive treatise on Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts, 5th, and commented on How Antitrust Enforcers Might Think Like Plaintiffs’ Lawyers.

Clients and other hard graders have praised Barnett for his courtroom skills and legal acumen.

A client in a $100 million oil and gas case, which Barnett’s team won at trial and held on appeal, said Barnett and his team “presented a rare combination of strong legal intellect, common sense about right and wrong, and credibility in the courtroom.” David McCombs at Haynes and Boone said Barnett “has a natural presence that goes over well with juries and judges.”

Even former adversaries give Barnett high marks. Lead opposing counsel in a decade-long antitrust slugfest said “Barry is a highly skilled advocate. He understands what really matters in telling a narrative and does so in a very compelling manner.”

Barnett relishes opportunities to collaborate with all kinds of people. At the Center for American and International Law (CAIL), founded by a former prosecutor at Nuremberg in 1947 and headquartered in the Dallas area, he has served on the Executive Committee, co-chaired the committee that produced CAIL’s first-ever strategic plan, supported CAIL’s Institute for Law Enforcement Administration and other development efforts, and proposed formation of a new Institute for Social Justice Law. CAIL’s former President David Beck said “Barry is extremely bright” and is “very well prepared in every lawsuit or professional task he undertakes.”

Barnett is also a Trustee of the New-York Historical Society, a Sterling Fellow at Yale, a member of the Yale University Art Gallery’s Governing Board, a winner of the Class Award for his work on behalf of his college class, and a proud contributor to the Yellow Ribbon Program at Harvard Law. Barnett’s pro bono work includes leading the trial team representing people who are at greatest risk of severe illness and death as a result of being exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 while being detained in the Dallas County jail—work for which he received the NGAN Legal Advocacy Fund RBG Award.

At Susman Godfrey, Barnett has served on the firm’s Executive Committee, Employment Committee, and ad hoc committees on partner compensation, succession of leadership, and revision of the firm’s partnership agreement. He also twice chaired the Practice Development Committee.

Barnett understands that clients face many pressures. Managing the stress is important, especially in matters that take years to resolve. He encourages clients to call him whenever they have a question or concern and to keep the inevitable ups and downs in perspective. He wants them to know that he will do his level best to help them achieve their goals. He also strives to foster trust and to make working with him a pleasure.

Cyrus “Skip” Marter, the General Counsel of Bonanza Creek in Denver and a former Susman Godfrey partner and client, said Barnett is “excellent about communicating with clients in a full and honest manner” and can “negotiate for his clients from a position of strength, because he is not afraid to take a case through a full trial on the merits.” Stacey Doré, the President of Hunt Utility Services and a former client, said that Barnett is “an excellent trial lawyer and the person you want to hire for your bet-the-company cases. He is client focused, responsive, and uniquely savvy about trial and settlement strategy.” A New York colleague said, “Barry is a joy to work with as co-counsel. He tackles complex procedural and factual hurdles capably, efficiently, and without drama.”

Barnett’s wide-ranging experience and calm, down-to-earth approach enable him to connect with clients, judges, jurors, witnesses, and even opposing counsel. He grew up in Nacogdoches, Texas. He co-captained his high school varsity football team as an All-East Texas middle linebacker while also serving as the Editor of Key Club’s Texas-Oklahoma District, won the Best Typist award, took the History Team to glory, and sang in the East Texas All Region Choir. As Dan Kelly of client Vistra Corp. put it, Barnett is “a great person to be around.”

Barnett is steady and loyal. He has practiced at Susman Godfrey his entire career. He and his wife Nancy live in Dallas and enjoy spending time in Houston and New York. Their daughter works for H-E-B in Houston, and their son is a Haynes and Boone transactions lawyer in Dallas.

As a member of Ivy League championship football teams in his junior and senior years at Yale and a parent of two Yalies, Barnett has no trouble choosing sides for “The Game” in November. And he knows how important fighting all the way to the end is. On his last play from scrimmage, in the waning minutes of The Game on Nov. 22, 1980, he recovered a Crimson fumble.

Yale won, 14-0.