Financial Times Names S&C “Most Innovative Law Firm in North America”December 10, 2021
S&C won three awards at the 2021 Financial Times Innovative Lawyers North America Awards—including Most Innovative Law Firm in North America: Practice of Law—and was a finalist for two other awards. The Firm also won the top awards for Innovation in Transformational Deals and Innovation in Social Justice. Sergio Galvis, the head of the Firm’s Latin America practice, was a finalist for Most Innovative Legal Practitioner and the Firm was a finalist for Innovation in Rescue and Recovery. The annual awards recognize the best in innovation from law firms and in-house legal teams in North America.
Most Innovative Law Firm in North America: Practice of Law
S&C has been named the Most Innovative Law Firm in North America by the Financial Times. S&C was recognized for its work on a range of matters—including representing Tiffany & Co. in the largest luxury retail deal ever, working with the Interim Government of Venezuela to free and disburse previously-frozen funds for healthcare workers and others, and significantly reducing the sentences of two pro bono clients under New York’s Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, which established important precedent for applying that law in the future.
Winner: Innovation in Transformational Deals
An S&C team led by Frank Aquila and Melissa Sawyer won the top award for Innovation in Transformational Deals for advising Tiffany & Co. in its $16 billion acquisition by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Over the course of 15 months, from the initial bid to the closing, S&C advised Tiffany as it dealt with unprecedented COVID-related disruptions and LVMH’s attempt to renege on the original deal. S&C’s ability to negotiate one of the tightest merger agreements ever enabled the client to overcome these challenges and complete the deal. The Financial Times noted that S&C’s “lawyers’ preparedness helped Tiffany close the deal for $131.50 per share,” making it the largest luxury retail deal ever.
Winner: Innovation in Social Justice
S&C teams led by Garrard Beeney and Nic Bourtin won the top award for Innovation in Social Justice for obtaining reduced sentences for two pro bono clients under New York’s Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA). Both clients had no prior criminal history but faced lengthy prison sentences for retaliating against abusive partners. For one client, S&C persuaded the lead prosecutor not to oppose the reduced sentence, which resulted in the client being one of the first women released under DVSJA after her sentence was reduced to time-served. For the other client, S&C persuaded an appeals court to reduce the client’s sentence to 7.5 years, down from 19 years-to-life. The Financial Times stated that S&C “pointed out misconceptions around domestic violence to help persuade the court that the defendants deserved leniency.”
Finalist: Innovation in Rescue and Recovery
An S&C team led by Sergio Galvis was a finalist for Innovation in Rescue and Recovery for working with the Interim Government of Venezuela to free and disburse $80 million for health care workers and others, which was previously frozen by the U.S. government under sanctions against Nicholas Maduro. The team obtained licenses from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and helped develop a cryptocurrency mechanism to bypass the Venezuelan banking system, which is controlled by Maduro’s regime. The Financial Times noted that “a 14-strong team including experts in ‘a huge range of disciplines — banking, cyber security, sanctions, payment systems and foreign exchange controls’” collaborated to “deliver a lifeline for those on the frontline.”
Finalist: Most Innovative Legal Practitioner
Sergio Galvis was named a finalist for Most Innovative Legal Practitioner for his leadership in heading S&C’s Latin America practice, particularly in working with the Venezuelan Interim Government to disburse $80 million in previously-frozen funds to health care workers and others via a blockchain and bank-connected payment platform. The funds were used to pay Venezuelan doctors and nurses working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and others. The Financial Times noted that Sergio “credits his success as the result of being a generalist — an approach he encourages other lawyers to embrace in their own practices. The firm’s work in Latin America frequently draws on cross-disciplinary expertise from lawyers globally.”