We Play to Win
We’re trial lawyers. We don’t limit our practice to niche subject matters or particular industries. Trials are our specialty, and we excel at trying all kinds of cases. Nor do we restrict ourselves to plaintiffs or defendants, avoiding the biases and tunnel vision that representing only one side fosters. Because we play both sides of the “v,” we understand our opponents’ incentives and strategy as well as our own.
We bet on ourselves and our clients. Why? Because we believe in ourselves and we believe in our clients. We pioneered success-based fee agreements, for both plaintiffs and defendants, that reward the results we achieve and not the hours we bill. That means, like our clients, we can’t afford to lose, and we can’t afford to win inefficiently either. When our clients win big, we do too.
We fight smarter. Having skin in the game keeps us focused on the most important goal: winning in front of the jury, judge, or arbitrator, not fighting pointless battles. There is no costly pyramid structure at Susman Godfrey. With more partners than associates, we are lean and un-leveraged. We counter the profit-driven bloat of our opponents with focus, creativity, and efficiency.
We value diversity. Diversity makes our trial teams stronger, smarter, and more effective. We know, because judges and jurors tell us so. We value lawyers who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and places.
We Beat the Best
To be the best, you have to beat the best. And we do.
That’s why dozens of Fortune 500 companies trust Susman Godfrey when it counts: when winning means everything—and losing is not an option. What do General Electric, Walmart, Chevron, Uber, and NBCUniversal have in common? All of them have relied on Susman Godfrey to battle their toughest opponents at trial.
We also even the playing field when underdogs have to stand up to the powerful. For decades, we’ve represented consumers, whistleblowers, and small or start-up businesses challenging abuses by some of the most powerful corporate defendants in America. And we’ve secured billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on their behalf.
In 1976, firm founder Steve Susman set up a plaintiffs’ commercial litigation practice inside a small Houston maritime law firm. Four years later, Susman’s band of fledgling trial lawyers won the then-largest verdict in antitrust history in the landmark Corrugated Containers case. Soon after, the group formed their own commercial litigation boutique, adding Lee Godfrey in 1983. Godfrey continued as a co-managing partner until his retirement in 2013.
Since its founding, the firm has grown organically, and a majority of our lawyers have opted to spend their entire careers here. Susman Godfrey offices in Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York have grown into powerhouses that represent both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of complex, commercial litigation.
Yet the firm remains a cohesive unit. Trial teams often include personnel from two or more offices. All partners, of counsel, and associates meet weekly to discuss and act on case acceptance matters and other issues. Each of these lawyers has the same vote on most questions, including employment and case acceptance decisions.
Pioneers in Creative Fee Structures
Steve Susman pioneered the idea of handling large commercial cases on a contingency basis. He believed that if a lawyer was not willing to take a case on contingency, the case was not worth bringing. Clients liked the concept, because it signaled the lawyer’s confidence in the case, aligned their interests with their lawyer’s, and conserved cash. Decades before “alternative fee arrangements” became a catchphrase at corporate counsel gatherings, Susman had made them a key ingredient in the firm’s recipe for success.
The contingent-fee model has given way to a spectrum of alternative arrangements on both the plaintiff and defense side, including reverse-contingent, part-hourly and part-contingent, flat, part-flat and part-contingent, performance kickers, and everything in between.
Today, Susman Godfrey continues to be the leader among law firms using alternative fees and success bonuses of one sort or another. We like to bet on ourselves, and we’ve mastered the art of picking the right cases and pricing them so that both Susman Godfrey and our clients share risk and reward.
In 2020, the firm elected Kalpana Srinivasan as the 4th managing partner in its 40-year history. She is the first woman to serve in the position, and the first managing partner to have risen through the associate ranks at the firm.
Susman Godfrey enters into a variety of fee arrangements with our clients. These often bespoke agreements range from fully contingent, fixed, or hourly arrangements to hybrids that combine contingent, fixed, or hourly components. Our flexibility allows us and our clients to better align our incentives and interests while balancing predictability and flexibility.
- Contingency fee and success bonus arrangements. On the plaintiff side, contingent fee arrangements stop the endless stream of bills, penalize busy-work, and drive results by rewarding lawyers for effectively and efficiently resolving our clients’ disputes. On the defense side, we can achieve a similar alignment of incentives with reverse contingency and success-based bonus arrangements.
- Fixed fee arrangements. Built with budgets in mind, fixed fees provide predictability and accountability. After exploring and understanding the particulars of our client’s needs and the case at issue, we tailor a fair, fixed fee arrangement that accounts for the ebb and flow of litigation. Fixed fees protect our clients from the uncertainty and monitoring burden of hourly billing.
- Hybrid fee arrangements. Flexibility is the hallmark of hybrid fees. These structures combine a fixed or hourly fee at a reduced rate with a partial contingent or success-bonus component to best suit the needs of the case. Hybrid arrangements reduce the out-of-pocket expense of a fixed or hourly representation while aligning interests in achieving favorable results.
- Hourly fee arrangements. Some clients prefer hourly fee arrangements. When they do, they benefit from having lawyers who have honed their skills in an environment where results and efficiency truly matter.
We have litigated successfully under each of these fee arrangement variations and many others, and we pride ourselves on having flexibility to find the right fee arrangement for each client’s case.