Few firms have built their antitrust practice the way Gibson Dunn & Crutcher has. The revolving door between government and private practice provided Gibson Dunn the core of its US-based antitrust group; perhaps only Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer relies more on talent seasoned at the US antitrust agencies.
Gibson Dunn carved out its lofty place in the antitrust bar when Gary Spratling, a former deputy for criminal enforcement at the US Department of Justice's antitrust division, joined the firm in 2000. It solidified its standing in the cartel space in 2014 when his protege, Scott Hammond, left the Antitrust Division to work alongside Spratling at Gibson Dunn.
The firm has been remarkably stable over the years. Its growth has happened one or two lawyers at a time. A duo from Vinson & Elkins joined in 2011, as did a partner from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London; the firm added a partner in Hong Kong - its first in Asia - via Jones Day; an alumnus of Mayer Brown and the European Commission helped Gibson Dunn expand in Brussels in 2010.
As partner Jarrett Arp told us, the firm has rarely experienced losses other than retirements. When Joshua Soven left the Gibson Dunn team for Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in March, it marked the practice’s first major partner departure in recent memory.
This winter, GCR data reporter Denise Nzeyimana sat down with Arp to discuss how the firm has grown over the years.
Jarrett Arp on his history at Gibson Dunn
I was a summer associate at the firm in the summer of 1990, and I received an offer to return in 1991, in the New York office. I went away for two and a half years because I was in the army - I was a military prosecutor and army officer to fulfill a scholarship obligation I had. When I came back to the firm in Washington, DC in 1994, I was looking for opportunities to do more trial work and work on interesting cases. I found my way to an antitrust case in 1995, and I really enjoyed the work, and it continued from there. I started expanding my expertise working on a variety of matters and progressed until the fall of 2001, when I was elected to the partnership, and have continued beyond that.
Most of my practice focuses on cartel defence, but over the years I’ve done everything and really enjoyed that. I love that about antitrust: We get to specialise in a variety of areas and always have something interesting to learn, because you’re studying new industries, while at the same time being a valued advisor to clients in the industries in which you gain expertise.
On the firm’s international growth:
The firm started in 1890. We were formed in in Los Angeles. Our founders went west with the railroads and represented the Southern Pacific Railroad on the West Coast. We grew over the course of the years. We started by growing in northern and southern California, and by the 1970s we had offices in London and Paris. Then nationally, we came to New York then to Washington, DC and then grew beyond that. For some years our largest office has been New York. So we became a national firm and then really grew as an international firm with a big push of growth. Since 2000, we’ve expanded in Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia - so we’ve grown. We’re now something over 1,200 lawyers worldwide.
On hiring to build the practice:
We have been a firm that has successfully grown in recent years through a combination of home-grown partners and also laterals. We’ve become a law firm that a lot of people are coming to, so when you think of our lateral hires, especially in the antitrust area, you would think of Spratling in 2000. That was a very significant lateral hire for us. One would also think of Scott Hammond in 2014. Both Gary and Scott had been the Deputy Assistant Attorneys General for criminal in the Antitrust Division. Both were very significant figures nationally and internationally in antitrust enforcement, so I think those are really important lateral hires for us. We haven't had noteworthy departures.