Trial Practice

Davis Polk has one of the world’s premier trial practices, regularly achieving remarkable results that others have failed to obtain. With more than 200 litigators, including 39 partners, the firm handles trials in federal, state and non-U.S. jurisdictions for clients across a variety of industries. Our litigators are courtroom lawyers who have long track records of success and have won record-setting verdicts on both the defense and plaintiff sides. 

Our firm’s long-established trial practice stands out from amongst its peers, as do our partners,  who are frequently recognized  for their trial skills by professional organizations, including numerous publications, and have been members of the American College of Trial Lawyers for more than 40 years - including a partner who is a former President. Our lawyers have a keen understanding of our clients’ business imperatives, recognizing that all aspects of a client’s business – including the business model, financial condition, workforce and employee concerns, regulatory issues, investor considerations, and reputation – are key in determining the most effective legal strategy.    

Litigation trial teams create innovative ways to simplify complex concepts and weave them into a story a jury can understand. When preparing for trial, we take an analytical and strategic approach, focusing on all aspects of a case, including:  

  • Determining the appropriate tactical approach
  • Considering legal arguments and potential pretrial motions
  • Developing the anticipated arguments and evidence
  • Preparing both offensive and defensive discovery plans
  • Considering evidentiary issues, including the admissibility of documents and statements, as well as the costs, benefits and risks of bringing witnesses to testify
  • Developing a reasonable schedule for the preparation of witnesses
  • Coordinating efforts in the event of parallel proceedings


Chambers USA:

  • Antitrust & Competition, General Commercial Litigation, Securities Litigation, Band 1 
  • Davis Polk’s litigation practice “possess[es] great expertise, depth and strong lawyers.”

Legal 500 U.S. – “Lawyers at Davis Polk attract praise for their ‘unrivalled market knowledge’, ‘tremendous work ethic’ and ‘practical application of the law’.”

Benchmark Litigation:

  • Client Comment – “Davis Polk is the firm to which I would refer all matters of institutional importance.”

Notable Matters

  • Comcast Corporation:
    • After a week-long trial against Sprint Communications a district court jury returned an infringement verdict in favor of Comcast and awarded $7.5 million in damages, a complete victory on liability. The district court also denied Sprint’s motions for judgment interest as well as post-judgment interest and an ongoing royalty.
    • In a second patent trial between the Comcast and Sprint, the district court granted Comcast’s motion for judgment as a matter of law and overturned a jury verdict that Sprint had obtained. The order gave Comcast another complete victory, finding non-infringement as to all accused networks on all asserted claims.
    • Our defense of Comcast in a trial before the FCC of claims brought by the NFL helped secure our client a new, long-term contract for the telecast of NFL games throughout the United States. The trial included the examination of former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the Chairman and CEO of Comcast, among other witnesses.
  • Patriot Coal: A victory for Patriot Coal Corporation following its trial with the United Mine Workers of America. In a strongly worded opinion, the bankruptcy court ruled that Patriot could reject its collective bargaining agreements with its unionized employees, could modify the healthcare benefits available to its union-represented retirees, and implement the terms of its labor proposals.
  • JPMorgan Chase: Following a trial involving objections to a proposed settlement of the central causes of action against JPMorgan Chase, the bankruptcy court issued a long-awaited confirmation decision in the Tribune Chapter 11 cases, ruling in our client’s favor on all major issues, paving the way for emergence from bankruptcy. This is one of the largest and most contentious bankruptcy matters on record: a multibillion-dollar fraudulent conveyance litigation challenging the 2007 leveraged buyout of Tribune Company wherein creditors sought to avoid approximately $10 billion in debt.
  • Pinnacle Airlines Corporation: After a lengthy trial, the bankruptcy court approved nearly all of the concessions that Pinnacle Airlines Corporation sought from its pilots’ union in connection with its Chapter 11. This labor victory paved the way for Pinnacle’s successful restructuring.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers: We were counsel to PricewaterhouseCoopers in a month-long trial between the SEC and the Big Four accounting firms in connection with allegations that the Chinese affiliates of the Big Four violated the Securities Exchange Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act when they refused to produce auditing documents on 10 PRC based companies under investigation for reverse-merger transactions.
  • VNUS Medical Technologies: Following five years of litigation, we obtained a $45 million jury verdict in favor of our client, VNUS Medical Technologies, in connection with its efforts to enforce its patents in the field of venous reflux disease treatment.
  • Oracle: Our work as lead trial counsel for the plaintiff in the Delaware takeover battle between Oracle and Peoplesoft paved the way for the successful completion of one of the first hostile takeovers in the technology sector in the United States.

Pro Bono

We view pro bono work as a core responsibility and use our trial skills for those who cannot otherwise obtain legal representation.

  • A Tennessee Death Row Inmate: Acting as pro bono trial counsel to a Tennessee death row inmate, a state court jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision as two-thirds voted for acquittal. Ultimately, a settlement was reached and our client was released from prison.