Best Law Firms: Commercial Litigation

Best Law Firms has released its 2024 edition with 13 local firms recognized for commercial litigation.

According to the Best Law Firms website, these rankings “are based on client/professional reference feedback, firmographic information provided by firms, industry leader interviews and feedback collected on individual lawyers through the Best Lawyers research process.”

Crisham & Holman LLC

Crisham & Holman was recognized as a tier 1 firm for commercial litigation in Colorado. 

The firm was founded in early 2021 by John Crisham and David Holman. 

The two biggest changes for the firm in the last year were adding new team members, explained Holman. Chris Carry joined the firm as an associate attorney from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. The firm also brought on Amanda Turney as an administrative assistant. 

“For most of the year, our biggest challenge was capacity,” wrote David Holman to Law Week via email.

According to Holman, at the beginning of 2023, the firm had five trials scheduled in the year. While only one proceeded to trial, most of them got close before they settled or were postponed into 2024, which required extensive work on discovery and trial preparation. But the second half of the year has been more normal.

A success that stands out is the firm’s work on behalf of Westminster-based Escape Velocity Systems. EVS faced claims brought by a former business partner seeking millions of dollars in damages and the dissolution of the company.  Following party depositions and the issuance of the firm’s expert reports, the team was able to obtain a satisfactory settlement through mediation, and free EVS to focus on continuing to grow their software business as an Apple enterprise business partner, explained Holman.

The most valuable recognition is when a happy client refers others to us,” noted Holman. “But we are especially honored to be counted among top tier of such strong Denver litigation firms, including both of our previous firms.” 

Richards Carrington LLC

Richards Carrington’s Denver office as well as partner Christopher Carrington was recognized for commercial litigation. 

Carrington began his career in 2005 trying cases at the District Attorney’s office for the 18th Judicial District and then went into private practice in 2007. 

“Two years later, I fortuitously found myself representing Lehman Brothers in connection with various contract disputes across the country arising out of its bankruptcy, which is how I transitioned from criminal work into a full-time civil/commercial practice,” wrote Carrington to Law Week via email.

The firm’s top accomplishment for the past year was a multimillion-dollar judgment after trial in bankruptcy court for claims of fraud and theft in a case against the trustee of a family trust. It was the culmination of an investigation the firm started for their client in 2020, explained Carrington. 

Carrington feels Colorado has a great bench with great judges. But if he had to pick a change that he’d like to see in commercial litigation, he said he’s always been envious of California’s complex court framework which consists of trial courts that specialize in complex, high-dollar business disputes heard by judges with backgrounds in commercial litigation.

Given the way Colorado’s economy and industry have grown, Carrington also feels Colorado’s business litigants would benefit from specialized courts for complex civil litigation.

“It means a lot to be well-respected amongst our bar colleagues, including those that we litigate against,” added Carrington. “It speaks well of the Colorado bar and our colleagues that we can litigate aggressively against each other but still support each other as professionals and recognize each other’s talents.”

Haddon, Morgan and Foreman P.C.

Haddon, Morgan and Foreman was recognized as a tier 1 firm for commercial litigation in Colorado. 

“It is always gratifying to be recognized for good work,” wrote Jeff Pagliuca to Law Week via email. “We  care about the people and organizations we zealously represent.”

One of the most formidable challenges in the litigation world, noted Pagliuca, is overturning an arbitration award, which the courts have said is subject to “one of the narrowest standards of review known to law.” 

But HMF did just that.

The firm succeeded in overturning an arbitrator’s $140 million award — one of the largest arbitration awards ever issued in Colorado — continued Pagliuca. HMF accomplished this by establishing through the record made in the arbitration that the arbitrator had engaged in pervasive bias throughout the proceedings. The two claimants were each represented by two of the largest law firms in the country. 

According to Pagliuca, recovering, receiving, managing and searching for and through electronically stored information are also ongoing and evolving challenges in litigation. 

“The information available in litigation has dramatically expanded in the last several years and now includes increasingly large data sets from diverse sources,” added Pagliuca. “Developing cost-conscious methods of locating, recovering, and producing ESI is an important part of being an effective trial law firm.”

Pagliuca feels “the challenge for lawyers working in this arena is to not make the costs of litigation more expensive than the potential rewards.”

“2024 will be busier than 2023, and HMF is looking at adding one or more lawyers to assist with commercial litigation matters,” noted Pagliuca.

Ogborn Mihm LLP

Ogborn Mihm was recognized as a tier 1 firm for commercial litigation in Colorado. 

“Ogborn Mihm has a long history of representing businesses in commercial litigation,” wrote Nicole Quintana and Clayton Wire to Law Week via email. “Our track record demonstrates our dedication to providing top-tier legal representation.”

The team has had successes with larger, complex business matters, as well as success with smaller, closely-held companies; and continues to grow each other’s experience and reputation. Quintana and Wire are proud of these accomplishments.

“Peer review is essential for law firms and lawyers to maintain high standards of quality, ethics, and professionalism,” noted Quintana and Wire. “Having been recognized by Best Law Firms across many practice areas for several years, the recognition within our community validates our commitment to these same standards.” 

But like many firms, the past few years have presented challenges from recruiting new talent, to enhancing marketing and business development strategies, to ensuring sustainable growth and succession planning. However, the firm continues to adapt and overcome those challenges, explained Quintana and Wire.

Over the years, we have made substantial investments in both cutting-edge technology and talented legal professionals,” added Quintana and Wire. “This growth not only reaffirms our dedication to providing exceptional legal counsel but also solidifies our position as trusted advisors to plaintiffs seeking justice in the face of wrongdoing committed by others.”

The team has witnessed, and in some cases has been a part of, significant legislative changes in Colorado and at the national level that are bolstering the protection of individuals in the business sphere. Quintana and Wire said they’d like to see more of this in the future of commercial and business litigation. 

“We remain resolute in our pursuit of justice and are very thankful for the opportunities to make a meaningful impact in the lives of our clients,” added Quintana and Wire. 

Keating Wagner Polidori Free

Keating Wagner Polidori Free was recognized as a tier 2 firm for commercial litigation in Colorado. 

“Our firm’s mission is to provide plaintiffs with sophisticated, high-level representation, and we are grateful to see our commercial litigation practice recognized on the level of our other major practice areas,” wrote Ross Pulkrabek to Law Week via email.

A past president of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, Pulkrabek’s practice has focused on the representation of plaintiffs in commercial litigation and professional liability cases for the past 20 years.

Commercial litigation is subject to economic trends, explained Pulkrabek. He theorizes the pandemic lockdown stifled the formation of new business relationships, and the firm is now seeing the effects in the form of a decrease in those types of cases. On the other hand, the firm continues to see commercial litigation cases that result from business failures that started during the lockdown period.

“Business and commercial litigation ebbs and flows,” noted Pulkrabek. “My experience has been that commercial litigation was comparatively slower than usual at the beginning of the year, but it is picking back up … when business is slower, it is important to stick to standards for case selection … it is better to have capacity for good cases when they come than to be busy with lesser quality cases.”

In terms of changes, Pulkrabek told Law Week many of the firm’s clients have appreciated its willingness to consider fee structures beyond the hourly rate arrangement. As clients become increasingly aware of and interested in nontraditional fee structures, Pulkrabek looks forward to expanding that aspect of the firm’s practice. 

I enjoy collaborating with lawyers who practice in other areas — personal injury, civil rights, probate, transactional law — to find unique solutions to difficult problems,” added Pulkrabek.

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP

Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell was recognized as a tier 1 firm for commercial litigation in Colorado. 

We appreciate the effort that Best Law Firms spends in identifying and honoring the top firms in commercial litigation, and we’d like to congratulate the other well-deserving law firms that are ranked,” wrote Mike O’Donnell, firm chair and founding partner, to Law Week via email.

Complex commercial litigation has been a mainstay of WTO’s service offerings since the firm opened in 1998, explained O’Donnell. This year is the firm’s 25th anniversary, and the booming nature of its commercial practice is an indicator of WTO’s success as a high-stakes nationwide trial and litigation boutique.

“WTO has celebrated several big commercial litigation wins this year,” noted O’Donnell. “Those successes range from winning a $39 million plaintiff’s jury verdict as co-trial counsel for Allergan and Duke University following a patent infringement trial to winning a jury verdict in a $12 million commercial dispute in a two-week trial in Los Angeles Superior Court to winning an arbitration for one of the nation’s largest beauty and wellness franchisors.”

According to O’Donnell, he sees increasingly large complex commercial matters in the firm’s future as clients seek more cost-conscious and trial-ready firms as opposed to high-rate mega firms.

“We’ve been so busy that staffing has been a challenge … it’s been hard to keep up with demand,” noted O’Donnell. “I attribute this to clients wanting the unique blend of litigation credibility and trial savvy that WTO brings to cases.”

“We are increasingly in demand for sophisticated commercial litigation for and against major companies and corporations,” added O’Donnell.

Husch Blackwell

Husch Blackwell was recognized as a tier 1 firm for commercial litigation in Colorado. 

According to Jeff Whitney and Jamie Steiner, Husch Blackwell’s commercial litigation team brings together over 200 professionals, handling all kinds of corporate disputes and offering “creative, top-notch advocacy, whether we’re in or out of the courtroom.” The firm opened its Denver office in 2008, housing a team of 15 commercial litigation professionals.

“It’s an honor to be acknowledged for supporting our clients in hitting their targets, and delivering high-quality work is always a privilege,” wrote Whitney and Steiner to Law Week via email.

Whitney and Steiner told Law Week segments of the commercial real estate industry have performed poorly recently. They noted this is the most visible area of distress in the larger economy, but feel there is a lot of uncertainty about the economy in general.

The pandemic greatly affected the caseload in the court system, both state and federal, and as we move farther from the Covid era, we have seen a return to something close to normal — which means ultimately, a lot of litigation that was paused or slow to move now proceeding through the system,” added Whitney and Steiner. “It has been quite busy.”

As interest rates have moved quickly, inflation remains a concern, and there has been a lot of disruption in global supply chains, noted Whitney and Steiner. For example, there are some business agreements that made sense a few years ago that now might be viewed as uneconomical, which can lead to disputes. 

They both expect to see more litigation of this nature in the coming year.

Law Week Colorado also received Best Law Firm announcements for commercial litigation from Wells, Anderson & Race LLC, Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe PC, Robinson Waters & O’Dorisio PC, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, Moye White LLP and Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP.

Previous articleBig Deals Q3 2023
Next articleColorado’s Best Law Firms 2024: Real Estate


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here