Lee R. Crain is a litigation associate in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Mr. Crain’s practice focuses on a broad range of high-stakes constitutional, commercial, and appellate litigation in both federal and state courts. He also frequently advises clients about litigation risk, the likelihood of success in challenging government actions, and the constitutionality of proposed legislation.
The Best Lawyers in America® has recognized Mr. Crain as “One to Watch” in Appellate Practice.
Recent highlights include:
- Constitutional Challenges. Mr. Crain represented CNN and White House correspondent Jim Acosta in a historic victory resulting in the reinstatement of Mr. Acosta’s White House press pass credentials. Nine months later, Mr. Crain represented Brian J. Karem, Playboy’s White House Correspondent, and achieved a similar victory, resulting in an order prohibiting members of the Trump administration from suspending Mr. Karem’s press pass credentials as well. Mr. Crain also litigated a First Amendment and Due Process vagueness challenge to a New York Department of Financial Services regulation that would have barred the entire title insurance industry in New York from engaging in traditional marketing practices such as taking a real estate attorneys to lunch.
- High-Stakes Commercial Litigation. Mr. Crain represents Facebook in multiple matters, including a defamation lawsuit in New York, an attorney general enforcement action in Washington, D.C., and a consumer class action in California. Mr. Crain also represented a major software company in litigation with a customer, culminating in the successful resolution of the lawsuit shortly after client moved to dismiss, and a whiskey distillery defending against claims of copyright infringement, culminating in a similarly successful resolution. Mr. Crain represented Lynn Tilton and Patriarch Partners in a variety of matters in New York and Delaware, including during a two-week bench trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery and in multiple appeals before the Delaware Supreme Court.
- Commercial Appeals. Mr. Crain won a landmark decision from New York’s highest court in Congel v. Malfitano, which, in a question of first impression, established standards for dissolution of partnerships under New York law.
- Employment Litigation. Mr. Crain represented a globally leading fashion model agency and procured a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting former employees from engaging in anti-competitive behavior harming our client’s business. Mr. Crain has also represented a major media company and major healthcare management company in employment discrimination and whistleblower retaliation lawsuits. Mr. Crain serves as lead associate representing the Legal Aid Society for the City of New York pro bono in a lawsuit alleging Legal Aid engaged in reverse-discrimination.
- International Arbitration. Mr. Crain represents Chevron in opposing confirmation by a United States federal court of an $18 billion sham Egyptian arbitration award.
- Client Counseling. Mr. Crain engages in a broad set of litigation-risk counseling, including advising a major hedge fund on litigation risks attendant to mergers and acquisitions and major media and software companies regarding risks of pursuing or defending against breach-of-contract litigation. Mr. Crain also advises clients about whether to advance claims for defamation and similar torts such as right of publicity. Mr. Crain has advised clients as to whether governmental action or proposed legislation is vulnerable to constitutional challenges.
Mr. Crain has a vibrant pro bono practice. Representative matters include:
- First Amendment & Public Right of Access. Mr. Crain has represented the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in a variety of matters before the federal trial and appellate courts in D.C. as well as in the Supreme Court relating to the government’s efforts to keep sealed portions of the investigation and report of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
- Prison Rights Litigation. Mr. Crain served as lead counsel in Cavness v. Mirkarimi, a civil rights lawsuit asserting constitutional claims against guards at the San Francisco County Jail. Taking the case on appeal, Mr. Crain achieved a reversal of the client’s prior summary judgment loss in the trial court, succeeded in reopening discovery and amending the complaint, took and defended depositions, argued numerous motions, and prepared the case for trial, successfully settling the lawsuit on the eve of trial.
- Criminal Appeals. Mr. Crain served as lead counsel in United States v. Machen* (6th Cir.), succeeding in vacating his client’s federal racketeering conviction, and in Chambers v. State (Md. Ct. Spec. App.), challenging convictions for attempted murder and first degree assault. Mr. Crain has also represented clients in amicus briefs involving issues of criminal law and procedure, including dozens of former prosecutors and defenders in a habeas corpus petition in California as well as the Cato Institute in the Supreme Court double jeopardy case Currier v. Virginia.
- Amicus Practice. Mr. Crain has an active amicus brief practice and has represented numerous clients in amicus briefs filed in courts around the country. In San Francisco v. Trump (9th Cir.), Mr. Crain represented direct-services and policy-advocacy organizations working on behalf of LGBT immigrants supporting a challenge to the Trump Administration’s decision to defund so-called “sanctuary cities.” Mr. Crain further represented dozens of businesses in the United States Supreme Court and other courts supporting a challenge to the Trump Administration’s efforts to add a “citizenship question” to the 2020 Census. Most recently, Mr. Crain represented 139 Members of the United States House of Representatives in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. City of New York, supporting New York City in a challenge to a City gun-safety regulation.
Mr. Crain graduated first in his class from the University of Michigan Law School, summa cum laude, where he received the Henry M. Bates Memorial Scholarship Award—the law school’s highest honor. He served as an editor on the Michigan Law Review, where he published a note on civil liberties and national security, and was a semifinalist in the Campbell Moot Court Competition and later a member of the competition’s executive board. Mr. Crain was elected to the Order of the Coif. In 2010, Mr. Crain graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in Spanish.
Before joining the firm, Mr. Crain served as a law clerk to the Honorable Paul J. Watford of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the Honorable Sidney H. Stein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Mr. Crain is admitted to practice in the State of New York as well as before the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York as well as the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Ninth, and District of Columbia Circuits. Mr. Crain is also a member of Gibson Dunn’s Ethics Committee.
*Representation occurred prior to Mr. Crain’s association with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
- Co-Author, Tips for District Court Amicus Brief Success, New York Law Journal (December 24, 2020).
- Author, New York, Fix Qualified Immunity Now: Don’t Wait on the Feds, New York Daily News (June 13, 2020).
- Co-Author, Administration Should Respect Voice Of America’s Autonomy, Law360 (June 12, 2020).
- Co-Author, COVID-19 News Defamation Claims Are Unlikely To Succeed, Law360 (May 4, 2020)
- Co-Author, Trump Likely Doesn’t Have Power To Reopen Businesses, Law360 (April 15, 2020)
- Co-Author, Press Pools Protect 1st Amendment During Pandemic, Law360 (April 7, 2020)
- Co-Author, The Constitutionality of Mobile Sports Wagering in New York State, New York Law Journal (February 3, 2020)
- Co-Author, Contractual Duties to Conduct a Business in Accordance With ‘Sound Business Practices’, Delaware Business Court Insider (July 25, 2018)
- Author, Learning the Court de Novo, American Bar Association Litigation and Appellate Practice Section (December 7, 2017)
- Author, The Legality of Deliberate Miranda Violations: How Two-step National Security Interrogations Undermine Miranda and Destabilize Fifth Amendment Protections, 112 Mich. L. Rev. 453 (July 11, 2013)