Mark A. Kirsch is a partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Mr. Kirsch is a trial lawyer whose practice focuses on complex securities, white collar, commercial and antitrust litigation. Mr. Kirsch serves on the Executive Committee of the Firm, and since 2015 has been Co-Partner In Charge of the New York Office. He previously served as Global Co-Chair of Gibson Dunn’s litigation practice from 2009-2014.
Mr. Kirsch routinely is named one of the leading litigators in the United States. He is ranked for Securities Litigation nationwide and in New York by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business and The Legal 500. The 2019 edition of Chambers USA states that clients say, “He is one of the most extraordinary litigators I’ve seen,” and that “He has always thought ahead about every possible scenario.” The 2018 edition notes that clients say Mr. Kirsch has “fantastic cross-examination skills.” Prior recent editions of Chambers USA refer to Mr. Kirsch as “a very deep thinker who is always incredibly well prepared,” and who “does a fantastic job when arguing cases,” “is at the vanguard of the US securities litigation market and enjoys a stunning reputation,” is “a force to be reckoned with,” is “a great strategist who’s detail-oriented and fantastic on his feet,” is “very good at strategy and very responsive to client needs,” and who is “extremely pleasant to deal with.” Mr. Kirsch is also recognized as a leading securities litigation attorney by The Legal 500 United States. Mr. Kirsch is named as a leading commercial litigation attorney by The Best Lawyers in America©, and Benchmark Litigation’s Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys recognized him as a “Litigation Star.” In both 2019 and 2016, Law360 named Mr. Kirsch as one of five Securities Litigation MVPs nationwide. In addition, he was named to City & State’s “50 Over 50” list of the most distinguished public servants in New York in 2020, a “Life Sciences Star” by LMG Life Sciences 2017, and selected by The Lawyer as one of its “Global Hot 100 Attorneys” in 2006.
Mr. Kirsch has won six major victories in the past year:
- In August 2019, won a complete trial verdict for global investment adviser Investcorp in a case brought by hedge fund Kortright Partners for $250 million for negligent misrepresentation.
- In December 2018, won a significant trial verdict for a Susquehanna fund and two senior executives after a bench trial asserting fraud claims in the $115 million sale of Plimus to Great Hill.
- In August 2019, for AmTrust Financial, a Fortune 500 insurer, obtained complete dismissal of a shareholder class action alleging violations of Section 11 of the 1933 Act and Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, despite the Company’s restatement of financials and a disclosed SEC investigation.
- In June 2019, on behalf of Rio Tinto, obtained dismissal of a shareholder class action alleging fraud, where there is an open fraud charge brought by the SEC for the same alleged conduct.
- In June 2019, for Vale, the global mining company, obtained dismissal of a securities class action alleging fraud in connection with disclosures relating to the Fundão dam collapse in Brazil.
- In September 2019, for Vale, defeated class certification in another securities class action arising out of the Fundão dam collapse.
Also recently, Mr. Kirsch:
- In 2017, as the co-lead lawyer for Lynn Tilton, the “Diva of Distressed,” defeated the SEC after a three-week trial in the SEC’s ALJ court, where the ALJ dismissed all fraud and negligence charges against Ms. Tilton.
- Obtained a rare reversal of a denial of summary judgment from the New York Appellate Division, on behalf of Trust Company of the West, on grounds the plaintiff hedge fund failed to establish loss causation in a case where TCW was the collateral manager for a large portfolio of mortgage-backed securities that failed to perform in the wake of the global financial crisis. TCW successfully argued the financial crisis caused the loss, not TCW’s management.
- Obtained affirmance by the New Jersey Appellate Division of a dismissal from the bench after oral argument of a complaint against Merck challenging its tax disclosures.
Currently, Mr. Kirsch leads the defense of:
- Rio Tinto, the world’s second largest mining company, in an SEC suit alleging a Section 10(b) violation concerning the timing of an impairment taken in connection with a $4 billion project in Mozambique.
- Vale S.A. in class actions relating to the collapse of the Brumadinho dam in Brazil.
- BlackRock in a derivative suit in Virgin Islands Superior Court by shareholders of a large public company alleging that BlackRock fraudulently drove down the share price of the public company.
- Tesla and its Board of Directors in Delaware Chancery Court in a derivative suit challenging director compensation.
- UBS in class actions alleging that primary dealers of the New York Federal Reserve Bank price-fixed the auction market for U.S. Treasury securities.
- UBS in multiple LIBOR-related actions alleging price fixing, including cases where in March 2018 class certification was denied in connection with three separate putative classes.
- Gerald Metals, the largest privately owned metals trading firm in the world, in litigation in Connecticut Superior Court brought by former senior executives and shareholders alleging breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract in connection with shareholding and other agreements.
- FanDuel and its directors in an action brought by common shareholders challenging distribution of merger proceeds.
- Major companies, public and private, in DOJ, USAO, SEC, State AG and other investigations.
Previously, Mr. Kirsch led the defense of:
- Corvex Management and The Related Companies in a two-week arbitration (the result of which was publicly disclosed) that resulted in invalidating all material anti-shareholder defenses of CommonWealth REIT, whose Trustees Corvex/Related ultimately removed in a consent solicitation. Many major media outlets described the outcome as a “major victory” for Corvex/Related.
- On behalf of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS and BNY Mellon Capital Markets – after three years of litigation – Mr. Kirsch obtained the voluntary dismissal of a putative class action arising from BNYM’s foreign exchange business, alleging violation of the federal securities laws in connection with underwriting $2 billion of securities for BNYM.
- Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland in a putative class action alleging violation of the federal securities laws in connection with underwriting $900 million of notes for MF Global Holdings.
- Resolved favorably for Moody’s the two most significant cases it had faced concerning ratings of structured investment vehicles. Mr. Kirsch was hired as trial counsel after the cases were already five years old and within six months of trial.
- Obtained summary judgment for Citigroup in connection with a securities fraud claim for $13.2 billion brought by Parmalat investors after Parmalat’s collapse.
- Led the team that achieved five significant victories for AllianceBernstein in securities litigation arising out of the Enron collapse, including a seven-week state court jury trial in which Alliance defeated the Florida state pension fund’s attempt to recover $3.2 billion in losses the fund sustained in Enron and other stocks, and AllianceBernstein won its damages counterclaim and costs. The National Law Journal selected the trial victory as one of its “Top 10 Defense Verdicts of 2006.”
- In the Newby securities class action in Houston, in which Enron shareholders and bondholders sought over $1 billion in damages against AllianceBernstein, Mr. Kirsch obtained summary judgment for AllianceBernstein and costs against plaintiffs’ counsel, a victory written about twice by the Wall Street Journal in editorials, in which Mr. Kirsch was named specifically.
- Significant civil and criminal antitrust litigation, as well as major commercial litigation of various types.
Mr. Kirsch currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the American Friends of Hebrew University.
From 1991 to 1995, he served as Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, focusing on complex financial crimes. In 1994, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno personally awarded Mr. Kirsch the Justice Department Director’s Award for Superior Achievement as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Mr. Kirsch was previously a partner with Clifford Chance, where he served as Global Chair of the Litigation Practice and as a member of the Global Management Committee.
Mr. Kirsch received his Juris Doctor from Yale University Law School, where he was Articles Editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review, and his Bachelor of Arts degree with distinction from Cornell University. He clerked for the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr. in New York.