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Introducing our Commercial Litigation practice

Claire DeLelle is a partner in White & Case's Commercial Litigation practice, based in Washington, DC. She has litigated cases in federal and state courts, at the trial and appellate levels, for 20 years. Her team recently achieved an 8 – 1 victory for a foreign sovereign client in the US Supreme Court. 

"My practice involves representing foreign entities in US litigation. While I occasionally appear on the plaintiff's side, my practice has largely focused on representing named defendants. We often move to dismiss complaints against my clients and continue to represent them at trial, when necessary, and through any appeals process."

A diverse and international client list

Claire describes the types of clients that she represents: "Although my Litigation practice involves a diverse group of clients, I have a strong focus on representing the interests of foreign sovereigns and their state-owned entities in US litigation. These cases often involve analysis of foreign laws and legal systems and can also implicate questions of foreign sovereign immunity and sensitive issues that touch on US foreign policy and national security interests. The majority of my non-sovereign clients are multinationals and include technology companies, mining companies and financial institutions."

What types of cases/deals do you work on? "Currently, my docket comprises, among other matters, representation of foreign sovereigns in various federal trial and appellate courts, including in the US Supreme Court; a federal antitrust case brought under the Sherman Act (Sections 1 and 2); an Anti-Terrorism Act litigation; and even a global economic sanctions and export controls investigation."

Inspired by creativity and a drive to win

How did you choose this practice area? "I worked as a law clerk at a mid-sized litigation firm in DC while I was completing my LL.M., and I recall being inspired by the creativity and drive to win that one of the partners I worked with brought to his cases. He enlisted my help to deep-dive an issue, and my work helped ensure that the brief carried the day for our client. I am happy to say that I am surrounded by colleagues at White & Case who are incredibly creative and driven to win."

“I am lucky to work with amazing colleagues who are not only collaborative and extremely effective, but a pleasure to work with under any circumstances.”

According to Claire, her work is always varied. "I rarely have typical days! I start my week thinking that it will follow a particular path, and, invariably, new issues emerge that take the week down a very different road. This keeps things interesting, to say the least. Common tasks include analyzing case law, drafting and editing briefs, drafting advice in response to client questions, and getting on conference calls to discuss that advice; checking in with my teams on case-management issues, preparing for and taking depositions, and preparing for and arguing hearings; participating in conferences with courts and opposing counsel and witness interviews; and responding to new business opportunities." 

As a consequence of this varied work, she adds that, "Litigation does not necessarily come with a predictable schedule. Clients can appear with emergent litigation problems without any notice, requiring that our teams spring into action quickly. This can require some flexibility. It also requires that our team members work collaboratively and effectively together under time constraints. I am lucky to work with amazing colleagues who are not only collaborative and extremely effective, but a pleasure to work with under any circumstances."

Claire considers the typical tasks that a junior lawyer might perform: "Junior lawyers in my area can perform any number of tasks, including drafting research memoranda to highlight strengths and weaknesses of claims, identifying legal arguments to dismiss complaints, drafting sections of court pleadings, and second-chairing depositions. Junior lawyers on my team contribute substantively in the team's preparation for meetings with US government officials and for oral arguments in court, including before the US Supreme Court."

Develop your public speaking skills

What training or skills development would Claire recommend to someone who wants to practice in her area? "I encourage aspiring litigators to find any opportunity to hone their public speaking skills. Moot court, legal clinic and trial advocacy classes are obvious choices to do this, but there are so many other ways to improve public speaking skills. For example, offer to introduce a speaker at your school, give a presentation or present your views at a book club. I also would encourage students to take an international law or transnational litigation course, if available. Aspiring litigators should also consider pursuing a judicial clerkship or internship with a prosecutor's or public defender's office." 

Finally, what does she like best about her work? "I enjoy the numerous opportunities we have at White & Case to work on novel legal issues and, in many instances, to play a key role in creating new precedent regarding those issues." 

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