Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
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|Headquarters||New York City|
|No. of offices||3|
|No. of attorneys||about 375|
|Major practice areas||General practice|
|Revenue||$ 325 million|
|Date founded||1968 (New York City)|
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP is a law firm with offices in New York City, Silicon Valley and Paris.
When Eugene Nickerson, a descendant of President John Adams, joined the firm, its name changed to Nickerson, Kramer, Lowenstein, Nessen & Kamin. The firm's current name, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, emerged as a result of personnel changes over a number of years, including Nickerson leaving to join the federal bench of the Eastern District of New York, Lou Lowenstein joining the faculty of Columbia Law School, Gary P. Naftalis becoming a name partner, and Marvin E. Frankel, the former Southern District of New York judge, joining the Firm.
The Am Law survey named Kramer Levin one of six growth champions of 2005.
Each department at Kramer Levin, according to a study of the firm by Chambers Associates, has an assigning partner. There is “no formal rotation through the different sub-practices,” meaning that lawyers at the firm can take choose their direction. The juniors that Chambers spoke to had opportunities to work directly for partners.
It has offices in Paris and Silicon Valley, but 95% of its attorneys are based in New York.
Kramer Levin also has an office in Paris, France which it acquired in 1999 from the legacy US firm Rogers & Wells which did not want to merge with the rest of the firm to London-based Clifford Chance. The firm maintains strong relationships with other firms throughout the world. There are 35 lawyers at the Paris office, which focuses on finance and corporate law.
Silicon Valley office
Kramer Levin was the exclusive US referral firm to UK firm Berwin Leighton Paisner from 2000–2007, when the alliance was changed to "preferred firm" status meaning that the two firms would still collaborate but without exclusive referrals. The association had been intended as the prelude to a full merger, but ended because of dissatisfaction on the part of BLP.
As of 2011, after careful and deliberate growth, the Firm had nearly 375 lawyers, with 20+ practices including in the areas of white-collar defense, securities litigation, corporate, real estate and land use, intellectual property, Lanham Act litigation, business immigration, employment law, financial services, tax, trust and estates and bankruptcy, some of which are among the strongest in the country. The co-heads of the White Collar practice are Gary P. Naftalis and Barry Berke.
In October 2014, Kramer Levin announced that it had hired Jeffrey Mulligan, former executive director of New York City's Board of Standards and Appeals and a former official of the Department of City Planning, as a planning and development specialist in the firm’s Land Use practice.
Complex Litigation Group
In November 2013, Kramer Levin hired John P. “Sean” Coffey to run its Complex Litigation Group. Coffey had attracted the firm's attention with his “aggressive” defense of Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre in a Manhattan case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. “He had devastating cross-examinations. That is a skill that few people have,” said Kramer Levin partner Barry H. Berke. “We are delighted to have an advocate of his extraordinary ability playing a leading role in our litigation group,” firm co-chair Gary Naftalis said.
Intellectual Property Group
Kramer Levin announced in October 2014 that it had expanded its Intellectual Property Group by hiring Christine Willgoos as special counsel. The firm has “nearly 60 attorneys” working in Intellectual Property.
In December 2013, in response to a suggestion by special counsel Brendan Schulman, Kramer Levin became the first law firm with a drone practice. “It became very clear to me that there was a big need for legal advice in this emerging technology market – not just in litigation, but also for businesses interested in developing the technology,” Schulman explained. One of the first clients of the firm's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Practice Group was Raphael Pirker, who had been fined $10,000 by the Federal Aviation Administration for allegedly flying his drone too low and too close to people while making an aerial video for possible use by the University of Virginia. “The commercialization of small drones will be revolutionary and overwhelmingly beneficial,” Brendan Schulman, special counsel at Kramer Levin, said. “The endless list of applications includes photography and cinematography, search-and-rescue, aerial mapping, disaster response, precision agriculture, wildlife monitoring, pipeline inspection, and so on. Tasks that are particularly expensive or dangerous to conduct with manned aircraft, such as crop-dusting, low-altitude cinematography and power line inspection, can be done more safely and cheaply with drone technology.” In April 2014, the Group represented Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, which uses camera-bearing drones to find missing people, in a challenge in the Washington, D.C., circuit to a Federal Aviation Administration directive prohibiting this use of drones.  
The firm is well known for its active pro bono program, currently co-chaired by James Grayer and Eric Tirschwell. The firm famously challenged New York State's Domestic Relations law and served with Lambda Legal as co-counsel petitioning the New York Court of Appeals to recognize the rights of same-sex couples to marry. This legal challenge was not successful. In 2010 the firm represented a lesbian high-school student who was denied the right to attend her prom with her girlfriend, wearing a tuxedo.
The Best Lawyers website lists over 70 Kramer Levin lawyers as being among the best in their categories.
In 2013, Chambers USA placed Kramer Levin in its highest category, Band 1,for its Advertising (Nationwide), Bankruptcy/Restructuring (New York), and Immigration (New York) practices, in Band 2 for Litigation (New York) and Real Estate (New York), and Band 4 for Capital Markets (Nationwide), Corporate/M&A (New York), Investment Funds (Nationwide), and Tax (New York).
U.S. News and World Report ranks the firm's national office in Tier 1 nationally in Advertising Law, Banking and Finance Law, and 14 other categories, Tier 2 in eight categories, and Tier 3 in two. The New York office is ranked in Tier 1 in 22 categories, Tier 2 in five categories, and Tier 3 in 2 categories.
In the website Vault.com's ratings for 2015, Kramer Levin was named #84 in the Vault Law 100. It was #10 on Vault's list of Best Law Firms for Real Estate Law, #13 on Best Law Firms for Bankruptcy, and #14 on Best Law Firms for White Collar Defense and Internal Investigations.
Author Robert Spencer was scheduled to speak in April 2012 at the offices of Kramer Levin about his book Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam’s Obscure Origins, but the firm canceled the event in response to pressure by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Spencer accused Kramer Levin of taking “the cowardly way out” by “allowing these Islamic supremacists to control the discourse and prevent free people from speaking the truth.” Quoting a letter to CAIR by Kramer Levin Executive Director Nicholas J. Tortorella, who wrote that the firm had not been “aware of the controversy surrounding” Spencer, Spencer suggested that it would have been less controversial for them to allow him to speak.
- Arthur B. Kramer, Lawyer and Brother of Playwright Larry Kramer, Dies at 81
- Dalton, Brian (2007). Vault Guide to the Top NEw York Law Firms (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Vault Inc. p. 190. ISBN 978-1-58131-500-4. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- "KRAMER LEVIN NAFTALIS & FRANKEL LLP". Chambers Associate. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Segall, Eli. "Kramer Levin opens Silicon Valley law office". Silicon Valley Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Chambers Associate
- Salinger, Tobias. "Former BSA Director Joins Kramer Levin". Observer.com. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Alden, William. "Coffey to Join Kramer Levin in a Return to Law Practice". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Smith, Jennifer. "New York Trial Lawyer Sean Coffey To Join Kramer Levin". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Rosen, Ellan. "Kramer Levin Adds Group on Drone Issues: Business of Law". Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Beckett, Samantha. "When What Goes Up Can't Come Down: Who Pays For Climbing Misadventures?". Above The Law. Above The Law. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Weiss, Debra. "Kramer Levin forms drone practice group; one client is accused of flying model plane too low". abajournal.com. American Bar Association. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- "Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP". betlawyers.com. betlawyers.com. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
- Dalton, Brian. Vault Guide to the Top New York Law Firms (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Valut Inc. p. 190. ISBN 1-58131-500-7. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
- Spencer, Robert. "Action Alert: New York law firm Kramer Levin caves to Hamas-linked CAIR, cancels Robert Spencer event". jihadwatch.org. jihadwatch.org. Retrieved 1 January 2015.