Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP's appellate practice scored a major win for the financial services industry yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that several major Wall Street firms are immune from a class-action lawsuit brought under federal antitrust laws over alleged conduct surrounding initial public offerings during the 1990s. The Court ruled 7-1 that federal securities regulations trump antitrust laws in weighing the activities of the Wall Street firms. The decision, in Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC v. Billing, No. 05-1157 (U.S.), is available here.

Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said that securities laws precluded the possibility of an antitrust suit: "We must interpret the securities laws as implicitly precluding the application of the antitrust laws to the conduct alleged in this case." He added that the underwriting activities challenged in an antitrust suit filed against the firms are "central to proper functioning of well-regulated capital markets."

Stephen M. Shapiro, partner in Mayer, Brown, Rowe and Maw's Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation group, argued on behalf of Credit Suisse that the alleged conduct of underwriters during initial public offerings of stock was immune from private antitrust suits by investors because it was subject to expert SEC regulation and enforcement. He argued that private antitrust litigation would as a practical matter be "clearly incompatible" with the effective exercise of the SEC's authority.

The holding in Credit Suisse establishes clearer guidelines for the application of the implied antitrust immunity doctrine in the securities field, and clarifies that private antitrust lawsuits should not be allowed to discourage beneficial IPO activity.

This case was Mr. Shapiro's 25th argument before the Supreme Court. In recognition of his win, Shapiro was named "Lawyer of the Day" by's Law Blog. Law Blog's interview with Steve can be read here. Steve is also quoted in numerous articles discussing the Credit Suisse decision, including articles published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Chicago Tribune.

The briefs filed by Mayer Brown on behalf of Credit Suisse are available here.

This is the third Supreme Court win for Mayer, Brown this Term. In February, the High Court handed down favorable decisions in Philip Morris USA v. Williams, one of the largest punitive damages cases in years, argued by Andy Frey; and Weyerhaeuser v. Ross Simmons, another antitrust case argued by Andy Pincus. Four separate Mayer Brown attorneys argued five cases in the Court this Term. Of the four cases decided so far, our clients' positions have prevailed in three. In addition, last week Mayer, Brown, Rowe and Maw was listed as the top firm for Supreme Court and appellate work both by Legal 500 and by Chambers USA. Chambers commented that the firm was "exceptionally strong across the board," and that the "50-strong star-studded group has taken its reputation in appellate matters to great heights." Chambers went on to say, "esteemed for their undisputed skill and drive, these lawyers really get to the nitty-gritty of a problem and add a touch of class to the proceedings." Legal 500 noted Mayer, Brown's frequent appearances before the Supreme Court - with a total of 196 cases, including nine in the three most recent terms.

"We are extremely proud of the success we've had in the Supreme Court this term. It's a true testament to the depth and breadth of the talented attorneys who make up our appellate practice," commented James D. Holzhauer, Chairman of Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw and a member of the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation group. "I have had the pleasure of working with Steve Shapiro on many cases over the years. He is a truly spectacular lawyer who makes us all very proud. We appreciate the recognition from these prestigious publications and look forward to continuing to provide our clients with premier counsel and legal services."