In its latest annual study, ISS Securities Class Action Services reports that in 2020 the Robbins Geller law firm secured the highest dollar value in securities class action lawsuit settlements during the year, and also was involved in the highest number of separate settlements. The report, which includes both U.S. and Canadian settlements, ranks the top 50 plaintiffs law firms by total dollar value recoveries and the Top Ten plaintiffs law firms ranked by number of settlements achieved. The March 23, 2021 ISS SCAS report, which is entitled “The Top 50 of 2020,” can be found here.


In creating its Top 50 ranking, ISS SCAS reviewed 113 approved securities class action settlements approved in calendar year 2020 within North America, which collectively represented $3.38 billion in settlement funds. The set of 2020 settlements analyzed for purposes of the report not only included several very large U.S. securities class action lawsuit settlements (including the mammoth $1.025 billion American Realty Capital Properties settlement) but also included one of Canada’s top ten of all time securities settlements, the C$97 million settlement in the Valeant Pharmaceuticals securities action. (The parallel $1.21 billion February 2021 final settlement of the Valeant Pharmaceuticals securities class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey will be reflected in the 2021 report.)


From the settlement data, the report creates lists of the top 50 plaintiffs’ law firms ranked by dollar value of approved class action settlements during 2020 in which the law firm was appointed as lead or co-lead counsel. The report also lists the top ten law firms based on the number of settlements achieved in 2020.


Using this methodology, the report ranks the Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd law firm at the top law firm measured by 2020 settlement recoveries. The Robbins Geller firm recorded recoveries of $1.639 billion in 2020, the only law firm to record over $1 billion in recoveries. Of the firm’s total 2020 recoveries, $1.025 billion was attributable to the largest 2020 settlement, the $1.025 recovery in the American Capital Realty Properties settlement.


Four other firms exceeded $100 million recoveries. The Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman law firm was second on the top 50 list, with 2020 recoveries of $786 million, of which $240 million was attributable to the Signet Jewelers settlement. The report notes that in each of the last eight years, the Bernstein Litowitz firm has appeared as one of the top two plaintiff’s firms ranked according to dollar recoveries, while the Robbins Geller firm has ranked as one of the top three firms in each of the last eight years.


The Labaton Sucharow law firm was third on the list, with $284.3 million in 2020 securities lawsuit recoveries, and the Kessler Topaz firm was ranked fourth on the list with 2020 recoveries of $202 million.


Although the report is entitled as a Top 50 list, the report actually only sets out 46 law firms. For those of you who are curious to know, a law firm had to have 2020 recoveries of just $300,000 to make onto this list of 46 firms.


The report also lists the top ten law firms by the number of securities settlements in 2020. The top four law firms on this list were: the Robbins Geller law firm, with 21 settled cases; the Levi & Korinsky law firm with 13 settled cases; the Bernstein Litowitz law firm, with 12 settled cases; and The Rosen Law Firm, with 10 settled cases. In order to make it onto the top ten list of number of settlements in 2020, a law firm had to have at least three settlements.


The report also provides a glimpse ahead to the 2021 rankings, noting that a total of $2.42 settlement funds from 61 approved North American settlements in 2021. These settlements include the $1.21 billion Valeant Pharmaceuticals settlement and the $187.5 million Snap settlement.


Although this Top 50 report ranks the plaintiffs’ firms according to their 2020 settlements and recoveries, ISS SCAS’s previously published report on the Top 100 settlements of all time (about which refer here) ranks the plaintiffs’ firms by the recoveries among the Top 100 all-time securities class action lawsuit settlements.


According to the prior Top 100 report,  the top firms appearing as lead or co-lead counsel among the Top 100 settlements are: the Bernstein Litowitz law firm, with 38 settlements among the Top 100 totaling $26.3 billion; the Robbins Geller law firm, with 18 settlements among the Top 100, totaling $16.5 billion; the Labaton Sucharow law firm, with 13 settlements totaling $13.1 billion; and the Milberg law firm, with 13 settlements totaling $9.5 billion.