Jonathan Schiller is widely recognised as a top name in the market, where he draws on a wealth of experience litigating in landmark international cases.
Jonathan Schiller is co-founder and managing partner of Boies Schiller Flexner with many significant litigation wins, including for high-profile clients like the New York Yankees, YES Network, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, RedBird Capital, and others. Among those successes is his work on the In Re Vitamins antitrust litigation, which “uncovered the illegal actions of vitamins manufacturers” worldwide and secured a record antitrust settlement of $1.05 billion for the class. Who’s Who Legal has recognised Mr Schiller, as “the real deal” among their top 10 international commercial litigators (2012–2022). Mr Schiller is chair emeritus of the Columbia University Board of Trustees.
Describe your career to date.
- Columbia College (’69) and Columbia Law School (’73);
- Named partner in Rogovin Huge & Schiller (Washington, DC 1978-1995) and Boies Schiller Flexner (1997-Present);
- Received Columbia College’s John Jay Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement in 2006; Columbia College’s highest honor the Alexander Hamilton Medal in 2012; Columbia Law School’s highest honor the Medal for Excellence in 2019;
- Commercial litigation and international arbitration practice (1974-2022); and
- Columbia University Board of Trustees including a five-year term as chair (2009-2019);
- Legend of Ivy League Basketball for “achievements and contributions to the Ivy League” (March 2017)
Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame (2006);
- President, Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (2011-2014);
- Supreme Court Historical Society, Chair, Membership Committee & At Large Member, Executive Committee (2020-Present)
What inspired you to pursue a legal career, and why commercial litigation?
My parents were both public service lawyers and their careers inspired me; my opportunities to watch my dad try cases on behalf of the SEC also contributed to my decision to pursue a legal education and career. I enjoy the arena: civil and criminal trials and international arbitral hearings. I also take great pride in our public interest litigation over the past 40 years.
You are the co-founder and managing partner of Boies Schiller Flexner. What is it about the firm that sets you apart from your competitors?
Perhaps the intensity of our work and preparation are a successful formula for our clients, and the fact that “Firm First” and “Team First” are cornerstones of our culture.
How has the market changed since you first started practicing?
- Increased globalisation (international offices and relationships);
- Flexible fees beyond hourly rates: flat fees, fixed fees, contingency fees and success fees;
- Litigation funding;
- Community service; and
- Commitment to diversity.
What technologies are having the greatest impact on litigation proceedings at present?
AI has dramatically reduced the cost and increased the speed of document review and organisation, as well as enhancing trial work and firm administration. Global video service has enhanced civil discovery and trial presentations, as well as all stages of international arbitral proceedings.
Does the value of a dispute affect your approach at all? Why, or why not?
The value of commercial disputes mandates a risk reward analysis. That analysis generates a budget which each case requires. Such budgets impact legal staffing and expert work. Regardless of the budget or value of the dispute, there is an absolute need in every dispute for an advocate to know their case thoroughly in order to present that case effectively.
What advice do you have for up-and-coming practitioners in the field?
Work hard to serve commercial and pro bono clients and your community. Take every opportunity to be “on your feet” in court or arbitral proceedings or mediation. Be a good citizen with your colleagues, your adversaries, and the judicial and arbitral institutions you serve. Take time for friends, family, and public service.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Over 49 years, they include:
- Defeating Vladimir Putin’s $22.5 billion lawsuit on behalf of the Bank of New York Mellon on Putin’s home court, the Arbitrazh Court for the City of Moscow, a success which was hailed by the analyst community as a “grand slam home run”;
- Defeating JPStevens for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in Federal District Court in Macon, Georgia, for conspiring with other companies to interfere with the Union’s elections in violation of US civil rights laws; the case resulted in the Union’s organisation of four textile plants in the south and Mr. Schiller’s honorary membership in the Milledgeville Police Department for stopping the conspiracy;
- Successfully defending Barclays in NY bankruptcy court against a $13 billion claim from the Lehman Brothers Estate, stemming from Barclays’ purchase of the North American operations of Lehman Brothers in 2008; and successfully recovering for Barclays in that bankruptcy court in excess of $9 billion of Lehman assets which had been withheld by the Estate;
- Defeating Cablevision for the New York Yankees and Goldman Sachs in an arbitration in New York that led to the immediate opening of the YES Network and its broadcast of New York Yankees baseball games;
- Serving Columbia University as a board trustee and chair; and
- Co-founding and co-leading Boies Schiller Flexner from 1997-present.