Photo by Laura Barisonzi.
The law has been a true calling for Tamar Weinrib, who gravitated towards legal texts as far back as elementary school. Those early instincts carried her to Fordham Law, where a string of achievements in moot court foretold a successful career in the courtroom. In fact, the Pomerantz partner cherishes the creative process of writing briefs in addition to excelling at oral arguments that, for the time being, are happening over the phone or computer screen. Weinrib draws upon her efficiency and passion to thrive both at complex securities litigation and as a parent raising four children in a pandemic.
Lawdragon: Can you describe the mix of work that you do in your practice?
Tamar Weinrib: At Pomerantz, we predominantly litigate securities fraud cases pursuant to Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act. That’s what I focus my practice on, day to day. What’s interesting is that even though all of my cases fall under that umbrella, each is so distinct. Each involves a different type of company, in a different area, with different complexities and different focuses. So even though the general claim is the same, no two cases are alike. I’ve had the opportunity – and the challenge – to master the protocols of the years-long FDA approval process for drugs, to learn the intricacies of dark pool trading, and to acquire new knowledge of various other subject matters necessary to successfully understand and frame the claims we bring and to enable me to litigate as zealously as possible for our clients.
LD: What are some aspects about your work that you find particularly professionally satisfying?
TW: One aspect is the creativity involved. Most people wouldn’t think law requires creativity, but it does. When I am drafting a complaint – or even later on in the process, when drafting an opposition to a motion to dismiss, or deposing witnesses – I have to be creative, to think outside the box. What is the claim really about? What am I trying to say to the court? What are the facts and how do they support the claim? Being creative and coming up with novel legal theories is very satisfying, particularly because it can influence future cases as well. When you’re drafting briefs, it’s also important to write in a way that’s not only factually accurate, but that holds the reader’s attention. I always think of the judge, and not only try to convince her that my claim has merit, but to hold her interest. I want her to pick up the brief and actually want to read it through, want to get past paragraph one to see what happens next.
LD: Could you talk about a case that you found particularly rewarding?
TW: I’ve been lucky to have had several. But one that stands out is the litigation a few years back against Barclays plc concerning the way defendants operated the bank’s dark pool. A dark pool is a private trading platform where the size and price of the orders are not revealed to other participants. We alleged, among other things, that Barclays falsely promised investors that it would police the pool to protect its clients from predatory trading. In fact, not only did Barclays allow aggressive traders into its dark pool but wooed them with perks that gave them a competitive edge over traditional traders. This case gave us the opportunity to litigate very important issues for the plaintiffs’ securities bar. At the class certification stage, we argued before the 2nd Circuit on what it takes to establish the fraud-on-the-market presumption of reliance, what plaintiffs’ burdens are for demonstrating market efficiency and what defendants’ burdens are for negating price impact. The 2nd Circuit, in granting our motion for class certification, handed down important rulings that were beneficial not only for our clients in this case, but for all plaintiffs in all securities cases thereafter. As the lead attorney on that case for Pomerantz, I drafted not only the class certification briefs but the 2nd Circuit appeal brief as well. We zealously pushed the case forward for the class and were in the midst of trial preparation when we reached a settlement.
LD: You mentioned having to learn about the FDA process for drug approval. Can you talk about a case in which that was important?
TW: I’ve had several. One was a case against pharmaceutical company Pain Therapeutics concerning Remoxy, a drug they were trying to get approved. Remoxy is a painkiller in the opioid family. In order to effectively litigate that case, I had to understand the ins and outs of getting a drug approved, the relevant FDA regulations, the clinical testing process, what a company needs to show in their new drug application to convince the FDA to grant the company approval to market that drug. That case stands out both because I acquired quite the education about the FDA process, but also because it’s another strong case that we pushed forward up until the very morning of trial. We then effectively negotiated a settlement to the benefit of the class after five years of hard-fought, contentious litigation, which involved the filing of three amended complaints, extensive motion practice – including motions to dismiss, a motion for class certification and a motion for summary judgment – all decided in the plaintiffs’ favor – analysis of hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, multiple depositions (including two experts) and comprehensive trial preparation. The $8.5M settlement represented an especially beneficial resolution of the matter, given defendants’ vigorous defenses, the limitation on ultimate recovery due to severely dwindling insurance and the remaining uncertainty with regard to the FDA’s consideration of the company’s third Remoxy new drug application submission.
LD: Can you talk a little bit about the allegations in that case, in terms of what information was not disclosed to investors?
TW: In that case, the class alleged that defendants misled the market into believing that the issues that caused the FDA to issue a Complete Response Letter, or “CRL,” for the company’s first New Drug Application for Remoxy submitted in 2008 had been resolved in the resubmission of the New Drug Application in December 2010. A CRL is the FDA’s way of saying we are not approving your drug at this time, and here’s why. In reality, the issues that led to the first CRL, which concerned the stability of the drug and issues with the manufacturing process, persisted. All the while, defendants were actively speaking about the stability issue, and made public statements saying they’d fixed the problem, though they knew they hadn’t. The FDA once again issued a CRL for Remoxy in June 2011, and once again cited issues with the drug’s stability as the primary obstacle to approval. As far as I am aware, that drug still hasn’t been approved.
LD: When did you know you wanted to become a lawyer?
TW: I knew from an early age. Even in elementary school, when we had library time, I sought out books on law. I also think that my early interest in drama and acting in school plays helped prepare me for standing in a courtroom, where oral presentation, the ability to convey arguments with the right tone and manner, is highly important. In high school my favorite subject was Talmud. The Talmud is essentially a compilation of legal opinions and debates on just about every aspect of Jewish life, with centuries of intergenerational rabbinic commentaries on those opinions and debates. I loved the back and forth between the rabbis, who argued over the intricacies of various issues and had different points of view and explanations to support their stance on each issue. It’s strikingly similar to reading cases and the arguments back and forth between attorneys. I was also always drawn to debating. That early draw to conceptualization and argumentation, which persisted as my education progressed, confirmed for me that a future in law made sense.
LD: Did you pursue your interest in debating?
TW: Yes. In law school, I joined Fordham’s moot court team. We took our commitment very seriously. We dedicated inordinate amounts of time to our craft and making sure that our written work and oral arguments were top notch and beyond reproach. We competed and won awards for best brief and best team. I coached the following year’s moot court team and again, our team swept all three categories – best argument, best brief and best team. I enjoyed every minute of it. I had friends in law school who thought I must be crazy for taking it on, because it entailed a lot of time and work beyond the normal obligations of law school. You already have a lot on your plate trying to get the best grades you can. There were many sleepless nights spent in the Fordham moot court office preparing for these competitions that could have been spent studying for a test or doing any one of myriads of other activities. But moot court, maybe more than anything else in my law school experience, prepared me for the career I have now.
LD: Speaking of having a lot on your plate: You’re a partner at a prestigious law firm. You’re a mother of four young children. You’re working from home during the pandemic. What can you tell me about the challenges that you face now and how you’re dealing with them?
TW: Work/life balance is always a challenge. Particularly when you have four children who range in age from 3 to 12. It’s challenging in normal times, but we’re in the midst of pandemic, so my children aren’t consistently in in-person school. Staying on top of a full case load and participating in oral arguments telephonically or via Zoom present unique challenges when there are three divisions of schooling taking place in the next room. Trying to juggle all of that is certainly a challenge, but it’s a challenge that while arguably unique in the midst of a pandemic, isn’t new. It’s one I’ve trained for my entire career.
That’s not to suggest I saw a pandemic coming. However, it has always been my goal to commit fully to every area of my life: to be the best attorney that I can be and do right by my clients, and to be the best mother I can be and do right by my family. If you’re efficient with your time and are passionate about what you do, you make it happen – no matter the surrounding circumstances. It’s about adjusting to whatever life throws at you. I say that with full recognition that I am blessed to have wonderful support systems both professionally and personally that enable me to keep performing that juggling act. And that’s what life is about, adjusting to things that are thrown your way. We get thrown curveballs on our legal cases all the time. You learn how to take your bat and swing at them with as much confidence and skill as you can muster.