(February 18, 2015, Washington, DC) — Steptoe & Johnson LLP is expanding its Chicago office and bolstering its commercial litigation and toxic tort litigation practices with the addition of four partners.  The group, led by noted first-chair litigator Michael Dockterman, brings decades of trial experience before federal and state courts across the country.

The four lawyers who have joined Steptoe as partners and their primary practices are:

♦ Michael Dockterman– commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defense

♦ Cal Burnton– toxic tort litigation

♦ John Frey– commercial litigation

♦ Derek Smith– toxic tort litigation

“This is an impressive group of trial lawyers with substantial first-chair jury trial experience,” said Phil West, chair of Steptoe.  “Michael Dockterman is a nationally renowned litigator who clients turn to for their most challenging trials.  He has successfully litigated numerous high-profile trials and advised top business executives, general counsels and boards of directors in government investigations.  Together with Cal, John and Derek, the group will strengthen Steptoe’s litigation capabilities and expand the range of services we offer clients nationwide.”

Mr. Dockterman has been principal trial counsel in state and federal courts in more than half the states in the United States.  His extensive litigation and trial experience  involves commercial, governmental, and white-collar criminal matters, and includes securities, antitrust, intellectual property, environmental, contract, fraud and product liability cases, as well as a variety of amateur sports disputes.  Mr. Dockterman advises boards and board committees on matters of corporate governance and compliance, defends board actions in securities and derivative litigation, and represents both corporate and individual interests in grand jury and other government investigations across the country.

Mr. Dockterman served as the lead trial lawyer for Toys “R” Us in its successful trial court and appellate litigation over the Toysrus.com website – a win that garnered him a place on The National Law Journal’s “Winning” list of the top 10 litigators of 2006.  He also successfully defended the city of Chicago in an eight-week trial challenging the largest public works project in the country, construction of the People-Mover for O’Hare International Airport, and Northrop-Grumman in a three-month trial over the stealth bomber.

“Although my move was motivated by a conflict, I am simply delighted to have joined Steptoe,” said Mr. Dockterman.  “Its reputation as a top-tier litigation firm for complex civil and criminal matters is well-deserved.  It’s an ideal fit for our clients.”

Mr. Burnton brings first-chair trial experience representing clients in complex commercial, environmental and mass tort matters.  He has earned a national reputation for coordinating, managing, and defending mass toxic tort and complex product liability cases with a special emphasis on high-risk matters involving novel legal, scientific, and environmental theories.  Over his 30-year career, he has litigated and won numerous complex toxic tort and product liability cases for leading manufacturers and sellers of products such as chemicals, health care appliances, medical devices, electrical equipment, firearms, printing presses, industrial machinery, and power tools.  Throughout the years, Mr. Burnton has represented corporate clients in both federal and state courts in almost every state across the country.

Mr. Frey has three decades of experience litigating and consulting clients on a variety of complex commercial litigation matters, including antitrust, bankruptcy, contract, environmental, CERCLA private cost recovery actions, insurance, and securities.  He has also conducted internal corporate investigations for large national and international corporations.  A skilled litigator, Mr. Frey is particularly talented at motion practice and appellate work.

Mr. Smith has spent almost two decades developing a keen understanding of the fields of toxicology, epidemiology, occupational medicine and industrial hygiene, and has used this knowledge to successfully defend numerous product liability and toxic tort matters throughout various federal and state courts of the United States.  For most of his career, Mr. Smith has focused his practice on the defense of national and international chemical and pharmaceutical companies, particularly the defense of personal injury claims brought against those companies for the development of potential life-threatening diseases.  He also regularly manages, coordinates and oversees his clients’ multifaceted national litigation strategies.

Steptoe was recently named to The Lawyer’s list of the top 50 global litigation firms for the third consecutive year.  The firm derives more than three-quarters of its revenue from contentious work, and has a reputation for taking cases to trial and a history of being called in at the 11th hour to secure a favorable trial outcome.  The firm’s toxic tort litigation practice, which was recognized in the 2014 edition of the Legal 500 US for providing “exceptional skill and service,” defends toxic tort claims nationwide for the oil, petrochemical, aerospace, manufacturing, and agricultural chemical industries.  Six times since 2002, the group’s trial results have been selected by The Daily Journal as one of the “Top Jury Defense Verdicts” in California.

About Steptoe

Steptoe & Johnson LLP is an international law firm widely recognized for vigorous advocacy in complex litigation and arbitration, successful representation of clients before governmental agencies, and creative and practical advice in guiding business transactions.  The firm has more than 500 lawyers and other professionals in offices in Beijing, Brussels, Century City, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Palo Alto, Phoenix and Washington.  For more information, visit www.steptoe.com.