The New York Law Journal has named WilmerHale Partners Debo Adegbile and Robert Gunther New York Trailblazers for its 2020 edition.
NYLJ described this year’s trailblazers as “legal professionals who have made significant marks on the practice, policy and technological advancements in their sector.”
Mr. Adegbile’s profile highlights some of his recent work, including working with colleges and trade associations on COVID-19 related legal issues. Mr. Adegbile also led a WilmerHale team that participated in an extraordinary external review of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. The firm, along with the Innocence Project, received access to internal documents related to the first 25 wrongful convictions reversed after the Office’s Conviction Review Unit uncovered fatal flaws in the cases.
At WilmerHale, Mr. Adegbile launched the firm’s anti-discrimination practice, which he co-chairs. His advocacy for diversity and inclusion began at a young age, and he was raised “grappling with the nation’s history of exclusion and efforts to create a more democratic and inclusive society,” he says. Throughout his career he has sought to advance civil rights, having litigated major voting rights cases and previously serving as a leader of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He currently serves as a Commissioner on the US Commission on Civil Rights.
Mr. Gunther’s profile highlights some of his recent victories, including on behalf of client Roche in a nine-year battle against Enzo Life Sciences. Mr. Gunther also recently prevailed on behalf of Swatch Group Ltd. in suing the landlord of a building where tenants sold counterfeits of Swatch’s Omega watches. Following a five-day trial, the jury returned a unanimous verdict finding the landlord liable for counterfeiting activity on its premises and awarding $1.1 million in damages. Mr. Gunther notes that this verdict may lead to more cases against landlords, saying “we see this as, hopefully, a turning point. That seems to us far, far preferable to essentially playing Whack-A-Mole where we are trying to go after tenants that are really fly-by-night operations.”
Mr. Gunther describes himself as an accidental IP lawyer, noting that in his first job out of law school, he was assigned as a junior associate to work on a trademark infringement case in which the owner of the King Kong trademark was suing the makers of the Donkey Kong video game. In the years since, Mr. Gunther has represented a broad range of life sciences pharmaceutical and technology clients in intellectual property and related litigation at both the trial and appellate levels.