2nd Circuit, Barrington Parker, Biglaw, David Boies, Federal Judges, Hedge Funds / Private Equity, Litigators, Money, Partner Issues, Ted Olson, Wall Street

Clash of the Biglaw Titans: Ted Olson and David Boies Meet in Second Circuit Showdown

Ted Olson and David Boies: adversaries, then allies, then adversaries again.

After covering the Dewey & LeBoeuf bankruptcy hearing on Wednesday morning, I walked a few blocks uptown to the Second Circuit for another exciting event: oral argument in the closely watched Argentina bondholder litigation. It was a Biglaw battle royal, pitting Ted Olson, the former solicitor general and current Gibson Dunn partner, against a tag team of top lawyers that included David Boies, Olson’s adversary in Bush v. Gore (and ally in Hollingsworth v. Perry).

Here’s my account of the proceedings, including photos….

The case, NML Capital Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina, is fascinating, high-stakes, and complex. Here’s a quick and dirty summary by Matt Levine of our sister site, Dealbreaker:

[T]he Second Circuit held arguments in the Argentina sovereign debt case. This case is … I mean, you kind of had to be following along, but quick summary: back in the day Argentina defaulted on some old bonds, and exchanged most of them at a discount into new bonds, which it’s been making payments on.

Elliott Management [through affiliate NML Capital Ltd.] bought a bunch of old bonds, which Argentina has not been making payments on, and sued Argentina to make them pay the old bonds pari passu [“on equal footing”] with the new ones. Elliott won in a lower court, and then sort of won on appeal, and then Argentina raised some mind-melting consequences in the lower court, and then Elliott won again anyway, and now it’s back up on appeal again, and the oral arguments were yesterday. Also there’s a boat.

For a more detailed look at the substantive issues involved, see Matt’s full post, Felix Salmon’s insightful analysis, and the links collected at the end of this post. But this summary should suffice for now.

The Second Circuit is housed in the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse, a stunning, Classical Revival structure designed by Cass Gilbert (who also designed the U.S. Supreme Court building). The recently renovated courthouse features a six-story courthouse base (click to enlarge):

And a 30-story tower of power:

When I arrived at the courthouse, I began to get nervous….

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