Chris Johnson is Managing Principal of McKool Smith's New York office and a “go-to” litigator for disputes involving complex financial litigation and structured financial products. His track record includes recovering hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and settlements from many of the world’s leading banks in connection with residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities claims and other financial matters. While he’s specialized in financial and securities disputes, Chris also has significant experience across many areas of general commercial litigation, including contract, fraud, product liability, and constitutional matters as well as alternative dispute resolution. Chambers USA recognizes Chris as a leading lawyer in New York for securities litigation involving institutional plaintiffs and RMBS matters, and notes that he has “excellent judgment and sees the angles involved" across a broad range of disputes. Read below to learn more about one of New York’s leading financial litigators.
Why do clients hire you?
This is a client-service business, and I think clients return to me because they know they will get superb client service: excellent work inside and outside the courtroom from a seasoned practitioner, personal attention from me, and immediate responsiveness to their needs. I deliver the results they need and (unlike many lawyers), I do so in a very client-friendly way -- no surprises, no last-minute drafts of briefs for them to review, no blown budgets, etc. My job is to make my client’s job easy and make them look good, and I think I do that better than most. When I’m pitching for new business, I always encourage the prospective client to contact my current or past clients, because I am confident they will give me their highest endorsement.
Discuss a noteworthy matter you’ve handled over the past year.
I currently have pending before the Second Circuit a case – Kirschner v. JP Morgan Chase, N.A. – where the legal issue is whether the syndicated notes of a leveraged loan constitute “securities” within the ambit of the federal and state securities laws. The market for syndicated leveraged loan notes has grown exponentially over the last decade and is now estimated to be valued at around $2.5 trillion, or roughly 10% of the nation’s GDP – presumably because the notes are completely unregulated. Amazingly, however, this is an issue of first impression. Following our March 9, 2023 oral argument, the Second Circuit requested that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission weigh in with its views, and its brief is currently due in July.
What differentiates your practice from others?
I generally do big-ticket financial litigation – contracts, fraud, securities, CMBS, RMBS – from the plaintiff side, but I have also always done a fair bit of defense litigation as well. I have always felt that representing plaintiffs makes me a better defense lawyer and vice versa; I understand the other side’s orientation, perspective, and tactics better than most. I also think that McKool Smith’s experience and comfort with alternative fee arrangements gives me flexibility that others cannot offer to their clients.