“I knew very early on in my legal career that I was never going to be professionally satisfied until I had my own firm,” states Adam Levitt, who made good on that goal when he cofounded DiCello Levitt Gutzler in April 2017.
Creating the firm that he wanted to lead came from observing what he emphatically knew he didn’t want. “When I was a paralegal before law school, I worked at a firm where the senior partner and I were the only two people in the office at six thirty in the morning, but he refused to even make eye contact with me because I wasn’t an attorney,” Levitt recalls. “I just didn’t matter to him, and I knew way back then that when I became an attorney, I was never going to want to work at a firm, or run a firm, anything remotely like that.”
Such principles guided the founding of DiCello Levitt Gutzler, which is decidedly dissimilar to Levitt’s previous situations. What started in early 2017 with eleven attorneys in Chicago and Cleveland has already ballooned to nineteen lawyers in Chicago, Cleveland, New York, and St. Louis.
“I never wanted to create a firm where anyone, whether a paralegal, an associate, or a younger partner, felt a need to reflexively defer to a senior partner,” Levitt explains. “That’s just unworkable. My partners and I hire the most talented people, pay them what they’re worth, and put them in settings where they can thrive. We want them to add value, and we want them to know that their opinions matter.”
Levitt says that he has assembled his team carefully. “We have a group of people who genuinely like each other. They look out for each other,” he notes. “In the heat of a trial or complicated issue, those are the people you want to work with, because, in those high-intensity situations, you need to know that you can trust and depend on everyone.”
Described by Levitt as a “top-tier litigation firm,” DiCello Levitt Gutzler has led numerous nationwide class action, commercial litigation, product liability, public client, and civil rights cases, resulting in groundbreaking results. “The key thing that links all of our practice groups, other than a constant push for excellence in everything that we do, is that we view law as a means of using the civil justice system to protect and help people and companies, whether through trial, pretrial resolution, or otherwise,” he says.
Levitt’s commitment to excellence has not gone unnoticed by those who have worked with him. “You will never out-prepare Adam,” says Steven Weisbrot, Esquire, partner and chief innovation officer at Angeion Group. “He knows his cases and the law better than most people know their own spouse.”
Among the most personally rewarding cases where Levitt has served as lead counsel was In Re Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, a multidistrict litigation in which he represented United States rice farmers who sued Bayer Crop Science for introducing an unauthorized, genetically modified rice seed into the US rice supply. The contamination of the US long grain rice supply arising from that incident caused widespread rejection of US rice around the world, costing US rice farmers billions of dollars and putting their farms and livelihoods at risk.
“The ability to use the litigation process against excellent and well-funded opposing counsel to advance that case to a place where, to date, the aggregate settlements exceed $1.1 billion and the farmers’ farms were actually saved was very meaningful,” says Levitt. “To use the justice system to accomplish a righteous outcome and change lives—it’s why we do what we do.”
In addition to recently settling the Equifax data breach lawsuit for more than $1.4 billion and a long-running class action lawsuit against Navistar for $135 million, DiCello Levitt is currently leading cases that include a products liability lawsuit seeking justice for victims of the high-profile Grenfell Tower tragedy in London: the deadliest residential fire in the United Kingdom since the Second World War.
Due to air gaps in the building’s external insulation system, a fire spread rapidly, engulfing the residential tower in a bonfire that resulted in seventy-two deaths and hundreds of serious injuries. DiCello Levitt Gutzler, along with its cocounsel, represents all of the deceased’s families and more than 130 of the injured victims. DiCello Levitt Gutzler also presently represents the state of Michigan in its PFAS-related litigation, one of the largest environmental pollution cases in US history with estimated damages in the billions of dollars.
“Say whatever you want, but it’s what you actually do, from the results you achieve and the path that you take to get there, that’s really important.”
“We’re trying to do the right thing for as many people as possible,” says Levitt. He quickly adds, “Saying that you want to do the right thing and actually doing the right thing are two completely different things. Say whatever you want, but it’s what you actually do, from the results you achieve and the path that you take to get there, that’s really important.”
Levitt also emphasizes that DiCello Levitt’s devotion to securing justice for individuals extends to its commercial practice. “You could say that a commercial practice can’t be interested in helping people when it’s just the reallocation of money, but that would be a naive way of looking at it because reallocating money is a tangible means of achieving justice,” says Levitt.
“If there’s a way to place a monetary value on a civil wrong, that is justice. And that’s something that we do work on in terms of our minority shareholder oppression cases, or what we work on in our whistleblower practice. We take steps to ensure that companies are doing the right thing and that the businesses, public clients, and people we represent are protected and their interests aggressively pursued,” emphasizes the attorney.
As far as the horizon is concerned, Levitt expects DiCello Levitt Gutzler to expand over the next few years, particularly in its environmental, securities, and international practices. “We like to be involved in hard cases and get strong results by drawing on our lawyers’ combined expertise and working our cases as comprehensively, creatively, and aggressively as possible,” he says. “We’re comfortable advocating for ourselves and our clients in a manner that I think very few other firms do.”
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