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Richard W. Clary

Partner, Litigation

Richard W. Clary is a partner in Cravath’s Litigation Department and the Firm’s former Head of Litigation.

Mr. Clary’s cases have included securities defense; antitrust (plaintiff and defense sides); patent, trade secret and trademark litigation (plaintiff and defense sides); cable piracy litigation; bankruptcy litigation (debtor and creditor sides); commercial litigation; fraud, FCPA and bribery litigation; Anti‑Terrorism Act litigation; and civil rights and constitutional rights litigation. Mr. Clary has extensive district court and appellate experience; he has also handled both international and domestic arbitrations.

Mr. Clary was lead counsel for Credit Suisse in all of its Enron‑related civil litigation in federal, state and bankruptcy courts. He argued on behalf of Credit Suisse the successful appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, reversing class certification in the $40 billion Enron federal class action litigation. The Fifth Circuit ruled that Credit Suisse and other banks had no fiduciary obligation to Enron’s shareholders, had no duty of disclosure, had made no misrepresentations to Enron’s shareholders, and had not committed any conduct that rose to the level of a primary violation of the securities laws. The district court subsequently granted summary judgment for Credit Suisse. The last remaining case against Credit Suisse arising from Enron’s collapse was concluded in January 2019, ending 17 years of litigation.

Mr. Clary served as lead counsel for Credit Suisse in defense of numerous actions relating to residential mortgage‑backed securities nationwide. Over the past few years, he eliminated billions of dollars in claims against the company, and recently tried only the second RMBS investor action ever to go to trial, which ultimately settled. He subsequently represented Credit Suisse in another RMBS lawsuit that settled on the first day of trial. Mr. Clary also argued on behalf of Credit Suisse before New York’s highest court in a lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General relating to $40 billion in RMBS and won a landmark decision regarding the statute of limitations under the Martin Act. He also represented Credit Suisse in litigation in the Lehman bankruptcy, resulting in a June 2018 settlement that provided Credit Suisse creditors with allowed claims of $385 million for derivative claims and $363 million for guarantee claims. Mr. Clary represented Credit Suisse in numerous lawsuits alleging violations of the Anti Terrorism Act, including one suit that was voluntarily dismissed after defendants moved to dismiss and another that was dismissed twice without prejudice. He secured a dismissal for Deutsche Bank and continues to defend Credit Suisse in litigation relating to the Hexion/Huntsman merger. Other clients have included IBM, Westinghouse, Time Warner, Schering AG, Berlex Laboratories, INEOS, JPMorgan Chase and the Outside Directors of Citigroup.

Mr. Clary is a member of the International Bar Association and the Litigation and Intellectual Property Sections of the American Bar Association. He has served on both the Antitrust and Patent Committees of the New York City Bar Association and as the Association’s Vice President. Mr. Clary completed nine years on the Board of the Legal Aid Society, where he was a Vice Chair of the Board and on its Executive and Strategic Planning Committees, and now serves on the Board of Advisors. He is also on the Lawyers Committee of the National Center for State Courts. Mr. Clary serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Mystic Seaport Museum, and from 2005 through 2011, he served on the Board of Trustees of the Rye Country Day School. Mr. Clary has twice received the Distinguished Service Award from Amherst College and has received five Outstanding Pro Bono Service Awards from Legal Aid.

Mr. Clary has been cited as a leading practitioner in securities litigation by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business from 2007 through 2019. He was also recognized by that publication as a leading trial lawyer from 2010 through 2016, and by Chambers Global from 2011 through 2017. From 2009 through 2020, The Best Lawyers in America named Mr. Clary a leader in commercial litigation and bet‑the‑company litigation, and from 2011 through 2020, also named him a leader in banking and finance litigation and securities litigation. After having been listed as one of “500 Leading Lawyers in America” from 2005 through 2017 and among the “100 Lawyers You Need to Know in Securities Litigation” by Lawdragon, Mr. Clary was named to the publication’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Lawdragon also named him a nationwide “Legend” in 2015. Mr. Clary was recognized by Benchmark Litigation as a “National Star” for his work in general commercial litigation from 2011 through 2020 and securities litigation from 2010 through 2020, including as a “Top 10 National Star” for securities litigation in 2017. From 2009 through 2020, Benchmark Litigation also named him a “Local Litigation Star” in the New York area. Mr. Clary was recognized as a Leading Trial Lawyer in The Legal 500 United States from 2011 through 2019, and was named to The Legal 500 Hall of Fame in that category in 2017. He was also named by the publication as a Leading Lawyer in securities litigation every year since 2008 and as a Leading Lawyer in financial services litigation every year since 2012, and was named to The Legal 500 Hall of Fame in those categories in 2019. Mr. Clary has also been recommended by Legal 500 from 2011 through 2017 and in 2019 for his appellate work, in 2019 for his general commercial litigation work, in 2016 for his mergers and acquisitions litigation work, in 2015 for his corporate restructuring work, and in 2012 for his trade secrets work. Law360 selected Mr. Clary as a “Securities MVP” in 2018 and as one of the “10 Most Admired Securities Attorneys” in 2010 based on nominations from Law360 readers and practice group heads at the 100 largest U.S. law firms.

Mr. Clary is the co‑author of the chapter “Recurring Legal Issues in the Mediation of Financial Institution Disputes” in the book Financial Services Mediation Answer Book, published by the Practising Law Institute (2017). Mr. Clary chaired the Practising Law Institute’s annual “Bet the Company Litigation” conference, which he created, from 2006 through 2012, and he has written on numerous topics for PLI.

In 2008, Mr. Clary spoke at “The Role of Courts in Defining the Social Contract: A Case Study of Socio‑Economic Rights,” a program sponsored by the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society in association with the Centre for Socio‑Legal Studies at the University of Oxford. Mr. Clary’s policy brief, on the use of the courts to define and enforce the right to shelter, was published by the Foundation in the fall of 2008. In 2013, Mr. Clary returned to the Centre for Socio‑Legal Studies to moderate a program on “The Nation State and the International Order: Constitutions, Revolutions, Security and Global Sources of Law.” In 2015, he moderated a program on “Rethinking States, Nations and Constitutions in the 21st Century.” In 2017, Mr. Clary participated in “The Putney Debates 2017,” a multi‑day program on constitutions and democracy jointly presented by Oxford University, the Foundation for Law, Justice and Society and The Centre for Socio‑Legal Studies. Mr. Clary’s presentation, “Thoughts From Across The Pond: The U.S. Constitution and Representative Democracy (1787, 2017),” was subsequently published as a chapter in the book Constitution in Crisis: The New Putney Debates, published by The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society (2017). Mr. Clary also participated in “The Putney Debates 2018,” speaking on federalism.

Mr. Clary is a Lecturer of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches Complex Litigation and Class Actions courses.

Mr. Clary was born in Tarboro, North Carolina. He received a B.A. magna cum laude from Amherst College in 1975, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1978, where he was Developments Officer of the Law Review and awarded the Sears Prize. After a clerkship with Hon. Walter R. Mansfield of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and a clerkship with Hon. Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court, he joined Cravath in 1980 and became a partner in 1985. Mr. Clary served as the Firm’s Litigation Managing Partner from February 1997 to November 2005, and as Head of Litigation from November 2005 to September 2010.

Mr. Clary may be reached by phone at +1‑212‑474‑1227 or by email at

Mr. Clary is admitted only in New York.

+1 (212) 474-1227
+1 (212) 474-3700