Berger Montague Names Eric L. Cramer New Firm Chairman and Announces Next Phase of Firm’s Evolution
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 3, 2019 – Berger Montague is pleased to announce that it has elected Eric L. Cramer its new firm Chair. Mr. Cramer is the fifth Chair in the firm’s illustrious 49-year history. He has been with the firm since 1995, most recently serving as co-chair of the firm’s antitrust department and on the firm’s Executive Committee. Mr. Cramer is a nationally-recognized litigator who regularly leads some of the nation’s largest antitrust cases on behalf of workers, businesses, and consumers.
Mr. Cramer began his three-year renewable term as Chairman on January 1, 2019, and succeeds Sherrie R. Savett, who became Chair Emeritus. Ms. Savett will continue her work as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and as co-chair of several of the firm’s practice areas, including securities litigation, False Claims Act, and commercial litigation.
Mr. Cramer’s election as Chairman is part of a strategic transition process more than three years in the making. This plan involved a gradual shift from the firm’s founding members to a collaboration with a new generation of leaders, including Mr. Cramer, as well as Shanon J. Carson, David F. Sorensen, and Todd S. Collins, all of whom serve on the firm’s Executive Committee.
The plan’s implementation began at the end of 2016, when the firm’s long-time Chair and eponymous leader, H. Laddie Montague Jr., became Chair Emeritus. Mr. Montague remains active as co-chair of the firm’s antitrust department and on the firm’s Executive Committee. Founding members Merrill G. Davidoff and Ms. Savett each then served respective one-year terms as Chair. Mr. Davidoff is now Chair Emeritus and remains active with the firm. Both Mr. Davidoff and Ms. Savett continue to serve alongside fellow Executive Committee member Daniel Berger, another founding member of the firm.
“I am excited to turn the reins of the firm over to Eric and place the leadership of the firm in his capable hands,” said Ms. Savett. “His experience, fair-mindedness, and good judgment make him the right person to carry on the great legacy of the firm and lead us into its fiftieth year and beyond.”
This period of transition has coincided with incredible growth and success for the firm. Berger Montague has added new shareholders and associates, moved its primary headquarters to 1818 Market Street in Philadelphia, opened new offices in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., successfully concluded a number of important and long-running cases, and developed new practice areas.
“We have assembled an incredible array of litigation talent at the shareholder and associate levels, as well as support staff, enabling us to handle high-stakes complex litigation in multiple substantive areas of law,” said Mr. Cramer. “Our firm has a nearly 50-year track record of success in some of the most complicated, protracted, and toughest cases.”
“We have much to offer clients who are seeking creative, smart, and aggressive litigators for high-stakes cases, including those who seek to hire a firm on an alternative or non-pure hourly fee arrangement,” Mr. Cramer continued. “We have represented plaintiffs in class actions and individual litigation for decades and have historically put that complex litigation experience to work representing corporate, governmental, and institutional clients in an array of private commercial and other cases. We have recently increased our focus on larger individual clients, while growing our core practice areas as well.”
In 2018 alone, for example, Berger Montague successfully represented the largest pharmaceutical wholesalers in the country in a massive antitrust case against a pharmaceutical company involving the alleged suppression of generic competition; preliminarily resolved what would be the largest civil antitrust class action settlement in history involving the payment card industry; partially settled a large environmental groundwater contamination case on behalf of a major state; successfully defended Local 817 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Casting Society of America, and seven prominent casting directors on Broadway in antitrust litigation; was selected to represent large governmental entities and private institutions in securities litigation; continued to represent the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the states of New Jersey and Maryland in major litigation; and was chosen to represent large corporate clients who were injured by purchasing defective products.
These recent endeavors build upon the firm’s pioneering efforts in class action litigation and on behalf of governmental and private institutional clients. The late founder of the firm, David Berger, is considered one of the fathers of the modern class action, and the firm was one of the first to apply this procedural tool in antitrust and securities cases. The firm also has long been a leader in environmental class actions, winning historic jury verdicts for injured victims in the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill litigation and the Rocky Flats litigation, the latter of which settled after 27 years for $375 million in 2017.
“Berger Montague will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary next year, and we are moving full throttle into our next 50 years while never forgetting the virtues that made the first five decades so successful,” said Mr. Cramer. “To give the firm a more unified and recognizable presence, and to put a stamp on this new era, we launched a complete brand overhaul in 2018.”
The new firm logo, which includes three interconnecting loops within a shield, represents Berger Montague’s core tenets as a champion of justice, the teamwork that the firm brings to its endeavors both internally and with its clients, and the recognition that the firm’s past, present, and future merge to form its identity. These elements are also reflected in the design of the firm’s new Philadelphia headquarters, which seamlessly blends classic and modern elements with state-of-the-art technology. “Our new office sets us up to keep expanding and adapting to the legal and business environments,” said Mr. Cramer. “We now have the physical space and necessary office technology to stay on the cutting edge of the legal industry.”
Mr. Cramer is in a unique position to shepherd the firm into this new era. He has been an attorney at Berger Montague for nearly 24 years and has a clear vision of where the firm should head next. “We are building off the incredible foundation that made this firm successful for multiple decades, while being clear-eyed about the future,” he said. “We want to continue to recruit, train, and retain the best lawyers; maintain our leadership in our current practice areas; grow our commercial litigation and governmental representation practices; and be flexible enough to recognize growth opportunities as they arise.”
Mr. Cramer also stressed the importance of maintaining the firm’s laser-focused commitment to achieving justice for its clients. As he put it, “If we keep the interests of obtaining justice for our clients first and foremost in our minds, we will continue to succeed well into the future.”
After graduating summa cum laude and phi beta kappa from Princeton University in 1989, Mr. Cramer graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1993. Since then, he has risen in the ranks of the plaintiffs’ bar and is now considered one of the top antitrust litigators in the country.
An important emphasis of Mr. Cramer’s entire legal career has been the opportunity to serve the greater good. “I wanted to do work that benefited society in some important way, and I saw the law as a practical way of doing just that,” said Mr. Cramer. “I had initially thought I would practice public interest law, having spent my law school summers at the Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund. But a law school roommate told me about Berger Montague. I went for an interview in 1994, and the rest is history. I found it captivating that I could do interesting, challenging, and meaningful work at a private commercial law firm. It is also important to me that we have so many other excellent lawyers who came to our firm with the goal of serving not only our clients but the public good.”
Mr. Cramer quickly grew to become one of the most well-known and respected antitrust lawyers in the country. He began his work in antitrust on cases alleging that pharmaceutical manufacturers were illegally suppressing and delaying generic competition, thereby artificially elevating the price of prescription drugs. He successfully litigated more than a dozen such cases that collectively settled for well over $1 billion.
He also expanded his practice to include many other industries and lines of commerce, including, among others, payment cards used at truck stops, and representing physicians and other vaccine purchasers who charged a prominent pharmaceutical manufacturer with using a web of anticompetitive product bundling agreements to artificially inflate vaccine prices. The American Antitrust Institute awarded him its 2017 Antitrust Enforcement Award for Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice for his work in that case.
Most recently, Mr. Cramer served as co-lead counsel in the case In re Domestic Drywall Antitrust Litigation and helped obtain a series of substantial settlements, collectively recovering over $190 million for the class.
In 2018, Mr. Cramer was named Philadelphia antitrust “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers, and Chambers & Partners has identified him as a top-tier antitrust lawyer in Pennsylvania and nationally. Chambers observed that Mr. Cramer is “really a tremendous advocate in the courtroom, with a very good mind and presence.”
Since 2011, The Legal 500 has recognized Mr. Cramer as one of the country’s top lawyers in complex antitrust litigation and repeatedly deemed him one of the “Best Lawyers in America,” including in 2018. In 2014 and 2018, Philadelphia Magazine selected Mr. Cramer as one of the top 100 lawyers in Philadelphia.
Outside of Berger Montague, Mr. Cramer is active in the antitrust and plaintiffs’ bars. He is currently vice president of the Board of the American Antitrust Institute, a pro-antitrust enforcement think tank and advocacy group. He previously served as president of COSAL, an industry group for the plaintiffs’ antitrust bar, and is currently vice president of the Board of Public Justice, one of the nation’s most prominent public interest law firms.
Mr. Cramer is also deeply involved in the Philadelphia community and played an important role in the founding of Independence Charter School, one of Philadelphia’s leading charter schools. Independence Charter is now a thriving top-quality public school in Philadelphia, educating hundreds of students from every zip code in the City annually.
Mr. Cramer also served on the Board of the Center for Literacy, the largest adult literacy nonprofit in the Delaware Valley, and currently sits on the Board of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, a nonprofit that addresses critical issues facing the Philadelphia region. “I have always felt it was important to be involved in my community, and to give back to it in as many ways as I possibly can in gratitude for all that the community has given to me and my family,” said Mr. Cramer.
Mr. Cramer has been married for 24 years and has two children, a 21-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old son.
Berger Montague is a national law firm headquartered in Philadelphia with additional offices in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. The firm litigates complex civil cases and class actions in federal and state courts throughout the United States. Berger Montague has played lead roles in major cases for 49 years, resulting in recoveries of over $30 billion for its clients.