Back to News list

Jan Nielsen Little and Susan Harriman Named Two of California's Top Women Lawyers

Daily Journal

Jan Nielsen Little

Jan Nielsen Little
Specialty:  white collar defense, civil disputes

Little is well known for standing up for individuals that are being attacked and investigated from all sides, and the past year was no exception.

One of her most notable white-collar clients currently is Sushovan Hussain, the former chief financial officer of Autonomy Corp., under investigation by the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Air Force and British regulators, and the target of civil lawsuits for the alleged accounting improprieties.

"It's like a three-dimensional chess game," Little said.

In late 2012, Hewlett-Packard Inc. announced an $8.8 billion write down related to its acquisition of Autonomy, sparking a frenzy of litigation and investigations.

Little said the case is a good example of the multi-faceted and complicated clients she tends to represent.

One thing she brings to these cases and investigations is an understanding of all the interconnections between potential criminal and civil charges and juggling various governmental agencies.

"Any small thing you do in one part of an investigation can have dramatic effects on other parts of the investigation," Little said. "You have to constantly be turning the prism in your hand and figure out not only what are you doing right here, but what kind of effect it is going to have on other things."

Little also represents the former chief financial officer at beleaguered solar energy company Solyndra Inc., Wilbur G. Stover, in a criminal investigation involving the company's default on a $500 million federal government loan.

"I really enjoy representing individuals," Little said. "It's a person whose potential liberty is at stake and there could be severe financial consequences."

Susan Harriman

Susan Harriman
Specialty:  complex business, copyright

In her recent defense victory for Electronic Arts, Susan Harriman said she didn't employ fancy lawyering to get the job done. Harriman knew she'd defeat the copyright case, she said, simply because the lawsuit had no merit.

She did not mince words about it.

"It was the stupidest thing you can imagine," said Harriman, a San Francisco-based partner with Keker & Van Nest LLP.

The plaintiff, programmer Robin Antonick, accused EA of lifting code from early versions of John Madden football games he helped create in order to make sequels. Harriman scoffed at the idea that EA developers would look at code to copy football plays when they could more easily just get them from a playbook.

"I felt very confident that the case could be won," she said.

A jury disagreed. Following a two-phase trial, they awarded Antonick nearly $3.6 million for back royalty payments in July. His lawyers then requested $8 million in pre-judgment interest. Antonick v. Electronic Arts, CV11-01543 (N.D. Cal., filed March 30, 2011).

But Harriman stuck to her guns, and in September, she asked U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer to overturn the verdict. He agreed in January, ruling that Antonick could not rely on looking at later versions of the John Madden game and determine his code had been unfairly copied.

Breyer reversed the verdict and declared the prejudgment request moot. The case is now up on appeal.

"I knew we were going to win eventually," Harriman said. "It was just a question of when and in what forum."