Max W. Berger

Partner
New York
Los Angeles

Tel: +1 (212) 554-1403
Fax: +1 (212) 554-1444Download vCard

Founding partner Max Berger has grown BLB&G from a partnership of four lawyers in 1983 into what the Financial Times described as “one of the most powerful securities class action law firms in the United States” by prosecuting seminal cases which have increased market transparency, held wrongdoers accountable, and improved corporate business practices in groundbreaking ways.

Described by sources quoted in leading industry publication Chambers USA as "the smartest, most strategic plaintiffs' lawyer [they have] ever encountered," Max has litigated many of the firm's most high-profile and significant cases and secured some of the largest recoveries ever achieved in securities fraud lawsuits, negotiating seven of the largest securities fraud settlements in history, each in excess of a billion dollars: Cendant ($3.3 billion), Citigroup-WorldCom ($2.575 billion), Bank of America/Merrill Lynch ($2.4 billion), JPMorgan Chase-WorldCom ($2 billion), Nortel ($1.07 billion), Merck ($1.06 billion), and McKesson ($1.05 billion). Max’s prosecution of the WorldCom litigation, which resulted in unprecedented monetary contributions from WorldCom’s outside directors (nearly $25 million out of their own pockets on top of their insurance coverage) “shook Wall Street, the audit profession and corporate boardrooms.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Max’s cases have resulted in sweeping corporate governance overhauls, including the creation of an independent task force to oversee and monitor diversity practices (Texaco discrimination litigation), establishing an industry-accepted definition of director independence, increasing a board’s power and responsibility to oversee internal controls and financial reporting (Columbia/HCA), and creating a Healthcare Law Regulatory Committee with dedicated funding to improve the standard for regulatory compliance oversight by a public company board of directors (Pfizer). His cases have yielded results which have served as models for public companies going forward.

Most recently, before the #metoo movement came alive, on behalf of an institutional investor client, Max handled the prosecution of an unprecedented shareholder derivative litigation against Fox News parent 21st Century Fox, Inc. arising from the systemic sexual and workplace harassment at the embattled network. After nearly 18 months of litigation, discovery, and negotiation related to the shocking misconduct and the Board’s extensive alleged governance failures, the parties unveiled a landmark settlement with two key components: 1) the first ever Board-level watchdog of its kind – the "Fox News Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council" of experts (WPIC) – majority independent of the Murdochs, the Company and Board; and 2) one of the largest financial recoveries – $90 million – ever obtained in a pure corporate board oversight dispute.  The WPIC is expected to serve as a model for public companies in all industries.

Max’s work has garnered him extensive media attention, and he has been the subject of feature articles in a variety of major media publications. The New York Times highlighted his remarkable track record in an October 2012 profile entitled "Investors’ Billion-Dollar Fraud Fighter," which also discussed his role in the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Merger litigation.  In 2011, Max was twice profiled by The American Lawyer for his role in negotiating a $627 million recovery on behalf of investors in the In re Wachovia Corp. Securities Litigation, and a $516 million recovery in In re Lehman Brothers Equity/Debt Securities Litigation. For his outstanding efforts on behalf of WorldCom investors, he was featured in articles in BusinessWeek and The American Lawyer, and The National Law Journal profiled Max (one of only eleven attorneys selected nationwide) in its annual 2005 "Winning Attorneys" section. He was subsequently featured in a 2006 New York Times article, "A Class-Action Shuffle," which assessed the evolving landscape of the securities litigation arena.

One of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America”

Widely recognized as the “Dean” of the US plaintiff securities bar for his remarkable career and his professional excellence, Max has a distinguished and unparalleled list of honors to his name.

  • He was selected as one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal for being “front and center” in holding Wall Street banks accountable and obtaining over $5 billion in cases arising from the subprime meltdown, and for his work as a “master negotiator” in obtaining numerous multi-billion dollar recoveries for investors.
  • Described as a "standard-bearer" for the profession in a career spanning over 40 years, he was the recipient of Chambers USA’s award for Outstanding Contribution to the Legal Profession. In presenting this prestigious honor, Chambers recognized Max’s “numerous headline-grabbing successes,” as well as his unique stature among colleagues – “warmly lauded by his peers, who are nevertheless loath to find him on the other side of the table.” Max has been recognized as a litigation "star" and leading lawyer in his field by Chambers since its inception.
  • Benchmark Litigation recently inducted him into its exclusive “Hall of Fame” and named him a 2021 "Litigation Star" in recognition of his career achievements and impact on the field of securities litigation.
  • Upon its tenth anniversary, Lawdragon named Max a “Lawdragon Legend” for his accomplishments. He was recently inducted into Lawdragon's "Hall of Fame." He is regularly included in the publication's "500 Leading Lawyers in America" and "100 Securities Litigators You Need to Know" lists.
  • Law360 published a special feature discussing his life and career as a “Titan of the Plaintiffs Bar,” named him one of only six litigators selected nationally as a “Legal MVP,” and selected him as one of “10 Legal Superstars” nationally for his work in securities litigation.
  • Max has been regularly named a "leading lawyer" in the Legal 500 US Guide, as well as The Best Lawyers in America® guide.
  • Max was honored for his outstanding contribution to the public interest by Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, which named him a "Trial Lawyer of the Year" Finalist in 1997 for his work in Roberts, et al. v. Texaco, the celebrated race discrimination case, on behalf of Texaco's African-American employees.

Max has lectured extensively for many professional organizations, and is the author and co-author of numerous articles on developments in the securities laws and their implications for public policy. He was chosen, along with several of his BLB&G partners, to author the first chapter – “Plaintiffs’ Perspective” – of Lexis/Nexis’s seminal industry guide Litigating Securities Class Actions. An esteemed voice on all sides of the legal and financial markets, in 2008 the SEC and Treasury called on Max to provide guidance on regulatory changes being considered as the accounting profession was experiencing tectonic shifts shortly before the financial crisis.

Max also serves the academic community in numerous capacities.  A long-time member of the Board of Trustees of Baruch College, he served as the President of the Baruch College Fund from 2015-2019 and now serves as its Chairman. In May 2006, he was presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his contributions to Baruch College, and in 2019, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at Baruch’s commencement, the highest honor Baruch College confers upon an individual for non-academic achievement. The award recognized his decades-long dedication to the mission and vision of the College, and in bestowing it, Baruch described Max as “one of the most influential individuals in the history of Baruch College.”

A member of the Dean's Council to Columbia Law School, Max has taught Profession of Law, an ethics course at Columbia Law School, and serves on the Advisory Board of Columbia Law School's Center on Corporate Governance. In February 2011, Max received Columbia Law School's most prestigious and highest honor, "The Medal for Excellence." This award is presented annually to Columbia Law School alumni who exemplify the qualities of character, intellect, and social and professional responsibility that the Law School seeks to instill in its students.  As a recipient of this award, Max was profiled in the Fall 2011 issue of Columbia Law School Magazine. Max is a member of the American Law Institute and an Advisor to its Restatement Third: Economic Torts project.   

Among numerous charitable and volunteer works, Max is a significant and long-time contributor to Her Justice, a non-profit organization in New York City dedicated to providing pro bono legal representation to indigent women, principally battered women, in connection with the many legal problems they face.  He is also an active supporter of City Year New York, a division of AmeriCorps, dedicated to encouraging young people to devote time to public service. In July 2005, he was named City Year New York's "Idealist of the Year," for his commitment to, service for, and work in the community. A celebrated photographer, Max has held two successful photography shows that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for City Year and Her Justice. He and his wife, Dale, have also established the Dale and Max Berger Public Interest Law Fellowship at Columbia Law School and the Max Berger Pre-Law Program at Baruch College.

Education

  • Columbia Law School, 1971, J.D., Editor of the Columbia Survey of Human Rights Law
  • Baruch College-City University of New York, 1968, B.B.A., Accounting

Bar Admissions:

  • New York
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court