Robert A. Skinner
Rob Skinner is a partner in Ropes & Gray’s Litigation and Enforcement practice group, where he represents investment advisers and other financial services firms in securities litigation and other complex business disputes. A recognized industry leader in investment management litigation, Rob has been at the forefront of many of the key challenges facing the mutual fund industry in recent years, including subprime-related losses, excessive fee claims and prospectus liability. In addition to handling active litigation matters, he frequently advises investment managers and other clients in their dealings with state and federal regulators. Rob is a regular speaker and commentator on litigation and risk management issues facing asset managers. He also has substantial experience in litigating major insurance coverage disputes on behalf of insurers, including trial and appellate victories in the 9/11 World Trade Center coverage dispute.
In 2014, Rob left the firm briefly to serve as Chief Corporate Counsel on an interim basis at Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (AMG), a leading global asset management company and Ropes & Gray client.
- Harris Associates: Obtained U.S. Supreme Court victory for mutual fund adviser in Jones v. Harris Associates, 559 U.S. – (2010), the seminal decision establishing the liability standard for excessive fee claims under Section 36(b) of the 1940 Act.
- Ameriprise Financial: Argued and won Eighth Circuit victory in Gallus v. Ameriprise Financial, Inc. (2012), dismissing excessive fee claims and establishing unavailability of “defective process” claims under Jones v. Harris Associates.
- ProShares Funds: As lead counsel for the largest sponsor of leveraged and inverse exchange-traded funds (ETFs), argued and won SDNY and Second Circuit victories dismissing multiple class actions that alleged prospectus liability for inadequate risk disclosures. In re ProShares Trust (2nd Cir. 2013).
- Sequoia Fund: Won dismissal of derivative claims against all defendants asserted in connection with Fund’s allegedly over-concentrated investments in Valeant Pharmaceuticals.
- Third Avenue Funds: Defending the independent trustees and funds against securities class actions and derivative claims in multiple courts in connection with the closure of the Third Avenue Focused Credit Fund in 2015
- Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London: Defending underwriters at Lloyd’s in multi-district litigation asserting antitrust and RICO class actions based on broker commission practices.
- State Street Global Advisors: Represented institutional investment manager in multiple federal actions relating to losses in subprime asset-backed securities in mutual funds and unregistered collective trust funds. Cases include ERISA class action and Yu v. State Street Corp. (S.D.N.Y. 2011), dismissing securities class action regarding mutual fund disclosures for lack of causation.
- GMO Funds: Represented emerging country debt fund sponsor in successful litigation to recover Venezuelan oil warrants following delivery failure by brokers.
- Allianz Funds: As lead counsel, won dismissal of derivative shareholder suit against mutual fund adviser and trustees alleging breach of fiduciary duty and securities law violations.
- Institutional Investor: Argued and won favorable decision in the Second Circuit enforcing arbitrability of a claim asserted by a major university endowment against a Russian oil and gas company that issued American Depositary Receipts.
- Featured, “Plaintiffs 'Sing a Good Song' on Fees; Judges Know Better,” Ignites (May 21, 2018)
- Quoted, “Years-Long Wave of '40 Act Fee Cases Winding Down in Shops' Favor,” Ignites (May 7, 2018)
- Quoted, “Judge Dismisses Sequoia Fund Shareholder Suit,” Dow Jones Newswires (February 16, 2017)
- Quoted, “Axa Plaintiffs to Judge: Here's the Evidence You Missed,” Ignites (September 23, 2016)
- Quoted, “Decision in AXA excessive-fee lawsuit preserves the status quo,” Investment News (August 31, 2016)
- Quoted, “Axa Decision Has Tips, Warnings for Others Facing Fee Suits,” Ignites (August 30, 2016)
- Quoted, “FMI Sued for 'Monopolizing' $9B Fund's Economies of Scale,” Ignites (October 14, 2015)
- Quoted, “New ALJ ruling decides Robare-like case, bars COO for life,” IA Watch (August 20, 2015)
- Quoted, “SEC Smacks Fund Shop for Sloppy Contract Approval,” Ignites (June 18, 2015)
- Quoted, “Merrill Doesn’t Hesitate to Ax Big Producers, Sending Message,” The Wall Street Journal (April 4, 2015)
- Quoted, “Axa to Judge: Our Fees Are Justified; Here’s Why,” Ignites (January 29, 2015)
- Quoted, “Pension Funds Ask High Court to Take On iShares Suit,” Ignites (January 13, 2015)
- Quoted, “In Bond Fund Sweep, SEC Requests Board Self-Eval Info,” BoardIQ (January 6, 2015)
- Quoted, “Anniversary’ 36(b) complaint filed against RIMCo,” Fund Action (December 12, 2014)
- Quoted, “Claims Against Russell Broadened in New Fee Suit,” Ignites (December 11, 2014)
- Quoted, “Directors Not Named, Still Faulted in New M. Keegan Suits,” Board IQ (November 5, 2013)
- Quoted, “Principal ‘Padded the Bill’ for Target-Dates: Plaintiffs,” Ignites (September 23, 2013)
- Quoted, “Disclosure Edits Don’t Mean Early Versions Faulty: Judges,” Board IQ (July 30, 2013)
- Quoted, “U.S. court rejects appeal over leveraged funds' volatility,” Reuters (July 22, 2013)
- Quoted, “2nd Circ. Tosses Investor Suit Over ProShares ETF Losses,” Law360 (July 22, 2013)
- Quoted, "Carbon Copy’ Fee Suit Expands Axa’s Potential Liability," Ignites (January 18, 2013)
- Robert A. Skinner, Tyler A. Young, “Recent Developments in Securities Litigation Against Mutual Funds,” The Review of Securities & Commodities Regulation (June 2012)
- Robert A. Skinner, Guest Commentary, “Cases to Watch in 2011,” Board IQ (February 2011)
- Robert A. Skinner, Daniel V. McCaughey, “Federal Court Decision Highlights Uncertainty over Mutual Fund Derivative Litigation Under Massachusetts Law,” The Journal Of Index Investing (Winter 2010)
- Panelist, “Considerations for Directors in Light of Northstar Financial,” Mutual Fund Directors Forum webinar (July 30, 2015)
- Speaker, Portfolio Managers Association of Canada, “An Overview of Recent U.S. Developments and Issues for Portfolio Managers” (September 2014)
- Speaker, CA '40 Acts Group - Quarterly Luncheon Seminar, "Mutual Fund Litigation Risk and Recent Developments," (April, 2013)
- Panelist, Board IQ webinar, “Parsing Out the Reserve Fund Ruling,” (November 2012)
- Panelist, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Fund Director Intelligence webinar, “Contract Renewal Time: What Does the 15(c) Process Mean to Fund Directors Today?” (June 2012)
- Panelist, Investment Company Institute 2012 Mutual Funds and Investment Management Conference, “Waiting for Answers: Unresolved Issues in Mutual Fund Civil Litigation,” (March 2012)
- Speaker, Investment Company Institute 2011 General Membership Meeting, “Current Developments in Litigation Involving Mutual Funds and Investment Advisers,” (May 2011)
- Speaker, Investment Adviser Association 2011 Annual Conference, “Litigation and Enforcement: Today’s Risks,” (April 2011)
- Panelist, Investment Company Institute 2010 Securities Law Developments Conference, “Developments in SEC Enforcement and Private Litigation,” (December 2010)
- Presenter, Morningstar Associates Webinar, “Understanding the Jones Ruling,” co-sponsored by the Mutual Fund Directors Forum (April 2010)
- Presenter, BoardIQ Webinar, “What the Jones v. Harris Ruling Means for Directors," (April 2010)
- Panelist, “How Much Is Too Much? The Supreme Court Review of the Gartenberg Standard in Jones v. Harris Associates,” Boston Bar Association (June 2009)
- Speaker, 2009 Investment Company Directors Workshop: “Board Responses to a Shifting Financial Landscape,” (April 2009)
- Speaker, Governing Council of the Investment Company Institute’s Independent Directors Council regarding Jones v. Harris Associates and Gallus v. Ameriprise cases. (April 2009)
- Panelist, “Mutual Fund Civil Litigation: The Current Landscape,” 2009 Mutual Funds and Investment Management Conference, sponsored by the Investment Company Institute (March 2009)
- Panelist, Investment Company Institute’s 2008 Independent Counsel Roundtable, Legal Issues Facing Counsel to Mutual Fund Independent Trustees and the Impact of the Jones v. Harris Associates Decision (July 2008)
- Presenter, Ignites Webinar on “Pricing Funds Post-Gartenberg," (Examining the Effects of the Seventh Circuit’s Ruling in Jones v. Harris Associates) (June 2008)