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Former Ropes & Gray Partner Launches Litigation Boutique

March 9, 2020, 6:14 PM

Former Ropes & Gray partner John Ertman, who has experience in representing the investment management industry, is launching a new litigation firm, Ertman, Dulis & Helisek, to work with mutual funds, private equity funds, and hedge funds as well as asset managers and investors.

The firm is being co-founded by Caleb Dulis and Julian Helisek, who also previously were investment management litigators at Ropes & Gray. The trio will be taking on clients both on the plaintiff side and on the defense side, and will have offices in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Ertman, who was a Ropes & Gray litigation partner for 16 years, said he started the firm because there is demand for experienced litigators who can handle matters that investment managers face. Large firms sometimes are unable to accept plaintiffs’ cases because they already represent the company or its affiliates which are being sued.

The new firm will not face such conflicts, he said.

Ertman said he and his partners left Ropes & Gray on friendly terms.

“We wish John well as he launches his new firm, and in this new phase of his career,” a Ropes & Gray spokesman said.

Ertman said that since the 2008 recession, plaintiffs have been more active in asserting their claims in court.

“A decade ago, the investment management industry was more litigation averse, but some managers have become more active in pursuing client interests in this increasingly competitive and regulated environment,” he said.
“Historically, periods of extreme volatility have led to some significant litigation matters,” Ertman noted in response to the current market activity.

Ertman has experience representing large asset managers, including PIMCO, BlackRock and others involved in a 2013 legal clash pitting them against the city of Richmond, Calif., which wanted to seize mortgage loans by eminent domain. The case was later dropped by the city.

Ertman also represented Savage Sports Holdings, a private equity portfolio, when they were sued by RAA Management, and won a 2012 case that blocked sophisticated buyers of companies from suing sellers for fraud in certain circumstances.

Ertman had been a partner at Reboul MacMurray Hewitt Maynard & Kristol, a New York firm focused on private equity, and moved to Ropes & Gray in 2003 when the two firms merged.

Helisek was a general commercial litigator who recently was part of trying a two-month jury trial in New York state court on behalf of an institutional investor and obtained a $21.7 million judgment from a jury. He has also handled legal matters involving breach of contract and fiduciary duty, indemnification and theft of trade secrets, among other areas.

Dulis has experience in handling legal matters for investment fund portfolio companies. One of his recent cases involved defending a mortgage origination company in a $130 million breach of contract action. He also has been involved in a number of corporate internal investigations into potential executive mismanagement and fraud.

His clients have included private equity firms, financial services companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and real estate firms.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Andrew Harris at