Wilkinson Stekloff Partners Named to Benchmark Litigation’s 2023 40 & Under List

Wilkinson Stekloff Partners Cali Arat (née Cope-Kasten), Rakesh Kilaru, and Moira Penza were named to the 2023 Benchmark Litigation 40 & Under List, the guide to the nation’s most notable up-and-coming litigation attorneys. This is Cali’s first appearance on the list and Moira’s third. Rakesh has secured a spot each year since 2018.

Since joining the firm at its founding in 2016, Cali has served as a key member of more than half of the firm’s trial teams, including most recently leading the representation of Monsanto in the first hybrid trial involving claims that exposure to PCBs and Roundup-branded products, both manufactured by Monsanto, cause Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Cali has helped to develop and execute successful trial strategies for corporate clients across a diverse set of industries, from pharmaceuticals to sports to social media. Her experience includes seven jury trials, three of which were federal multi-district litigation bellwether cases, two of which were bench trials, and two of which were in-person jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rakesh specializes in delivering favorable results to clients at every stage of litigation. He has helped deliver high-profile trial victories for Microsoft, Bayer, and the NCAA; obtained major summary judgment victories for Bayer and Georgia-Pacific; secured full dismissal of a groundbreaking enforcement action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before any discovery was taken; and defended trial court victories on appeal. Most recently, Rakesh was second-chair trial counsel for Microsoft in the FTC’s challenge to Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision — the second-largest merger trial in American history and the biggest involving a technology company. Rakesh directed the legal and expert strategy and handled several witnesses in the five-day trial, including Microsoft’s CEO. Just days after the close of evidence, the district court issued a ruling denying the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction. Rakesh and his team then prevailed in opposing the FTC’s request for stays of the district court’s ruling pending appeal, clearing the path for the deal to close.

Moira is first and foremost a trial lawyer with a record of success leading and winning high-stakes civil and criminal cases. She recently served as trial counsel defending Altria Group, Inc. and certain of its subsidiaries in the first government entity bellwether trial, brought by the San Francisco Unified School District, in multi-district litigation arising out of Altria’s minority investment in JUUL Labs, Inc. Just one day after Moira and the Wilkinson Stekloff team completed cross-examinations in the plaintiff’s case and the defense case was about to begin, the plaintiffs agreed to a global settlement with Altria that resolved the personal injury, consumer class action, and government entity cases brought in over 6,000 e-vapor cases in state and federal courts.