Seanna R. Brown

Partner

New York
T +1.212.589.4230
F +1.212.589.4201

Overview

Seanna Brown is the go-to lawyer for big cases, having cut her teeth on the unprecedented global recovery effort following the collapse of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. Since the first day following the appointment of Irving Picard as Trustee, Seanna has been the principal deputy to Picard and his chief counsel, David Sheehan, and together they have unraveled one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history. Seanna has worked on every major aspect of the Madoff engagement, spearheading the negotiation of billion-dollar settlements, leading trial and appellate teams in the litigation of some of the most critical matters facing the bankruptcy bar in generations, chasing assets across the globe, and distributing over $14 billion of recovered assets to Madoff’s victims—an unparalleled amount that far exceeds even the most optimistic projections made when the fraud was first discovered in 2008.

Efficiently managing and collaborating with large teams of diverse lawyers, Seanna combines exceptional strategic thinking, formidable project management skills, and instinctual good judgment to achieve the right results for her clients. Her versatility and pragmatic approach to the law allows her to operate effectively in the various disciplines that large, multi-faceted cases present—complex litigation, major motions, trials, appeals to the Circuit Courts and Supreme Court, bankruptcy, asset recovery, and e-discovery and document management in the modern era.

Seanna brings the same skills to bear for indigent clients too, representing death row inmates in post-conviction challenges in Alabama and Georgia state and federal courts for the last dozen years. Her appellate acumen and exceptional brief writing skills have been sought out by such clients as the American Bar Association, the Fines, Fees & Justice Center, and the National Women’s Law Center, with Seanna representing them as amici curiae to the Supreme Court and Circuit courts across the nation on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, the Eighth Amendment prohibition on fines, and Title IX on college campuses.

Seanna serves as co-leader of the New York Bankruptcy group, co-chair of the firmwide Pro Bono Committee, and one of ten members of the firmwide Strategic Planning Committee. Seanna was recognized as a Rising Star by both Law360 and the New York Law Journal and has been a New York Metro “Super Lawyer” every year since 2011.

Select Experience

  • Authored briefs on the definitions of “net equity” and “customer” under the Securities Investor Protection Act, landmark decisions that defined the scope and quantum of payments to BLMIS customers from the estate.
  • Obtained reversal in the Second Circuit on the issues of extraterritoriality and comity, a decision that the editor of Global Restructuring Review recognized has a “far-reaching impact . . . way beyond the U.S.”
  • Served as lead trial counsel of an all-women trial team on the first of the Trustee’s cases to go to trial. The success at trial has been sustained on appeal. Prior to trial, Seanna deposed Mr. Madoff and numerous other former BLMIS employees.
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Experience

  • Authored briefs on the definitions of “net equity” and “customer” under the Securities Investor Protection Act, landmark decisions that defined the scope and quantum of payments to BLMIS customers from the estate.
  • Obtained reversal in the Second Circuit on the issues of extraterritoriality and comity, a decision that the editor of Global Restructuring Review recognized has a “far-reaching impact . . . way beyond the U.S.”
  • Served as lead trial counsel of an all-women trial team on the first of the Trustee’s cases to go to trial. The success at trial has been sustained on appeal. Prior to trial, Seanna deposed Mr. Madoff and numerous other former BLMIS employees.
  • Worked on trial team on the second of the Trustee’s cases to go to trial, obtaining a judgment of 100% of fraudulent transfers sought and 9% pre-judgment interest.
  • Argued appeal at the Second Circuit worth more than $1 billion to the estate on the issue of whether customers were entitled to interest on their claims.
  • Served as lead counsel in resolving the cross-border insolvency issues relating to BLMIS’s London operation, including resolving proofs of claim filed in the liquidation of Madoff Securities International Limited (UK).
  • Involved in every one of the Trustee’s dozen-plus appeals to go directly from the bankruptcy court to the Second Circuit, developing a deep knowledge of bankruptcy appellate practice and strategy.
  • Represents the Trustee in all dealings with the U.S. government, including the Government Accountability Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Securities & Exchange Commission, and the Department of Justice Special Master.
Other Appellate and Litigation Experience 
  • Represented a property owner in an appeal to the Second Circuit in a civil forfeiture case.
  • Represented a global pharmaceutical company in class action litigation regarding certain drug products.
  • Represented a qui tam relator against two New York hospitals regarding Medicaid fraud.
  • Defended against fraudulent transfer and preference actions, including a recent case in the Delaware bankruptcy court.
  • Represented limited partners in a contested dissolution of limited liability company.
  • Represented restaurant industry investors in dispute with controlling members of limited liability company.
  • Represented an artist in connection with copyright infringement claim on musical composition.

Recognitions and Memberships

Recognitions

  • Global Restructuring Review, "Most Significant Restructuring or Insolvency Related Litigation" (2019)
  • Law360: "Rising Star" in Securities (2016)
  • New York Law Journal: "Rising Star" (2015)
  • New York Metro "Super Lawyer" (2013 to 2019)
    • New York Metro Super Lawyers "Rising Star" (2011 to 2012)
  • Bar of the City of New York: Thurgood Marshall Award

Memberships

  • Second Circuit: Pro Bono Panel
  • American Bar Association, Death Penalty Representation Project: Steering Committee
  • New York State Bar Association
    • Committee on Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction: Member
    • Pro Bono Appeals Program
  • Hunter College Pre-Law Advisory Board: Member
  • American Constitution Society: Board Member
  • American Bar Foundation: Fellow
  • Federal Bar Council
    • Bankruptcy Litigation Committee

News

News

Pro Bono

A co-chair of BakerHostetler's Pro Bono Committee, Seanna maintains a substantial pro bono practice in many areas of public interest law, focusing on appellate representation and death penalty work. She serves on the Pro Bono Panel of the Second Circuit and works with the New York State Bar Association Pro Bono Appeals Program. She also serves on the Steering Committee of the ABA’s Death Penalty Representation Project. In addition to her death penalty work, Seanna has also handled numerous immigration, asylum, and family law matters in the Second Circuit and Appellate Divisions of the New York State courts. Seanna was shortlisted by Chambers for Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in 2019.

  • Drafted amicus curiae brief for Fines and Fees Justice Center in the Kansas v. Glover case, cited by Justice Kagan in her concurring opinion.
  • Obtained a reversal by the Second Circuit of the orders of an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals denying an indigent client withholding of deportation.
  • Obtained a dismissal of a Second Circuit appeal and remand to the Immigration Court for further proceedings on behalf of client seeking withholding of deportation.
  • Obtained a reversal by the Appellate Division, Second Department of a trial court order that denied a father access to his nonbiological child.
  • Sought special immigrant juvenile status on behalf of numerous children in proceedings before the New York Family Court, the United States Immigration Court, and the Appellate Division, Second Department.
  • Assisted the American Constitution Society in various policy-related matters.
  • Served as special assistant corporation counsel for the Law Department of the City of New York in 2014. Conducted and defended numerous depositions on behalf of the City of New York in various tort lawsuits.

Admissions

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

Education

  • J.D., Fordham University School of Law, 2006
  • B.A., The City University of New York, Hunter College, 2003, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa