Debra Brown Steinberg
Debra Brown Steinberg has more than 30 years of experience representing plaintiffs and defendants in complex, high-profile litigations involving the federal securities laws, patent and trade secret rights, and commercial/business disputes. Early in her career, she successfully represented investors in their lawsuits against Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken, Dennis Levine, and Martin Siegel, arising out of the then largest financial scandal in U.S. history. Other securities-related representations followed, involving the defense of a leading hedge fund against charges of collusion to restrain competition with regard to the April and May 1991 Treasury notes, defense of an underwriter in state and federal district courts against claims arising from an initial public debt offering in the energy sector, and representation of nine life insurance companies as plaintiffs in a federal securities law action arising out of their purchases of privately-placed senior notes. In the intellectual property arena, Debra argued in the en banc Federal Circuit proceeding that changed the standard for willful infringement and held that post-suit advice-of-counsel defenses in the case were of "marginal relevance"; Law360 designated this decision as one of its "IP Cases of the Decade". Debra also has represented pro bono numerous clients before the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which provided alternative dispute resolution for wrongful death and personal injury claims resulting from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Debra is a nationally-recognized advocate for victims of the September 11th attacks and their families, having formulated, substantially authored, and supported New York State's September 11th Victims and Families Relief Act (2002); the bipartisan September 11th Family Humanitarian Relief and Patriotism Act (109th-112th Congresses); the City Bar of New York's comments on proposed regulations implementing the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001; and the September 11th Families' Association's and Manhattan Community Board One's comments on proposed regulations implementing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. Debra developed, and successfully negotiated with the Department of Homeland Security, its 9/11 Humanitarian Relief Program (2008), granting humanitarian parole/deferred action to eligible family members of 9/11 victims, followed by her work to secure U Nonimmigrant Status for those families. In 2012, Debra developed and implemented an innovative outreach and pro bono program for low-income, underrepresented 9/11 responders/survivors potentially eligible for the WTC Health Program and/or reopened 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which was highlighted in the Fund's First Annual Status Report (October 2012).
Debra's public service on behalf of 9/11 victims and their families was commended by President George W. Bush (2006), in the United States Senate (September 2006, July 2007, February 2008, January 2009) and House of Representatives (May 2004, July 2005, February/March/May 2006, June/November 2007, July 2008, September 2011), by a New York State Legislative Resolution (April 2003), and by both Special Masters of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (2004, 2012). She received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor (2007), American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award (2006), New York State Bar Association's President's Pro Bono Service Award (2003), and New York City's Award for Achievement in Community Leadership (2005). Debra's pro bono work was honored by the 9/11 Tribute Center (2009); was featured in the documentary films titled "9/11 and The American Dream" (National Geographic 2011), "Out of the Ashes: 9/11" and "The Legal Community's Response to September 11th"; and appears in the seminal study entitled "Public Service in a Time of Crisis."
Debra founded, developed, and, as Chair of the Cadwalader Women's Leadership Initiative Pro Bono Committee, supervises production of VS.: Confronting Modern Slavery in America (www.vsconfronts.org), a transformative public website dedicated to stopping human trafficking in America. The VS. website, supported by a companion conference series addressing emerging issues relating to domestic human trafficking, focuses much-needed attention and resources on confronting labor, debt, and sex trafficking in America; helps resource-constrained frontline organizations get their messages out to a broad audience; and breaks down organizational silos that impede holistic approaches to shared objectives. Debra's innovative pro bono model for the VS. project looks at the whole picture of domestic human trafficking and aligns public, nonprofit, and private sector resources to effectively confront it.
Debra received her bachelor's degree from Smith College and graduated, cum laude, from Boston College School of Law. She is admitted to practice in the State of New York, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Federal and Second Circuits, and the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a Fellow of Litigation Counsel of America, Fellow of the New York Bar Foundation, former member of the American Bar Association Pro Bono Committee (2008-2010), and recognized as a leading practitioner by New York Super Lawyers. Debra serves on the Board of Directors for the 9/11 Tribute Center (October 2012-Present).