Cadwalader Adds Nationally Renowned White Collar Defense Partners Kenneth Breen and Phara Guberman

September 13, 2022

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP continues to expand its Global Litigation and White Collar Defense and Investigations groups, with the addition of high-profile partners Kenneth M. Breen and Phara A. Guberman.

Breen and Guberman are highly experienced trial attorneys who join Cadwalader from Paul Hastings, where Breen most recently served as head of Paul Hastings’ New York white collar group after 10 years as chair of the firm’s global investigations and white collar defense team.

Their practice focuses on defending corporations and executives in high-stakes investigations, trials, and appeals, typically involving allegations of accounting fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, cybersecurity issues, and money laundering. They are also skilled in conducting internal investigations for companies, teams, clubs, and university systems, and have substantial business litigation experience, representing clients in complex civil matters in federal and state courts and arbitration proceedings.

Together, they recently achieved major back-to-back victories for clients in two of the highest profile white collar matters in the United States. In a precedent-setting appellate victory in U.S. v. Connolly, et al., the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned all counts of conviction and directed a judgment of acquittal in favor of their client, Matthew Connolly, the lead defendant in the case and the first U.S.-based trader to be charged with alleged manipulation of LIBOR. Breen and Guberman represented Mr. Connolly at trial and on appeal. Their win represents the only LIBOR-related criminal case in the U.S. or U.K. to be overturned on sufficiency of the evidence and sets an important standard for all future wire fraud prosecutions. For this they were recognized by The American Lawyer as Litigators of the Week, which referred to the Connolly appellate success as a “remarkable turnaround” and recognized that the “decision is the second white-collar appellate reversal [Breen and Guberman] have won in as many years.” Global Investigations Review short-listed the Connolly trial as its “Most Important Case of the Year” for its impact on future investigations and Law360 honored them for securing a sentencing ruling without any period of incarceration for Mr. Connolly, though the government was seeking 15 years.

The duo also represented David Gibson, former Chief Financial Officer of Wilmington Trust Corporation, in U.S. v. Gibson, et al., at trial and on appeal in a matter involving accounting and securities fraud brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware. Mr. Gibson’s conviction was overturned on all counts in a matter of first impression for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and the remanded counts were dismissed by the District of Delaware. The Gibson case sets a precedent for false statement prosecutions in the Third Circuit. The American Lawyer deemed this win a “stunning reversal of criminal convictions… in a case dating back to the Great Recession.”

“Ken and Phara have certainly established a market-leading reputation as white collar attorneys, both individually and as a team,” said Cadwalader managing partner Pat Quinn. “They have represented and achieved noteworthy victories for individual and corporate clients on some of the highest profile matters of the past decade. They are outstanding additions to the white collar practice and our firm.”

Added white collar defense and investigations practice chair Jodi Avergun: “The arrival of Ken and Phara is another crucial step in the ongoing build-out of our exceptional white collar practice. They are first-rate white collar attorneys – equally as adept in the courtroom as working behind the scenes on behalf of their clients.”

Breen is a first-chair trial attorney who has been consistently recognized among the leading white collar attorneys in the country. Prior to private practice, Breen served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where he was Deputy Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Section, and in the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division. He has tried 48 cases to verdict and argued 12 appeals as a federal prosecutor and defense attorney. In ranking Breen as a leader in this field, Chambers USA notes that his clients praise his “very shrewd mind,” “exceptional legal vision,” and “ability to look across the full spectrum of white-collar issues.” According to Chambers, he impresses clients as an advocate who is “dedicated, tireless and [someone who] can quickly effectively understand legal issues and the business needs of his clients,” and as an “extraordinarily effective trial counsel” who “comes with the experience, gravitas and intellect” that lets the other side know that he will be “really prepared to try the matter.”

Guberman is a highly regarded versatile litigator considered a next-generation leader in the field. She was recently honored by Benchmark Litigation as one of the Top 250 Women in Litigation and by Global Investigations Review as one of 100 notable Women in Investigations. Law360 has named her a “Legal Lion” and as one of its five national rising stars in white collar defense for major client victories in high-profile matters. The Legal 500 USA has recognized Guberman for Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Defense: Advice to Individuals and Advice to Corporates. She has successfully defended a wide array of criminal and complex commercial trials, managed investigations, and handled appeals on a full spectrum of legal issues.

Breen and Guberman envision continued growth of their practice at Cadwalader, owing to the firm’s outstanding market reputation among financial institutions and funds, as well as leading corporate clients.

“Phara and I are excited to join Cadwalader’s world-class white collar defense practice,” Breen said. “In our experience, being ready, willing, and able to go to trial leads to the best results for our clients, whether resolutions are reached in or out of court. Our adversaries certainly know our reputation and track record of success in high-stakes and high-profile matters, for company and individual clients alike. Our default setting is not capitulation. Cadwalader’s white collar team shares and practices our ethos in this regard. In joining the Cadwalader team, we will continue to bring that fight for our clients in avoiding charges, obtaining client-friendly settlements and, when necessary, winning at trial and on appeal. We believe that the best results come from the ability to deliver for our clients at those levels.”

Added Guberman: “The extraordinary group of litigators at Cadwalader are individually known for their fierce advocacy and winning records. We are thrilled to be part of a dynamic and talented team to provide unmatched service and achieve the best results for clients in resolving their most difficult issues. We are honored to join Cadwalader, with its long-standing reputation for legal excellence and collaboration, and to be part of its continued growth.”

The arrival of Breen and Guberman represents the next phase of the expansion plan for the white collar and global litigation groups. Over the past 18 months, Cadwalader has added leading litigators Nicholas Gravante, Philip Iovieno, Larry Brandman, and Helen Maher in New York; Phil Khinda, Doug Gansler, and Rachel Rodman in Washington; and Mark Beardsworth and Kevin Roberts in London.