In a career spanning both private and public practice, Steven A. Engel is a leading litigator and counselor, acting as an advocate in high-profile trial and appellate matters and advising clients on their most sensitive and complex legal issues. Mr. Engel has appeared in courts across the country, handling a wide range of civil litigation matters, including administrative law, commercial litigation, constitutional law and securities cases. He also regularly counsels clients in connection with government, congressional and internal investigations.
Until recently, Mr. Engel served as the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. As the head of the office, Mr. Engel served as the chief counsel to the Attorney General and the principal legal adviser to the Executive Branch, providing legal advice to the President and cabinet secretaries on the most critical constitutional and statutory questions, including matters pertaining to national security, administrative law, criminal law, congressional oversight, and executive orders. In December 2020, Mr. Engel was awarded the Department of Justice’s highest honor, the Edmund J. Randolph Award, for outstanding service to the Department.
Before his appointment as Assistant Attorney General in 2017, Mr. Engel had been a partner at Dechert since 2009 and previously served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. Mr. Engel clerked on the U.S. Supreme Court for Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for Judge Alex Kozinski.
Mr. Engel has been nationally ranked as a leading lawyer in The Legal 500 U.S. and Benchmark Litigation. Mr. Engel has frequently commented on legal subjects in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has appeared on national news programs as a legal analyst, including on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network. Mr. Engel has testified on several occasions before committees of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.
Complex Civil Litigation
- A New York real estate developer and Hasidic Jewish residents in civil rights litigation involving local governments in Sullivan County, New York that have erected discriminatory road blocks on building projects in an effort to deter the migration of Hasidic Jews into the area.
- A New York real estate investor in connection with a complex commercial dispute involving personal injury plaintiffs’ attempts to enforce over US$1 billion in default judgments in Florida federal, bankruptcy, and related state proceedings.
- A financial services company in New York action brought by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.
- A biotechnology company in a contract dispute in California federal court with a founder.
- A defense subcontractor in contract dispute in Virginia and Dubai.
- The NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and other police unions in connection with the federal “stop and frisk” litigation in the Southern District of New York and the Second Circuit.
- A national real-estate firm in connection with a dispute over the control of a national nursing-home company and related fiduciary duty and malpractice claims brought against the operating companies’ owners and former attorneys; won a judgment for US$157 million following a two-week trial in the case and successfully argued multiple appeals before the New York Court of Appeals and the New York Appellate Division related to the litigation.
- Former directors of a Special Purpose Acquisition Company in connection with a breach of fiduciary duty suit in New York Commercial Division brought by a litigation trust.
- A telecommunications company in a confidential breach of contract and fraud claims filed under seal in the Southern District of New York.
- A pharmaceutical company in successfully defending against a dozen shareholder suits filed in New Jersey federal and state courts seeking to block a US$2.4 billion merger.
- A foreign investment firm as lead counsel in an international arbitration arising out of breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims.
- An investment bank in defending against 309 consolidated securities fraud actions challenging underwriting practices during the Internet tech-stock boom; successfully won the dismissal of related consolidated actions alleging claims assigned to plaintiffs by settling issuers. In re IPO Securities Litigation (2d Cir. and S.D.N.Y.).
- The Senator Majority Leader and 43 other Senators as amici curiae in connection with the pending Supreme Court immigration case, United States v. Texas.
- A real estate developer and affiliated persons in the Second Circuit in defense of the dismissal of civil RICO claims.
- More than 100 economists as amici curiae in support of the constitutional challenge to the individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; the amicus briefs were expressly cited and relied upon by the Eleventh Circuit in holding the individual mandate provision unconstitutional, as well as some of the Supreme Court opinions.
- NML Capital Ltd. in winning affirmance of an appeal filed by the Republic of Argentina in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
- A private company, as counsel of record, in winning affirmance of an appeal filed by Mariner Healthcare, Inc. in the New York Appellate Division, First Department.
- The leading trade associations for the mutual fund industry, as counsel of record, in support of the successful administrative-law challenge to the SEC’s proxy access rules; the D.C. Circuit expressly discussed, and adopted, the arguments advanced in Dechert’s amicus brief in the course of striking down the rules under the Administrative Procedure Act.
- A private investment company before the New York Court of Appeals in successfully vindicating the company’s right to acquire a one-third interest in a national nursing-home company.
- The National Federation of Independent Business and the Cato Institute as amici in support of certiorari a case concerning the First Amendment commercial speech doctrine.
- Advamed, the leading trade association for the medical-device industry, as counsel of record in filing a Supreme Court amicus brief concerning the disclosure obligations of life science companies under the securities laws.
- Guy Carpenter & Co. LLC in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in connection with a commercial dispute.
- Washington Legal Foundation as counsel of record in filing a Supreme Court amicus brief concerning the limitations period for securities-fraud cases.
- California wineries in successfully challenging the constitutionality of discriminatory state laws precluding out-of-state wineries from direct shipping to consumers. Granholm v. Heald (U.S.).
- The Motion Picture Association of America in successfully challenging Internet file-sharing service for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. (U.S.).
- Morgan Stanley employees in successfully defending the dismissal of a securities fraud suit based on alleged research conflicts of interest (2d Cir.).
White Collar and Investigations
- An investor subject to an insider trading investigation in the Southern District of New York.
- A commodities trading firm in connection with an enforcement action brought by the Commodities Future Trading Commission.
- A grand jury witness in connection with major fraud prosecution in the Eastern District of New York.
- A major defense contractor in connection with an internal investigation concerning a former employee’s misuse of trade secrets and potential violation of export laws.
- Coordinated the Department of Justice’s response to a major congressional investigation, including preparing a dozen senior Department officials for depositions and supervising the review and production of thousands of pages of documents.
- A major financial institution in connection with its response to a federal regulatory investigation and in connection with an internal investigation initiated at the regulator’s request.
- A private investment fund in connection with an internal investigation and with related communications with a U.S. Attorney’s office.
Product Liability and Mass Torts
- AstraZeneca before the Eleventh Circuit in connection with the first appeal to arise from several thousands of products liability actions pending in federal MDL proceedings.
- The Dow Chemical Company by opposing class certification in a mass tort action and by winning the interlocutory dismissal of medical monitoring claims before the Michigan Supreme Court.
- W.R. Grace & Co. in seeking to stop state environmental actions from going forward outside of bankruptcy proceedings.
- Yale Law School, J.D., 2000, Essays Editor of the Yale Law Journal, recipient of the Benjamin N. Cardozo Prize for the best brief submitted in Moot Court, the Israel H. Peres Prize for the most outstanding note in the Yale Law Journal, the Thurman Arnold Appellate Competition Prize, and the William K.S. Wang Prize for top performance in introductory corporate law
- University of Cambridge, M.Phil., 1997
- Harvard College, A.B., 1996, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship, funding graduate study in England