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John P. “Sean” Coffey


Complex Litigation Group Chair

Phone: 212.715.9456 Fax: 212.715.8456 New York

John P. “Sean” Coffey is an accomplished trial lawyer who handles some of the nation’s most high-profile securities and financial lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants. Given his reputation as a “go to” trial lawyer, Mr. Coffey is often retained on the eve of trial to represent individuals and companies in high-stakes litigation, taking over the reins and providing experienced and effective courtroom advocacy on short notice. For example, Mr. Coffey was retained just weeks before trial to serve as co-counsel for Fabrice Tourre, the former Goldman Sachs trader accused of securities fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission; he stepped in to take over the defense of a foreign company in an international arbitration nine days before the merits hearing; and he came aboard shortly before trial to help the Kramer Levin team try a complex merger contract dispute for client Johnson & Johnson that resulted in a $600 million settlement payment to Johnson & Johnson following closing arguments.

Mr. Coffey also offers corporate clients the “value add” of a big-law lawyer with more than a decade of experience as a respected former leader of the plaintiffs’ bar. Prior to joining Kramer Levin, as co-managing partner of one of the nation’s preeminent plaintiffs’ litigation firms (Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP), Mr. Coffey led trial teams that obtained almost $10 billion in recoveries, including more than $6 billion in the landmark WorldCom case for the New York State Common Retirement Fund and other investors. Companies and corporate executives facing shareholder litigation find invaluable the exceptional insights he offers from the perspective of the lawyer once labeled “Wall Street’s New Nemesis” by Bloomberg Markets magazine.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Coffey served as an assistant United States attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he tried many jury cases to verdict. He also co-founded and served as managing director of a commercial litigation finance investment firm that evaluated scores of complex business disputes.

An Annapolis graduate, Mr. Coffey served as an active-duty naval officer tracking Soviet submarines during the Cold War and a junior officer intern at the Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon (at which time he entered the four-year, evening J.D. program at Georgetown Law). Near the end of his first year of law school, Mr. Coffey was selected by the Navy and the White House to serve as the personal military assistant to Vice President George H.W. Bush. With the Vice President’s encouragement, then-Lt. Coffey continued his law studies while serving as Mr. Bush’s personal aide. After completing the evening J.D. program, Mr. Coffey left active duty and returned home to New York to pursue his legal career. While practicing law as a big-firm associate, assistant U.S. attorney and aspiring law partner, Mr. Coffey continued to serve as a reserve Navy officer. In his 18 years of reserve service, Mr. Coffey was selected to command a reserve P-3C Orion squadron (Patrol Squadron 92) and the reserve component of the USS Enterprise carrier battle group staff. Mr. Coffey retired as a captain in 2004 after 30 years of uniformed service. In 2010, Mr. Coffey ran a spirited but unsuccessful campaign as the reform candidate in the five-way race for the Democratic nomination for New York Attorney General.

J.D., magna cum laude, Georgetown University Law Center, 1987
  • Order of the Coif
  • Articles Editor, Georgetown Law Journal
  • Charles A. Kiegwin Award (highest grades by a first-year evening student)
  • American Jurisprudence Awards for Contracts and Torts
B.S., Ocean Engineering, with merit, United States Naval Academy, 1978
New York, 1988
New Jersey, 1999
U.S.C.A., 2nd Circuit
U.S.C.A., 3rd Circuit
U.S.D.C., Eastern District of New York
U.S.D.C., Southern District of New York
U.S.D.C., Western District of New York
U.S.D.C., District of New Jersey
    -New York State Bar Association’s Empire State Counsel honor (2015)
    -Bernard J. Rosenshein Courage to Care Award, presented by the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (2013)
    -Paul R. Dean Award as Outstanding Alumnus of Georgetown University Law Center (2012)
    -Learned Hand Award, presented by the American Jewish Committee-Westchester (2012)
    -Champions of Children Award, presented by the Council for Unity (2011)
    -Thurgood Marshall Award, for representation of death row prisoners (1998)
    -Woodward/White Inc.’s Best Lawyers (2015-2018)
    -Chambers and Partners’ Chambers USA (2016, 2017)
    -Irish Legal 100 (2009, 2010, 2013)
    -Kerry Heritage Achievement Award (2016)
    -The National Law Journal “Top 10” winning trial attorneys (2005)
    -Lawdragon top lawyer
    -Legalease’s Legal 500 U.S. (2014-2017)
    -Thomson Reuters’ New York Super Lawyers (2014-2016)
    -Military decorations including Meritorious Service Medal, Command-at-Sea Badge, Vice Presidential Service Badge, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Navy Pistol Expert Medal
No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. A description of the Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers selection methodology can be found here.
    -Federal Bar Council
    -New York State Bar Association
    -Georgetown University Law Center, Board of Visitors
    -Common Cause New York, Board Member
    -Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center, Board Member
    -Citizens Crime Commission, Lawyers Council
    -ThanksUSA, Board Member
    -Navy League (New York Council), Board Member
    -Georgetown University Law Center, adjunct professor