barry h berke

Barry H. Berke is an attorney in New York, New York specializing in Commercial Litigation, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, and Litigation - Securities. Barry H. Berke is an experienced attorney in New York, NY and has been chosen as a recipient of the 2020 Elite Lawyer award. Call 212-715-7560 to schedule a. Barry H Berke. (212) 715-9100. Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP 1177 Ave. of the Americas New York, NY 10036. ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED.

Barry h berke -

Editors’ Note

Kramer Levin ( prides itself on providing clients proactive, creative and pragmatic solutions that address today’s most challenging legal issues. With more than 375 lawyers in 60-plus practice areas, the firm is headquartered in New York with offices in Silicon Valley and Paris, and fosters a strong culture of involvement in public and community service. The firm is celebrating its 50th anniversary on July 1. LEADERS interviewed several of Kramer Levin’s leaders to learn about the firm’s unique culture and how it is preparing for the years ahead.

Paul S. Pearlman is managing partner of Kramer Levin, a position he has held since August 2000. He also advises and represents clients in private equity transactions, as well as in the corporate aspects of corporate restructuring and bankruptcy. His private equity experience over the past 35 years has included representing leveraged buyout sponsors, management and providers of debt financing in complex and often high-profile leveraged buyout transactions. He also has extensive experience in public and private mergers and acquisitions and in acquisition finance transactions. He received his J.D., cum laude, from St. John’s University School of Law and his B.B.A. from The George Washington University.

Barry H. Berke is co-chair of Kramer Levin’s Litigation department. He is widely recognized as one of the leading trial lawyers and white-collar criminal defense lawyers in the country. He represents officers, directors, professionals and corporations in sensitive and high-profile investigations and proceedings. He has handled major matters involving all aspects of white collar crime, including allegations of securities fraud, accounting and bank fraud, RICO and FCPA violations, tax offenses, bribery, bid rigging, and embezzlement. He also represents prominent corporations, directors and officers in class action and other complex commercial litigation. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his B.A., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University.

Amy Caton is a partner in the firm’s Bankruptcy department. She represents mutual funds and distressed investors in municipal restructurings and corporate reorganizations. Named an American Lawyer Dealmaker of the Year for 2016 and 2017 for her work in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico debt restructuring, she represents clients including OppenheimerFunds, Franklin Advisers, Nuveen Investments and BlackRock, among many others, in some of the nation’s largest, most complex and high-profile bankruptcies. She received her J.D. from University of Texas School of Law, Studies in E.U. Law from Universiteit Leiden (Leiden University), and her B.A. from University of Texas at Austin.

Lisa Kobialka is a partner in Kramer Levin’s Intellectual Property department. She has been at the forefront of some of the most challenging trials in venues across the country and handled more than 200 litigations. She counsels and represents both plaintiffs and defendants in complex intellectual property litigation matters involving claims for patent, copyright, trade secret and trademark infringement. She represents clients in a variety of technology-related industries, with a particular emphasis on the energy, computer science and pharmaceutical sectors. She received her J.D. from University of San Francisco School of Law, her M.M. from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and her B.A from University of California, Davis.

Paul H. Schoeman is co-chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations practice. He defends clients in complex and often high-profile criminal, civil and regulatory matters involving every aspect of white collar crime, including securities fraud, money laundering, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, healthcare fraud, insider trading, accounting fraud and tax evasion. A skilled advocate in and out of the courtroom, he represents corporations and individuals in investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Congress, the New York State Attorney General’s Office and other authorities. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School and his A.B., summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Princeton University.

Howard T. Spilko is co-chair of the firm’s Corporate department. He counsels and represents clients in domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures, with an emphasis on middle-market transactions representing private equity firms and their portfolio companies. He has particular knowledge and experience in the strategic use of representations and warranties insurance in acquisitions and related claims. He received his J.D., cum laude, from University of Pennsylvania Law School and his B.S., accounting, summa cum laude, from Binghamton University.

Kramer Levin is celebrating its 50th anniversary. What have been the keys to the consistent success, leadership, and culture of the firm?

Pearlman: Our entrepreneurial culture has been the biggest driver of our success over the past 50 years. Being entrepreneurial means more than being great lawyers. It means understanding our clients’ needs and figuring out ways to help them. It may mean introducing them to other clients who we think have common interests or can do a deal together. It might also mean developing new approaches or strategies, or otherwise thinking outside the box.

We’re a relatively new firm and we have grown substantially since we started, but our growth has been consistent and steady, so we haven’t changed who we are over that time. Because of that, we have been able to maintain our quality, which is one of the tenets upon which this firm was founded. In addition, given our size and unlike many of the big firms, the partners here all know each other so we have collegiality and collaboration. This allows them to work together, to understand each other’s practices, and to figure out where and when to bring other partners in to help.

Another key to our success is that for a firm of our size, we probably have more top-tier practices than almost any other firm in the city.

Spilko: We have also enjoyed the freedom to evolve. In a smaller setting where there is not a lot of bureaucracy, we have the freedom to experience different aspects of law. There was a point in my career here at Kramer Levin when I was doing derivatives and outsourcing. It wasn’t a great fit in terms of my aptitude and interests, but I was free to try new things, and when I discovered the world of M&A and private equity as a young lawyer, I never looked back.

There is a high level of encouragement to try different things if it makes sense.

When the firm has grown as it has, it would seem maintaining the culture would be challenging. Is that focus at the forefront of the hiring process?

Pearlman: It is certainly challenging to maintain our standards so we have followed a strategy of managed growth. We bring in two or three laterals a year and we spend the necessary time to properly integrate them into the firm.

Many times, we’re asked if we’re a big little firm or a little big firm – we try to be the best of both. The most important thing for us, as I mentioned earlier, is maintaining a consistent level of quality. At many big firms, there is an A team, a B team, and a C team – we don’t have that.

This also gives us flexibility in terms of allowing people to develop and follow their own paths to create new practice areas.

As a firm, it’s important to us that our people get along and want to work together. Since most of our lawyers are in one office, we have the ability to do that.

How close is the collaboration within the different practice areas?

Caton: Bankruptcy is one of those areas where there is a high level of collaboration between many different areas of the firm. We’re lucky because we have great corporate lawyers who know how to do bankruptcy law, but we also have great litigators and tax lawyers with deep bankruptcy experience.

As an entrepreneurial firm, associates aren’t staffed in masses on a matter. Associates can hit the ground running with respect to new assignments and take charge. This leads to a lot of collaboration that starts early on among different departments.

Is there such a thing as client loyalty today?

Pearlman: Loyalty is difficult to obtain and then maintain, especially in this environment. There is a lot of competition and many talented lawyers out there. It’s about going the extra mile with the clients to be able to help them to succeed – not just be the hired lawyer on a deal or case, but helping the client with different opportunities that will benefit their business. We need to think about their business in a granular way so they understand that we understand what motivates them.

It’s easy to lose a client if you aren’t careful. We need to earn their trust every day.

Kobialka: Loyalty comes from a true partnership with our clients, a number of which we have represented for well over 10 years. This doesn’t just involve a specific department but goes across other areas, because there is a broad trust. We’re in it with the client in both the good times and the bad.

I don’t see us having the same issues that other firms do, where price pressures are an issue. With us, they know they’re going to get the best representation from a team who fundamentally understands what their goals are and that those goals will be achieved in the most effective manner because of our unique partnership and often long-term relationships.

Schoeman: One of our strengths is that we have many talented younger partners and, when we start introducing clients to a deep bench of young, energetic people that want to help clients with their problems, it engenders loyalty on both sides and deepens the relationship.

Caton: Loyalty means getting to know your client and supporting them in every way possible. For this reason, I don’t want to just give legal advice – I want to figure out why the client needs a particular strategy and how they’re going to sell that strategy internally to their boards and senior management. We help them do that.

We can’t help the clients understand what they need and how to sell it internally without getting to know them and their institutions very well.

Berke: Clients want to make sure they get the best service they can, and we take great pride in the service we give our clients and we feel they know we’re making a difference for them.

Looking ahead for the firm, what are the keys to staying relevant?

Pearlman: Our focus is to not rest on our laurels. The market is changing, clients’ needs are changing and, if we’re going to stay relevant, we need to change as well.

Five years ago, if someone asked me what the profession would look like today, I probably would have guessed wrong. It’s difficult to speculate how the profession is going to change with AI, alternative legal services, growing in-house staffs, etc.

However, we have to stay ahead of the curve.

Is the business more complex today?

Spilko: When I started this work 25 years ago, the average M&A agreement that I worked on was 45 pages long – it’s now more than 100. Every year, the practice seems to become more complex, which is why we surround ourselves with talent and make sure that the people we’re working with are smart, energetic and focused on delivering good value to the client. We need to stay on top of what is happening in the marketplace and also what the client is expecting in terms of getting that deal done.

Kobialka: In many respects, the world was probably more predictable 20 years ago. Today, we don’t know who our next competitor will be with all the technology changes. We need the ability to stay on top of all of those changes and how they impact our clients so we can give them some predictability in an unpredictable marketplace.

We are always focused on what we can do better, so we’re the leaders and people look to us.

How much of an impact will technology have on the practice of law?

Pearlman: The expectation is that it will vastly change the practice of law. It hasn’t done much yet. AI has more relevance in certain areas, particularly in litigation and the review of documents, but we still need humans to make judgments as to what is relevant and what is not.

Caton: Since we’re a smaller firm that tends not to do cookie-cutter deals, the idea that we can be replaced by machines, at least at the top levels, may be a stretch. We need to be very creative and thoughtful about putting together corporate structures and deals or coming up with litigation strategies.

Pearlman: In the near term, technology’s impact will be greater for commodity practices. Whether it works its way to the more sophisticated practices remains to be seen.

What is the importance of building relationships with small and medium-size companies in terms of your client mix?

Pearlman: This has been very important to our firm. One of the nice things about our firm is that our clients run the gamut, from large institutions to smaller, developing companies, many of which have grown with us throughout their histories.

One of the things that separates us from many other firms is that we’re able to play in different sandboxes. This makes it more interesting for the people who work here.

This also allows, in many instances, for younger attorneys to have client responsibility earlier and grow with those clients.

One of the keys to our success has been our ability to empower our younger partners and allow them to develop their own business while working on some of the more complex transactions.

We’re in a great position going forward because we’ve undergone a transition over the past few years in our business generation. We see that transition taking us from the attorneys who are at later stages in their careers to the ones who are now in the prime of their careers to those who are just starting out.

It’s another differentiator for our firm.

Spilko: Spotting top talent whether at a small or medium-sized firm and helping them navigate the growing pains means they stay with us as they mature. I have had a few experiences where people have left established institutions and started their own businesses, where I know they will do a great job and grow their businesses. If we’re one of the first firms to be there with them, it’s not a gamble – it’s a smart play.

When it makes sense to make investments in our clients, we do, and they have paid off measurably.

When we grow with someone, they remember.

Berke: We generally thrive on the notion that to know us is to love us. Oftentimes, we will be brought in for an important matter where a client is reaching outside its regular counsel. We then help them solve their problem and, when they have a significant problem in the future, it’s not uncommon for them to return to us.

Getting clients to know us, and to benefit from our deep bench and how we operate, helps us down the road. The best client development we can carry out is simply to let clients see our work.

Schoeman: As lawyers, we’re problem solvers. The more different kinds of problems we see, the better we become at recognizing and solving them for clients. The variety of work that we undertake, and the fact that we don’t just handle a certain size or kind of case, gives all the lawyers at the firm a chance to really shine as problem solvers in a way that clients appreciate.

How critical is it to build a diverse and inclusive workforce at Kramer Levin?

Pearlman: Diversity is critical today for many reasons, but the most important reason is performance. The more diverse the workforce, the more different ideas come to the forefront. People look at problems in different ways and we’re in the business of solving problems, so we need many different vantage points to come up with the right solution for the client.

Kobialka: Our diversity enables us to collaborate with a broad range of clients who see issues from many different perspectives. This is how we provide excellent service.

Pro bono work is a key focus for the firm. Will you touch on that emphasis and what makes it so important?

Schoeman: Pro bono is part of the DNA of Kramer Levin and that is a credit to the founders of the firm and to everyone who has come before us. This allows us to address issues of social justice and also provides experience and training for partners and associates.

Traditionally, we have focused on three pillars of our pro bono practice: civil rights work, human rights work, and anti-poverty work. To accomplish this, we partner with many terrific companies and organizations, some of which are clients.

It’s a tremendously valuable and enriching experience. The work we do is socially valuable, but it’s also a great experience for the people who do it here.

We find that the people who engage in pro bono work not only develop skills and experience, but they develop a problem-solving attitude towards servicing clients that carries over into the work they do. It’s a huge win-win and something we’re really committed to.

Spilko: Our pro bono practice is popular with associates and senior partners alike because it’s personalized.

It’s common for our senior partners to focus on matters that are important to them. They find associates who want to do that work and jump in. Other associates tell me they want to do something that is meaningful to them and we also support that.

When people are committed to these efforts, it can take up much of their time, but we still fully support these efforts.

In your practice areas, when services sound similar from firm to firm, how challenging is it to differentiate?

Berke: Speaking for the litigation practices, one of the things that sets us apart in our space is our trial experience and trial-mindedness. Pound for pound, we do more trial work than any other firm that is operating at this level.

This distinguishes us from our competitors and creates an esprit de corps within the firm behind the fact that we are people who can take a case to trial, and clients really appreciate this, even if they don’t ultimately want to go to trial.

This is energizing and it is great experience for the associates who come here and love the trial work we do. We also attract partners who come here to take advantage of the trial work platform we offer.

Spilko: One thing that differentiates us is our partners’ significant role in our matters. Many firms talk about this but, in my practice, I often have it brought to my attention. We’ll be in a kickoff meeting on a transaction with 50 people in the room and then the partners from other firms disappear or are replaced as the transaction moves forward. Yet, we always have the same people on our team and it’s usually a much smaller contingent than any other team we’re facing.

Our clients love this, because the service is quite different. The clients appreciate the attention they get – they know we’re going to be heavily involved in the transaction. Every matter is a big one for us and we work with our clients to make sure they know we’re treating their matters with the attention they deserve.

Caton: At larger firms, one might think they’re hiring an experienced lawyer, only to be switched to a junior lawyer later.

Since everyone here is entrepreneurial and gets engaged in what our clients are doing, we don’t pull that bait-and-switch.

Spilko: We do feel like we’re best in class and as good as or better than everyone else in our practice areas. We take great pride in our work, our lawyers, our team approach, and how we solve problems. We find creative ways to get the client to where they want to be.

We distinguish ourselves not just through the quality, but also the creativity, of our work.

Pearlman: Another element that truly differentiates us from other firms is the way we’re configured. We’re less leveraged than most of our competitors and that is by design. This has been true throughout the past few decades.

Almost 20 years ago, we shrunk the size of our incoming classes when other firms were growing theirs. We didn’t feel that having a lot of first and second year associates to throw on matters made sense for us.

When it comes to our attrition rates, associates tend to stay longer here. Most firms have big incoming classes that become smaller and smaller over time; we have smaller incoming classes but people stay longer. This allows us to have leaner teams on our matters with more experienced people who have dealt with these types of situations again and again. The client sees an experienced team with the same faces and they feel they’re getting the best level of service they possibly can and that it is cost effective as well.

When value is often equated with price, how do you define true value for a law firm?

Pearlman: Sophisticated clients understand value. We do see clients that want to get the lowest price and, unfortunately, many times they are sacrificing value for that. Each client has to make that cost/benefit analysis.

We try not to compete on price. Because of the way we staff cases, we tend to be cheaper than other firms since we don’t throw bodies at matters, so the proof is in the pudding. Hopefully, the client understands that, at the end of the matter, they’ve received the best value for the price.

Kobialka: The work that we do is high-end. Clients come to us with their most difficult issues, so value is baked into what we’re providing overall.

I don’t think it becomes only an issue of price because clients know that they’re going to get the best legal service.

What advice do you give young people coming into the industry about building a sustainable career?

Spilko: It’s all about building relationships, both within and outside of their firm. It’s about associating with the best talent. It’s about growing relationships that will help differentiate themselves.

I also tell associates they cannot just be an M&A lawyer – they need to focus on a practice within the field that separates and distinguishes them so they become one of several experts in that field.

This could be an industry or product focus, but one has to find a way to create a special brand recognition associated with them.

Caton: I tell the associates we’re trying to mentor that they need to look at themselves as a firm. They need to be mindful that no one else is going to look out for their careers as much as they will. If someone thinks they want to do something, they need to speak up. They need to assess themselves on a regular basis to make sure they’re getting the work experience and client contacts they want and talk to people about that.

They can’t sit and wait for things to happen – it makes their careers more challenging and interesting for them when they are proactive.

Schoeman: They need to love what they do. They need to find the thing in the practice of law that they love and pursue it. Not everything we do is glamorous, but I love the problem solving. I take great pride in the quality of work we deliver.

Berke: I think it’s important that they immediately become invested in their careers and invested in their clients and the firm. Too many people are simply punching a clock. To succeed, associates need to put their hearts and souls into it.

Kobialka: Associates need to be creative because the world is changing, and they need to come up with different ways for their practices to evolve over time. There’s opportunity for people to think differently, particularly as technology changes. The need for legal services isn’t necessarily going to change – it may just evolve in how it gets delivered.

If associates can be creative about how they undertake business development and developing relationships, it can be very fulfilling as they embrace what they love.

Pearlman: In some ways, this firm is unique in that we have so many lawyers who are passionate about what they do, and being entrepreneurial has allowed them to build the practices they want.

We have people who find joy in what they do, so we generally have very positive attitudes. We have had a tremendous success rate with our lateral hires and promotions and very few partners ever leave here for other law firms. The people who come here are generally more successful than they were at their prior firms. For many reasons, we offer a unique opportunity for people to build on their strengths and the flexibility for them to build on the practice areas that are important to them.

How important is it to take moments to celebrate the wins at the firm?

Pearlman: It’s very important. Many, if not most, lawyers are trained to see the glass as half empty versus half full. If one doesn’t step back and celebrate the wins, he or she is going to be immersed in disappointment. We are trained to spot problems and so many lawyers spend their entire time pointing out why a client cannot do something. The good lawyers are the ones who, if they determine something can’t be done one way, figure out a different way to get it done.

This goes to thinking ahead. Part of having a fulfilling career is that, every once in a while, we have to recognize that we, the person and the firm, did something good today and celebrate it. Then we look to build on those successes.

Kobialka: Many times we celebrate with our team, and that may include our partnership with our client as well as all the people that worked hard to get us to where we are.

Irrespective of the outcome, we do celebrate who we are as a firm and the team that came together as a family.

Schoeman: One really nice thing about the firm is we’re all rooting for each other. We celebrate our own successes, but we also enjoy when other people in the firm have success and that is part of what makes the culture special.

Can a great lawyer who doesn’t collaborate survive in this firm?

Pearlman: It’s very hard. Great lawyers find a way, but I don’t think they will have the experience they could otherwise have had if they don’t collaborate.

In my position, I see that collaboration has become more important to the practice, and it’s more beneficial to the clients.

Years ago, lawyers tended to function in silos. Today, it’s difficult to be successful if one is not willing to be part of a team, both in their own practice area and beyond that.

If things go as you would like, will this firm look similar to what it does today in 50 years?

Pearlman: This firm is innovative and flexible enough that it will adapt however it needs to, but we’re not simply going to follow the path that everyone else follows. Right now, that path is to be in as many places as possible. We will do what we think is best for us and our clients and the practice, and that will take us where it takes us. We will still be successful.

Berke: What makes this firm unique is that the partners here love the law firm as it now is. The discussion is not about how we change but how we maintain what we have. There is the consensus that we are lucky to be at the firm we are at.


Who Is Barry Berke? Dems' Lead Counsel Named For Trump's Second Impeachment Trial

The House Judiciary Committee announced Friday that lawyer Barry Berke will be serving as lead counsel for Democrats during President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial.

Berke previously served as special counsel during Trump's first impeachment. For Trump's historic second impeachment trial, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said that Berke had once again been "retained on a consulting basis" to represent House Democrats.

"Barry Berke joins the House Judiciary Committee as Chief Impeachment Counsel," a Judiciary Committee news release states. "Barry Berke is a nationally prominent expert on federal criminal law, including public corruption, and is recognized as one of the leading trial lawyers in the country."

Outside of the Trump impeachments, Berke is known as a prominent white collar defense lawyer. In a 2019 New York Times profile ahead of the president's trial, Berke was described as "one of the nation's leading defense lawyers." He was named a finalist for Attorney of the Year 2020 by the New York Law Journal, which called him the "breakout star of President Donald Trump's impeachment proceedings."

Berke is currently taking a leave of absence from Kramer Levin, the New York City law firm where he is a partner. In addition to Congressional Democrats, his clients have included famed sports gambler Billy Walters, former international soccer official Jérôme Valcke and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Notably, he has also represented Deutsche Bank, the financial institution that has reportedly moved to cut ties with Trump after decades of business and billions of dollars in loans to the outgoing president.

"Barry is an extraordinary trial lawyer, and he showed those skills in the first impeachment proceeding," a Kramer Levin spokesperson said in a statement to Newsweek. "We fully support his decision to take on another historic assignment and look forward to his return to the firm."

The legal team that will make the case for the Senate to convict Trump also includes Impeachment Counsel Joshua Matz, another member of the legal team prosecuting Trump during the first trial. The Judiciary Committee describes Matz as "a leading constitutional scholar who has written extensively about impeachment and whose practice includes civil rights, commercial, and Supreme Court and appellate litigation."

"I am proud to welcome back Barry Berke and Joshua Matz to the House Judiciary Committee staff to join our counsels as they gear up for President Trump's impeachment trial," Nadler said. "Our counsels are some of the brightest legal minds in this country who will work to help ensure a conviction in the Senate."

Trump's legal defense team has not yet been announced. At least some figures from the first trial, including Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House counsel Pat Cipollone, are not expected to take part, while the president is said to be considering former Chapman University law professor John Eastman, according to a Reuters article citing people familiar with the matter.

Eastman has been involved in legal challenges aimed at overturning President-elect Joe Biden's election win and spoke in support of unsubstantiated claims concerning the election during the Washington, D.C. Trump rally held just before last week's Capitol insurrection. He resigned from Chapman University on Thursday following backlash over his remarks. Eastman was also the author of a controversialNewsweek opinion article last summer that questioned the eligibility of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to hold the office.

Trump was impeached by the House on Wednesday for allegedly inciting the Capitol insurrection. At least five deaths occurred as a result of the riot, in which angry Trump supporters, fueled by conspiracy theories and false claims that the president's loss to Biden was due to a "stolen" election, violently stormed the Capitol building. Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.


Varga v. Bear Stearns Asset Management Inc. (1:08-cv-03397)

Amy B. Auth

  (617) 371-1000
Fax: (617) 371-1037

Dwyer & Collora, L.L.P.
600 Atlantic Ave.
Boston, MA 02210




TERMINATED: 12/23/2008 (Dec. 23, 2008)

Jessica Lively

  (212) 504-6352
Fax: (212) 504-6666

TERMINATED: 01/10/2011 (Jan. 10, 2011)

Justin P. O'Brien

  (617) 371-1000
Fax: (617) 371-1037

Dwyer & Collora, L.L.P.
600 Atlantic Ave.
Boston, MA 02210




TERMINATED: 12/23/2008 (Dec. 23, 2008)

Martin L. Seidel

  (212) 504-5643
Fax: (212) 504-6387



Michael A. Collora

  (617) 371-1000
Fax: (617) 371-1037

Dwyer & Collora, L.L.P.
600 Atlantic Ave.
Boston, MA 02210



TERMINATED: 12/23/2008 (Dec. 23, 2008)

Michael B. Galvin

  (617) 371-1000
Fax: (617) 371-1037

Dwyer & Collora, L.L.P.
600 Atlantic Ave.
Boston, MA 02210




TERMINATED: 12/23/2008 (Dec. 23, 2008)


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb 19, 2020--

Kramer Levin is proud to announce that Barry Berke has returned to the firm following his service as special counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in connection with its historic investigation and impeachment of the president of the United States.

Mr. Berke has been widely lauded for his work as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the committee’s impeachment investigation and hearings, as well as on behalf of the House managers during the Senate trial. The New York Times noted that as “an architect of their impeachment inquiry,” Mr. Berke “work[ed] to build the investigative framework” for the House Democrats that led to the impeachment of the president, including helping develop and draft the articles of impeachment.

Mr. Berke played a prominent public-facing role in the House impeachment hearings, where he gave the opening statement for the committee and questioned key witnesses to much acclaim. Among the recognition he received, the Washington Post named him “Distinguished Person of the Week” for having “eviscerated” the president’s former campaign manager in what Slate described as “a cross-examination that should be mandatory viewing for every law student in the history of time.”

“Barry demonstrated his extraordinary skills as a trial lawyer in presenting a complex set of facts to the American people during the historic impeachment proceedings,” said Paul H. Schoeman, Kramer Levin’s co-managing partner and co-chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations practice. “I am delighted that Barry will once again be using his enormous talent and energy on behalf of our clients.”

Co-Managing Partner Howard T. Spilko said, “We are proud of Barry and the work he did in his role as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee. We are very pleased to have one of the country’s best trial lawyers and strategists back at the firm.”

Mr. Berke returns to his position as co-chair of Kramer Levin’s Litigation department. He is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading trial lawyers and white collar criminal defense attorneys.

“It was the honor of a lifetime to serve as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee under the extraordinary leadership of Chairman Nadler during this critical period in our nation’s history,” Mr. Berke said. “I am grateful for all the support from my friends and colleagues at Kramer Levin, and I’m thrilled to be returning to the firm, my practice and our clients.”

About Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Kramer Levin provides its clients proactive, creative and pragmatic solutions that address today’s most challenging legal issues. The firm is headquartered in New York with offices in Silicon Valley and Paris and fosters a strong culture of involvement in public and community service. For more information, visit

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Peter Pochna

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SOURCE: Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP

Copyright Business Wire 2020.

PUB: 02/19/2020 10:00 AM/DISC: 02/19/2020 10:01 AM


Barry H. Berke
Partner and co-chair, Litigation

Barry H. Berke, co-chair of the Litigation department of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, is a nationally recognized trial lawyer who represents officers, directors, professionals and corporations in sensitive and high-profile investigations and proceedings.

Barry recently served as chief impeachment counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives in the Senate impeachment trial of the former president of the United States. During the trial, Barry served as lead counsel and helped the House managers prepare and present a case that was widely recognized for its precisely choreographed and persuasive presentment of the factual evidence and constitutional arguments.

Previously, Barry served as special counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in connection with its first investigation and impeachment of the former president of the United States. In addition to helping build the investigative framework and develop and draft the articles of impeachment, Barry played a prominent public-facing role in the House impeachment hearings, where he gave the opening statement for the committee and questioned key witnesses to much acclaim.

Mr. Berke is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has been repeatedly recognized by Chambers USA, Legal 500 and Benchmark Litigation as one of the leading trial lawyers and white collar criminal defense attorneys in the United States. He was also named in 2010 and 2014-2018 as one of the Top 10 Lawyers in New York by Super Lawyers. Prior to joining Kramer Levin, Mr. Berke was a trial lawyer with the Federal Defenders office for the Southern District of New York. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Duke University.

is client list reads like a Who's Who of Wall Street bad boys, from onetime ImClone Chairman Robert F. Goldhammer — who didn't fire Martha Stewart's friend, Sam Waksal, fast enough — to the world's biggest insurance company, American International Group, which agreed to pay $10 million to settle securities fraud charges.
Barry H. Berke     He's Barry H. Berke, a young and energetic New York lawyer to the rich and infamous. In 2001 he burst onto the numismatic scene — or rather, behind it — when he negotiated a landmark deal that allowed the private ownership of a $20 gold coin the government had long considered illegal.
    The coin was a 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagle, specifically the Fenton-Farouk specimen — so named for Berke's client, British coin dealer Stephen Fenton (from whom the Secret Service had seized it), and for the late Egyptian King Farouk, who presumably owned it at one time.
    When the hammer fell at $6.6 million on July 30, 2002 (with buyer's fee, $7.59 million), it shattered all records. Fenton and the U.S. Treasury Department split the proceeds 50-50.
    Everybody won — but to many outside observers, everybody lost. Leading numismatists wanted to see the case go to trial, so sure were they that Berke and Fenton would prevail. If the case settled without a clear verdict, so went the reasoning, the door would remain open for the government to seize other coins. Hobby leaders wanted that door shut.
    A second chance came sooner than they imagined.
    On Aug. 11, 2005, the U.S. Mint announced it had "recovered" ten more 1933 Saint-Gaudens double eagles. The "recoveree" was Joan Switt Langbord, the 75-year-old daughter of the late Philadelphia gold merchant Israel "Izzy" Switt.
    All signs pointed to Izzy Switt in a 1944 when the Secret Service identified him as the individual who obtained, from the Philadelphia Mint, every 1933 double eagle ever known to exist in private hands, including the Fenton-Farouk specimen — and obviously, some that weren't known to exist.
    Joan Langbord wants her coins back. Her attorney is Barry Berke.
* * *
    The following interview was conducted Oct. 17, 2005. It should be noted that Berke hadn't filed suit to recover the coins by the date of the interview; therefore, he declined to answer questions about any pursuit of an out-of-court settlement or certain facts in the case, such as how Joan Langbord's family came to possess the coins.

COINage: You represent a lot of people who've been indicted on securities fraud charges. Numismatics is a departure for you — or are there similarities?

Berke: You know, it's interesting. I am a trial lawyer. I represent people in all sorts of cases. I've done a lot of criminal work, but I've done a lot of civil work, as well.
    Traditionally, questions about forfeiture — that is, whether the government can seize things, whether they're coins, artwork or other things — they track a lot of the same law that applies in the white-collar criminal area. Underlying almost every forfeiture claim, you have to allege a violation of a statute. In a case like this, where the government has seized it, the law and the issues that get litigated are very similar to what I do in other sorts of cases. Ultimately if the government does not agree to give back these coins, there would be a trial before a jury; that would be very similar to what I do on a regular basis.

COINage: The Mint seems to have different ideas about forfeiture. In an interview this month, the Mint defined "forfeiture" as "a procedure by which the government forces an owner of private property to relinquish title to the United States." Point being, the Mint considers the 1933 double eagles to be stolen government property, and therefore, it says, "recovering such items does not require forfeiture proceedings because title to them already vests in the United States."

Berke: To speak candidly, I think that's one of the more aggressive positions the government has taken here. Clearly, whenever they want to seize property and deprive someone of their property, even if they believe they can do that based on the theory that it was stolen or that it belongs to the government, they have to follow the law. They have to follow procedure.
    We don't live in a country where the government can simply say that something is theirs and take it. We have a whole set of laws that prevent that. In fact, back in (1996), when they seized the other coin belonging to Stephen Fenton, whom I also represented, the government recognized that they had to file a forfeiture claim and did so. They ultimately settled that case, I believe, because they didn't like their chances.
    Now they're trying to avoid the same problem by trying to avoid the forfeiture laws. I think in addition to the substantive claims we have for return of the property, we also have claims that they have not followed the law and procedures that govern these sorts of matters.

COINage: From whom did Joan Langbord receive the 10 coins? Were they left behind in her father's shop?

Berke: What I can say is that when they were found, they were always within possession of the family. It's not that they obtained them from somebody else.

COINage: Do you have knowledge of any more than these 10?

Berke: I know of only 10. And I think it's safe to assume that having voluntarily come forward with these 10, they wouldn't have done that if they weren't prepared to do it for all of them.

COINage: When did Langbord voluntarily hand them over to the Mint?

Berke: In September of 2004 the Mint took temporary possession of them. We informed them of the coins, discussing issues related to the coins, and they asked for the right to be able to test them to ensure that they were authentic.
    Subject to an agreement that specifically preserved all the rights that Joan Langbord and her family have for the coins, and made clear that they own the coins ... the Mint was given the limited ability, at the Mint's request, to simply authenticate the coins.

COINage: You say "we." Were you representing her in September 2004?

Berke: I was.

COINage: How did that come about?

Berke: I was contacted by the family, who came and asked me to represent them.

COINage: They were aware of your actions in the Fenton case.

Berke: Exactly.

COINage: Why did the coins need to be authenticated?

Berke: From our perspective, they didn't need to be authenticated. We had no question.

COINage: How did the Mint learn of them?

Berke: The family came forward and voluntarily apprised them of them.

COINage: Without consulting you?

Berke: No, no. The family and counsel informed the Mint that the family had these coins. The family did everything in an extraordinarily above-board fashion. They came forward. They did not in any way try to conceal their ownership of these coins and have acted in a tremendously forthright and open manner throughout.
    I know the government hasn't credited them for those actions, and I think they should be credited. They're very up-front people who wanted to do everything the right way.

COINage: Why apprise the Mint of the coins' existence?

Berke: The Mint had made statements that they would seize coins that were 1933. We didn't think they had a basis to do that.

COINage: If the Mint had made it clear that the Fenton-Farouk coin was the only 1933 double eagle it would ever "legalize," then Langbord's coins were turned over to the Mint with the clear knowledge that the Mint would seize them, were they not?

Berke: The Mint doesn't have the ability simply to say: We're going to determine which coins can or can't be publicly sold. Although today they certainly state positions that suggest they believe they do. But those issues have to be resolved in a court of law.
    If, after having litigated the (Fenton) case for (five) years and resolving (it) by auctioning off the coin, they felt they still had a basis to try to litigate the propriety of private ownership of those coins, they certainly could try to do that, but they have to do that through the courts.
    Clearly, when the coins came out, whether or not the Mint was going to take that position is something that would have played out. Unless somebody is prepared to ... conceal their ownership or sale of the coins, the fact would come out and the issues would have played out one way or the other.

COINage: How did you come to represent Fenton in the first place?

Berke: Originally he was arrested and charged with a crime for importing the coin, so it came to me as a criminal case. I represented him in the criminal case, and we successfully had the criminal case dismissed, and then they filed the forfeiture action. So naturally it followed that I represented him on that.
    In terms of some of the expertise, part of what I do as a trial lawyer is, in every case (I become) an expert in that matter as it relates to that case. I knew virtually nothing about numismatics when I first represented Stephen Fenton, and at the end of it I could say that I knew probably everything that there is to know about the 1933 double eagle. But if you want to ask me about a 1913 Liberty head nickel, I could tell you about the questionable background, but other than that, my knowledge would fall far short.

COINage: The Farouk coin disappeared after the Nasser government sold off Farouk's collections in 1954. It wasn't seen again publicly until 1996 when it turned up in Stephen Fenton's pocket. Are you confident that the Fenton coin was the Farouk coin?

Berke: It doesn't matter what I personally think. The settlement that was entered into is not dependent on it being the Farouk coin one way or the other.

COINage: The Fenton settlement agreement says it sets no precedent for "any other coin or property of the United States, including any other 1933 double eagle that may exist." Was that language at your request?

Berke: No.

COINage: The first 1933 double eagles were coined and recorded in the Mint's books on March 15, 1933. In your answer to the government's complaint in the Fenton case, you reference the 1954 change to the Gold Reserve Act, which declared that all gold coins made prior to April 5, 1933, had special collector value and were therefore legal to own. You also cite the Coinage Act of 1965 which, as noted in the brief filed by the Professional Numismatists Guild, legalized the ownership of all coins that were "coined or issued" by the United States. Would those defenses apply in this case?

Berke: At this point where we are in the litigation, I can't comment on the specific arguments.

COINage: What is your position on the government's claim that Langbord's coins, like 10 others in the 1940s and 1950s, were "stolen from the United States Mint at Philadelphia?"

Berke: We don't believe there is any evidence that the coins were stolen. We don't believe the government knows how they were released, and there are a lot of arguments that they could have been released in ways other than they were stolen. I don't think the government has ever been able to definitively prove that they were stolen. They couldn't in the last case, and I don't believe they could here.

COINage: Is the burden on the government to prove they were stolen?

Berke: We believe it is.

COINage: In its complaint against Stephen Fenton, the government said the 1933 double eagles "never became currency or legal tender of the United States" because "the Philadelphia Mint never received an order from the Treasurer directing it to issue and circulate" them. However, the Coinage Act of 1873 spells out a way they could have been legally released without being "issued for circulation." The public could walk into the Mint and legally exchange gold bullion for current coin that was kept on hand for that purpose. President Roosevelt didn't repeal the "exchange" provision until April 5, 1933 — three weeks after the first 1933 double eagles were made. It's known anecdotally that Izzy Switt used to exchange bullion at the Mint. Why didn't you raise the "bullion exchange" argument as a defense in the Fenton case?

Berke: Keep in mind that what was filed in Fenton were the legal arguments. What you're describing is a factual argument. Those are the issues that are addressed at the trial. Had the case gone to trial, that would have been an issue that would have been addressed.

COINage: In light of the changes in the law, such as in 1954 and 1965, are these coins legal to own today?

Berke: I believe that the coins will be returned to Joan Langbord and her family, with full authority to dispose of them as they see fit. I do believe that they will prevail in the dispute.

COINage: It seemed fairly certain you would take Fenton to trial. What was the deciding factor to settle?

Berke: It was a very favorable settlement for him, and it brought closure with the circumstances of the sale that we thought would result in a very substantial return. So from his perspective, it was a win-win.

COINage: Do you anticipate that Langbord will go to trial?

Berke: It's very preliminary, but — I get brought in because I'm a trial lawyer. I handle every retention as though, and I prepare, in fact, to go to trial.
    Like any good trial lawyer I was disappointed on a professional level (that I) didn't get the opportunity to try the Fenton coin case, although I was pleased that the result was this favorable for my client. In (the Langbord) case, we are proceeding on the assumption that it could certainly go to trial.

COINage: Do you want it to go to trial?

Berke: I want the best results for my client. Certainly everyone recognizes trial takes time and resources. On a personal level, sure, I would try this case any day of the week. But I just want to achieve the best result and hopefully get the coins back. I would hope the government would do the right thing — simply return them. I was disappointed they took the action that they did.

COINage: Although there is no direct mention of it in the settlement agreement, many observers believe the government decided to settle the Fenton case because the Treasury Department issued an export license for the Farouk coin in 1944, theoretically deeming it legal to own. Do you feel it's proper to characterize the settlement as stemming from your argument about the export license?

Berke: Any sort of settlement like this could be characterized different ways by different people. From my perspective, the bottom line is, the government recognized that they should allow this wonderful coin, this numismatic rarity, to be sold and owned privately. I think it's very hard for them to distinguish their actions as to that (Fenton) coin with their actions as to these (Langbord) coins.

COINage: What was the last case you won at trial?

Berke: Last year I won a high-profile boxing arbitration and subsequent court proceedings establishing that our client had the exclusive promotional rights for all boxing matches involving the light-heavyweight champion of the world, Antonio Tarver.


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