Brian is a partner in Harris Beach’s Appellate Practice Group, where he leads appeals spanning a broad spectrum of industries and legal issues in federal and state courts in New York and across the country. A nationally recognized appellate litigator, Brian is a veteran of the Office of the New York State Solicitor General, the elite unit responsible for representing the state in some of its most economically, politically, and socially significant appeals, including appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to his appellate work, Brian collaborates on cases at the trial level to help shape legal strategy, litigate critical motions, and direct other key tasks that benefit from his focused analysis, rigorous brief writing, and strong oral advocacy. Brian also guides clients through administrative proceedings that present novel or substantial legal questions.
Brian has handled hundreds of appeals and critical motions over the course of his career. A seasoned courtroom lawyer, he has personally argued more than 85 appeals, including 21 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and seven in the New York State Court of Appeals. Brian’s cases have covered numerous industries, such as financial services, entertainment, healthcare, telecommunications, energy, transportation, gaming and wagering, and consumer products. Brian’s cases have also encompassed a diverse array of legal subjects: administrative law, constitutional law, class-action defense, intellectual property, tax, insurance, bankruptcy, arbitration, antitrust, professional malpractice, personal injury, civil rights, labor, employment, contractual disputes, business torts, whistleblower actions, elections and voting rights, land use, public safety and emergency-response, white-collar crime, and others. Many of Brian’s matters have attracted significant media attention.
Brian thrives on the most challenging cases, and he is routinely called upon to brief and argue appeals and critical motions that require an outside-the-box approach. For example, Brian persuaded a New York appellate court to overturn a $5 million verdict against his client for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage by demonstrating that a widely-approved pattern instruction given to the jury had misstated the applicable law. In another case, Brian successfully urged a New York appellate court to reject an adverse legal rule for certain insurance-related lawsuits that every one of its sister courts had embraced and applied for decades.
Additionally, Brian’s technical background—which includes a graduate degree in mathematics—has made him a go-to litigator for appeals and critical motions requiring mastery of scientific or quantitative concepts. Brian’s unique training enables him to develop a deep understanding of even the most arcane subject matter and distill it into plain-spoken, persuasive advocacy. He has built a track-record of success in tech-intensive cases. For example, in separate “bet the company” appeals, he helped persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reject a copyright infringement challenge to a satellite provider’s commercial-skipping DVR and also helped persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to reverse a finding of patent infringement against an eCommerce company’s point-of-sale payment terminals. Brian’s proficiency extends to cases involving the life sciences, as well. He was a principal architect of the litigation strategy that led the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts to dismiss a False Claims Action against major pharmaceutical manufacturers accused of having defrauded the federal government of more than $500 million by misrepresenting certain drugs as covered by Medicaid and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Another distinguishing feature of Brian’s practice is his extensive experience litigating in the U.S. Supreme Court. Brian has briefed more than a dozen Supreme Court matters on issues as disparate as arbitration and freedom of speech. He is well-versed in seeking and opposing certiorari, litigating on the merits, and handling proceedings on the expedited “shadow docket.” Brian has contributed to multiple high-profile Supreme Court wins, including Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., which held that the Copyright Act allows domestic merchants to import and resell copyrighted items made and first sold abroad. The New York Times called an amicus brief Brian authored for a bipartisan group of former law enforcement officials in a Supreme Court immigration appeal “the most interesting supporting brief” in the case. (Adam Liptak, Witness Feels Betrayed as U.S. Plans to Divide Family, New York Times, Aug. 2011.)
Before joining Harris Beach, Brian served as an Assistant New York State Solicitor General, briefing and arguing some of the most consequential appeals brought and defended by the state’s numerous agencies and officials. Among many notable cases, Brian litigated Haug v. State University of New York, in which he prevailed upon the New York State Court of Appeals to reverse a lower-court ruling that threatened to upend the evidentiary standards by which nearly all New York state agencies resolve adversarial disputes. Commentators opined that “the importance of the Haug decision cannot be overstated,” describing Brian’s victory as a “landmark” ruling that “laid bare critical standards of review that will serve as guideposts for future cases” (Howard M. Miller, New York High Court Renders Important Decision Deferring to Institutional Determination in Sexual Misconduct Proceeding, Bond, Schoeneck & King Higher Education Law Report, Nov. 2018) and ranking it among “those decisions that are most relevant to everyday practice in the Empire State” (Patrick M. Connors, Court Addresses Longarm Jurisdiction and Judiciary Law Violation, Among Other Notable Issues, New York Law Journal, Aug. 2019). Brian’s distinguished service in the Solicitor General’s Office earned him the Louis J. Lefkowitz Award, the highest honor given by the New York State Attorney General for outstanding performance by an attorney in pursuit of the public good. Brian was also issued a special commendation by the New York State Department of Transportation for his work in securing the dismissal of a $20 million wrongful-death claim against the state for negligent roadway design.
Prior to his tenure in government, Brian worked in the appellate practices of two global law firms. He also clerked for Chief Judge Michael A. Chagares of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and for Judge Anita B. Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Throughout his career, Brian has taken pride in serving the legal profession. Together with his Harris Beach colleagues, Brian edits the LexisNexis New York Appellate Practice treatise. He also writes and lectures on appellate advocacy and is a co-developer of a popular continuing legal education seminar on effective oral argument. Additionally, Brian has authored academic articles on tort law and criminal law that have been cited by courts, scholars, and practitioners. He has been repeatedly honored for his commitment to pro bono representation.
Brian graduated from Columbia Law School, where he was named a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar. He holds an undergraduate degree, cum laude with departmental distinction in mathematics, as well as a graduate degree in mathematics, from Yale University.