John P. “Sean” Coffey is an accomplished trial lawyer who handles some of the nation’s most high-profile matters on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants. Sean offers corporate clients the unique combination of a big-law lawyer with more than a decade of experience as a respected former leader of the plaintiffs’ bar. He routinely represents high-profile individuals in sensitive matters well suited for his broad range of experience as plaintiffs’ lawyer and defense lawyer, former federal prosecutor, and white collar defense lawyer.
Sean has a well-earned reputation as a skilled trial lawyer eager to take his cases to trial — just prior to the pandemic he completed a string of three trials in less than 15 months, and recently completed a “virtual” trial via Zoom in Delaware Chancery Court. While the vast majority of civil cases settle, Sean’s clients achieve superior outcomes because adversaries offer better terms to avoid facing Sean at trial. Sean often jumps into the fray on short notice. He stepped in to take over the defense of a foreign company in an international arbitration nine days before the merits hearing; came aboard shortly before trial to help try a complex merger contract dispute that resulted in a $600 million settlement for client Johnson & Johnson; and 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 SEC.
Prior to joining Kramer Levin, Sean was co-managing partner of one of the nation’s pre-eminent plaintiffs’ litigation firms (Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP). Earlier in his career, Sean served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, trying over a dozen 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.
A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Sean served as an active-duty naval flight officer hunting Soviet submarines during the Cold War and as a junior officer intern at the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. He was selected by the Navy and the White House to serve as personal military assistant to Vice President George H.W. Bush. While practicing law as a big-firm associate, assistant U.S. attorney and aspiring law partner, Sean continued to serve as a reserve Navy officer, retiring as a captain in 2004 after 30 years of uniformed service.
In addition to leading the Complex Litigation department, Sean serves on the firm’s Lawyer Ethics and Liability practice group. He also serves as president of the Federal Bar Foundation and on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center, Georgetown Law’s Board of Visitors and ThanksUSA.
Updated Sep 2021