Press Release

Cooley Continues Expansion of White Collar Defense & Investigations Practice With Addition of Key Former SDNY Prosecutor

The firm has further enhanced its white collar defense & investigations practice with the addition of accomplished litigator and public corruption unit chief from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
November 14, 2023

New York – November 14, 2023 – Rebekah Donaleski has joined Cooley’s New York office as a partner in the white collar defense & investigations practice. Donaleski arrives after nearly a decade at the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), where she was chief of the office’s public corruption unit and led many of the office’s most significant investigations and prosecutions – including those of US Sen. Robert Menendez, Ghislaine Maxwell, Michael Avenatti and Lev Parnas. Donaleski will focus her practice on sensitive internal and government-facing investigations, complex litigation, crisis management, and trials, working closely with Cooley’s deep bench of former federal prosecutors and commercial litigators to advise and defend Cooley’s innovative and disruptive clients.

“Rebekah is one of the most respected litigators to have come out of the SDNY in years,” said Andrew Goldstein, head of Cooley’s white collar defense & investigations group. “She is a gifted trial attorney, an accomplished leader and litigator, and is known, in particular, for her careful judgment in leading many of the most complex, sensitive and headline-grabbing matters in recent history.”

“Rebekah’s experience successfully managing some of the country’s most challenging investigations and highest-profile trials bolsters our ability to advocate for clients as they navigate increased scrutiny and enforcement by the Department of Justice and other federal agencies,” said Mike Attanasio, chair of Cooley’s global litigation department. “Rebekah will be a forceful advocate for our clients and a go-to resource for sensitive internal investigations. We are thrilled to welcome her to our growing bench of accomplished white-collar litigators.”

As chief of the SDNY public corruption unit, Donaleski led 20 senior prosecutors in hundreds of investigations and prosecutions on matters ranging from bribery and unlawful foreign influence offenses to complex financial fraud, securities fraud and sanctions violations. Donaleski also has extensive trial and appellate experience, with numerous jury trials and Second Circuit arguments under her belt. Prior to her time in the public corruption unit, she was a senior prosecutor in the terrorism and international narcotics unit, where she handled high-profile terrorism and national security matters and trials – including the trial and guilty verdict of New York City subway bomber Akayed Ullah. She also has worked closely with key components of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury and the intelligence community.

“I’ve been extremely impressed by the growth and success of Cooley’s white collar practice, which includes two of my predecessors who also served as chief of the SDNY public corruption unit, as well as several accomplished former assistant US attorneys from key districts around the country. This growth, combined with Cooley’s unparalleled client platform, collaborative culture and strategic vision, provide the perfect opportunity to transition into private practice,” said Donaleski. “I look forward to working with my colleagues – old and new – across the firm to serve and continue to grow Cooley’s innovative and impressive client base.”

Donaleski earned her JD from Columbia University School of Law. Before her career in public service, she was a law clerk to Judge Katherine Polk Failla of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and worked as a litigation associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.

In and out of the courtroom, Cooley’s white collar defense & investigations team is well known for counseling clients in high-stakes, bet-the-company matters and remains the go-to firm for the world’s most dynamic companies as they navigate the ever-increasing complexities of the legal, regulatory and enforcement landscape. The team is uniquely positioned to handle sensitive investigations, with a proven track record of aggressively advocating for its industry-leading clients before government agencies and at trial. Donaleski is the third former chief of the SDNY public corruption unit to join Cooley in the last five years – including Goldstein in 2019 and New York-based partner Russell Capone in 2021. The firm’s global litigation department continues to add elite and next-generation talent across key markets, including numerous senior prosecutors and supervisors from the DOJ and other prominent US attorney’s offices around the country.

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