December 21, 2006

Leading Public Interest Attorney Seth Rosenthal Joins Venable in D.C.

5 min

WASHINGTON, DC (December 21, 2006) – Venable LLP announced that Seth A. Rosenthal, a longtime Justice Department prosecutor who spent the last two years as legal director for the Alliance for Justice, has joined the firm as a litigation partner in the Washington office.

Mr. Rosenthal, 40, has been recognized as one of the country's leading public interest lawyers. Washingtonian Magazine this year named him to its list of “Top 40 Under 40” lawyers in D.C. 

An accomplished advocate for social justice and civil rights, Mr. Rosenthal spent 10 years in the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division handling a wide range of federal investigations and prosecutions, including cases involving human trafficking, hate crimes, police misconduct, and housing and lending discrimination.  He tried numerous cases to verdict.

In making his first move into the private sector, Mr. Rosenthal said he sought out a law firm with a strong litigation practice as well as a commitment to public service.  “Venable definitely stood out in this regard,” he explained. “Many of its lawyers have substantial public service backgrounds.  They have made a smooth transition to handling large, complex cases for major commercial clients while continuing to remain devoted to the causes that initially drew them to the law.”

He noted that Karl Racine, currently Venable’s managing partner, was an associate White House counsel under President Clinton, as well as a one-time public defender in Washington, D.C.  Former chairman Ben Civiletti was himself U.S. Attorney General under Jimmy Carter.  He pointed to other litigators at the firm, such as Robert Wilkins, who have significant public service experience and remain active in public interest work while also handling major business litigation and internal investigations.

“We are getting a wonderful complement of skill sets with Seth Rosenthal – it’s like getting several attorneys at once,” said Geoffrey R. Garinther, national head of Venable’s Litigation Group.

“Seth brings superb, big-case trial experience to our group and he’s logged a lot of time on highly charged cases,” Mr. Garinther noted.  “He has also led major investigations, including both grand jury probes in criminal cases and complex investigations in civil matters.  His strong combination of civil and criminal prosecution experience is extremely valuable today, especially given our growing volume of white collar and investigative matters.”

In 2005, Mr. Rosenthal joined the Alliance for Justice, a non-profit advocacy group that monitors the selection of federal judges and tracks efforts to change the civil justice system.  His tenure fell during a particularly busy time, with the appointment of a number of appellate judges as well as the nominations of three Supreme Court Justices by President Bush.  As legal director under the Alliance’s well-known president, Nan Aron, Mr. Rosenthal led AFJ’s team of lawyers, which produced in-depth reports on judicial nominations and the federal courts relied on by members of Congress, the press and the public interest community.  One of the faces of the organization, he met with senators, House members and Hill staff and appeared regularly as a commentator in national and local media.

“Seth is one of the most talented lawyers with whom I've had the opportunity to work,” Ms. Aron said.  “He's smart, tenacious, and dedicated to the public good.”

While with the Criminal Section of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Mr. Rosenthal secured numerous convictions.  His successful prosecutions included a case against a group of skinheads convicted of terrorizing an African-American family in Kentucky; a case against hospital orderlies in Tennessee for the fatal beating of a mentally-retarded patient; and the first-ever conviction under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

Mr. Rosenthal began his Justice Department career in the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, where from 1995-2000 he handled all facets of civil litigation in fair housing, fair lending, and equal access in public accommodation cases, including multiple cases involving racial discrimination.  In 1999-2000, while maintaining his Housing Section workload, Mr. Rosenthal also served under U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno on a special task force investigating the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Through his talent and enormous capacity for hard work, Seth became the most productive and respected prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division,” said Bill Yeomans, former Chief of Staff and Acting Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division.

Mr. Rosenthal’s first exposure to public interest law was as a Skadden Public Interest Fellow at the Southern Center for Human Rights from 1993 to 1995.  There, he litigated both prison conditions and death penalty cases.  Among his successes, he secured the reversal of a conviction and death sentence in one case before the Georgia Supreme Court. 

An experienced commentator on judicial and civil rights issues, Mr. Rosenthal has appeared on Fox News, ABC News, Nightline, MSNBC and C-Span, as well as on numerous radio programs and panels.  He has published frequently, including op-eds on the federal courts in Slate and The Nation.  Mr. Rosenthal also serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and George Washington University Law School. 

Mr. Rosenthal received his J.D. from Harvard in 1993, and holds an A.B. in History from Dartmouth.

Mr. Rosenthal serves on the Steering Committee of the DC Bar’s Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section.  He is Vice-President of the Anne Frank House, sits on the Board of Directors of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, and is active on the Social Action Council of Adas Israel Congregation. 

Let us know if you would like to speak with Mr. Rosenthal.

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