Government Experience

  • Trial Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Honors Program, Tax Division

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • Virginia

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit


  • J.D., cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1992
  • A.B., magna cum laude, Duke University, 1989
    Phi Beta Kappa

Judicial Clerkships

  • Honorable John R. Hargrove, Sr., U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, 1992 - 1994
T +1 202.344.4356
F +1 202.344.8300

Brian L. Schwalb


Brian Schwalb, Partner in Charge of the firm's Washington, DC office, is a trial lawyer, civil litigator, and business advisor. For more than 20 years, Brian has assisted clients in addressing the broad range of challenging issues that business organizations and their stakeholders regularly confront.

Brian represents clients across a broad spectrum of industries and issues, including real estate ownership; leasing and development; commercial and contract litigation; corporate, LLC, and partnership ownership; governance and management disputes; business tort cases; employment and executive compensation disputes; estate and trust contests; intellectual property licensing; and tax controversies.

Brian's trial work and advocacy skills have been recognized by prestigious organizations and publications. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has consistently been listed in Best Lawyers in Washington, DC for Commercial Litigation, Real Estate Litigation, Trust & Estate Litigation, and Bet The Company Litigation. He has also been selected to appear in District of Columbia Super Lawyers. Brian has received Martindale Hubbell’s AV Preeminent rating.

While he has been recognized as one of the nation's top courtroom advocates, Brian's practice extends far beyond the courtroom, with a focus on providing advice and counsel that allows clients to avoid, respond to, and/or resolve issues sensibly and efficiently. In all cases, he applies sound business judgment and a collaborative approach to develop practical and cost-effective solutions to his clients' most difficult challenges.

After a two-year judicial clerkship with the late Hon. John R. Hargrove, Sr. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Brian served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division, prosecuting and defending civil tax matters on behalf of the United States.

Representative Clients

Brian's clients include privately owned businesses (corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies), high-worth individuals, and entrepreneurs in many commercial areas, including real estate, healthcare, energy, IP licensing, wholesaling, and retailing, as well as nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher learning.

Significant Matters

Brian has successfully tried cases (both jury and bench trials) and has led teams in complex litigation matters in state and federal trial and appellate courts, as well as in arbitration and mediation, throughout the country, with extensive experience in the state and federal courts of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Brian's noteworthy representations include:

Class Action Litigation
  • Successful representation at trial of a movie investor facing class action claims for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Brian served as lead trial counsel in a multi-day jury trial involving, among other things, vicarious liability under the TCPA, where the plaintiff class sought an estimated $1.6 billion in damages. The jury returned a defense verdict in favor of the investor.

Real Estate Litigation
  • Successful representation of commercial landowner harmed by construction activity on adjacent property. Brian served as lead trial counsel in a breach of contract and tort action resulting in multi-million-dollar settlements and multi-million-dollar attorneys' fee awards.
  • Successful representation of an individual guarantor sued by a lender for breach of "bad boy" carveouts in a non-recourse real estate loan. After the trial court found the individual guarantor personally liable, Brian successfully persuaded the appellate court to reverse.
  • Successful representation of group of limited partners of real estate partnership sued by general partner seeking to oust limited partners from the investment. Brian served as lead trial counsel in arbitration proceeding involving claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and alleged violations of the Rules of Professional Responsibility governing attorneys, with dispute favorably resolved, mid-arbitration, by way of settlement.
  • Successful representation of a real estate owner and developer in dispute over ownership and development rights for a valuable parcel of real estate located in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. Two investors brought an action against developer alleging breach of fiduciary duty and contract, seeking to dissolve the LLC, seeking several million dollars in damages, and seeking to deprive developer of its right of first refusal. After a five-day arbitration trial, an Arbitral Award was entered in favor of owner/developer on all claims, including upholding developer’s exercise of its right of first refusal and acquisition of the property despite the Claimants' contentions that developer had purchased the property for substantially less than fair market value.
  • Successful representation of a real estate development company in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland in a case involving breaches of ground leases entitling developer to build, lease, and sell luxury apartment buildings, resulting in a $36.4 million jury verdict in favor of developer (reported to be the largest single verdict in the state of Maryland in 2010), as well as court orders requiring defendants to pay Brian's client’s legal fees, in excess of $5.4 million, as prevailing party.
  • Successful representation of general partners in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland in a case involving limited partner’s claims of breach of fiduciary duty and improper squeeze-out, resulting in a jury verdict rejecting limited partner’s claim to damages and attempt to dissolve limited partnership, and a jury verdict finding that limited partner had breached its agreement and was liable to general partners for more than $3.1 million in legal fees and costs.

Tax Controversy Litigation
  • Successful representation in U.S. Tax Court of a taxpayer accused by IRS of having entered into an "excess benefit" transaction with a nonprofit tax-exempt organization. After developing a thorough factual record and expert testimony demonstrating that the transaction between the taxpayer and the tax-exempt organization provided a substantial benefit to the nonprofit entity and thus did not constitute an "excess benefit" transaction, the IRS conceded the case, acknowledging that taxpayer owed no additional tax.

Trust and Estate Litigation
  • Successful representation in the Circuit Court for Dade County, Florida of the Personal Representative of an estate valued in excess of $35 million against alleged beneficiary's attempt to set aside the decedent's testamentary documents on grounds of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity.

General Litigation
  • Successful representation of a licensor of innovative technology designed to avoid and mitigate concussion risk in dispute over licensee's rights to assign the license in connection with the licensee's Chapter 11 reorganization proceeding. Brian served as lead trial counsel, with dispute favorably resolved by agreement in the middle of trial.
  • Successful representation in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Virginia of homeowner in a nuisance and negligence suit brought by adjacent neighbor suing for more than $20 million in actual and punitive damages for alleged property damage caused by flooding, resulting in a jury verdict for defendant landowner and rejection of all adjacent neighbor's claims.
  • Successful representation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia of a local university and its law school against sexual harassment, Title VII retaliation, and breach of contract claims filed by a former visiting professor, resulting in a jury verdict for defendant university on all claims.
  • Successful representation in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia of a local university and its medical school against claims of national origin discrimination, Title VII retaliation, and breach of contract filed by medical resident dismissed from residency program, resulting in a jury verdict for defendant university on all claims.
  • Successful representation in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia of a regional hospital system against claims of gender discrimination and retaliation under the D.C. Human Rights Act, as well as claims for breach of contract, filed by medical fellow dismissed from the fellowship program. After trial court granted partial summary judgment against plaintiff, dispute was favorably resolved by settlement.


Brian is active in the District of Columbia Bar Association, having served on the Litigation Section's and Courts, Lawyers and Administration of Justice Section's Steering Committees. He is a member of the American Bar Association and its Litigation Section. Brian is on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Council for Court Excellence and the Board of Directors of the Abramson Foundation, and a member of the Lawyer's Club of Washington. Brian also is an instructor and program director for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and an instructor in the ABA's Litigation Institute for Trial Training and the Maryland Judicial Institute.