Seth A. Rosenthal

Rosenthal Seth
Seth Rosenthal is a trial attorney who represents businesses and individuals in criminal cases, investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, agency inspectors general, and state attorneys general, and complex civil litigation involving the False Claims Act, antitrust, commercial disputes, and civil and constitutional rights. Seth also conducts internal investigations for corporations, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions. He manages Venable's pro bono program, chairs the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, and maintains an active pro bono practice.

With his diverse background as a federal prosecutor and in civil rights enforcement and death penalty defense, Seth is a seasoned first-chair trial lawyer, a vigorous advocate, and a versatile problem-solver. His criminal and government investigations practice includes confronting allegations of fraud, false statements, and other misconduct against government contractors and grantees, other types of companies, and public servants in grand jury investigations, civil enforcement investigations and audits, trials, sentencings, appeals, and post-conviction proceedings. 

In internal investigations on behalf of corporations, nonprofits, and schools, Seth probes similar allegations of misconduct, as well as the suspected failure of internal compliance systems. Based on his experience prosecuting police misconduct in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Seth’s investigations work includes evaluating the conduct of law enforcement agencies and their employees. Seth is currently the court-appointed deputy monitor of the Baltimore Police Department in its consent decree with the Department of Justice.

The civil matters Seth handles encompass defense of False Claims Act cases; challenges to administrative agency actions; litigation of contract, partnership, and business tort disputes; and prosecution and defense of antitrust actions under the Sherman Act and civil rights actions and investigations under federal and state anti-discrimination statutes. With his background in civil rights enforcement, Seth also advises companies, including mortgage lenders, housing providers, and web-based advertising platforms, on compliance with the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act. 

Seth’s pro bono practice focuses on matters involving civil rights and criminal justice. In recent years, he has won the release of three different District of Columbia men imprisoned for murders they did not commit.



Representative Matters

False Claims Act and Procurement Fraud

  • Won a motion to dismiss and now represents on appeal a chemical manufacturer sued under the "reverse" False Claims Act for its alleged failure to report the purported dangers of certain products to the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Represented a nonprofit organization investigated by the District of Columbia Office on Aging for allegedly obtaining reimbursements for expenses before incurring them
  • Won a motion to dismiss on behalf of a mortgage lender sued for violating the False Claims Act by endorsing certain mortgage loans for Federal Housing Administration insurance
  • Obtained a probationary sentence for an IT systems contractor prosecuted for time-and-attendance fraud
  • Represents a services contractor investigated for violating the False Claims Act by allegedly utilizing workers whose qualifications did not satisfy contract requirements
  • Persuaded the Department of Justice not to intervene in a qui tam False Claims Act lawsuit accusing a nonprofit organization of falsely certifying a contractor’s eligibility to secure awards under a set-aside program, and subsequently obtained dismissal of the qui tam relator's claims, upheld on appeal by the Fourth Circuit
  • Defended state False Claims Act litigation and prosecuted a related federal action involving allegations that an IT systems provider delivered inadequate solutions for operation of a state-run healthcare exchange
  • Avoided both criminal charges and Department of Justice intervention in a qui tam False Claims Act lawsuit against a construction contractor for allegedly submitting inflated invoices to the government
  • Represented a services contractor who was suspended temporarily and investigated criminally for suspected violation of the Procurement Integrity Act
  • Avoided False Claims Act action by the government against a construction contractor wrongfully alleged to have underpaid employees in violation of the Davis-Bacon Act
  • Represented a food service provider in a state False Claims Act investigation by the District of Columbia attorney general
  • Conducts internal investigations on behalf of contractors and grantees involving allegations of false claims, accounting irregularities, theft, data misappropriation, misuse of source selection information, and conflicts of interest, and advises clients on making voluntary self-disclosures to government agencies

Misconduct by Public Officials

  • Obtained a below-guidelines sentence in the federal prosecution of a city council member accused of misappropriating government funds
  • Secured a probationary sentence in federal court for a government employee accused of receiving a kickback
  • Cleared a political appointee investigated by an agency inspector general for purportedly violating conflict-of-interest laws
  • Led an investigation of company employees who, as former government officials, were alleged by the agency inspector general to have violated conflict-of-interest laws

Civil Rights

  • Serves as court-appointed deputy monitor of the Baltimore Police Department under its consent decree with the Department of Justice
  • Led an investigation of the fatal use of force by government-deputized special police officers at a large hospital, headed the subsequent comprehensive review of the hospital police force, and advised hospital management on implementing reforms
  • Led an investigation of the use of excessive force by a special police officer at a university hospital
  • Led an investigation of the suicide of a teenage student at a boarding school
  • Represents a local housing authority in a suit alleging that the housing authority’s policies and practices favor younger, wealthier residents
  • Negotiated a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice on behalf of a community bank accused of lending discrimination

Antitrust and Unlawful Trade Practices

  • Tried O’Bannon v. NCAA, as a member of the plaintiffs' team, winning a historic judgment against the National Collegiate Athletic Association for violating the Sherman Act by conspiring with member schools to bar college football and basketball players from receiving compensation for use of their names, images, and likenesses in TV broadcasts, rebroadcasts, and video games
  • Represents a generic pharmaceuticals manufacturer in a Department of Justice price-fixing investigation
  • Avoided federal charges for the founder of a payment processing company suspected of illegally processing online gaming payments
  • Represented an online marketer facing allegations of deceptive trade practices by a coalition of 40 state attorneys general

Commercial and Administrative Agency Litigation

  • Represents a putative medical marijuana dispensary operator in challenging the process the District of Columbia Department of Health uses for awarding dispensary licenses
  • Won a favorable judgment, after a federal court trial, for former partners in a law firm that improperly reduced their liquidating capital account balances by more than $1 million
  • Represented a real estate developer alleged to have collaborated with a city council member to deprive a competitor of a contract to develop government-owned land
  • Won dismissal with prejudice of a nuisance lawsuit against a solid waste processing facility in the District of Columbia and helped secure a comprehensive settlement agreement that allowed the facility to remain in operation

Pro Bono

  • Freed a District of Columbia man after 24 years in prison under a new DC law that permits re-sentencing of individuals convicted of crimes that occurred when they were minors, and continues to represent the same man on a claim of actual innocence
  • Secured the release of a DC man wrongfully imprisoned for 19 years for a murder he did not commit
  • Obtained dismissal of all charges after winning reversal on appeal of a murder conviction of a DC man wrongfully imprisoned for over 21 years
  • Secured pretrial dismissal of felony rioting charges against an Inauguration Day protestor
  • Represents a class of prisoners challenging the use of permanent solitary confinement on Florida’s death row
  • Favorably settled a Fair Housing Act challenge to a racially discriminatory zoning ordinance that threatened to shut down apartment complexes that housed a substantial number of a city’s minority residents
  • Obtained a precedent-setting ruling from the Maryland Court of Appeals in a lawsuit seeking police records regarding an investigation of racial profiling complaints under the Maryland Public Information Act
  • Represents a federal death row prisoner as court-appointed counsel in post-conviction proceedings in the District of Maryland
  • Obtained a substantial settlement in federal court for an individual who was racially profiled by state troopers
  • Represents a group of church congregants alleging financial improprieties by church leaders who claim First Amendment protection for their conduct




  • J.D. cum laude Harvard Law School 1993
  • A.B. summa cum laude Dartmouth College 1989
  • Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Chair, Board of Directors, Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project
  • Member, Advisory Council, Tzedek DC
  • Member, Committee on Litigation and Legal Priorities, ACLU of Maryland
  • Member, Advisory Committee, DC Bar Foundation
  • Instructor, National Institute for Trial Advocacy
  • Member, District of Columbia Bar, Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section
  • Member, American Bar Association, Criminal Justice and Individual Rights and Responsibilities Sections
  • Member, Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court


  • Selected for inclusion in Washington DC Super Lawyers, 2013 – 2020
  • Named Litigator of the Week, AmLaw Litigation Daily, 2017
  • Awarded Outstanding Antitrust Litigation Achievement in Private Law Practice, American Antitrust Institute, 2015
  • Named Defender of Innocence, Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, 2009



  • Mentor, Everybody Wins DC
  • Member, Board of Directors, Anne Frank House