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Peter Sherwood

Senior Counsel

212-922-9250 ext 282

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Hon. O. Peter Sherwood (Ret.) joined the firm as senior counsel following his recent retirement as the senior justice in the Commercial Division, New York County of the New York Supreme Court where he served for over a decade. The Commercial Division is the leading court in the world where large complex commercial cases are heard.

Justice Sherwood has presided over thousands of such cases, including cases involving the Empire State Building initial public offering, real estate mortgage backed securities actions, major real estate litigations, banking disputes, insurance controversies, restrictive covenant and non-compete cases; litigations concerning ownership or control of multi-billion dollar businesses, corporate governance fights, state security laws, alleged violations of net neutrality principles and much more.

Peter has served in many leadership capacities, including as the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York where he was the city’s chief legal officer overseeing a staff of 700 lawyers and advisor to the mayor, the city council and the vast majority of city agencies. He also served as Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund where he litigated precedent settings civil rights cases, primarily in the federal courts and as the Solicitor General of the State of New York litigating and overseeing appellate litigation on behalf of the State, State institutions and the People of New York. He has appeared many times in state and federal courts, including the New York State Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.

Prior to his judicial career, Peter was a partner at a large national law firm where he litigated large complex matters, advised clients on wide-ranging issues and served as an arbitrator and private mediator of significant disputes.

He has served on a number of important public commissions, councils and institutes and as a director of several public, private and not-for-profit entities. His service included membership on the New York City Procurement Policy Board, the New York State Ethics Commission and the permanent Advisory Council on the Commercial Division.

He has taught at the New York University School of Law and the CUNY School of Law in the areas of evidence, ethics, fair employment practices and civil rights. He is also a Fellow of Advance Science and Technology Adjudication Resource (ASTAR). ASTAR fellows serve as a resource to judges.

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ADMISSIONS

  • New York (1972)
  • S. Supreme Court (1975)
  • S. District Court, Southern District of New York (1974)
  • S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (1974)
  • S. District Court, Northern District of New York (2004)
  • S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit (1974)
  • S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit (1974)
  • S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit (1974)
  • S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit (1979)
  • S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit (1975)
  • S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit (1981)

NOTABLE MATTERS

In United States Supreme Court

  • In connection with successful defense of university regulation of students doing business in dorm rooms, against First-Amendment challenge, in a 6-3 decision the Court established new standard governing business speech.
  • By a 5-4 margin, successfully defended challenge to a race-conscious court order against a labor union. In a major precedent setting decision, the Court held that neither the 14th Amendment nor Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars courts from imposition of such remedies in appropriate cases.

In United States Circuit Courts

  • Obtained reversal of jury verdict finding gender bias where university declined to retain professor past mandatory retirement age.
  • Successfully defended race-conscious measures implemented by the City of Detroit to remedy prior employment discrimination and address racial tensions between police and city residents.
  • Negotiated class action settlement of hiring and promotion case on behalf of black New Orleans police officers and defended it against challenge.
  • Negotiated class action settlement of involving civil service promotion exam to New York State Corrections Lieutenant and successfully defended race-conscious remedial order against intervenor challenge.
  • As a part of a program designed to implement the then recently enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and provide black factory workers access to better paying jobs, successfully prosecuted several class actions challenging seniority systems that locked in pre-Act job assignment policies thereby perpetuating the effects of prior racial segregation.
  • Successfully litigated class action to require construction labor union to admit racial minorities into its apprenticeship program.
  • Successfully litigated class action to require a major newspaper to open delivery driver jobs to minority workers.

In New York Court of Appeals

  • Successfully defended university from tort liability arising out of admission of parolee who then murdered co-ed. Court held university had no duty to restrict parolee’s activities or to warn other students for their protection.
  • Successfully defended use of zone scoring in civil service promotion test.