Bloomberg Law
July 27, 2023, 9:00 AM

They’ve Got Next: The 40 Under 40 - Phara Guberman of Cadwalader

Lisa Helem
Lisa Helem
Executive Editor
MP McQueen

Please describe two of your most substantial, recent wins in practice.

In January 2022, as co-lead counsel, I secured a precedent-setting victory in the Second Circuit in US v. Connolly, where all counts of conviction were overturned against our client, Matthew Connolly, and judgments of acquittal directed.

He was the first American charged in connection with the US DOJ’s wide-ranging LIBOR investigation. Mr. Connolly’s appellate win represents the only LIBOR-related criminal case in the US or UK to be overturned on sufficiency of the evidence and has significant impact on future wire fraud prosecutions.

The year prior, as co-lead counsel, I obtained a landmark win in the Third Circuit in US v. Gibson, where all counts of conviction against our client David Gibson, the former CFO of Wilmington Trust Corporation, were overturned in a matter of first impression, and the two remanded counts dismissed.

The Third Circuit held that in a false statement case, the government was required to prove that a statement was false under each objectively reasonable interpretation and failed to do so. I recently conducted an internal investigation for children’s charity, which led to an indictment in October 2022 in the S.D.N.Y.

What is the most important lesson you learned as a first-year attorney and how does it inform your practice today?

As a first-year associate, my goal was to take as much ownership as possible over issues in any matter that I was assigned to. I never wanted to help with a research project in isolation; I always wanted to understand the big picture of a case and how I could best contribute.

In many instances, that was simply knowing the facts of the case better than anyone else. It was always about looking for more opportunities to learn and add value.

I asked as many questions about decision-making and strategy as the more senior attorneys would tolerate. I set up Google alerts with client names to make sure I was aware of any media coverage of clients in real-time and could possibly have information to share with my team.

Most importantly, I always asked for more—more work, more responsibility. Simply put, the principles that continue to guide my work and that I always share with law students and mentees are as follows: take ownership of your work, maximize your responsibilities, and be accountable as part of a team.

How do you define success in your practice?

Success is obtaining the best possible result for my clients. Of course, I love obtaining clear-cut wins at trial or on appeal for my clients. But in many cases, success is when an issue stays confidential, so the biggest successes may be those that never see the light of day.

Ultimately, success is where my client understands that I was an unrelenting advocate who understood their needs, mastered the issues, and worked tirelessly (and as efficiently as possible) to achieve their goal.

What are you most proud of as a lawyer?

I have worked with PENCIL, Inc., an organization that partners businesses and New York City public schools, for more than a decade. Through that organization, I began coaching a moot court team and presenting legal programming at the John Jay School for Law in Brooklyn. I first met one student, D.S., more than eight years ago when she was a high school freshman.

She immediately impressed me with her drive and determination, making every effort to meet with me and get the most out of our time together, even when that meant her commuting with a broken leg. I had the honor of being her unofficial mentor, coaching her in a city-wide moot court competition and an international one at The Hague.

We spent many evenings working on her homework over pizza, and then eventually on her college applications. Though D.S. was experiencing homelessness, it never stopped her from pursuing her dreams.

D.S. was ultimately awarded a full tuition scholarship to Northeastern, and I vividly remember the day that my husband and I picked her up from a family shelter in New York, drove her to Boston, and moved her into her dorm to start her new life. D.S. is now pursuing a master’s degree at Duke.

Who is your greatest mentor in the law and what have they taught you?

I have been privileged to work with my mentor, Ken Breen, every day since fall 2006. Ken is a true trial lawyer, having tried 48 cases to verdict and argued 12 appeals as a federal prosecutor and defense attorney. He is a fantastic advocate —so unbelievably strategic, effective, and dedicated.

Ken has taught me so much about how to think about cases, consider issues, and most importantly, how to win. Every word matters. I have been so inspired watching Ken in practice and then building my own skills to complement his.

Tell us your two favorite songs on your summer music playlist.

As background, I have not updated my summer music playlist in more than two decades. There is also, of course, a question as to whether a summer music playlist should only be bangers (mine is not). Two favorites are listening to “The Weight” by The Band and “Tangerine” by Led Zeppelin on rainy summer days.

Phara Guberman of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, at Miami Grand Prix
Phara Guberman and Jonathan Hurtarte/Bloomberg Law

Phara Guberman has successfully handled regulatory enforcement and white-collar criminal matters, including those involving allegations of corporate and accounting fraud, securities fraud and money laundering, according to her firm. She represents clients in court and before the SEC, DOJ, Federal Reserve, and before state attorneys general and regulators. For a decade, she has mentored public high school students through a Mentor Moot Court program. Guberman is part of the Women in White Collar Defense Association and Ellevate Network Executive Council for professional women, among other groups.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lisa Helem at; MP McQueen at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lisa Helem at; MP McQueen at

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