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About the Firm


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About the Firm


Lawrence H. Schoenbach, the principal attorney in the firm, began his career in 1980 as a public defender in New York City; he opened his own private law practice three years later, focusing on criminal defense in the U.S. federal courts and internationally.

Early familiarity with the requirements of international extradition led him to build relationships with legal experts throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia. Today, The Law Offices of Lawrence H. Schoenbach, PLLC collaborates with an international network of 40 senior attorneys noted for their astute handling of complex, high-profile cases. As the New York partner in the Institute of Tax and Commercial Law, a Zurich-based international consulting group, the firm regularly advises businesses throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Our practices in criminal defense, extradition, and corporate compliance are highly synergistic, each informed by the almost-daily courtroom experience that leads to pragmatic legal advice. We are known for our skillful defense of difficult cases and for our painstaking attention to detail.

Many of the trials in which the firm has participated as defense counsel have involved highly publicized national and international criminal investigations, including:

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  • the “Pizza Connection,” a 22-defendant indictment charging a billion and a half dollar narcotics conspiracy between the Sicilian and American mafia;
  • the Racketeering trial of Paul Castellano/Gambino Crime family;
  • the trial of the “Westies” (alleged to be New York’s Irish mafia);
  • the “Air America” civil forfeiture prosecution of a reputed former agent of the Central Intelligence Agency;
  • the prosecution of “Phyber Optic,” the largest and most comprehensive federal case ever charged against a computer “hacker”;
  • the Securities & Exchange Commission civil and criminal investigation of the “Crazy Eddie” corporation;
  • the attempted assassination conspiracy (in New York) of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (a part of the case involving the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York);
  • the “Golden Venture” trial of Chinese alien smugglers;
  • the political corruption/bribery prosecution in St. Thomas of the former Commissioner of Public Works for the U. S. Virgin Islands;
  • the combined Swiss/American prosecution of the largest securities fraud and money laundering case tried in either Switzerland or the United States; and
  • the criminal indictment in Italy against former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti (as the American attorney for Gaetano Badalamenti, the lead co-defendant who was then residing in the United States)
  • the civil charges brought by Michael Skakel against the person he claimed to have murdered Martha Moxley;
  • the representation of Veronica Atkins, widow of Robert Atkins (the “Atkins Diet”), in multi-jurisdiction civil litigation;
  • the representation of Osama Bin Laden’s brother in the Mass Tort civil litigation brought by the victims of 9/11; and
  • the representation of Jeffrey Prosser as lead trial attorney in the nearly billion dollar bankruptcy litigation involving Innovative Communications Company.
 
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Attorneys


Attorneys


Lawrence H. Schoenbach, a highly experienced trial attorney and litigator, has been practicing law for nearly 35 years in the areas of criminal defense, international extradition, and corporate compliance. He is the New York partner for the Institute for Tax and Commercial Law, a Swiss-based consulting firm that serves clients throughout the world. Mr. Schoenbach began his career in 1980 as a public defender in New York City, having previously worked at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom. He opened his own private law practice three years later. For the past 25 years, he has earned Martindale-Hubbell’s prestigious AV rating, a peer ranking at the highest level of professional excellence and ethics.

Mr. Schoenbach is admitted to the bar in the State of New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as federal courts in the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, the District of Puerto Rico, the United States Courts of Appeal for the First, Second and Third Circuits, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mr. Schoenbach received his law degree from Hofstra University. He also earned a Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the State University of New York at Albany and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Franklin & Marshall College. He has taught trial techniques for more than 25 years at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA) at Hofstra University School of Law and at the Intensive Trial Advocacy Program (ITAP) at Yeshiva University, Cardozo School of Law. He has been a frequent guest commentator on TruTV (formerly CourtTV).

Ellen Bessis, who is affiliated with the firm’s Paris office, is admitted to both the Paris and Guadeloupe Bars. Her practice concentrates on international commercial law, primarily in the areas of corporate law, employment law, intellectual property, telecommunications and TV. Prior to practicing law, she was a journalist for the French National Radio (France Inter) and various French newspapers (Le Monde, Chambre et Senat, and Marie France). She has authored or co-authored a number of books, including, Demain l’Europe (1979), a description of Europe and the ECC; and l’Effet Booster, an exploration of intercultural and human resources in corporations. Bessis is also a contributor to Professor Marc Bosch’s collective treatise devoted to intercultural management. She teaches commercial law, European law, lobbying techniques, and communications in France. She is fluent in French, English, Italian, and Spanish, and has working knowledge of Russian, Portuguese, Arabic and Hebrew.

Jürg Brand is the lead attorney for the Zurich firm of B&P Lawyers. Focusing on complex civil litigation related to taxation and banking , he collaborates with associates throughout the world. He is also responsible for the operation of the firm’s offices in Zug and Bern, Switzerland. Mr. Brand began his career as an attorney for Price Waterhouse, subsequently becoming a certified tax expert. He and Lawrence H. Schoenbach are partners in the Swiss-based Institute for Tax and Commercial Law, a consulting firm with an international clientele.He received his legal training at the prestigious University of Bern, as well as the Institute of International and Comparative Law in London. He is fluent in German, English, Spanish, French and Italian.

Erica Popkin participates in all phases of the firm’s New York practice. Prior to joining the Law Offices of Lawrence H. Schoenbach, PLLC, she was legal counsel and director of community affairs for New York Assemblyman Mark Alan Siegel, former chairperson of the Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education. In that capacity, she was responsible for drafting legislation, advising lobbyists, and devising legislative strategies. Ms. Popkin was also vice president of a privately held, New York-based corporation that served a wide array of U.S. and international clients. She received a B.A. from New York University and a Juris Doctor from the Hofstra University School of Law.

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How We Work


How We Work


The Law Offices of Lawrence H. Schoenbach, PLLC regularly collaborates with a network of experienced, highly competent attorneys throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Our keen knowledge of international law and our ability to assemble “custom teams” of senior counselors for each client mean that you will receive representation of the highest quality. There are no junior associates on your case – no one learning at your expense.

The firm believes that success can only come with meticulous preparation and rigorous research − the foundations upon which we build innovative and successful legal strategies. Our experience suggests that to succeed we must be committed to the exhaustive review of every facet of every case such that all potential witnesses are interviewed by a senior attorney and every document, even in cases involving literally millions of documents, is thoroughly reviewed.

We are aggressive − but always professional − in defense of our clients. Known for our jury communications skills, we are adept at translating large amounts of complex information into everyday language that focuses on the pertinent legal issues.

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Criminal Litigation


Criminal Litigation


The firm's litigation practice focuses on the defense of complex criminal cases, generally involving tax and securities fraud, racketeering, and political corruption. Most of the firm’s work takes place at the federal level and we have handled literally hundreds of cases.

Although the firm's trial work focuses on the U.S. judicial system − having tried in excess of 100 jury trials to verdict − we provide critical support to affiliate attorneys worldwide in cases with cross-border implications.

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Our familiarity with the operational implications of business law enables us to successfully defend clients against charges of securities, tax, bankruptcy and/or labor fraud. The firm's knowledge of securities exchanges around the world and has safeguarded the careers of many financial service professionals. One of our more far-reaching securities cases involved more than 50 witnesses from several countries, providing European attorneys with critical applications of U.S. law and collaborating on the filing of briefs and affidavits in the Swiss court system. At the time, the Swiss case represented the largest securities fraud and money laundering prosecution in either Swiss or U.S. judicial history. A similar matter was adjudicated in Paris and another in Geneva.

Racketeering/Money Laundering

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The firm has represented defendants in scores of RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) cases, often involving major securities and tax investigations. Members of the firm have tried to verdict before a jury more than a dozen RICO cases. In addition, the firm has represented clients in numerous cases involving charges of money laundering in the U.S. and around the world.

Political Corruption

The firm has successfully defended the reputations of public servants against criminal charges.The political corruption/bribery trial of a former commissioner in the U.S. Virgin Islands required knowledge of intricate legal issues involving Federal Emergency Management Administration (“FEMA”) and the application of American federal law in the territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mr. Schoenbach also represented the co-lead defendant of seven-term Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, who was charged in Italy with, and subsequently exonerated of, charges of criminal association and murder.

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Corporate Compliance


Corporate Compliance


Corporate compliance, which seeks to curb investigations and prevent criminal prosecutions by state and federal prosecutors, is a form of risk management that is essential in today’s evolving U.S. regulatory and investigatory environment. Independent advice from trial-tested counsel is invaluable in navigating the myriad regulatory and criminal statutes that affect businesses operating in the U.S.

“Doing Business in America in the New Millennium:  Criminal Law Meets Social Responsibility” by Lawrence Schoenbach, highlights significant changes in government oversight.  Published in World Watch (an American Express newsletter for the international business community), the article describes the increasingly aggressive posture that state and federal governments have begun taking toward business. Situations that had previously been treated as civil and regulatory matters have been replaced by grand jury investigations and criminal prosecutions. Contract disputes with government agencies have resulted in charges of fraud, including mail/wire fraud and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations).

With the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, officers and directors of companies are now subject to criminal liability for what had once been considered normal business decisions. Because their overall business practices have come under the close scrutiny of the criminal divisions of, for example, the SEC and the United States Attorney, the economic survival of a company now depends on how well it prepares to meet this new governmental focus.

Prudent companies will create a corporate compliance program to establish mechanisms that detect and prevent violations of the criminal laws that can jeopardize the entire firm. In addition to creating procedures that will direct well-intentioned staff, it is necessary to isolate the behavior of “renegade” employees so that their malfeasance does not escalate into a corporate crisis.

Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), corporations are prohibited from making payments to government officials anywhere in the world for the purpose of winning business. For multinationals based outside the U.S., where such statutes do not exist, advice by an American lawyer experienced in the intricacies of these regulations can prove invaluable.

The Law Offices of Lawrence H. Schoenbach has drafted, authored, and developed compliance manuals and conducted employee training programs designed to build corporate cultures that recognize and avoid legal threats.  We understand that there is no such thing as a “standard” corporate compliance program. Success requires an understanding of the client’s objectives and processes in order to create guidelines that will enable a company to engage in normal daily activities without fear of infringing the law.

In situations where a criminal investigation is unavoidable, we can call upon decades of experience in both corporate compliance and criminal defense to ensure the survival of client firms. Through its associations with attorneys around the world, the Law Offices of Lawrence H. Schoenbach offers a global solution to a company’s local problem.

Download our Powerpoint Presentation: Seminar – Corporate Compliance Overview

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International Extradition


International Extradition


The Law Offices of Lawrence H. Schoenbach, PLLC has represented clients in more than 25 international extradition cases. In 1985, the firm represented its first international extradition client. Retained in that case to contest extradition from Switzerland to the United States, the firm was successful in getting  RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) and money laundering charges dismissed, thereby defeating the bulk of the extradition request.

Since that time, members of the firm have represented individuals charged under U.S. law but living elsewhere, as well as clients in the U.S. who are alleged to have violated the laws of other nations. We have worked with clients on extradition cases in Hong Kong, Thailand, Pakistan, Nigeria, and throughout Europe. Our years of experience in criminal defense and our large network of international attorney affiliates contribute to a high success rate in this area of the law.

Law firm Principal Lawrence H. Schoenbach was mentored in the field of international extradition by Nobel Peace Prize-nominee Dr. M. Cherif Bassiouni, architect of the World Criminal Court, who also wrote the seminal work on this topic, International Extradition, United States Law & Practice. He and Mr. Schoenbach continue to work together in international extradition cases.