Areas of Practice

The attorneys of Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears bring litigation experience, negotiation skills, and seasoned legal judgment to a diverse range of practice areas. We handle civil, criminal, and administrative matters of all sizes and varieties, ranging from small local representations to far-ranging investigations of national or international scope. On every matter we undertake, we assemble an experienced team who can execute the representation professionally, effectively, and efficiently.

 Schertler & Onorato has repeatedly been ranked a first-tier law firm in Washington for white-collar and non-white-collar criminal defense by Best Lawyers and U.S. News & World Report.

For consecutive years, Washingtonian magazine has named Schertler & Onorato attorneys to its “Best Lawyers” list in the areas of white-collar and non-white-collar criminal defense.

White-collar criminal defense representations are a cornerstone of Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears’s practice. We have extensive experience representing individual and corporate clients in investigations conducted domestically and internationally by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, federal Offices of the Inspector General, and other federal, state, and local agencies. Our broad experience in white-collar criminal defense matters includes representations involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, bribery and gratuities, the antitrust laws, health care fraud, government contracts, international trade, and import/export controls. Geographically, we have handled white-collar criminal matters originating throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and the Middle East. We regularly assist corporate and individual clients to navigate complex white-collar criminal investigations wherever they occur and are attuned to our clients’ valid concerns about the repercussions that such investigations can have for their reputations, finances, and emotional well-being. Through our background as prosecutors and regular interface with government attorneys and investigators, we understand how to guide our clients through the challenging and delicate process of a government investigation. We also are capable and experienced litigators who are able and ready to take a white-collar criminal case to trial and litigate it aggressively in the courts if that approach is in our client’s interests.
The attorneys of Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears have undertaken many representations of Boards of Directors or management for publicly and privately held companies and other organizations. In these matters, we have conducted comprehensive and efficient independent internal investigations into a range of compliance issues, including some with potentially significant consequences for the entity involved. We recognize that anti-corruption, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, antitrust, import/export, money laundering, financial fraud, and other corporate enforcement areas are significant priorities for prosecutors and regulators, on a global basis, within multiple agencies of the federal government. As a result, executives, companies, and employees must be aware of and sensitive to compliance issues and potential enforcement risks. In these areas, we aim to provide our clients with an effective blend of business counseling and litigation expertise. On the business side, we work with clients to develop strategies for addressing recurring legal issues proactively and effectively to avoid unnecessary scrutiny down the road.On the litigation side, we are experienced in the procedures and strategies of all stages of a potential enforcement or prosecution matter, including internal investigations, pre-trial discovery, negotiations with government agencies when appropriate, and, ultimately, zealous advocacy in the court system for cases that proceed to trial.
Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears’s non-white-collar criminal defense practice has deep roots in the firm. Through the background of many of our attorneys as criminal prosecutors, we are well-versed in the substance of the criminal laws and the procedures of the various local and federal court systems. We have represented clients in criminal cases of every size and variety – from complex felony prosecutions involving obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and crimes of violence, to misdemeanor cases ranging from driving while intoxicated and other traffic matters to theft, assault, destruction of property, and narcotics possession. Our criminal defense practice also has included representations of many high-profile clients, such as professional athletes, public officials, and entertainers. We have experience interfacing with the press in matters that are of interest to the public, and we have made it our practice to engage with the media when it serves our clients’ interests. In all of our criminal defense representations, we provide our clients with experienced assistance in navigating pretrial procedures and proceedings, advising and strategizing on the range and likelihood of potential outcomes, negotiating resolutions when that is advantageous to the client, and fighting for our clients vigorously in the court system when cases proceed to trial. We also regularly assist criminal defense clients with collateral proceedings that can arise from criminal charges, such as college or university disciplinary hearings and professional licensing board inquiries. Moreover, for criminal cases that result in outcomes that qualify for record expungement, we have in-house experience in the law and procedures and regularly assist clients with this process so that, when possible, they can move forward with their lives unhampered by a past criminal arrest. Our goal in criminal matters is to bring all of our skill and experience to bear in achieving the best possible result, both short-term and long-term, for the client.
Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears attorneys regularly represent federal and District of Columbia employees in matters relating to their government service. Our attorneys shepherd government employees through the administrative investigation or complaint process, respond to proposed discipline, and address matters relating to security clearances. We understand the federal and local administrative process and are equally comfortable negotiating a resolution or litigating an employment matter within the agency or in court. Our partners appear before the Merit Systems Protection Board and Administrative Law Judges in various employment-related matters, and have had past success in securing a client’s government position and winning awards of attorney fees. We also negotiate public sector employment and separation agreements.
Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears regularly represents individuals, corporations, partnerships, and profit and non-profit institutions on both the plaintiff and defendant side of civil disputes. Our civil practice has included litigation involving breach of contract, business torts, accounting malpractice, fee disputes, breach of fiduciary duty, tortious interference with business relations, employment termination disputes, enforcement of noncompetition agreements, unfair business practices, antitrust violations, sexual harassment, real estate disputes, and discrimination claims. We have handled numerous civil trials, ranging from one-day bench trials to lengthy and complex jury trials. We also are well-equipped to represent clients in alternative dispute resolution proceedings, such as mediation and arbitration. We take a creative and aggressive approach to civil litigation with the goal of achieving our clients’ objectives in the most efficient manner possible.
Clients facing tax issues have turned to Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears for representation in resolving tax disputes, defending against tax collection actions, and navigating administrative avenues within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state and local tax agencies. One of our firm partners previously represented the Internal Revenue Service as a trial attorney for the Tax Division of the United States Department of Justice. With this in-house experience, we regularly defend individual and business clients during IRS civil audits and criminal investigations as well as in tax inquiries within the jurisdiction of local and state tax authorities. In this vein, we have litigated numerous civil and criminal tax cases in federal district courts, the United States Tax Court, the United States Court of Federal Claims, and the federal courts of appeals. Our broad experience includes complex tax issues such as taxation of foreign source income, tax accounting issues, and estate tax valuation disputes. We also have deep familiarity and experience with the IRS’s Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program and have advised and assisted numerous clients on its requirements and procedures. This in-house experience in tax matters enables us to address the full scope of our clients’ concerns when tax issues arise, as they often do, in connection with our criminal and civil litigation matters.
Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears has represented individuals and entities in securities enforcement matters and has successfully defended clients at trial in civil and criminal actions brought under the securities laws. We also regularly provide advice to corporate officers, directors, and entities concerning securities compliance issues and have conducted internal corporate investigations to assist corporate clients in these matters. In representations involving active investigations by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other oversight bodies, we have extensive experience in assisting clients to navigate that process, in negotiating satisfactory resolutions, and in litigating the matters in the court system.
Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears represents whistleblowers seeking rewards through federal agency whistleblower programs as well as in qui tam representations under the False Claims Act.  We have represented claimants with information that would qualify them for monetary awards under the whistleblower programs of both the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  We represented the whistleblower who provided information to the IRS qualifying him for a reward of $104 million.  Under the False Claims Act, we have litigated qui tam lawsuits on behalf of our clients, including a lawsuit involving health care entities in which the federal government intervened and ultimately obtained a $24.5 million settlement.  In all of our whistleblower and qui tam representations, we assist our clients in evaluating the merits of potential claims and in pursuing rewards through the most advantageous avenues available to them within agencies and/or the courts.
Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears has deep experience in the local and federal appellate court system and regularly represents clients in direct appeals and other post-trial proceedings. Our attorneys include seasoned appellate practitioners who have briefed and argued criminal and civil cases on both the appellant and appellee sides in a broad range of local and federal appellate courts, including the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the United States Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia and Fourth Circuits, and the United States Supreme Court. Based on our experience in appellate matters, we strategize with our clients on the optimal approach to issue selection, briefing, and oral argument in each case.
The government service background of Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears attorneys makes us qualified to assist clients in matters involving federal and local administrative proceedings and other areas of government oversight. For example, our attorneys have extensive experience with the Excluded Parties List System within the federal General Services Administration and with proceedings, such as debarment, that can disqualify a person or entity from participating in government contracts. We also have represented health care professionals with issues pertaining to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears has substantial experience representing professionals charged with violating the ethical rules of medicine, law, and other professions. We have litigated numerous cases involving attorneys charged with ethical violations by the District of Columbia Bar Counsel, and one of our partners testified as an expert witness on American legal ethics in a British legal proceeding. We also have represented physicians and other health care providers charged with misconduct before the District of Columbia Board of Medicine and other oversight agencies. We have represented academic professionals facing investigation by university ethics boards and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
As a seasoned group of trial attorneys, Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears has been called upon in numerous instances to represent clients in the sports world and we have experience in various legal matters that impact athletes and sports agents throughout the country. We have handled complex arbitration matters before the National Football League Players Association and have represented athletes in difficult situations following an arrest. In addition, we have experience representing athletes in tax disputes arising from off-the-field investments.
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