Brian L. Schwalb

Brian Schwalb, Venable's Vice Chairman, is a trial lawyer and civil litigator who helps clients address a broad range of challenging issues that confront businesses, organizations and their stakeholders.

Mr. Schwalb represents clients across a broad spectrum of issues, ranging from real estate, commercial and contract litigation, to corporate and partnership ownership, governance and management disputes, business tort cases, partnership and limited liability company disputes, employment and compensation disputes, estate and trust contests, and tax controversies.

Mr. Schwalb's trial work and advocacy skills have been recognized by prestigious organizations and publications. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, whose membership is limited to the top one percent of trial lawyers in each U.S. jurisdiction. Since 2010, Mr. Schwalb has been listed in Best Lawyers in Washington, DC for Commercial Litigation and Bet The Company Litigation, and he was also selected to appear in District of Columbia Super Lawyers. Mr. Schwalb has received Martindale Hubbell’s AV Preeminent rating.

While he has been recognized as one of the nation's top trial lawyers, Mr. Schwalb's practice extends far beyond the courtroom, with a focus on providing advice that allows his clients to avoid, respond to and/or resolve issues sensibly and efficiently. In all cases, he applies sound business judgment and a collaborative approach to develop practical and cost-effective solutions to his clients' most difficult challenges.

After a two-year judicial clerkship with the late Hon. John R. Hargrove, Sr. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Mr. Schwalb served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division, prosecuting and defending civil tax matters on behalf of the United States in courts throughout the Southeast.

Representative Clients
Mr. Schwalb’s clients include businesses (corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies) and individual entrepreneurs in many commercial areas including real estate, energy, importing, wholesaling and retailing, as well as nonprofits and institutions of higher and graduate learning.

Significant Matters
Mr. Schwalb has successfully tried cases (both jury and bench trials) and has been involved in complex litigation matters in state and federal trial and appellate courts, as well as in arbitration and mediation, throughout the country, with extensive experience in the state and federal courts of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

Mr. Schwalb’s recent trials include:

Real Estate Litigation

Successful representation of real estate owner and developer in dispute over ownership and development rights for a valuable parcel of real estate located in down town Bethesda, Maryland. Two investors brought an action against developer alleging breach of fiduciary duty and contract, seeking to dissolve the LLC, seeking several million dollars in damages, and seeking to deprive developer of its right of first refusal. After a five day arbitration trial, an Arbitral Award was entered in favor of owner/developer on all claims, including upholding developer’s exercise of its right of first refusal and acquisition of the Bethesda property despite the Claimants’ contentions that developer had purchased the property for $3 million less than fair market value.
Successful representation of a real estate development company in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland in a case involving breaches of ground leases entitling developer to build, lease and sell luxury apartment buildings in Bethesda, Maryland, resulting in a $36.4 million jury verdict in favor of developer (reported to be the largest single verdict in the State of Maryland in 2010), as well as court orders requiring defendants to pay Mr. Schwalb’s client’s legal fees, in excess of $5.4 million, as prevailing party.
Successful representation of general partners in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland in a case involving limited partner’s claims of breach of fiduciary duty and improper squeeze-out, resulting in jury verdict rejecting limited partner’s claim to damages and attempt to dissolve limited partnership, and a jury verdict finding that limited partner had breached its agreement and was liable to general partners for more than $3.1 million in legal fees and costs.

Tax Controversy Litigation

Successful representation in U.S. Tax Court of taxpayer accused by IRS of having entered into an “excess benefit” transaction with non-profit tax exempt organization. After developing a thorough factual record and expert testimony demonstrating that the transaction between the taxpayer and the tax exempt organization provided a substantial benefit to the non-profit entity and thus, did not constitute an “excess benefit” transaction, the IRS conceded the case, acknowledging that taxpayer owed no additional tax.

Trust and Estate Litigation

Successful representation in the Circuit Court for Dade County, Florida of Personal Representative of an estate valued in excess of $35 million against alleged beneficiary’s attempt to set aside the decedent’s testamentary documents on grounds of undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity.

General Litigation

Successful representation in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Virginia of homeowner in a nuisance and negligence suit brought by adjacent neighbor suing for more than $20 million in actual and punitive damages for alleged property damage caused by flooding, resulting in jury verdict for defendant landowner and rejection of all adjacent neighbor’s claims.
Successful representation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia of a local university and its law school against sexual harassment, Title VII retaliation and breach of contract claims filed by a former visiting professor, resulting in jury verdict for defendant university on all claims.
Successful representation in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia of a local university and its medical school against claims of national origin discrimination, Title VII retaliation and breach of contract filed by medical resident dismissed from residency program, resulting in jury verdict for defendant university on all claims.

Mr. Schwalb is active in the District of Columbia Bar Association, having served on the Litigation Section's and Courts, Lawyers and Administration of Justice Section's Steering Committees. He is a member of the American Bar Association and its Litigation Section. Mr. Schwalb is on the Board of Directors for the Council for Court Excellence, and a member of the Lawyer’s Club of Washington. He is a member of the Board of Directors and serves on the Executive Committee of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, DC. Mr. Schwalb also is an instructor and Program Director for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, an instructor in the ABA’s Litigation Institute for Trial Training and the Maryland Judicial Institute. Mr. Schwalb was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. He, his wife and three daughters live in DC.

Good to know

Areas of Practice 1) Litigation, 2) Commercial Litigation, 3) Tax Controversies and Litigation and 4) Real Estate
Law School Harvard Law School (J.D., 1992)
Education Duke University (A.B.,1989)
Bar Member / Association District of Columbia Bar Association, Maryland State Bar Association, Virginia State Bar Association
Most recent firm Venable LLP
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