Fran M. Jacobs is a partner in the Firm's Trial Department. She is experienced in litigating all aspects of business disputes, but has also represented clients in some more unusual matters involving issues such as common-law marriage and first amendment rights in the landlord-tenant context.

In addition to serving as lead counsel in dozens of bench and jury trials in both state and federal courts in New York, Ms. Jacobs has also handled international arbitrations. While she can try a case to conclusion, she recognizes that it may be in a client's interest to resolve a dispute prior to trial. Herself a mediator for the Alternate Dispute Resolution Program of the Commercial Division of the Supreme Court, Ms. Jacobs has not only served as a neutral, but has used the same skills, judgment, and creativity in negotiating settlements that her clients have found favorable. She has also successfully argued numerous appeals.

Ms. Jacobs received her law degree from the University of Virginia in 1979. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Barnard College where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Prior to law school, she earned an M.A. in English literature from Columbia University. She has served as a member of the New York City Bar's Judiciary, Federal Court and Professional Responsibility Committees.

Areas of Practice

  • Business Litigation
  • Real Estate Litigation
  • Securities Litigation
  • Entertainment Litigation

Representative Matters

  • Defended SEC Enforcement Action. Represented members of Reserve Primary Fund senior management and obtained a federal jury verdict clearing the clients of fraud charges in a case brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission arising after a $62 billion money market fund "broke the buck."
  • Asset Purchase Agreement Litigation. Lead counsel for buyer-claimant in arbitration based on breaches of representations and warranties that buyer did not experience material adverse change prior to acquisition. Client was awarded $18 million in damages.
  • Fraud Litigation. After successfully defeating summary judgment motion, acted as lead counsel for plaintiff corporation in jury trial based on claim that seller of business misrepresented its prospects. Multimillion-dollar settlement reached after four days of trial.
  • Investment Fee Dispute. Defended start-up energy company in claim by investment banking firm seeking $4.4 million fee. Case was resolved through mediation for nominal amount at minimal legal cost.
  • Mortgage Default. Represented owner of commercial office building in declaratory judgment action against mortgagee who claimed event of default had occurred on $100 million mortgage due to death of principal of managing member of limited liability company. Prevailed on summary judgment and settled client's claim against mortgagee for attorneys' fees.
  • Real Property Valuation. Defended commercial lessee in dispute with fee owner over property's rental value. Obtained ruling establishing that only "usable" area should be included.
  • Sale of Payphone Customer Contracts. Represented competitive local exchange carrier in dispute in bankruptcy court about client's acquisition of payphone customer contracts. Following three-day bench trial, bankruptcy court ruled in client's favor against debtor and awarded full damages sought.
  • Copyright Infringement. Defended record company in action by party claiming it owned copyright in song "sampled" by performer on recording sold by client. Obtained summary judgment dismissing case and awarded attorneys' fees.
  • Enforcement of Real Estate Contract. Represented company in action for specific performance to convey property to limited liability company and admit our client as member. Summary judgment rendered in favor of client.
  • Dispute with Tenant Organization. Represented owner of landmark New York City building in dispute with tenant organization which, among other things, attempted to interfere with sale of condominium units. Obtained injunction stopping tenants from handing out leaflets. Also tried a separate case against tenants which was settled before closing arguments on terms favorable to client, resolving dispute which had lasted twenty years.
  • Trademark dispute. Represented licensor in trademark infringement dispute against former licensee who made unauthorized use of trademark after termination of license. Client was awarded treble damages and attorneys' fees.
  • Common-Law Marriage. Successfully defended actor in high-profile case brought by woman who claimed actor had entered into common-law marriage with her while making a movie in South Carolina.
  • Determination of Rail Carrier Status. Represented property owner in administrative proceeding before Surface Transportation Board seeking determination that operator of transfer station was not rail carrier and could be regulated by local authorities. Obtained ruling in favor of client.
  • Hostile Takeover. Member of legal team responsible for client's successful takeover of savings bank.
  • RICO Litigation. Represented national bank and two officers charged with RICO violations and fraud in action by commercial borrower. Obtained dismissal of all claims after trial.

Admissions

  • New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Education

  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1979
  • Columbia University, M.A., 1975
  • Barnard College, A.B., summa cum laude, 1974

Experience

  • Duane Morris LLP
    - Partner, 1996-present
  • Richards & O'Neil, LLP, New York, NY
    - Partner, 1994-1995
  • Shea & Gould, New York, NY,
    - Partner, 1988-1994
    - Associate, 1979-1987

Professional Activities

  • New York City Bar Association
    - Representative on Independent Screening Panel of the New York Democratic Committee, 2017
    - Judiciary Committee, 2013-2016
    - Professional Responsibility Committee, 2011-2012
    - Professional Discipline Committee, 2007-2010
    - Judiciary Committee, 2004-2006
    - Committee on Federal Courts, 2001-2004
    - Committee on Women and the Law, 1998-2001
  • Mediator, New York County Supreme Court, Commercial Division
  • Special Master, New York County Lawyers' Association

Honors and Awards

  • Listed in Avenue magazine's Legal Elite, 2010
  • Listed in New York Metro Super Lawyers, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • Listed in Super Lawyers, Corporate Counsel Edition, 2010, 2011
  • AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell

Selected Publications

  • Featured in "Litigator in the Spotlight" by Jan Wolfe, The American Lawyer, January 2013