Howard I. Elman

helman@mselaw.com | vCard

Howard has won multi-million dollar trials, appeals, and arbitrations throughout the country.  He has defended some of the nation’s largest law firms against malpractice, defamation, and other professional-liability claims, and has represented attorneys in disciplinary proceedings.  Howard also has litigated partnership disputes, intra-family disputes, employment claims, contract claims, and other business cases in a wide range of industries.

Howard is recognized as a skilled negotiator and is a certified mediator and member of the New York Supreme Court Commercial Division’s panel of mediators.  In the courtroom, Howard is equally at home cross-examining a recalcitrant witness and arguing the finer points of doctrine to an appellate panel.

In addition to litigating, Howard is frequently called upon to provide corporate counseling to his business clients, and has structured many complex transactions.

Howard formed MSE after spending 14 years at the prominent New York firm Wachtel & Masyr, LLP (where he had been a partner for the last four).  He earned his J.D. in 1992 from Cornell Law School and a B.A. in Politics, cum laude, in 1989 from Brandeis University.

Howard’s notable successes include:

  • When a senior real-estate partner of an AmLaw 100 firm was sued for alleged defamation at a closing, Howard successfully moved in the Commercial Division, New York County, for summary judgment dismissing all claims.  Howard argued that the partner’s alleged statements either had not been made at all, or were statements of opinion, and therefore were constitutionally protected.  The court agreed.
  • After asset-management professionals left Deutsche Bank for another firm, Deutsche Bank first sued its former employees in Supreme Court, New York County, and then sought to enforce its restrictive covenants through FINRA arbitration.  Over four days of hearings, Howard convinced the panel to relieve his clients from any continuing obligation under their restrictive covenants.
  • In proceedings that earned him the accolade “Legal Lion” from Law360, Howard convinced the Commercial Division, New York County, to dismiss a $10 million legal-malpractice suit against a prominent New York litigation firm.  The Court granted the firm’s motion to dismiss after Howard demonstrated the insufficiency of the complaint, during oral argument lasting more than an hour.
  • In a case of first impression, Howard convinced Supreme Court, New York County that the continuous-representation doctrine does not extend from the representation of a decedent in the drafting of a will to the representation of the estate in its administration.  As a result, the Court dismissed a will-drafting malpractice claim asserted against Howard’s law-firm client on statute-of-limitations grounds.   This ground-breaking decision was reported on the front page of the New York Law Journal.
  • In a case brought against an AmLaw 100 law firm alleging aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty, Howard obtained the complete dismissal of all claims, totaling over $9 million, against his client.  That dismissal was affirmed on appeal.
  • Howard represented the co-defendants in a matter brought by Tommy Hilfiger. In that action, Tommy Hilfiger sought a $5 million profit participation in connection with the sale of a Manhattan office building.  Howard obtained the complete dismissal of all claims against his clients.
  • Howard represented a partner in a wholesale diamond business in an arbitration against his brother.  In the arbitration, Howard’s client alleged that his brother breached his fiduciary duty and converted corporate assets by forming a new entity through which he sold corporate assets to the company’s clients.  After a twelve-day hearing, the arbitrator awarded Howard’s client $3.2 million, which Howard succeeded in fully collecting.
  • In a FINRA arbitration on behalf of an investment banker against his former employer, Howard obtained an award on behalf of his client, fully compensating his client for the bank’s failure to notify him of the delivery of stock upon his termination.
  • Howard represented one of three warring family groups who together owned a 100+ unit Park Avenue apartment building.  Howard spearheaded the arduous, complicated, and contentious—but ultimately successful—negotiations among the groups and their battery of lawyers that resulted in a family agreement to sell the building for a reported $250 million.
  • Howard was instrumental in his client’s acquisition of a master license from a well-known menswear designer in a complex transaction resulting in his client’s acquisition of equity in a holding company.
  • As a young associate, Mr. Elman obtained a judgment after trial holding the defendant liable for breach of fiduciary duty in an Orlando hotel project. The Court also sanctioned the defendant for committing perjury as the direct result of Mr. Elman’s creative cross-examination. The decision was affirmed on appeal. (Alan Dershowitz and a senior litigation partner of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett represented the adverse party on appeal).
  • After a long trial, Howard obtained judgment on behalf of his clients rescinding an attorney-fee agreement that would have resulted in payment of several million dollars over the course of many years to that attorney. Howard succeeded in convincing the court that the agreement was the product of duress, coercion, and overreaching. That judgment was affirmed on appeal.
  • Howard represented one of three warring family groups who together owned a 100+ unit Park Avenue apartment building. Howard spearheaded the arduous, complicated, and contentious—but ultimately successful—negotiations among the groups and their battery of lawyers that resulted in a family agreement to sell the building for a reported $250 million.
  • Howard was instrumental in his client’s acquisition of a master license from a well-known menswear designer in a complex transaction resulting in his client’s acquisition of equity in a holding company.
  • Howard spearheaded a complex series of transactions for a well-known French fashion designer resulting in her participation as an equity owner in a new venture with a high-profile clothing company.  The transaction was widely reported in the fashion press.