Breon S. Peace: Private Practitioner of the Year

Breon Peace is a partner in the New York office of Cleary Gottlieb. His practice focuses on white-collar defense, regulatory enforcement matters, and complex commercial litigation. Breon regularly conducts sensitive internal investigations on behalf of boards of directors and management of leading corporations. He represents domestic and multinational corporations and business executives in regulatory and criminal investigations involving, among other things, allegations of fraud, insider trading, money laundering, and corruption. He also advises boards of directors and audit committees on corporate governance issues and compliance programs. Breon frequently handles matters involving authorities in the United States and abroad, including the Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and various state attorneys general. In addition, he represents corporations, officers, and directors in complex commercial litigation matters.

Breon has been recognized as a leading white collar lawyer by Chambers USA, Chambers Latin America, The Legal 500 U.S., Who’s Who Legal and Super Lawyers. He was also recognized on Savoy Magazine’s 2018 List of Most Influential Black Lawyers. He is an industry leader, frequently speaking and writing on cutting-edge topics in the white-collar defense and regulatory enforcement space.

Breon’s notable experience includes representations of:

  • HSBC in investigations conducted by the DOJ, and authorities in the UK, Asia and Latin America involving allegations of manipulation and collusion in the foreign exchange market and the LIBOR benchmark reference rate;
  • BNP Paribas in federal court litigation related to the Madoff Ponzi scheme in which over $1 billion is being sought;
  • BHP Billiton, Vale and Samarco in conducting an investigation into the cause of the collapse of the Fundão tailings dam, which resulted in the largest environmental disaster in Brazil’s history;
  • Paradigm Capital Management in its resolution of the first-ever charge of whistleblower retaliation by the SEC; and
  • a senior executive in the DOJ criminal investigation concerning the FIFA bribery scandal.

He was also appointed by the Honorable Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of New York to serve as a Special Master in the U.S. and The Vulcan Society, Inc., et al. v. City of New York discrimination case involving the Fire Department of the City of New York.

Breon joined Cleary in 1996. After that, he was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. in the Eastern District of New York. He also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York for several years. In that position, he handled a wide array of federal criminal investigations and prosecutions trying cases to verdict and arguing appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. From August 2002 to July 2003, Breon was an Acting Assistant Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law where he taught the Prosecution Clinic. He returned to Cleary in 2003 and was promoted to partner in 2007.

Breon is currently a member of the Firm’s Global Executive Committee, and previously served as the Hiring Partner for the Firm’s New York office and a coordinator of the U.S. Litigation group. He is deeply involved in many diversity and inclusion initiatives at the Firm.

In addition to representing and counseling corporations and individuals, Breon has a very active pro bono practice. He has represented clients in cases relating to criminal appeals, immigration rights, trafficking and civil rights issues. Breon led the team that won the dismissal of the indictment of Mr. Clifford Jones in 2016 after a lengthy court battle. Mr. Jones was wrongfully convicted of murder, rape, and robbery in 1981 and spent 30 years in prison before his exoneration. This is believed to be the first time the Manhattan DA’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) has exonerated an individual convicted of murder, and the first time that the CIU has exonerated an individual based on DNA evidence.

Breon is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Office of the Appellate Defender, the Lawyers Committee for the Innocence Project and the Criminal Justice Act Advisory Committee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 2019, he was named a member of the Board of Trustees of New York University School of Law.

Breon received a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review, in 1996, and a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993.