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Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Feldman Launches Aurelian Law, Focused on Crisis Response and High-Stakes Litigation

Aurelian Law PLLC announces the launch of an independent law firm focused on crisis response, government investigations, and high-stakes litigation.

Aurelian Law PLLC is led by founding partner Brian M. Feldman, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York and nationally recognized litigator and Investigations thought leader, who most recently led the Government & Internal Investigations practice at Harter Secrest & Emery, LLP, where he was a partner.  Joining Feldman are co-founding partner Laura K. Schwalbe, a lawyer trained at Cadwalader, Wickersham, & Taft LLP and WilmerHale and former counsel at Harter Secrest & Emery; Sheila Baynes, counsel, a former U.S. Department of Justice Trial Attorney who handled appeals at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; and paralegal Kaleigh E. Wood, a Dartmouth College graduate with six years of investigations and litigation experience. Aurelian opens its doors with dozens of matters already pending, including significant government investigations, internal investigations, and trial and appellate litigation.

“Starting an independent firm focused on investigations and high-stakes litigation is an exciting venture that opens doors for us,” Feldman said. “We have tremendous respect for Harter Secrest & Emery and deep affection for our former colleagues there. Heading in new directions creates opportunities for future success for both of our firms.”

“We wish Brian and the team at Aurelian Law success in their new endeavor,” said Craig S. Wittlin, Managing Partner, Harter Secrest & Emery, LLP. “They are all very talented lawyers, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them and toward future collaborations that serve the best interests of our clients.”

Headquartered in Rochester, New York, Aurelian competes with New York City firms. Its lawyers regularly appear before federal and state regulators and courts, alongside and across the table from New York City’s leading white-collar defense and litigation firms. For the past three years, Aurelian partner Brian M. Feldman has been the sole lawyer outside of New York City ranked by Chambers USA in the New York White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations category. With its base in Western New York, Aurelian offers clients superb value and grounded perspective.

The firm’s name is derived from the Roman emperor Aurelian, who hailed from the provinces, not from Rome, but who saved Rome and its Empire from collapse during the Crisis of the Third Century. He was one of history’s greatest generals and crisis managers.

“Organizations turn to us during their darkest days and for their most difficult problems,” said founding partner Brian M. Feldman. “Our experience is deep and broad. We conduct independent investigations and run management-directed internal investigations; we represent targets in white-collar investigations and advocate for victims; we defend clients in high-stakes litigation and craft and pursue sophisticated claims on behalf of plaintiffs; and we try cases and argue appeals. The diversity of our practice is a key strength of our practice.”

“The work we do every day is difficult but fascinating,” said co-founding partner Laura K. Schwalbe, “and our entire team shares a passion for solving our clients’ problems. Before spending seven years working with Brian, I worked on investigations and disputes at major New York and DC law firms. So, I can confidently and proudly say that the work we do is second to none. We are proud and extremely grateful that our clients—which include respected private and public corporations, hospitals and healthcare entities, nonprofit foundations and organizations, and municipalities—are looking to Aurelian for help.”

Attorney Laura Schwalbe

Sheila Baynes, counsel at Aurelian, stated, “I am delighted to have found such a sophisticated practice in my hometown in Western New York.” Baynes graduated from Harvard College and then from New York University School of Law on the prestigious Root-Tilden-Kern full-tuition scholarship. At NYU Law, she worked for D.C. Circuit Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, former NYU Law Dean and current OIRA Administrator Richard Revesz, former White House Counselor Jody Freeman, and former U.S. Sentencing Commissioner Rachel Barkow. After law school, she earned two coveted positions—first, clerking at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, and then clerking for the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable Sidney R. Thomas. From there, Baynes spent four years in the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program as a trial attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division, where she received the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Excellence. Afterwards, she spent nearly four years at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP in Washington, D.C., handling high-stakes appeals before U.S. Courts of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Baynes explained, “I joined this team because we do important work at the highest levels by providing strategic advice and guiding organizations through investigations and litigation.”

Attorney Sheila Baynes

Leading lawyers in New York City and Western New York voiced their support for the Aurelian team.

Matthew L. Schwartz, the Chairman-Elect and Managing Partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, a firm internationally recognized for litigation and crisis management, expressed his enthusiasm for Aurelian’s launch: “Brian Feldman and I started together as Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of New York almost twenty years ago,” Schwartz wrote, “and we’ve had many opportunities to work together over the years, both in government and in private practice. In that time, I watched Brian build an impressive and sophisticated white collar and litigation practice entirely from scratch in Western New York.” Schwartz added, “I appreciate that he brings attention, intelligence, creativity, and business sense to every matter. I have no doubt that he will continue and grow his successful practice in his new venture. I look forward to continuing to work with Brian, particularly for matters touching on Western New York, but more broadly as well.”

Edward C. Cosgrove, the former District Attorney for Erie County, a former FBI Special Agent, and the founder of the Cosgrove Law Firm in Buffalo, New York, likewise praised the Aurelian team: “I have seen Aurelian partners Brian M. Feldman and Laura K. Schwalbe in action. They excel at everything an independent investigation requires—unqualified independence, remarkable detective work, superb legal analysis, and excellent judgment. Organizations in crisis will be in good hands with Aurelian Law.”

Aurelian’s website is