Debra A. Clifford

Debra A. Clifford

Director, Commercial & Criminal Litigation
Co-Director of Professional Development, Retention, and Associate Recruitment

Ms. Clifford is an experienced litigator who focuses her practice on general complex commercial litigation and, in particular, education matters. As a mother of children with special needs, Ms. Clifford understands the many challenges and struggles parents encounter when advocating for their children. Because of her own personal experiences, she has a passion and commitment to help others benefit from the knowledge she has gained as both an attorney and a parent and serves as a leader of the firm’s Child Advocacy Team.

Ms. Clifford’s commercial litigation practice encompasses a broad range of litigation matters for public and private companies and individuals. Throughout her career, she has represented clients in trial and appellate work in state and federal courts of New York and New Jersey and has handled a number of arbitrations and mediations. Ms. Clifford has effectively managed large teams of attorneys to efficiently and effectively defend the firm’s clients.

Areas of Focus

Child Advocacy

Ms. Clifford’s work on behalf of children and their families includes counseling and representation on issues arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), Section 504, and other state statutes. Ms. Clifford participates in Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings, represents clients in settlement negotiations with school districts, due process hearings and litigation.

Commercial Litigation

Ms. Clifford participates in all aspects of litigation, including initial case assessment; drafting of initial pleadings; fact and expert depositions; briefing of dispositive motions; negotiation of settlements; and trial and appellate work. Her commercial litigation experience includes ERISA, civil RICO, fraud, unfair competition, director and officer liability, breach of fiduciary duties, contract disputes, insurance defense, first and third-party insurance coverage, securities fraud, aviation claims, and shareholder disputes. Ms. Clifford has successfully mediated matters on behalf of clients, employing both formal and informal mediation processes.

Co-Director of Professional Development, Retention, and Associate Recruitment

Ms. Clifford directs the firm’s recruiting and professional development initiatives, which include the elimination of the firm’s summer associate program in lieu of recruiting lawyers who had completed judicial clerkships. By recruiting these attorneys who hold the “keys to the courthouse,” the firm is able to deliver immeasurable benefits and tremendous value to its clients. Under this policy, the firm has recruited more than 60 former judicial clerks, and today the firm boasts more than 100 former judicial clerks among its ranks. These lawyers provide clients with valuable, firsthand insight into the practices and preferences of specific judges, in addition to a well-developed knowledge of courthouse procedures.

Credentials

Education

Fordham University School of Law (J.D.)

  • Editor-in-Chief, Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal

College of the Holy Cross (B.A.)

Professional Admissions

State of New Jersey

State of New York

State of Idaho

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

United States District Court for the Northern District of New York

United States District Court for the District of Idaho

Professional Activities

American Bar Association

New Jersey State Bar Association
Privacy Law Committee

Essex County Bar Association

New York State Bar Association

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc.

New Jersey Special Education Practitioners (NJSEP)

Civic/Charitable Activities

March of Dimes, Ambassador Family

Legal Employment

Legal intern to the Honorable Justice Richard Andrias in the New York Supreme Court