Eckert Seamans Attorneys and Practices Ranked by Chambers USA 2019

April 25, 2019

Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC has again been named among the nation’s leading law firms, earning top rankings in multiple practice areas and markets in the 2019 edition of Chambers USA.

Notably, the firm’s Aviation Group was ranked nationally in Transportation: Aviation: Regulatory and the Hospitality Group was ranked nationally in Leisure & Hospitality.

In Pennsylvania, Chambers USA ranked the firm’s Bankruptcy/Restructuring, Construction, and General Commercial Litigation groups among the state’s top practices.

Eleven Eckert Seamans attorneys were selected by their clients and peers for inclusion among America’s Leading Business Lawyers by Chambers USA. Attorneys with the firm’s Aviation and Hospitality practices earned national rankings, while lawyers in the firm’s Public Finance, Bankruptcy/Restructuring, Construction, and White Collar Defense and Internal Investigations practices earned high honors in Pennsylvania.

Full rankings and editorial commentary are available on the Chambers and Partners website. The publication’s rankings are based upon the recommendations of more than 10,000 clients and lawyers throughout the United States. Chambers USA researchers conduct thousands of interviews to obtain opinions about the lawyers and law firms the interviewees have dealt with over the past year. The leading law firms and attorneys are then compiled and ranked based on the comments in the interviews.


According to Chambers USA, Eckert Seamans’ Aviation Group is “noted for representing both domestic and foreign airlines, as well as freight forwarders, security companies and travel agents. Often handles matters involving codeshare agreements, antitrust immunity and passenger rights as well as other regulatory proceedings before US government bodies.” The ranking also noted that the group “successfully advocated before the DOT on behalf of two significant international airlines to secure a novel public charter codeshare arrangement.”

According to Chambers USA, Eckert Seamans’ Hospitality Group “demonstrates broad strengths in transactional work, management agreements and financing matters for hotel owners, investors, developers and lenders. Calls on its cross-border expertise to assists clients operating across Europe, Asia and South America. Experience also extends to employment-related disputes and labor concerns.” A client quoted by Chambers USA said, “They are coordinated and efficient, and work as an aligned team. All the lawyers are diligent and super responsive.” Sources also said, “They are extremely well versed in our industry,” adding: “They are highly respected and responsive to our needs.”


Cecelia L. Fanelli (White Plains), Notable Practitioner – According to Chambers USA, “Cecelia Fanelli comes highly recommended as a ‘subject matter expert when dealing with the ins and outs of hotel management agreements.’ She is recognized for her expert litigation practice, which includes acting for international clients on a range of cross-border disputes.”

Timothy Q. Hudak (Pittsburgh), Notable Practitioner – According to Chambers USA, “Tim Hudak regularly assists investors, operators and owners with hotel management and franchise agreements, acquisitions, development and sales. He brings ‘tremendous experience in the industry’ to his expert representation of global clients.”

Evelyn D. Sahr (Washington, D.C.), Notable Practitioner – Evelyn Sahr “is a “no-nonsense and very practical lawyer who explains things extremely well,” according to a client quoted in Chambers USA. “Particularly active for international carriers, she advises on regulatory proceedings before government bodies, international treaty matters and the establishment of new flight routes.”

Drew M. Derco (Washington, D.C.), Up and Coming – According to Chambers USA, “up-and-coming lawyer Drew Derco is noted for representation of foreign airlines in consumer protection, regulatory enforcement proceedings and antitrust immunity. Sources describe him as a ‘really quite diligent attorney.’”


According to Chambers USA, the team “regularly advises an impressive roster of clients from a variety of sectors, covering Chapter 11 cases, workout litigation and reorganizations. Renowned for its prowess in contentious bankruptcy work including lender liability, preference and fraudulent conveyance actions. Possesses expertise across a variety of industries, in particular the leisure sector, regularly working with hotels and fast food restaurants. Skilled in municipal finance and restructuring issues.”

According to Chambers USA, the “well-respected construction practice” is “esteemed for its strength in construction disputes and also regularly advises on bidding and procurement, government contracts and regulatory compliance issues. Active in both national and international projects in the infrastructure, energy and leisure sectors.”

According to Chambers USA, the team is “distinguished for its representation of clients in commercial litigation before state and federal courts and highly regarded for its strengths in IP and trade secret disputes. Also maintains a fine reputation for its insurance coverage defense and product liability work. One client notes: ‘I couldn’t have a better law firm representing me – I am very happy.’”


Joan N. Stern (Philadelphia), Notable Practitioner – According to Chambers USA, Joan N. Stern “is a veteran authority on public finance matters. An interviewee comments: ‘She’s a very, very talented bond lawyer, one of the most talented and senior. She knows the origins of everything, is singularly focused on the interests of the client, and is technically astute.’”

Gary M. Schildhorn (Philadelphia), Notable Practitioner – According to Chambers USA, “Gary Schildhorn is a bankruptcy litigator handling both Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 filings. He is best known for his representation of financial institutions as creditors.”

Karen Lee “Kitt” Turner (Philadelphia), Notable Practitioner – According to Chambers USA, “Kitt Turner is known as an ‘excellent lawyer,’ offering particular expertise in creditor representation. She also acts for purchasers in Section 363 asset sales.”

Scott D. Cessar (Pittsburgh), Notable Practitioner – According to Chambers USA, “Group chair and ‘excellent lawyer’ Scott Cessar impresses sources for his “smart, dedicated and zealous” representation of clients in litigation, mediation and arbitration. He has considerable experience with both public and private projects.

Christopher R. Opalinski (Pittsburgh), Notable Practitioner – According to Chambers USA, “Christopher Opalinski garners accolades for his litigation skills from peers in the construction community, with one describing him as an ‘excellent, tough opponent and a very good lawyer’ Opalinski routinely represents owners, developers, design professionals, contractors and suppliers.”

Cornelius J. O’Brien (Pittsburgh), Notable Practitioner – According to Chambers USA, Cornelius O’Brien “represents a wide range of owners, contractors, subcontractors and sureties in the full gamut of construction disputes. He also has strong expertise in relation to arbitration.”

David M. Laigaie (Philadelphia), Recognized Practitioner – David Laigaie handles cases involving health care fraud, securities fraud, tax fraud, export violations, pharmaceutical marketing fraud, municipal corruption, defense procurement fraud, and public finance fraud.


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