Carey Dunne
Carey Dunne (NYLJ/Rick Kopstein)

Carey Dunne, a longtime litigator at Davis Polk & Wardwell who was president of the New York City Bar Association, will become general counsel of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in January.

He will replace Benjamin Rosenberg, who is planning to leave the office to return to Dechert as a partner in its white-collar and securities litigation group.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced the changes internally Wednesday.

In a statement, District Attorney Cyrus Vance said, “Carey’s decision to return to public service is deeply and personally gratifying to his colleagues at the District Attorney’s Office, but more importantly, a boon for the people of New York.”

As general counsel, Dunne will be a senior adviser to Vance on a range of legal and procedural issues, including criminal justice policy and reform and advising on operational issues for specific trial and appellate cases.

Dunne, 58, first worked for the Manhattan DA as a law student intern in 1981 and, after graduating law school, returned as an assistant district attorney under Robert Morgenthau. Dunne and Vance have known each other since they were both assistant district attorneys in the mid-1980s.

After leaving the DA’s office in 1987, he joined Davis Polk, where he has practiced for nearly 30 years, representing companies and executives in investigations and commercial disputes.

Dunne was president of the city bar from 2012-2014. As the public face of the organization’s 23,000 members, he helped to establish the policies articulated by the group’s 150 different committees. He created the New York City Bar Association Task Force on a Changing Profession, which published a landmark report on legal education and the industry.

He was nominated to serve as chief judge of New York state, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo ultimately chose last year Janet DiFiore, Westchester County’s district attorney, for the position.

Dunne, a partner at Davis Polk until this year, previously served on Davis Polk’s three-person management committee and as chairman of its litigation department for nine years.

In an interview, Dunne said he chose in April to step back and become counsel at Davis Polk “to give myself some time about what I might want to do next” and to consider his options.

Dunne said returning to a public service position “was always in the back of my mind” and “it felt like if a good opportunity came along, it didn’t take much” to jump on it.

The opportunity to return to the Manhattan DA’s office was “the chance of a professional lifetime,” he said, “at a moment when public safety and justice reform are at the forefront” of a national debate.

Dunne said the Manhattan DA’s office has become a leader in “developing innovative crime-fighting strategies and justice reform initiatives.”

Davis Polk often represents corporations, financial institutions and individuals in investigations conducted by prosecutors’ offices, such as the Manhattan DA.

When asked about possible client conflicts in his new position, Dunne said “it’s certainly conceivable at least in the near future” that he would have to recuse himself due to potential conflicts or appearance of conflicts. But he noted that situation is not unusual for private practice attorneys arriving in government service.

“It’s something that would be very, very manageable,” Dunne said.

Dunne represented Intesa Sanpaolo, the largest bank in Italy, in a criminal and civil investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, the Manhattan DA’s office and others into sanctions violations. Ultimately, no charges or penalties were brought.

Other past clients include Hyundai Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, in investigations and class action litigation arising out of the Gulf oil spill; and Consolidated Edison Inc., in a criminal environmental investigation of an oil spill.

In Davis Polk’s pro bono practice, Dunne was lead trial counsel for the defense in two homicide trials in state court.

In 2007, the second of these resulted in a jury verdict of acquittal for Lonnie Jones, who was released from prison. Also that year, Dunne was appointed by then Chief Judge Judith Kaye as chair of a commission on the future of the New York state courts.

He also served as a member of the chief judge’s commission on the future of indigent defense services and as chief counsel to a New York state commission on drugs and the courts, which studied the burdens that drug crimes were imposing on the court system.

He currently serves on DiFiore’s judicial task force on the New York state constitution.

Rosenberg, who has been general counsel at the DA’s office since February 2014, will serve in that role through the end of the year.

Vance said in an internal announcement that Rosenberg decided to return to private practice and he was “personally and professionally sorry to see Ben leave.”

Before arriving there in 2014, Rosenberg was co-chair of Dechert’s white-collar and securities litigation practice.

In an interview, Dechert chairman Andrew Levander said he always hoped Rosenberg “would talk to us and want to come back.” He added that Rosenberg is a “real valuable asset” for Dechert, praising his talent as a trial lawyer.

Carey Dunne, a longtime litigator at Davis Polk & Wardwell who was president of the New York City Bar Association, will become general counsel of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in January.

He will replace Benjamin Rosenberg, who is planning to leave the office to return to Dechert as a partner in its white-collar and securities litigation group.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced the changes internally Wednesday.

In a statement, District Attorney Cyrus Vance said, “Carey’s decision to return to public service is deeply and personally gratifying to his colleagues at the District Attorney’s Office, but more importantly, a boon for the people of New York .”

As general counsel, Dunne will be a senior adviser to Vance on a range of legal and procedural issues, including criminal justice policy and reform and advising on operational issues for specific trial and appellate cases.

Dunne, 58, first worked for the Manhattan DA as a law student intern in 1981 and, after graduating law school, returned as an assistant district attorney under Robert Morgenthau. Dunne and Vance have known each other since they were both assistant district attorneys in the mid-1980s.

After leaving the DA’s office in 1987, he joined Davis Polk , where he has practiced for nearly 30 years, representing companies and executives in investigations and commercial disputes.

Dunne was president of the city bar from 2012-2014. As the public face of the organization’s 23,000 members, he helped to establish the policies articulated by the group’s 150 different committees. He created the New York City Bar Association Task Force on a Changing Profession, which published a landmark report on legal education and the industry.

He was nominated to serve as chief judge of New York state, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo ultimately chose last year Janet DiFiore, Westchester County’s district attorney, for the position.

Dunne, a partner at Davis Polk until this year, previously served on Davis Polk ‘s three-person management committee and as chairman of its litigation department for nine years.

In an interview, Dunne said he chose in April to step back and become counsel at Davis Polk “to give myself some time about what I might want to do next” and to consider his options.

Dunne said returning to a public service position “was always in the back of my mind” and “it felt like if a good opportunity came along, it didn’t take much” to jump on it.

The opportunity to return to the Manhattan DA’s office was “the chance of a professional lifetime,” he said, “at a moment when public safety and justice reform are at the forefront” of a national debate.

Dunne said the Manhattan DA’s office has become a leader in “developing innovative crime-fighting strategies and justice reform initiatives.”

Davis Polk often represents corporations, financial institutions and individuals in investigations conducted by prosecutors’ offices, such as the Manhattan DA.

When asked about possible client conflicts in his new position, Dunne said “it’s certainly conceivable at least in the near future” that he would have to recuse himself due to potential conflicts or appearance of conflicts. But he noted that situation is not unusual for private practice attorneys arriving in government service.

“It’s something that would be very, very manageable,” Dunne said.

Dunne represented Intesa Sanpaolo, the largest bank in Italy, in a criminal and civil investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, the Manhattan DA’s office and others into sanctions violations. Ultimately, no charges or penalties were brought.

Other past clients include Hyundai Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, in investigations and class action litigation arising out of the Gulf oil spill; and Consolidated Edison Inc. , in a criminal environmental investigation of an oil spill.

In Davis Polk ‘s pro bono practice, Dunne was lead trial counsel for the defense in two homicide trials in state court.

In 2007, the second of these resulted in a jury verdict of acquittal for Lonnie Jones, who was released from prison. Also that year, Dunne was appointed by then Chief Judge Judith Kaye as chair of a commission on the future of the New York state courts.

He also served as a member of the chief judge’s commission on the future of indigent defense services and as chief counsel to a New York state commission on drugs and the courts, which studied the burdens that drug crimes were imposing on the court system.

He currently serves on DiFiore’s judicial task force on the New York state constitution.

Rosenberg, who has been general counsel at the DA’s office since February 2014, will serve in that role through the end of the year.

Vance said in an internal announcement that Rosenberg decided to return to private practice and he was “personally and professionally sorry to see Ben leave.”

Before arriving there in 2014, Rosenberg was co-chair of Dechert ‘s white-collar and securities litigation practice.

In an interview, Dechert chairman Andrew Levander said he always hoped Rosenberg “would talk to us and want to come back.” He added that Rosenberg is a “real valuable asset” for Dechert , praising his talent as a trial lawyer.