Scott O’Connell is a trial attorney and litigation strategist focused on complex commercial disputes involving high financial and reputational exposure. He has considerable experience leading class action and aggregate litigation as well as parallel government enforcement and regulatory proceedings, most notably involving health service, financial service, energy or manufacturing companies. He has been lead counsel on more than 60 trials, arbitrations, evidentiary injunction proceedings and related appeals in federal and state courts around the country. Scott provides clients with customized and value-driven strategies for resolving cases on their terms.
According to Chambers USA—in which he has been recognized for more than a decade: “The ‘wicked smart’ Scott O’Connell ‘is an enormously talented litigator and an expert on courtroom procedures,’ interviewees confirm. He is particularly skilled in contentious banking and finance matters, as well as issues arising for health care industry clients.” In addition to multiple, other third-party professional recognitions, Best Lawyers® has named Scott “Lawyer of the Year” seven times since 2013 for health care, securities, banking and finance, bet-the-company and appellate litigation.
In addition to an active practice, Scott served as chair of Nixon Peabody’s 325+ person Litigation Department. He also was a member of the firm’s management and compensation committees. He maintains an active docket of pro bono cases specifically related to the prevention of domestic violence and providing needed access to justice. Scott received the Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award from the Law Office of the Southern Center for Human Rights for successful representation and ultimate release of a Guantanamo Bay detainee in the case Rimi v. George W. Bush, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:05-CV-02427.
I currently focus my practice in the following areas of financial and reputational exposure:
Telling compelling stories with effective witnesses and evidence is at the heart of trial advocacy. Taking complex commercial disputes and breaking them down into thematic and compelling narratives is what I strive to do. I have had the privilege to do trial and evidentiary hearings around the country for different clients in various subject matters. This is my passion and is indeed the best part of my job.
Class actions are costly and disruptive because they attack products, services and business processes. The exposure can be substantial. I work closely with businesses to find and implement solutions that limit accruing exposure while also defending the case.
Catastrophic events, health and safety issues or corporate integrity matters can destroy a company. Intervening quickly to manage the parallel criminal, regulatory and civil proceedings as well as the challenges presented by social media is essential to restore the brand. I have considerable experience counseling companies through these types of emergent situations.
Many health service providers deliver considerable uncompensated care. These services have material negative financial impacts on these institutions. I counsel these providers with regard to reimbursements owed from Medicaid, Medicare and third-party payors. This work involves federal and state litigation as well as Administrative Procedures Act challenges.
Representation of individuals, business entities and political organizations in the defense of constitutionally-protected rights and liberties. I have developed a particular focus on protecting against the impairment of contracts through state action.
Practicing law is a privilege, not a right. With that privilege comes professional responsibilities. I consider providing pro bono service one of my professional responsibilities. As someone who grew up experiencing domestic violence, I devote time annually to helping abused spouses and children secure orders of protection and related assistance to remove violence from the home. It should not “hurt” to be a child and part of my commitment is to help those suffering escape the hurt.
Managing parallel proceedings is like playing three dimensional chess. Coordinating between criminal, regulatory and civil proceedings is not a linear process. Decisions in one sphere can have material impacts in another. Having a legal team able to identify these threats and navigate successfully through them is essential to mitigate risk and protect your company. Make sure that the team you use is able to operate simultaneously in these different forums.
Social media adds a level of complexion to these parallel proceedings. Brand protection in high exposure litigation is very challenging. Now more than ever, a company needs to be ready to defend itself in the court of public opinion long before a court of law. This is a radically different mindset for most defense minded attorneys who want the luxury of time and analysis to consider options. Legal teams need to be nimble, strategic and very conversant with the brand objectives for your company. If you lose the brand, there might not be anything left for which to fight in the parallel proceedings.
Containing annual litigation spend is an essential task for both in-house and outside counsel. On this topic, your outside legal team is not simply a service provider but a business partner to address these issues. I work closely with clients to develop strategies and fee agreements to maximize value. Utilizing project management tools, effective and disciplined implementation of case specific strategies, and risk sharing compensation models all help to contain cost and maximize value. Using alternative fee agreements which migrate from compensation based on straight billable hours to risk/reward models best aligns your interest with your outside team. Asking your attorneys to share some of the risks and rewards ensures that value, efficiency and success are always driving the development of your case. Asking your outside team to have some “skin in the game” is itself a game changer.
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly | April 07, 2021
This story, which explores alternative fee arrangements for clients, quotes Litigation Department Chair and Manchester Complex Commercial Disputes partner Scott O’Connell throughout the article on what clients look for in fee agreements and how NP can partner with them to achieve their objectives.
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly | February 04, 2021
This feature article on the formation of NP’s State Attorneys General team quotes Boston Government Investigations & White Collar Defense partners Bill Codinha and Rob Fisher throughout the story on the team’s work both in Massachusetts and across the country. The article also quotes Litigation chair Scott O’Connell and mentions the team’s co-leaders, Affordable Housing & Real Estate partner Erica Buckley and Government Investigations & White Collar Defense partner Travis Hill, both in New York City.
Law360 | June 17, 2020
This article, covering a federal judge’s order that immigration detainees at Strafford County (NH) Department of Corrections can challenge their living conditions amid COVID-19, quotes Manchester Complex Commercial Disputes associate Nathan Warecki. The article also mentions the team of NP attorneys representing the detainees in the case: Litigation Department Head Scott O’Connell; Government Investigations & White-Collar Defense practice group leader Dave Vicinanzo and associate Colin Missett; Complex Commercial Disputes partner Dan Deane, and associates Marx Calderon and Michael Strauss.
Corporate Compliance Insights | April 17, 2020
NP’s Christopher Hotaling, Adam Tarosky, Scott O’Connell and Colin Missett authored this article detailing key considerations for businesses to consider, given that funds under the CARES Act come with associated responsibilities for recipients, creating potential criminal and civil liability if not properly handled.
Law360 | March 25, 2020
Complex Commercial Disputes partner Kathleen Ceglarski Burns, of Boston, and Litigation Department chair Scott O’Connell, of Manchester, discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by the near-freeze on Massachusetts court proceedings during social distancing in the commonwealth.
Law360 | March 24, 2020
Litigation Department Head Scott O’Connell talks to Law360 about how the unfolding coronavirus pandemic has changed the way lawyers are approaching their jobs. “There is a level of collegiality and cooperation that has been refreshing,” Scott says.
Law360 | January 24, 2020
This article on 2020 New Year’s resolutions from attorneys features Providence Labor and Employment partner and Professional Personnel partner Stacie Collier and Litigation Department Chair Scott O’Connell sharing their goals for the new year.
Crain’s New York | September 06, 2019
In this story, Litigation Department Head Scott O’Connell offers his perspective on new financial uncertainty for hospitals as an October deadline looms to avoid large cuts to federal funding for facilities that treat large numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients.
Law.com Litigation Daily | April 04, 2019
Manchester Complex Commercial Disputes partner Scott O’Connell, head of the Litigation Department, is named one of the Litigators of the Week for securing an award of legal fees for his clients, a group of 26 New Hampshire hospitals who sued the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The litigation team also included Boston Complex Commercial Disputes associates Morgan Nighan and Kierstan Schultz.
National Law Journal | October 23, 2018
Litigation Department head and Manchester partner Scott O’Connell is quoted in this story discussing a recent decision by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals that is “a welcome development for those of us on the defense side” of class-action cases.
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly | August 27, 2018
Litigation Department head Scott O’Connell is mentioned in this case summary for his role as co-counsel for a group of pharmaceutical companies. The companies successfully defended a suit by a class of customers seeking to force changes to the design of the companies’ eyedrops bottles.
Data Privacy & Cybersecurity Alert | 07.17.20
Government Investigations & White Collar Defense Alert | 05.08.20
Trending | 01.31.20
Health Care Alert | 08.14.19
Health Care Alert | 06.03.19
Arbitration Alert | 04.25.19
Health Care Alert | 11.19.18
10.29.20 | Virtual Event
06.11.19 | Manchester, NH
Cornell Law School, J.D., 1991, (Editor, Law Review, Chancellor, Moot Court Board)
St. Lawrence University, B.A., 1987, cum laude
Harvard Business School, 2008, "Leading Professional Service Firms"
District of Columbia
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
U.S. District Court, District of Maine
U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts
U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire
U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
U.S. District Court, District of Vermont
Scott is on the Board of Trustees for his alma mater, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY. He has been recognized by the New Hampshire Bar Association for his pro bono service to indigent clients. He currently serves on the Governor’s Judicial Selection Commission in New Hampshire. He is a former member of the Federal Court Advisory Committee for the District of New Hampshire. In January 2003, he was selected by New Hampshire state-wide paper, The Union Leader, as one of the state’s “Forty under 40.” Scott is a former vice chairman of the Farnum Center, a statewide alcohol and drug in-patient recovery program; former member of the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Food Bank (a program of Catholic Charities); past president of the New Hampshire Task Force to Prevent Child Abuse; former captain, Heritage United Way Community Investment Process; founding director of the St. Lawrence University Alumni Lawyers Association; and is a past coordinator of the Cornell Law School Alumni Association. He is a graduate of Leadership New Hampshire.
As part of a commitment to give back to the community, Scott has dedicated substantial time to pro bono matters. He founded the Nixon Peabody Domestic Protection Team, which assists victims of domestic violence secure protective orders against their abusers. Scott also worked to secure the release of a client, who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay. For his work on this matter, Scott received the Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award from the Law Office of the Southern Center for Human Rights.In addition, Scott is a recipient of the New Hampshire Bar Association’s 2011 Award for Dedicated Pro Bono Service for his exceptional work with the Domestic Violence Emergency Project (DOVE), a program that provides victims of domestic violence with emergency legal service.