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Chanakya A. Sethi

Associate

Chanakya Sethi is an Associate at Wilkinson Stekloff. He has represented corporate and individual clients in a broad range of high-stakes matters, including antitrust and consumer class actions, federal criminal cases, and government investigations. Since joining the firm in 2018, Chan has helped lead the team that tried a four-month jury trial involving a federal racketeering prosecution and was on the team that tried antitrust claims before the Federal Trade Commission involving a $12.8-billion investment. He was also a member of the team that successfully represented a federal district judge in mandamus proceedings concerning the prosecution of former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Chan has an active pro bono practice, with an emphasis on the rights of LGBT individuals, criminal defendants, immigrants, and people living with disabilities. Most recently, he argued and won a case in the Ninth Circuit holding that non-citizens facing deportation in reasonable fear proceedings have a right to counsel. And in recent years, he has led multiple amicus briefs for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Association of Federal Defenders, and the National Association of Disability Representatives before the U.S. Supreme Court. He has also represented the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch in various federal courts.

In recognition of his trial and appellate successes and pro bono efforts, Chan was named to the Best LBGTQ+ Lawyers Under 40 List by the National LGBT Bar Association.

Before joining the firm, Chan practiced at Williams & Connolly LLP.


Education

  • Undergraduate: Princeton University, A.B. (2007)
    Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Princetonian
  • Law: Osgoode Hall Law School, J.D., with the Gold Medal (2012); Executive Editor, Osgoode Hall Law Journal; First Place Oralist, Laskin Moot Court
  • Yale Law School, LL.M. (2014); Editor, Yale Law & Policy Review

Clerkship

  • Justice Michael J. Moldaver, Supreme Court of Canada (2012–13)
  • Judge Ronnie Abrams, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (2014–15)

Notable Matters

  • Represented District Judge Emmet Sullivan in mandamus proceedings before the D.C. Circuit arising out of the criminal case against former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn. After the Department of Justice changed positions in the Flynn case and sought to dismiss his guilty plea and conviction, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts authorized Judge Sullivan to retain Wilkinson Stekloff to defend him from an effort to prematurely terminate the case.  A panel of the D.C. Circuit initially entered a split decision in Flynn’s favor, but the full court reversed and ruled in a bipartisan, 9-2 decision that the case should be reinstated and returned to Judge Sullivan.
  • Representing the lead defendant in a nationally-reported federal criminal trial about an opioid pain medicine. After a four-month jury trial, the district court rejected the government’s principal charges and demand for over $300 million in financial penalties. Further proceedings are pending.
  • Represented Forest Laboratories in In re Namenda Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation, a certified antitrust class action in the Southern District of New York involving a groundbreaking treatment for dementia in Alzheimer’s patients. Plaintiffs claimed that Forest made an anticompetitive “reverse payment” to settle a generic drug manufacturer’s challenge to Namenda, and that Forest unlawfully tried to effectuate a “hard switch” between a twice-daily and once-daily version of Namenda. Plaintiffs claimed approximately $21 billion in trebled damages; the case settled the night before trial for less than 5% of that amount.
  • Prior to joining the firm, represented consumer product companies in multiple putative consumer class actions in California involving international supply chain issues.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district courts’ orders dismissing the cases prior to discovery and denied certification of state law questions to the Supreme Court of California.
  • Prior to joining the firm, represented a European medical device manufacturer in a   patent licensing dispute governed by Swedish law. The matter was successfully tried before an arbitration panel in Stockholm.
  • Prior to joining the firm, represented major record company plaintiffs in a copyright infringement action against a novel music streaming and downloading service. Secured a temporary restraining order and defendant’s consent to a permanent injunction and judgment.

Other Activities

Chan is a trustee of The Daily Princetonian, the independent student newspaper of Princeton University, and a director of the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program, which brings 40 students from low-income backgrounds to Princeton’s campus for an intensive 10-day seminar on journalism and college preparation.

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