Profile

Karen focuses her practice on complex civil litigation and trials, as well as crisis management—helping her clients solve their biggest problems both in and out of the courtroom. Karen was named a 2017 Litigator of the Year by The American Lawyer magazine, which commented: “If the case is high-stakes, high-profile and hard-fought, don’t be surprised to find Karen Dunn playing a role.”

Karen is an accomplished trial lawyer and courtroom advocate.  Karen led BSF’s defense of Uber in an intensely watched and hotly contested trade secrets case brought by Waymo regarding the future of self-driving cars. The case ended in a favorable settlement following four days of trial, which included Karen’s examination of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Prior to that and in the span of one year, together with BSF partner Bill Isaacson, Karen won high-dollar jury verdicts for two of America’s top technology companies. The following year, she successfully argued summary judgment resulting in victory for another prominent technology company in a high-stakes case. That same year, Karen and her co-counsel won a two-year pro bono legal battle in local and federal courts to enforce Washington D.C.’s Local Budget Autonomy Act. Lawdragon, which named Karen one of America's 500 Leading Lawyers, called Karen’s practice “one of the finest litigation/crisis-management practices in the country.” 

As a crisis management expert and trusted advisor to public figures and top executives, Karen specializes in confronting high-stakes legal problems that require her to contend simultaneously with the law, the media, and the government. Her work preparing candidates for political debates, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, has received extensive media coverage. And Karen brings those same skills to bear when she prepares company executives for congressional hearings, depositions, and trial testimony.

Prior to joining the firm, Karen served in all three branches of government. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, she tried to jury verdict numerous multi-defendant cases and led complex investigations. She served as Associate White House Counsel, representing the Executive Office of the President in congressional investigations and overseeing litigation. Karen served as a law clerk to Judge Merrick B. Garland of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and to Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier in her career, Karen served as communications director and senior advisor to then-Senator Hillary Clinton.

Karen has also been named one of the National Law Journal’s Outstanding Women Lawyers, a Litigator of the Week by both The American Lawyer and Global Competition Review, and one of Elle Magazine’s Most Compelling Women in Washington D.C.

Karen is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee.

Experience

Karen's representative matters include:

  • Served as co-lead trial counsel in a high-profile antitrust case in the portable music industry for a top technology company, winning a defense verdict from the jury in a class action seeking $1 billion
  • Served as co-lead trial counsel in a three and a half week jury trial in the District of Nevada for plaintiff Oracle, which resulted in a $50 million verdict – later increased to $124 million in a judgment – against Rimini Street and its CEO for copyright infringement and state law computer fraud violations
  • Successfully argued summary judgment in favor of defendant Beats Electronics in a fraud and securities suit brought by Monster and its CEO in California state court
  • Assisted a high profile technology company in an effort to counsel individuals affected by President Trump’s first immigration EO. This effort resulted in numerous family reunions
  • Provided strategic and legal counsel to C-suite executives and in-house counsel at a large, multinational company confronting simultaneous federal and state investigations, class action litigation, congressional inquiries, and constant media scrutiny
  • Prepared top executives of major U.S. companies for testimony before Congress, provided strategic guidance and counsel in navigating congressional inquiries
  • Represented a high profile witness in the course of several investigations by the Department of Justice, an agency Inspector General, and a congressional committee
  • Served as co-lead counsel, pro bono, in a lawsuit brought by the District of Columbia Council against the District’s mayor and CFO to enforce the Local Budget Autonomy Act. After two years of litigation in both the federal and local courts, the Budget Autonomy Act was found to be a lawful amendment to the District Charter that must be enforced

Publications & Presentations

Protecting Trade Secrets and Preventing Frontal Lobotomies, The Recorder (February 2018)

Kate Stith & Karen Dunn, A Second Chance for Sentencing Reform: Establishing a Sentencing Agency in the Judicial Branch, 58 STAN. L. REV. 217 (2005)

Education

  • Yale Law School, J.D.
  • Brown University, B.A., magna cum laude, Political Science

Admissions

Bars

  • New York
  • District of Columbia

Awards and Associations

American Lawyer Litigator of the Year 2017

Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America 2017

Chambers USA (Litigation) 2018

Benchmark Litigation Top 100 Trial Lawyer 2018, Top 250 Women in Litigation 2016-2018

Elle Magazine 10 Most Compelling Women in Washington 2016

The National Law Journal Outstanding Women Lawyers 2015 

American Lawyer Litigator of the Week, December 18, 2014

Global Competition Review Litigator of the Week, December 17, 2014

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) SHIELD Award 2014

Government Service

Assistant United States Attorney, Eastern District of Virginia 

Associate Counsel to the President, The White House

Communications Director to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton 

Press and Legislative Aide to Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey

Clerkships

  • Justice Stephen G. Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court
  • Hon. Merrick B. Garland, U.S. Court of Appeals: D.C. Circuit