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DeForest Koscelnik & Berardinelli

United States 2024


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For over 20 years, DeForest Koscelnik & Berardinelli has built a reputation as one of the hardest working firms in Pittsburgh, whose work goes far beyond Pittsburgh as clients nationwide seek our representation.

Our firm has a collaborative spirit and our lawyers work together efficiently and cost-effectively to advise and defend clients in federal and state courts and before administrative tribunals.

We're focused, diligent, and accessible. We measure our success in the value we add to a matter and the longevity and depth of our relationships with our clients.

Walter DeForest and Jackie Koscelnik formed the firm in Pittsburgh in 1994, following careers at Reed Smith Shaw & McClay. While continuing to represent a number of clients, Mr. DeForest and Ms. Koscelnik served, respectively, as outside general counsel and associate general counsel to Carnegie Mellon University from 1993 through 2002. David Berardinelli began his legal career at our firm after graduating Harvard Law School in 1996. Mr. Berardinelli served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York from 2000 to 2005, after which he returned to the firm and has become a partner who is well-seasoned in jury trials and white collar crime defense. In August 2012, Marie DeForest opened the firm's New York office after practicing with the litigation firm Conrad O'Brien in Philadelphia. Patricia Marley, who was previously General Counsel of Magee Womens Hospital from 1995 through 2006, is a well-versed health law attorney and actively represents clients in this area.

At DeForest Koscelnik & Berardinelli, we believe that all clients are entitled to personal attention and outstanding service for reasonable fees. We pride ourselves on our diligence and accessibility and are generally available to our clients around the clock.


DeForest Koscelnik & Berardinelli is nationally ranked in 2 practice areas and metro ranked in 9 practice areas. Best Law Firms rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process.

Read how Best Law Firms ranks firms

National Rankings

Tier 2
Tier 2 for Litigation - First Amendment
Tier 3
Tier 3 for Media Law

Metro Rankings

Tier 1 for Commercial Litigation
Tier 1 for Criminal Defense: White-Collar
Tier 1 for Employment Law - Individuals
Tier 1 for Employment Law - Management
Tier 1 for First Amendment Law

Select Clients

  • Baptist Health South Florida
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cox Media Group
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group
  • St. Barnabas Health System
  • Steward Sharon Regional Medical Center
  • Teledyne Technologies Incorporated
  • Wabtec Corporation


National Rankings

Tier 2
Tier 2 for Litigation - First Amendment
Tier 3
Tier 3 for Media Law

Metro Rankings

Tier 1 for Commercial Litigation
Tier 1 for Criminal Defense: White-Collar
Tier 1 for Employment Law - Individuals
Tier 1 for Employment Law - Management
Tier 1 for First Amendment Law
Tier 1 for Labor Law - Management
Tier 1 for Litigation - First Amendment
Tier 1 for Litigation - Labor and Employment
Tier 1 for Media Law

Practice Areas

The below are areas of legal specialty volunteered by the firm and do not designate a specialty in which a Best Law Firms ranking is held.
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Employment Law - Management
  • Litigation - Intellectual Property

Individuals Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America®

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Client Comments

All client comments represent the opinions of the people who provided them. All potential clients are urged to remember that no two cases are ever completely alike and that the result in one case does not guarantee a similar result in another case.
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Main Location

Pittsburgh, PA
Koppers Building, 30th Floor
436 Seventh Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
United States
412-227-3100 Call our Pittsburgh, PA location at 412-227-3100 Get Directions Get directions to our Pittsburgh, PA location

Significant Matters

Below are matters chosen by the firm to highlight.

Walter routinely takes on cases that are highly significant to his clients. The following are examples in just the last few years. When a preeminent nationally recognized plaintiffs' law firm which challenges acquisitions sought to stop an acquisition by one of Walter's clients, instead of paying a settlement, the client resisted and Walter filed a motion to dismiss. When the Court indicated it would deny a stay of the acquisition and rule on the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff withdrew the challenge.

In another case, when the actions of a local religious diocese leader indicated that the organization's endowment (in excess of $20 million in funds) could be the subject of dispute and potential separation from the national church of which the local diocese was a part, Walter brought suit as plaintiff's counsel on behalf of one of the parishes in the diocese. He obtained a consent order protecting the endowment funds and other property, and, despite claims by the group that ultimately did separate, reached the successful result that the funds remained with those persons who did not leave the national church.

Similarly, when a client facing in excess of $20 million in exposure in a product liability death case in Georgia decided to change lead defense counsel three weeks before trial, it came to Walter. In a two-week trial, he obtained dismissal of one defendant, tried the case to verdict and obtained a verdict awarding only a comparatively minor amount against the remaining defendant, less than one-tenth of the damages sought by plaintiffs.

Also, when a company which had acquired a high-tech business was concerned that the former head of the company was engaging in a potentially competing enterprise, Walter filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of Florida. He litigated the issues that included alleged use of confidential information and alleged breach of non-compete contract issues, and the matter was amicably resolved to the satisfaction of the company.

In a major aviation products liability case, we obtained summary judgment in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County for our clients on claims by an upstream component manufacturer.

In a multimillion-dollar ERISA lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, we obtained dismissal of all claims in a purported class action against our client hospitals in Ohio and West Virginia.

Our firm was retained after default judgments had been entered against a bankrupt component parts manufacturer, and we opened an ancillary action in the Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama seeking a declaration of non-liability as to our client, the alleged guarantor or insurer of the obligations of the defaulting party. The defendants removed the case to federal court. We obtained a remand to the state court system, successfully making the innovative argument that a bankrupt party is not a "nominal party" for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. The remand ultimately helped achieve a successful resolution for our client.

In a case of first impression under Pennsylvania environmental law, we obtained dismissal of a complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, against a purported generator of hazardous waste on the basis that the state Department of Environmental Protection failed to first pursue the owners and operators of the landfill. Subsequently, the plaintiff filed the action in federal court under federal environmental laws, where we again successfully obtained dismissal.

A former salesman brought a breach of contract suit alleging six-figure damages against our client, an industrial company. The employee claimed that he was owed commissions from an approximately $2 million transaction. We won the case for the defendant; we argued that no commissions were due and the employee was not entitled to any damages. The case was tried by a jury over the course of approximately one week in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The jury returned a complete defense verdict finding that no breach of contract had occurred.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania granted our motion for summary judgment in favor of our client, a major financial institution, in a Title VII and Pregnancy Discrimination Act case brought by an employee who alleged discrimination in a decision to terminate her.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granted our motion for summary judgment in favor of our client, a high-profile engineering company, in a Title VII case brought by an engineer and manager who alleged race and sex discrimination in a promotion decision.

Over a four-day jury trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, we won a defense verdict in favor of our client, a prominent class action law firm that faced fraud claims.

We successfully defended an executive in an export fraud investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. After a multi-year investigation, no criminal charges were brought against our client.

We defended a U.S. citizen who resides in the Philippines against charges of illegally exporting prohibited defense articles. The client was already indicted when we were retained. We took an aggressive approach to defending our client and challenged the Government's case pre-trial. After much labor, we convinced the U.S. Attorneys' Office that its main witness had falsified evidence and that they should polygraph him. After the witness failed the polygraph, all charges against our client were dismissed.

We successfully obtained a non-jail, probationary sentence for a public employee who was investigated and charged in conjunction with a large-scale public corruption investigation.

We successfully obtained a non-jail, probationary sentence for an accountant who was investigated and charged with federal tax violations and faced a Guidelines sentence that would have required him to be incarcerated.

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