Jonathan M. Freiman

Biography

Jonathan is an experienced litigator who represents companies, foundations, universities, individuals, and sovereign nations in complex disputes, ranging from appeals and disputes over art and artifacts to complex transnational litigation involving foreign states and foreign officials.

Jonathan’s recent appellate victories include a reversal in a high-profile California Supreme Court case that reinstated a client’s $13.5 million claim; a reversal in the Connecticut Supreme Court that knocked out a $35 million judgment (believed to be the largest class-action judgment ever reversed in the state); and a major patent victory in the Federal Circuit in D.C. He has handled appeals in almost every federal circuit court and in state appellate courts coast-to-coast.

He has represented clients in a variety of art litigation matters, including the defense of title to one of Van Gogh's most famous paintings; representation of a museum in a dispute over Incan artifacts claimed by a Latin American nation; and representation of investors in an art investment fund. He also advises clients regarding provenance, chain of title, export, and cultural property.

Jonathan’s representation of sovereign nations and former sovereign officials includes the successful defense of a former president of Mexico against alleged international law violations; representing a foreign sovereign nation in a RICO appeal; and representing the government of Germany and a Berlin-based consortium of state-run museums in a case alleging that the sale of a large art collection was the result of Nazi duress.

His commercial trial litigation experience includes the defense of class actions and multiple-jurisdiction actions against insurance companies and banks. These cases include the defense of a bank in a nationwide class action related to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme and the defense of insurance companies against allegations of violations of the False Claims Act.

Chambers USA ranks Jonathan as one of the leading litigators in Connecticut, with clients describing him in recent years as "absolutely brilliant," "a fiercely bright appellate lawyer who handles high end problems," "a very cost-effective resource in contentious matters" who is "very good at checking back with [clients] on strategy," and "probably the very best appellate advocate I have ever seen. He can very quickly grasp a difficult question and package an argument in a way that is both elegant and totally clear and understandable to someone who is not an expert in the matter."

He has also been lauded in Benchmark Litigation, The Best Lawyers in America, and Super Lawyers. The Connecticut Law Tribune named him Attorney of the Year in 2016 across all categories, and he accepted that publication's inaugural Litigation Department of the Year Award for Appellate Practice on behalf of the practice group that he leads. In 2017, Finance Monthly named him Lawyer of the Year in its Appellate and Complex Legal Issues category.

A trained stage actor and produced playwright before becoming a lawyer, Jonathan uses what he learned in the theater about the power of candor, truth, and narrative when representing clients in briefs and court. Clients seek him out for this insight as well as his reputation for successfully handling high-stakes cases.

Jonathan has written on constitutional law for Lexis, on international treaty-based arbitration in the National Law Journal, and on state supreme court case law for the Connecticut Law Tribune. He has lectured in Europe, Canada, and the United States, at venues including the Federalist Society and a United Nations Expert Roundtable. He co-founded the National Litigation Project (NLP) of the Allard K. Lowenstein Clinic at Yale Law School, teaching at Yale for five years while directing the NLP's litigation work and serving as a senior human rights fellow. In that capacity, he litigated important cases involving the intersection of civil liberties and national security, including the representation of a U.S. citizen seized and detained incommunicado and without charge in a military prison.

Jonathan received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was Senior Editor at the Yale Law Journal, and received a Keck Foundation fellowship in legal ethics and awards from the Florida Supreme Court and the Cuban-American Bar Association. After graduation, he clerked for the late Judge Louis H. Pollak, former Dean of Yale Law School.

He is currently a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a Life Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, and a member of the Committee on Art, Cultural Institutions, and Heritage Law at the International Bar Association.

Education

  • Yale Law School  (J.D., 1998)
  • Oberlin College  (B.A., 1987)
    • Phi Beta Kappa

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut
  • Pennsylvania

Court Admissions

  • US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • US District Court (District of Columbia)
  • US District Court (District of Connecticut)
  • US District Court (Eastern District of New York)
  • US District Court (Southern District of New York)
  • US District Court (Western District of New York)
  • US Supreme Court

Distinctions

  • Albom Award for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy (Yale Law School)
  • Advocacy of the Law Award (Connecticut Law Tribune)
  • McQuillan Public Service Award (Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • American Bar Association
  • American Bar Foundation
  • Connecticut Bar Association
  • Connecticut Bar Foundation, James W. Cooper Fellow (elected)
  • Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society
  • International Bar Association
    • Committee on Art, Cultural Institutions and Heritage Law