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Brian J. Donnelly is a partner in the firm’s General, Tort and Insurance Litigation department.  Over his 36 years of practice, Brian has tried numerous high exposure cases in both state and federal court. Several of these cases have drawn attention from the media including the first case to go to trial of a firefighter involved in the post 9/11 recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site and the alleged rape of a minor at a prominent university.

Brian also coordinates the response of self insured retail and transportation clients to catastrophic incidents.  He is the supervising partner for cases involving some of the largest self-insured retail and transportation companies in the United States.

Prior to joining Cullen and Dykman, Brian was an Assistant District Attorney in the Nassau County District Attorney's Office.  During his three years as an ADA he tried twenty five jury trials to verdict, many involving serious felony offenses. 

Brian is a frequent lecturer to various clients, bar associations and defense associations.  He also serves on the Independent Judicial Screening Panel for the New York County Democratic Party. In this capacity Brian worked with fellow panel members to conduct a screening process whereby candidates for judicial office in the Civil Court, New York County were evaluated solely on individual merit without political influence or political interference being a factor.

Areas of Concentration

  • Commercial Transportation
  • Criminal Defense

Practice Areas


  • State of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York


  • J.D., Brooklyn Law School, 1985
  • B.A., St. John’s University

Representative Experience

  • Obtained a defense verdict in a premises liability case in which the plaintiff claimed to have slipped on water in clients’ convenience store, but clients maintained that the area was dry immediately following the accident.  The store’s surveillance video of the incident did not show the exact area where the plaintiff’s fall occurred, but we used the video to show the jury a frame by frame analysis of the plaintiff’s activities in the store prior to the accident.  The plaintiff claimed to have sustained a left shoulder tear as a result of the accident and demanded $500,000. A unanimous jury verdict on liability was handed down after an hour and fifteen minutes of deliberation.

Professional and Community Activities

  • Yale College Mock Trial Association Invitational Tournament, Yale University, Judge, 2008 
  • State of Florida: Accredited Continuing Education Instructor

Speaking Engagements

  • “Deciding When a Case Needs to be Tried or Should be Mediated,” New York State Bar Association, September 13, 2017
  • Law School For Insurance Professionals,” New York State Bar Association
  • “Best Ethical Practices: What Every Adjuster Needs To Know,“  organization
  • “Claims Management – Building Your Own A-Team!”, CLM Annual Conference, April 2016
  • “Accident Scene Investigation,” New York State Bar Association
  • “Food and Beverage Liability, New Issues, New Strategies”, USLAW Network, Tucson, AZ
  • “The Internet and Social Networking in Claims Investigation,” Compass Group USA-CEU Institute, Charlotte, NC

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