David L. Axelrod

New York

David Axelrod is a first-chair trial lawyer who has tried more than 15 federal court cases to judgment. He has secured favorable jury and bench verdicts in high-profile trials under intense media and public scrutiny, and has extensive experience arguing cases on appeal. David has successfully designed and executed courtroom strategy in a wide range of cases, both civil and criminal.

In cases involving criminal or regulatory enforcement, David has broad experience in cases alleging securities fraud, stock and market manipulation, insider trading, accounting fraud, bank fraud, tax evasion, and public corruption. In private civil litigation, David has secured significant victories in a broad range of cases from securities fraud to contracts to defamation.

David is a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Supervisory Trial Counsel in Philadelphia and former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. At the SEC, he served as lead trial counsel and directed all aspects of litigation and complex, multi-agency investigations into alleged securities law violations. As a federal prosecutor, David investigated and prosecuted a range of economic fraud and public corruption cases. He uses his trial experience to develop litigation strategy in all phases of complex civil and criminal cases, with an emphasis on matters involving securities, white collar criminal defense, and defamation.


Representative Matters

  • Palin v. The New York Times Company: Lead trial lawyer in successfully defending The Times against a libel suit brought by former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, in which the judge granted the defense motion to dismiss following trial testimony but let the jury deliberate, resulting in a verdict that The Times was not liable. (No. 17-civ-04853, S.D.N.Y., Feb. 15, 2022)
  • Nasdaq, Inc. v. Exchange Traded Managers Group et al.: lead trial lawyer in securities contract dispute that resulted in judgment in favor of client of more than $80 million. See Nasdaq, Inc. v. Exchange Traded Managers Group et al., No. 17 civ. 8252, 2019 U.S. Dist. Lexis 220135 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2019)
  • United States v. Francis M. Reynolds, SEC v. Francis M. Reynolds: Representation of the CEO of a pharmaceutical start-up in cases brought by DOJ and SEC alleging securities fraud

Professional Highlights

Judicial Clerkships

Hon. R. Barclay Surrick, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 2003-2004

Recognition & Accomplishments

Chambers USA, Litigation: Securities (Pennsylvania), 2021

The Legal 500, Securities Litigation: Defense, 2020, 2021

Securities and Exchange Commission's Arthur F. Mathews Award, 2016

Securities and Exchange Commission's Analytical Methods Award, 2016

Director's Special Recognition Award, Federal Bureau of Investigation, February 2014, June 2012

Certificate of Meritorious Achievement, HIDTA, 2013

Speaking Engagements

Panelist, Insider Trading, The Edward Bennett Williams American Inn of Court, Washington D.C., February 15, 2018

Speaker, "AML Obligations of Broker-Dealers and Current Issues in the SPAC Market," New York State Bar Association Securities Regulation Committee Meeting, New York City, December 13, 2017 

Speaker, "Insider Trading: A Simple Concept in Theory," Ballard Spahr CLE, Philadelphia, June 7, 2017


Co-author, "Stimulus Fraud Part 4: CARES Act Oversight Provisions and Agency Collaboration," The Legal Intelligencer, July 8, 2020 

Co-author, "First Step Act of 2018 Aims to Reform Sentencing Laws," The Legal Intelligencer, February 4, 2019 

Co-author, "Recent Supreme Court Decision Narrows Definition of Whistleblower," The Legal Intelligencer, March 8, 2018 

Co-author, "What's Next after the SEC 'Insider Trading' Breach?" Dark Reading, October 19, 2017 

Co-author, "The SEC's New Enforcement Tool?" Law360, July 12, 2017



Harvard Law School (J.D. 2003)

Haverford College (B.A. 1999, high honors in Economics, Political Science)
Phi Beta Kappa


District of Columbia

New York