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Attorney at Law




Sonia Escobio O’Donnell has litigation and appellate experience both in government and private practice.  After her clerkship with the Honorable Peter T. Fay in the Fifth Circuit, she became an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Florida from 1979 until 1995 and since that time has been in private practice litigating civil and criminal federal cases and writing and arguing appeals in state and federal courts.

Ms. O'Donnell at the U.S. Attorney's Office

During her sixteen years at the U.S. Attorney’s office, Ms. O’Donnell tried cases, worked on hundreds of appeals and supervised one of the largest appellate divisions in the country as Deputy Chief, Chief, and Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney. Her appeals include RICO conspiracies, narcotics trafficking, weapons charges, and public corruption, both domestic and international. As a young prosecutor, she was involved in United States v. Veverka, the civil rights case arising from the death of Arthur McDuffie. She was involved in major appeals, including the “Cuban Connection” case, which charged Cuban government officials with narcotics violations; the Noriega case, involving the extradition and trial of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega; and Casamayor, involving police corruption at the highest levels of the Key West Police Department. She litigated jurisdictional challenges to the constitutionality of the “High Seas” statutes in both district court and the court of appeals; the statutes allowed, for the first time, the boarding and prosecution of stateless and foreign vessels on the high seas. At the U.S. Attorney’s office, she also litigated civil cases, defending federal agencies and agents - including in Bivens actions - and bringing actions on behalf of the United States, including False Claims Act actions, and Social Security and Medicare claims. private practice

In private practice she has continued to litigate in federal district and appellate courts. She began private practice at Lehtinen O’Donnell, with a former U.S. Attorney and several former Assistant U.S. Attorneys, where she represented tribes on issues of Indian law, environmental law, and gaming, litigating tribal sovereignty against management contractors of casinos, and handling issues such as the applicability of the Americans With Disabilities Act to Indian Tribes. Ms. O'Donnell has also litigated federal civil and white-collar cases and state and federal regulatory actions and civil matters such as contract disputes and fraud. In 2000, she joined Jorden Burt where she continued to litigate environmental cases involving the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, NEPA and other environmental statutes. One of the cases, arising from discharges of pollutants into the Everglades, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Both at Jorden Burt, and subsequently at Carlton Fields, she continued to defend criminal defendants on issues including money laundering, Bank Fraud, Health Fraud, RICO, narcotics, extraditions and other federal crimes. She was the American lawyer hired to advise Ann Bender on a third trial in Costa Rica for homicide. In commercial cases, she has represented insurance companies, institutions and businesses on internal investigations and class actions. In one annuities class action case in the Ninth Circuit, she reversed the district court’s injunction which had required that any settlement of class actions in other jurisdictions be approved by the district court. In 2017 Ms. O’Donnell opened her own practice at Brickell Key where she continues to litigate federal civil and criminal issues, drawing on her appellate and litigation experience both in private practice and government, and continues to advise on matters from pre-litigation to the appellate level. the community and Bar

Ms. O’Donnell has lectured extensively in both substantive and procedural areas. Some of her seminars in the ABA have covered techniques of closing arguments, appellate issues, first amendment issues, and most recently a major CLE at the IADC involving agency overreaching in civil cases: Is Your Civil Client in Danger of Criminal Prosecution. Ms. O’Donnell co-chaired the ABA appellate practice’s litigation committee for three years and was a subcommittee chair for a number of years before that. She has served on the Book Board of the ABA, editing treatises which have included international litigation and internal investigations. She has written numerous articles and is often asked to speak in panels on substantive and procedural issues of importance to lawyers. She is involved in the community, serving on a number of boards, and has headed Pro Bono projects both at the U.S. Attorney’s office, where she established the program, and in Jorden Burt where she managed the Miami Pro Bono program for a decade.




501 Brickell Key Drive

Suite 505

Miami, FL 33131

305 640 8958