New York (1975), North Carolina (1978)
David Rudolf has enjoyed a storied career as a litigator in the United States, where he has been named as one of the Best Lawyers in America for more than 25 consecutive years. In addition to representing business executives, professionals, athletes and politicians in federal white-collar investigations and prosecutions, he has successfully represented individuals charged with capital murder and other serious felonies in the state courts. But his practice has not been limited to criminal defense.
During the past twenty years, Rudolf has also secured favorable verdicts and settlements in high-stakes civil litigation. He has represented civil plaintiffs against large banks, securities broker/dealers, accountants, law firms, hedge funds, insurance companies and corporations. Most recently, he has represented a number of individuals exonerated by the courts after being wrongfully convicted and serving decades in prison for crimes they did not commit. On behalf of his clients in cases involving the abuse of power against individual citizens, Rudolf has secured verdicts and settlements in excess of $100 million, including at the time the largest punitive damages verdict for an individual against a broker/dealer in a securities fraud arbitration, and two of the largest settlements for wrongful convictions in North Carolina history.
Rudolf started his career as a public defender in New York City, first in the state courts in the Bronx, and then as a Federal Defender in Brooklyn, before joining the faculty at the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he established and directed the first clinical program in which law students, under his direct supervision, represented individuals charged with criminal offenses. He also taught Trial Advocacy as a member of the law faculty, before starting his own law firm while continuing as an adjunct professor teaching trial advocacy. He has taught a course in Criminal Litigation at the Duke University School of Law, has taught trial advocacy to litigators as a faculty member and team leader for various programs offered by NITA (National Institute for Trial Advocacy), and has lectured on various topics at dozens of continuing legal education courses throughout the United States.
In addition to his litigation practice and his teaching, Rudolf has also been recognized for his work with professional organizations. He has held various leadership positions in the ABA Criminal Justice Section, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice , and was one of only three criminal defense lawyers selected by the North Carolina Bar Association for its inaugural class of the North Carolina lawyers Hall of Fame .
Most recently, Rudolf received world-wide acclaim for his representation of Michael Peterson in the documentary, The Staircase, on Netflix, and has lectured about that case throughout the world, including in England, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Australia, as well as in the United States. He has been a featured speaker at the Fringe Fest in Edinburgh, Scotland, and gave the keynote address at the 2018 annual meeting of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association (CLA) in Toronto.
As a result of his work in The Staircase, Rudolf received the prestigious Praeses Elit Award from the Dublin Law Society at Trinity College in Ireland. Previous recipients have included Former President FW de Klerk, who helped bring about a peaceful transition to the end of apartheid in South Africa, and Sir Bob Geldorf, who organized the global food charity concert Live Aid. In announcing the award, the Secretary of the Law Society noted that Rudolf‘s “appearance in ‘The Staircase’ captured the imaginations of millions of viewers across the world,” and that “your commitment to justice and the loyalty you demonstrated for your client is truly inspiring... Your integrity has shone through every aspect of your career.”
In 2020, Rudolf and his wife and law partner, Sonya Pfeiffer, successfully launched a podcast, Abuse of Power, that is available on Audible. His book about how those in positions of authority in the criminal justice system have abused their power will be published by HarperCollins in January 2022.
Bachelor, Political Science; Summa Cum Laude
London School of Economics, London, England
New York University School of Law
JD with Honors
Ethics in Criminal Litigation
Kansas State Bar Association, 2021
New York, NY 2020
Keynote Speaker, The Role of Lawyers in a Free Society
Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia
Vancouver, BC 2019
New Orleans, Louisiana, 2019
FringeFest – 4-day headliner
Edinburgh, Scotland 2019
Criminal Lawyers Association Annual Conference
Toronto, Ontario 2018
Westside Bar Association
Los Angeles, CA, 2018
Inside the Staircase Tour
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers National; 2015, 2016
North Carolina Advocates for Justice Convention, 2016
White Collar Crime Panel
North Carolina Bar Association, 2016