As the global litigation manager for Bloomberg, Steven Haber oversees the litigation docket for the renowned financial tech, data, and media company founded by Michael Bloomberg. But that’s only part of what his job entails. In addition to overseeing litigation matters, he also offers his insights during disputes and discussions with transactional lawyers.
His background includes working as managing director and head of litigation for the Americas at Deutsche Bank, as well as a decade at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. These experiences have provided him with exceptional skills in numerous areas, including depositions.
“The first time I took a deposition was actually the first time I ever saw a deposition,” Haber notes. “I had clerked for two years for a district court judge, and then I went to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in the Civil Division, where they handed you a bunch of cases and you went out and litigated them.”
Since then, Haber has done much more learning by doing, always building on his lawyerly skill set. “You have to give some thought to, ‘What’s the order in which I want to ask the questions?’” Haber explains. “Sometimes you do that chronologically, starting at the beginning and going to the end. Sometimes, if you have a particularly sensitive area, you may want to put that up front, before a witness gets comfortable with the process.”
Essential to Haber’s success is going through the record with a fine-tooth comb and knowing a case’s documents backward and forward.
“What really works for me is spending the time going through the record and making sure I understand it so well that, when I’m asking questions of a witness, I have a pretty good idea of what the answers are likely to be,” he remarks. That way, “I’ve also figured out what the soft spots are.”
For example, in one case at the US Attorney’s Office, he studied a permission slip that a federal employee produced in discovery that purportedly showed the person was authorized to be absent from work at a specific time.
“Looking closely at it and comparing it to other permission slips in the record, you could see it looked like he basically cut and pasted a signature block of his supervisor onto the permission slip,” Haber recalls. “That was an instance where I actually started off the deposition, after introducing myself, with that document—in preliminaries. The lawyer then dropped out of the case, and we ultimately ended up with a favorable resolution.”
Haber’s practiced approach to taking depositions stems in part from his time with the US Attorney’s Office, where he handled cases to completion. “There’s nothing like working a case from beginning to end to teach you the importance of taking a thorough deposition,” Haber shares.
At Bloomberg, Haber is active in the company’s pro bono program. In 2019, after winning awards from the City Bar Justice Center, the New York Law Journal, and the Lawyers Alliance for New York, Bloomberg’s legal pro bono program involved contributions from about two hundred people and more than five thousand hours of work.
“We’ve handled cases where veterans are seeking benefits from the VA, and we work with an outside firm to represent those veterans and seek those benefits,” he explains. “We’ve also done, again with outside counsel, transgender name change applications, so people who are transgender can have their name changed on their birth certificate and other official documents.”
Another pro bono area that Bloomberg’s legal team handles relates to asylum cases, when individuals apply for asylum and have a hearing before an asylum officer. As the son of two Holocaust survivors, Haber finds that work holds a special meaning for him.
“It’s very moving to be representing someone who is facing the prospect of persecution if they are returned to their native country. You help them navigate the process, present their case to an asylum officer in the best light possible, and have them in a position where they can remain in this country safely,” he asserts. “It really gives you an appreciation for what this country means to people who come from places that don’t protect them the way people here are protected.”
The Case of a Lifetime
Steven Haber has worked many cases throughout his career, but there is one that particularly stands out.
His parents were Holocaust survivors who came to the United States as displaced persons following World War II and met when they were both living in New York.
While at the US Attorney’s Office, Haber worked on a case that led to the denaturalization of a Nazi, Jakob (Jack) Reimer, who was found living in New York State by the Office of Special Investigations in Washington.
“When those people were found, the Department of Justice proceeded against them in the first instance, to denaturalize them,” Haber explains. “They had become naturalized citizens on the basis of these applications that omitted any reference to their wartime activities, which showed they had assisted in the persecution of Jews and other groups during the war. If the government could prove those misrepresentations, the individual would lose their naturalized status as a US citizen.”
The next step was a deportation proceeding, which today is known as a removal proceeding. Haber was assigned to the denaturalization case against Reimer alongside attorneys from the Office of Special Investigations, and it went to trial. Ultimately, it was determined that Reimer had actively participated in the liquidation of three Jewish ghettos during the war and also assisted the SS by shooting at a Jewish prisoner. He was denaturalized and later ordered deported.
Years later, Haber expressed the influence that case had on him in an answer to a law school reunion survey question. “I said, ‘If the only thing I did in my legal career was this case, that would have been enough,’” he remembers. “‘The fact that I was able to participate in this case and help obtain this result is really my proudest moment as a lawyer.’”
Davis Wright Tremaine:
“It has been our good fortune at Davis Wright Tremaine to work with Steven Haber, whose litigation instincts, strategic thinking, and legal skills are invaluable.”
–Laura Handman, Partner