Janet O’Connor Cornell, Partner

Janet O’Connor Cornell, an “AV” rated founding member of the firm, has more than 25 years’ experience as a litigator in the New York City area. Ms. Cornell is a seasoned trial attorney with experience handling a wide range of complex litigation matters for corporate and individual clients in state and federal courts, as well as in court-sponsored and private arbitrations and mediations. Ms. Cornell regularly represents municipalities, major construction companies, corporations, hotels and educational institutions in construction-related matters, including the defense of construction accident cases, insurance coverage disputes, contract actions, labor disputes and products liability actions. A number of Ms. Cornell’s cases have resulted in reported decisions which continue to shape New York law.

Ms. Cornell has represented many educational institutions, including New York City public schools, private schools, charter schools, colleges and universities in a host of litigated matters involving construction and other general liability matters including negligence, assault and battery, failure to supervise and wrongful death. Stemming from her successes as a litigator, Ms. Cornell has developed a broad-based, full-service relationship with many of these educational institutions, providing regular advice and counsel on a wide range of issues including contract negotiation and drafting, risk management and labor relations.

Ms. Cornell’s experience includes a number of high value and high-profile cases, including serving as lead counsel for the City of New York in litigation arising from the highly publicized 1997 accident involving a Cat-In-The-Hat balloon at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Ms. Cornell ultimately obtained summary dismissal of all claims against the City based on the principle of “governmental immunity.”

In 2007, Ms. Cornell was selected as co-counsel for the defense on “post-verdict” motions in both the State and Appellate Courts following a widely publicized $23 million verdict in a New York County crane accident case. Her successful interpleader of the plaintiff’s employer during the trial based on the assertion of a “grave injury” was instrumental in dramatically increasing the total insurance coverage available, and resulted in a favorable settlement with no personal exposure to her client.

Among many other more recent victories, in May 2010, Ms. Cornell won a defense verdict for Rockefeller University in a sophisticated New York State Labor Law matter in which a 30-year-old union plaintiff claimed permanent unemployability and maintained a multi-million dollar demand through trial. The jury sided with the university in finding that plaintiff was the sole proximate cause of his own accident and injuries.

Ms. Cornell was admitted to practice in New York, Connecticut and U.S. District Courts, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York in 1984 and to the New Jersey Bar and U.S. District Courts, District Court of New Jersey in 1990.  She is a member of the New York and American Bar Associations, the New York County Lawyers Association, the New York State Lawyers Association and the New York Trial Lawyers Association.

Ms. Cornell is a member of the Litigation Counsel of America and is a member of the Select General Counsel for United Educators. Ms. Cornell is also a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), whose mission is to advance the effective practice of higher education attorneys for the benefit of the colleges and universities they serve.  Ms. Cornell and other NACUA members have been endorsed by a Member Institution and approved by the Chair of NACUA’s Membership Committee and Board of Directors.

Ms. Cornell is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell and was named as a SuperLawyer in 2013 and 2014.

Phone: 212-233-1100     |     Fax: 212-233-1110


A Fairfield University graduate with honors, Ms. Cornell received her Juris Doctorate degree from Fordham University in 1983.

Practice Areas

  • Construction Accident and Labor Law
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Construction Defect
  • Educational Liability and School Supervision
  • Municipal Liability
  • Premises Liability
  • Products Liability