John J. Powell

John J. Powell


Philadelphia, PA

John Powell handles complex litigation, including a wide variety of complicated commercial disputes, intellectual property, white-collar criminal defense, securities and antitrust matters in federal and state courts around the country and in international arbitration.

John has represented several of the world’s largest companies, including, in recent years, a major energy company, a premier global consumer products company, the plastics division of a Saudi Arabian petrochemical company and a leading distributor of prescription drugs. John has also represented companies in the financial services, health care, technology, gaming, automotive, and heavy machinery industries, as well as individuals, including a professor at an Ivy League law school, the European CEO of a global equipment manufacturer, a cutting-edge chemical scientist, and an indigent man wrongly convicted of murder.

John has a track record of helping his clients prevail at key points during litigation by developing novel arguments and new approaches to difficult legal, factual and procedural issues.

Some of John’s recent experience includes:

  • Defeated federal class action claims alleging fraud and breach of contract against John’s client, a consortium of more than 100 U.S. law schools, related to complex transactions concerning the financing of student loans.
  • Defeated claims of intellectual property theft against by persuading state trial and appellate courts to apply principles of adverse possession to proprietary computer algorithms.
  • Obtained favorable resolution of ICC arbitration involving claims of intellectual property theft, fraud and breach of contract asserted by a Korean manufacturing conglomerate against John’s client, a global chemical manufacturer. Among other things, John successfully excluded certain European affiliates from the proceedings and successfully opposed U.S. discovery in related federal actions in Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
  • Obtained multiple court orders quashing grand jury subpoenas on the basis that the subpoenas violated the fourth amendment rights of John’s client, a large energy company.
  • Persuaded a federal judge in Iowa to recuse himself in a business dispute involving John’s client, a large national gaming company, because the judge previously had been affiliated with a non-profit organization connected to the dispute.
  • Helped defeat a products liability mass tort action involving hundreds of claims against our client, Procter & Gamble, by successfully moving to exclude scientific testimony, offered by several professors of medicine, on the grounds that the scientific testing supporting the testimony lacked sufficient epidemiological rigor.
  • Defeated criminal charges filed against a business executive in New York by moving to dismiss the charges and helping to secure sealed disposition of the proceedings.
  • Obtained an order from a Pennsylvania trial court requiring state-of-the-art touch DNA analysis of murder evidence on the basis that the testing could prove the innocence of John’s client, a prisoner represented in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.

John maintains an active pro-bono practice. Most recently, he has worked closely with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project on several wrongful conviction cases. John also provides free legal representation to underprivileged Philadelphia residents in a wide variety of matters through the Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program.

John serves on the board of advisors of a technology company founded by computer scientists at Columbia University that is currently developing ways to apply new language processing and machine learning technology to reduce the costs of electronic discovery and (John hopes) to save the legal profession from the exponential growth of electronically stored information that increasingly defines important aspects of pre-trial litigation practice. John is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Temple American Inn of Court, and a regional board member of Indego Africa, a nonprofit social enterprise that works to help Rwandan artisans access international markets.

Before joining Buchanan, John worked as an analyst at Morgan Stanley in New York City and in the international arbitration group of a large Dutch law firm. In law school, John was a member of the Columbia Journal of Tax Law, served on the boards of the Columbia Business and Law Association and the Columbia Law Students for Social Enterprise and participated in the Low Income Taxpayer Representation Project.