Yelena (“Lena”) Konanova is a trial and appellate litigator who has worked on many trial and arbitration teams and has briefed and argued numerous appeals in federal and state courts.
She is noted for her expertise in complex commercial litigation by The Legal 500, recognized as a “Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Trailblazer” by the National Law Journal, and named a “Rising Star” in consumer protection by Law360.
Lena has represented clients in a variety of complex commercial litigations and arbitrations in the areas of securities, contract, antitrust, insurance, trademark, and constitutional law. She has counseled numerous Fortune 500 companies on the prosecution and defense of high-stakes disputes, represented important players in the clean energy industry in proceedings against governmental and competitor entities, litigated complex financial products (including asset-backed securities and insurance), and advised plaintiffs on the recovery of billions of dollars in commercial matters. She was a key member of the appellate team that represented the Federal Housing Finance Agency in successfully defending an $806 million judgment against Nomura and RBS in a landmark residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) litigation.
- Fairfield Sentry Limited (in liquidation): Representing foreign representatives of a fund in proceedings in bankruptcy court and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking to recover billions of dollars in redemption payments from hundreds of entities.
- Student Debt Litigation: Representing a labor union and public service workers in litigation concerning a federal student loan forgiveness program, including in a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against a servicer that misled borrowers and in the District of Columbia against the federal agency tasked with administering the program.
- National Public Finance Guarantee Corp.: Representing National Public Finance Guarantee and MBIA in a lawsuit to hold eight major Wall Street banks accountable for inequitable conduct that contributed to Puerto Rico’s economic collapse. Plaintiffs in this case are bond insurers that have been presented with, and fully honored, over $1 billion dollars in claims after the municipal debt underwritten by the banks-– without proper due diligence or disclosures-– became unsustainable for Puerto Rico and its agencies, leading to massive defaults.
- U.S. Bank: Handling a successful appeal to the Court of Appeals on behalf of U.S. Bank, as trustee of a RMBS trust, establishing that plaintiffs are entitled to correct fatal errors regarding procedural conditions precedent even after the expiration of statutes of limitations, and representing the trust in its RMBS contract action on remand, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
- Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Nomura, et al.: Representing the Federal Housing Finance Agency in successfully defending before the Second Circuit a $806 million judgment against Nomura and RBS in a landmark RMBS litigation raising claims of violations of the 1933 Securities Act and Blue Sky statutes.
- In re ResCap Liquidating Trust: In numerous lawsuits in federal district court in Minnesota and bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York, representing plaintiff seeking to recover billions of dollars in indemnity and damages from correspondent lenders arising from the defendant lenders’ sale of defective mortgage loans that resulted in substantial losses and liabilities for the Trust’s predecessor, the Residential Funding Company.
- CIFG (now Assured Guaranty) v. Goldman: In litigation in the Commercial Division of New York Supreme Court and in FINRA arbitration, representing an insurer against Goldman Sachs in a successful action relating to fraudulent inducement of insurance policy and investment relating to a collateralized debt obligation.
In her broad public interest and pro bono practice, Lena has authored numerous amicus briefs, including arguing for a federal constitutional right to a minimally adequate education and, in the Supreme Court of the United States, on behalf of corrections professionals opposed to solitary confinement practices. She has also represented plaintiffs in appeals of Section 1983 and sentencing matters. Lena has also spent a year as a litigation fellow in the Racial Justice Program at the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she litigated civil rights cases in the areas of indigent defense, school desegregation, school-to-prison pipeline, and debtors’ prisons. Lena’s community service on the local level includes raising funds for Her Justice, a nonprofit organization that provides free legal help to women and children living in poverty in New York City.
Lena earned her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where she served as articles co-chair of the Harvard Law Review and won first place and Best Brief in the Ames Moot Court Competition. Lena clerked for the Honorable Kim McLane Wardlaw at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
- Harvard Law School
Cum laude, Harvard Law Review: Articles Co-Chair; Ames Moot Court Competition: First Place and Best Brief
- Northwestern University
(B.A., Legal Studies and Comparative Literary Studies, 2005)
Magna cum laude, with Departmental Honors, Phi Beta Kappa
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan
Cravath, Swaine & Moore
Law Clerk to the Hon. Kim McLane Wardlaw
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 2008-2009
- State Bar of New York
- United States Supreme Court
- United States Courts of Appeals: Second Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, Tenth Circuit
- United States District Courts: Southern District of New York, Eastern District of New York, Northern District of New York