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Clark Smith Villazor LLP Announces Addition of Virginia Tent and Promotion of Brian Burns to Partner

August 21, 2023

Clark Smith Villazor LLP—a leading white-collar defense and civil-litigation law firm— today announced the addition of Virginia Tent as a partner and the promotion of Brian Burns to partner with the firm.

The moves are part of the firm’s continued growth since launching in April.  “Virginia and Brian are both excellent additions to our partnership,” said Chris Clark, Founding Partner, Clark Smith Villazor.  “We’re thrilled to make these moves as we continue to grow our firm and continue to provide our clients with top-notch advice on their most critical legal issues.”

Virginia Tent has twenty years of experience, including more than a decade at an international law firm, where she worked extensively with Clark on white collar and civil matters.  Together, they resolved tax and related issues with the DOJ for Swiss banks, defended against novel Foreign Agent Registration Act prosecutions, and won summary judgment in a securities class action after getting the plaintiffs’ expert disqualified.

“Virginia is a top talent,” Clark said.  “Clients trust her judgment and appreciate her laser-focused advocacy and clear advice. She understands clients’ internal concerns, priorities and communication needs.  And her fluent German and French are a huge bonus, allowing our team to work even more efficiently.  I am delighted to continue our collaboration at Clark Smith Villazor.”

Tent joins the firm after spending more than two years in Zurich at a Swiss-based financial institution where she managed high profile, multi-jurisdictional investigations and the successful defense of related customer litigation.

Tent said, “It is an exciting time to join Clark Smith Villazor.  With our nimble firm and extraordinarily talented team, we can offer clients unparalleled service that is precisely tailored to their needs.”

Tent earned her B.A. from Swarthmore College, her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and her law degree from Columbia University.

Brian Burns has over a decade of experience as a litigator and joined the firm Smith Villazor LLP in 2017.  He litigates and represents clients in white-collar investigations and cases involving the SEC and DOJ and also has extensive experience litigating complex commercial disputes, including M&A and other business disputes in the Delaware Court of Chancery, FINRA arbitrations, and civil litigation in state and federal courts in New York.

Burns’s recent litigation successes include obtaining a preliminary injunction, on behalf of four service-disabled veterans, largely halting New York’s allegedly unconstitutional marijuana retail-dispensary licensing program.  He’s also led the litigation of multiple civil actions on behalf of the co-founder of consumer-products brand EOS, including a successful New York state-court appeal resulting in the reversal of the lower court’s dismissal order and reinstatement of the firm’s client’s claim.

“Brian is an incisive litigator who runs cases and gets results for clients,” said Patrick Smith, Founding Partner, Clark Smith Villazor.  “Brian has been with us since the early days of Smith Villazor and has played key roles in many of our most high-profile and complex matters.  His promotion to partner is well deserved, and I’m excited for our next phase together as we continue to grow Clark Smith Villazor and its practice.”

Burns said, “I’m honored to join the partnership of Clark Smith Villazor.  The founders Chris, Pat, and Rodney are exceptional lawyers and leaders.  It’s a privilege to work with them and all the high-caliber lawyers at Clark Smith Villazor, day in and day out.  This firm is going to keep doing great things, and I look forward to contributing to its further growth and success.”

Burns earned his B.A. from Providence College and his law degree from Fordham University School of Law.  After law school, he clerked for Judge Richard Holwell and Judge William H. Pauley III in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

About Clark Smith Villazor LLP

Clark Smith Villazor LLP is a leading, New York City-based litigation boutique law firm, focused on white-collar investigations and trials, regulatory enforcement matters, and high-stakes civil cases.  Launched in April 2023, its founders Chris Clark, Patrick Smith, and Rodney Villazor are each former federal prosecutors with decades of experience handling complex, high-profile civil and criminal matters.  For more information, visit

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