John Sten is a trial lawyer focusing his practice on securities litigation and white collar defense. John represents officers, directors, boards, and companies in matters involving fraud, false claims act, securities, health care, public corruption, and other investigations by federal, state and local law enforcement, and government regulators. John also represents companies and individuals in ERISA, breach of fiduciary duty, corporate governance issues, and other complex civil litigation. John is frequently called upon to conduct internal investigations for his corporate clients.

Prior to joining Pierce Atwood, John was a partner in the Boston office of the law firm McDermott Will & Emery. John began his career as an attorney with the Division of Enforcement of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C.

John received his J.D., magna cum laude, from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, where he was the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy. John was later the recipient of the school’s Law School Alumni Award.

John is a First Degree Black Belt in the Shaolin Southern Long Fist style of Martial Arts (Five Animal-Five Element).

Honors & Distinctions

  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for Commercial Litigation since 2017
  • Recognized by Massachusetts Super Lawyers® in Securities Litigation (2011-2015)

Professional Activities

  • Member, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
  • Member, American Ireland Fund Young Leaders Association
  • Member, Association of SEC Alumni and SEC Historical Society


  • Co-author, "Post-Paying the Piper: The Collateral Effects and Unintended Consequences of Settling with the SEC," Insights: The Corporate and Securities Law Advisor, Volume 30, Number 1, January 2016
  • Co-author, "Back to Basic: Eliminating the 'Fraud on the Market' Presumption Could be Costly," Westlaw’s Securities Litigation & Regulation, March 6, 2014

Civic Activities

  • Member, Finance Committee, Hon. Joseph P. Kennedy, III 
  • Member, Board of Directors, Brattle Film Foundation

Practice Areas

Representative Experience

  • Obtained summary judgment and federal circuit affirmance for a global company on all claims in securities class action alleging hundreds of millions of dollars in damages arising from alleged securities fraud
  • Granted numerous motions to dismiss in a number of derivative shareholder suits brought nationwide against various publicly traded companies and their officers and directors
  • Obtained a jury verdict against the SEC in favor of broker defendant in manipulation and fraud following trial in federal district court
  • Obtained dismissal and federal circuit affirmance of SEC fraud claims against a former managing director of a global financial institution involving ERISA and securities fraud matters
  • Represented a number of institutional clients in ADR and litigation involving interest rate swaps and derivative transactions associated with Lehman Brothers bankruptcy
  • Represented publicly traded corporation in SEC enforcement investigation concerning alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
  • Won dismissal of fraud and misrepresentation claims asserted against financial analyst in NYSE enforcement proceeding regarding NYSE and FINRA issues
  • Represented foreign exchange (FOREX) trading firm in enforcement action initiated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission resulting in a favorable settlement for trading firm
  • Represented national broker-dealer in connection with hundreds of customer arbitration proceedings involving FINRA arising from proprietary investment products involving various grades of collateralized debt obligations
  • Won rare vacatur of arbitration award by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • Represented mutual fund portfolio trader in SEC enforcement action concerning SEC claims brought under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and the Investment Company Act of 1940
  • Obtained dismissal of SEC complaint in first-ever SEC enforcement action alleging broker-dealer market timing violations