Peter F. Vaira

Special Counsel

Chair, Litigation Dispute Resolution

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Peter F. Vaira, one of our country’s preeminent white collar criminal defense lawyers serves as Special Counsel to Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores, LLC (GPEFF). During Mr. Vaira’s over 50 years of practice he has handled the most complex criminal and civil matters in state and federal court, having earned him a well-known reputation as one of the most respected attorneys in the region. Mr. Vaira is also a widely sought after arbitrator, mediator, special master, and independent hearing officer with numerous years of experience in the field of alternative dispute resolution. Mr. Vaira directs GPEFF’s alternative dispute resolution practice while also working directly with Michael J. Engle who leads our white collar practice group.

Mr. Vaira is a member of the Pennsylvania, Illinois, and District of Columbia Bars and he is a certified national and international arbitrator who serves as a Special Master in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Commerce Court program and who previously acted as the Independent Hearing Officer for the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Throughout his career Mr. Vaira has also handled every kind of white collar criminal defense matter imaginable as well as antitrust cases, internal and parallel investigations, corporate crisis management matters, and complex civil litigation cases. Recently, Mr. Vaira was appointed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to serve as the Executive Director of a Commission formed to investigate the Department of Licenses and Inspections subsequent to a tragic building collapse in Center City Philadelphia.

A graduate of Duquesne University and the Duquesne University School of Law, Mr. Vaira served in the United States Navy from 1963 to 1968 in the Judge Advocate General Corps. Mr. Vaira is also a fifteen year veteran of the United States Department of Justice where he served as the Attorney in Charge of the Philadelphia and Chicago Organized Crime Strike Forces. In 1978, the President of the United States appointed Mr. Vaira to serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania where he acted as the chief federal law enforcement official for five years. Upon leaving the Justice Department, Mr. Vaira was later appointed as the Executive Director of the President’s Commission on Organized Crime. After entering into private practice, Mr. Vaira worked in various prominent law firms in both Chicago and Philadelphia.

Mr. Vaira is a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Law Institute, and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Mr. Vaira is a frequent lecturer on a variety of legal topics both nationally and internationally, while he also serves on the editorial boards of The Legal Intelligencer and The Philadelphia Lawyer. Mr. Vaira is the author of Eastern District of Pennsylvania Federal Practice Rules Annotated from Gann Publishing and Corporate Responses to Federal Grand Jury Investigations published by Matthew Bender.



  • Who’s Who in America
  • Who’s Who in American Law
  • Distinguished Law Alumni Award, Duquesne University Law School, 2005
Professional Activities

Professional Memberships & Leadership Activities

  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, (by invitation only)
  • Chairman, Criminal Procedure Committee, 1991-1994
  • Member, Communications Committee, 1996
  • Member, International Committee, 2009 to present
  • Fellow, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, North American Branch
  • Member, American Law Institute (by invitation only)
  • Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL)
  • Executive Director, Mayor’s Independent Commission Regarding the Licenses & Inspections Department, 2013
  • Special Hearing Master, Commerce Court Program, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, 2012 to present
  • Member, Philadelphia Mayor’s Police Department Transition Team, 2008 Independent Hearing Officer, Laborers’ International Union of North America, 1995 to present
  • Member, Mayor’s Selection Committee for Philadelphia Police Commissioner, 1992
  • Member, Philadelphia Commission on Police Corruption, 1997-1998
  • Executive Director, President’s Commission on Organized Crime, 1984-85
  • Court Appointed Arbitrator, Fen Phen Diet Drug Class Action Suit settlement, Philadelphia
  • Certified Mediator, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Military Service

  • Officer, United States Navy (Judge Advocate), Active Duty, 1963-1968; Served in Republic of the Philippines, at sea in the-Mediterranean fleet; and Office of Judge Advocate General, Washington, D.C. Tried numerous courts-martial; acted as counsel to courts of inquiry and legal advisor to Flag Officer, commander of 15 ship flotilla, at sea; argued before the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.


  • Author of Eastern District of Pennsylvania Federal Practice Rules Annotated, Gann Law Books Company, published annually since 1998.
  • Author of Corporate Responses to Grand Jury Investigations, Matthew Bender, 1984, revised annually.
  • Regular columnist, “Eastern District Practice” and the Legal lntelligencer, a daily commercial legal newspaper.
  • Blogger, Professional Blog – Peter Vaira, Eastern District Practice.
  • Member, Editorial Board, The Philadelphia Lawyer magazine (Editor 2008-2009) and The Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer.