Zahra R. Dean - Associate

Zahra R. Dean

“From being raised in a developing country, I have firsthand experience of what living with terrorism feels like, and I bring that empathy to my work with my clients.”


Ms. Dean’s practice areas include anti-terrorism, forced labor and sex trafficking, civil rights, anti-trust, consumer protections, and intellectual property. Ms. Dean works with clients beginning with intake interviews, continuing through discovery, depositions, and trial, helping clients who are unfamiliar with the legal system to navigate through its processes. She helps prepare clients for interviews with the government in parallel criminal cases.

From 2012 to 2015, Ms. Dean worked at Jamil & Jamil, a private law firm in Pakistan where she worked on freedom of expression and human rights issues in the context of internet policy, working with stakeholders including the Pakistani government and businesses such as Google and Facebook.

Ms. Dean also provided international legal and policy consultancy services to the Council of Europe, analyzing and drafting recommendations for proposed national legislation for developing countries including Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and South Africa. Throughout this process she interacted with high level government representatives and stakeholders from law enforcement, intelligence, business, and civil society.

A member of the South Asian Bar Association, Ms. Dean does pro bono work for HIAS PA.

Ms. Dean graduated cum laude from Temple University Beasley School of Law with a Master of Law (LL.M.) in 2016. She was awarded a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from the University of London in 2011.

Ms. Dean teaches a class at Temple’s Beasley School of Law on litigating human trafficking cases. She is also the Secretary of the South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia and volunteers with HIAS Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that provides immigration legal services and an array of social services to low-income immigrants of all backgrounds.

When she isn’t working her way through every book, documentary and podcast about coercive control, Ms. Dean is working her way through preparing all the southeast Asian recipes featured on MasterChef, and through visiting all the national parks in the U.S.


  • New York
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Western District of New York
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit


  • Ms. Dean was awarded the 2015 Philadelphia Bar Association International Law Committee Award for Outstanding Achievement in International Law or Human Rights. She was also named on the list of Ones to Watch by Best Lawyers in 2021.


  • Are Cyber Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) Redundant or Can They Be Relevant to International Cyber Security? published in The Federal Communications Law Journal


  • Julin, et al., v. Chiquita Brands International, Inc., No. 0820641-CIV-KAM, No. 08-01916-MD-Marra/Johnson
  • Miller, et al., v Arab Bank Case No. 18-cv-2192 (BMC)(PK)
  • Advanced Fluid Sys., Inc. v. Huber, 295 F. Supp. 3d 467 (M.D. Pa. 2018)
  • Taha v. Bucks County, et al., C.A. No. 12-6867 (E.D. Pa.)
  • Edmondson, et al., v Raniere, et al. No. 20-CV-485



In March 2008, Chiquita Brands International, Inc. was sued on behalf of American terror victims in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the families of five missionaries who were kidnapped and subsequently murdered in two separate incidents by the Colombian terrorist organization Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).

The suit alleged that Chiquita violated the civil provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act by knowingly providing funds to FARC during the time the missionaries were abducted, held hostage and ultimately murdered. The Anti-Terrorism Act permits American citizens or their heirs and estates to recover damages from those who provide material support to terrorist groups for injuries that they suffered by reason of acts of international terrorism.

Zahra Dean from Kohn Swift worked with a team of attorneys from several other firms to develop and prosecute the case. After 10 years of litigation, in February 2018, on the eve of trial, the parties reached a settlement of all the Plaintiffs’ claims under the Anti-Terrorism Act.



In Edmondson, Kohn Swift represents 80 plaintiffs in litigation involving forced labor, human trafficking, and sex trafficking by leaders of NXIVM cult. The suit is on behalf of former members of the infamous NXIVM organization seeking to hold its founder, his inner circle, and others associated with NXIVM liable for allegedly violating myriad federal and state laws, including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and laws prohibiting conduct such as human trafficking, sex slavery, and forced labor.



In April of 2022, the firm filed a complaint on behalf of three individuals alleging violations of the federal forced labor and human trafficking statutes against Church of Scientology International, its leader, David Miscavige, and several affiliated entities. The complaint alleges that the Plaintiffs, who grew up in Scientology, were coerced into working on the Freewinds, a cruise ship owned and operated by the Defendants, where they were subjected to harsh conditions and punishments and prevented from leaving for more than a decade.

The case, Gawain Baxter, Laura Baxter, and Valeska Paris vs. David Miscavige, Church of Scientology International, et al., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Tampa, Florida.