Willkie adds Gibson Dunn partner to co-chair national white collar defence group

Former government lawyer Michael Li-Ming Wong joins in San Francisco and Palo Alto

Top 35 US law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher has added a partner from Gibson Dunn to co-chair its national white collar defence group. 

Michael Li-Ming Wong has joined the 1,200-lawyer firm as a partner in its litigation department after 12 years as a partner at Gibson Dunn, having earlier served as chief of white collar crimes at the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California. 

He will be based in Willkie’s San Francisco and Palo Alto offices and co-chair the white collar defence group alongside East Coast partners Michael Schachter and Bill Stellmach. 

His hire follows Randall Jackson, who had been co-chair of Willkie’s white-collar defence group, exiting the firm last September to join Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz in New York.

Simona Agnolucci, co-managing partner of Willkie’s San Francisco office, described Li-Ming Wong as a talented litigator with “deep experience and a successful track record guiding clients through high-stakes white collar, civil litigation, privacy and investigations matters”. 

Benedict Hur, who manages the San Francisco office alongside Agnolucci, added: “He is a significant asset to our growing Bay Area litigation team and we are thrilled to welcome him to Willkie.” 

The firm’s California presence has grown over the past several years to approximately 140 attorneys, including around 60 in its Bay Area offices, who regularly represent major tech companies and private equity sponsors in complex litigation, M&A and technology transactions. Work for the San Francisco team has included representing smartphone manufacturer HTC in a patents dispute with Apple and counselling semiconductor multinational Qualcomm through an investigation by the International Trade Commission.  

For his part Li-Ming Wong has tried more than 20 civil and criminal jury trials in federal and state courts, including several multi-week jury trials in recent years. He has led global investigations and enforcement matters, including those involving allegations of FCPA violations, fraud and trade secrets violations, and has served as lead counsel in matters involving alleged data breaches. 

Before joining Gibson Dunn in 2012 he was a partner at Ropes & Gray and earlier in his career served as a law clerk to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court, and to Judge José Cabranes of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

“Willkie has an unparalleled reputation when it comes to high-stakes litigation and investigations and a collaborative firm culture,” Li-Ming Wong said. “I’m excited to be a part of that and look forward to leveraging my experience to advise our clients on critical litigation matters, including in emerging areas of the law.”

His hire follows Willkie adding Google’s former litigation counsel, Michael Rome, to its investigations and enforcement practice on the West Coast last November, with Rome splitting his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles.   

Early last year the firm also bolstered its bench in Washington DC with the hire of Timothy Heaphy, the chief investigator to the US House committee investigating the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol, to co-lead its compliance, investigations and enforcement practice. He joined alongside Soumya Dayananda, who served as a senior investigative counsel to the Jan. 6 committee.

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