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Kenneth L. Wainstein

White Collar Defense & Investigations
Washington DC
New York

Focuses on internal investigations and civil and criminal enforcement proceedings. Held significant U.S. government roles in enforcement and national security.

Ken represents clients in corporate internal investigations and civil and criminal enforcement proceedings. After more than 20 years in public service, Ken offers clients a deep understanding of the substantive and procedural issues involved in white collar defense. He has intimate knowledge of federal enforcement practice and policy, valuable crisis management skills, credibility among prosecutors and regulators, and strong relationships with Congress, the bench and bar, and U.S. Attorneys around the country.

Ken was the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security and later was Homeland Security Advisor. He served as U.S. Attorney for Washington DC, General Counsel of the FBI and Chief of Staff to FBI Director Robert Mueller, among other roles.

Chambers recognizes Ken for his “track record of success,” and clients say he is “phenomenal” and a “miracle-worker.” Ken is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law, and has testified at more than 25 congressional hearings.

Experience highlights

Independent and Internal Investigations
  • Investigation into allegations of academic irregularities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill*
  • Investigation into allegations of improper conduct by investigators in the NCAA’s Enforcement Staff and a broader review and assessment of the policies and procedures of the NCAA's enforcement operations*
  • Investigation for a parochial secondary school into allegations of sexual abuse of students by a former teacher*
Compliance Reviews and Investigations
  • Numerous compliance reviews, including a comprehensive FCPA compliance review for an international real estate company, and internal investigations for two corporations regarding compliance with campaign finance restrictions, lobbying registration requirements and pay-to-play limitations*
Corporate Representations
  • A major bank in a DOJ investigation into alleged antitrust and fraud violations in its forex operations
  • A corporation regarding its response to a major cyber intrusion*
  • A major pharmaceutical company in an Antiterrorism Act lawsuit
Individual Representations
  • An auto executive in a criminal investigation of the company’s handling of a manufacturing defect that led to crashes*
  • A professional basketball player charged with firearms offenses*
  • An Assistant U.S. Attorney in connection with the special prosecutor's investigation of potential contempt charges arising out of the DOJ's prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens*
Representations in Congressional Matters
  • The State Department political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, in his testimony before the House in the Trump impeachment inquiry
  • A hedge fund founder in an investigation and hearing about drug pricing practices of a pharmaceutical company of which he was a director*
  • The CEO of a major financial institution in a hearing about the banking industry
  • The former Director of National Intelligence and the former Director and Deputy Director of the CIA in investigations and hearings into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election
  • The former Acting Director of the CIA and the former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center in an investigation into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks
  • A U.S. Congressman and his wife in two ethics proceedings*

* Selected representations before joining Davis Polk

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Best Lawyers – “Lawyer of the Year: Litigation - Regulatory Enforcement,” 2021

Department of Justice – Edmund J. Randolph Award for Outstanding Service, 2008

Department of Justice – Director's Award for Superior Performance, 1997 and 2000

Bar Association of the District of Columbia – “Lawyer of the Year” Award, 2007

Chambers USA –  Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, District of Columbia

Legal 500 U.S. – Corporate Investigations and White Collar Criminal Defense: Advice to Individuals

Benchmark Litigation – National and District of Columbia, Star

Washingtonian – “Top Lawyer,” Criminal Defense, White Collar, 2020

J.D., UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Note and Comment Editor, California Law Review
B.A., University of Virginia
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • with high distinction
Law Clerk, Hon. Thomas Penfield Jackson, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 1988-1989
Professional history
  • Partner, Davis Polk, 2017-present
  • Partner, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, 2012-2017
  • Partner, O'Melveny & Myers, 2009-2012
  • Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, 2008-2009
  • Assistant Attorney General for National Security, 2006-2008
  • U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia, 2004-2006
  • Chief of Staff, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003-2004
  • General Counsel, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2002-2003
  • Director, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, 2001-2002
  • Acting U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia, 2001
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York and District of Columbia, 1989-2001
Qualifications and admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
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