Helgi Walker is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Washington, D.C. office. She is Co-Chair of the firm’s Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Group and a member of the Appellate and Constitutional Law Group. She is also a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Chambers USA describes her as “dynamite in the courtroom and a forceful oral advocate,” “a brilliant legal mind,” and counsel with “excellent judgment” and “a reputation for excellence.” In its 2016 competition, The American Lawyer named Gibson Dunn the winner in both the Litigation Department of the Year contest and White Collar/Regulatory category that include her practice areas.
Ms. Walker’s work focuses on appellate, regulatory and complex litigation matters. She has extensive experience in appellate challenges to agency rulemakings, particularly in the telecommunications space, and in other high-stakes commercial litigation.
Ms. Walker was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, which is limited to 500 lawyers nationwide, based on an extensive legal and judicial community vetting process. By appointment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Ms. Walker serves as the Chair of the Court’s Advisory Committee on Procedures. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Historical Society of the D.C. Circuit, and is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Administrative Law & Government Litigation Advisory Committee. From 2010 to 2015, she was a Public Member of the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, which is composed of leading authorities on administrative law.
Ms. Walker worked in the White House Counsel’s Office as Associate Counsel to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. She was part of the original litigation team on behalf of then-Governor Bush in the battle over the 2000 presidential election.
Ms. Walker clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from 1995 to 1996 and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1994 to 1995. After her clerkships, she worked as an associate at Gibson Dunn. She then reentered government service, serving at the Federal Communications Commission as Legal Advisor and later Senior Legal Advisor/Chief of Staff to Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth.
Ms. Walker is listed as a leading lawyer in both Appellate Law and Telecom, Broadcast & Satellite by Chambers USA. In 2011, The American Lawyer selected her as one of the “45 Under 45,” “best of the best among young women lawyers” in the United States. The National Law Journal named her one of “Washington’s Most Influential Women Lawyers” in 2011, and Washingtonian magazine has recognized her as one of the District’s “Top Lawyers” in its biennial rankings. In 2014 and 2015, she was included in Washington Life magazine’s “The Power 100” list of “influential players running Washington and the world.” In 2018, Ms. Walker was featured in the first edition of Who’s Who Legal’s Data 2018 guide.
In addition, she was:
- Named by Lawdragon as a Lawdragon Legend (2021), one of 32 lawyers nationwide recognized as “the biggest stars” who have demonstrated “sustained excellence and endurance.”
- Named by Benchmark Litigation as a Litigation Star (2018-2019)
- Named by Client Choice Awards as the winner of the District of Columbia Litigation category (2018)
- Named one of D.C.’s “Top 50 Women Super Lawyers” (2013-2014), “Super Lawyers” (2009-2020) and “Rising Star” (2017) for Appellate by Super Lawyers
- Named by Law360 as an Appellate MVP (2015), describing her as a “go-to counsel for high-stakes appellate challenges of federal agency actions” and “leading cutting-edge litigation for a range of industries.”
- Named by Law360 as a Telecommunications MVP (2016), observing that her work “has spanned the industry” including a “big win” for broadcasters in “a major ownership case.”
- Named The American Lawyer’s “Litigator of the Week” for her win on behalf of Ford Motor Company before the en banc Sixth Circuit in a case involving telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (April 2015).
- Named The American Lawyer’s “Litigator of the Week” for her win on behalf of Verizon in the “major appeals court ruling” overturning the FCC’s “net neutrality” regulation of Internet service providers (January 2014).
- Named The American Lawyer’s “Litigator of the Week” for obtaining a “blockbuster appellate decision” for Comcast in a challenge to the FCC’s first “net neutrality” decision (April 2010).
- Included in The Best Lawyers in America directory for Appellate Law (2014-2018).
- Recognized by Who’s Who Legal in the area of Technology, Media & Telecommunications (2016).
- Named by Lawdragon as one of “500 Leading Lawyers in America” (2010-2017).
- Named by The Legal 500 US as a “recommended lawyer” in Telecom Litigation and Regulatory, described as “first rate,” possessing “an ability to untangle the regulatory problems but still retain an eye on the commercial current,” and “an absolutely fantastic appellate lawyer who is hard to beat” (2007-2013).
- Rated AV Peer Review, Martindale-Hubbell’s highest ranking by peers for ethical standards and legal ability.
- Represented the National Association of Broadcasters and other media and newspaper industry parties as lead counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of the FCC’s repeal or modification of restrictive and outdated local media ownership rules, winning 9-0.
- Representing the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association in a challenge to a new HHS regulation seeking to prohibit pharmacy benefit managers and plan sponsors from accepting retrospective manufacturer rebates under Medicare Part D plans, successfully obtaining delay of rule’s effective date in D.C. district court.
- Representing Amrock, a sister company of Quicken Loans, in Texas Supreme Court appeal of $706 million jury verdict for alleged trade secret misappropriation and in related appeals regarding the sealing of trial exhibits, after successfully obtaining reversal of the entire verdict and trial court’s sealing orders in the state court of appeals.
- Representing Bank of America in defending against FDIC lawsuit seeking alleged underpayment to the Federal Deposit Insurance Fund of more than $1 billion in D.C. district court. The litigation also involves Bank of America’s counterclaim under the Administrative Procedure Act seeking to invalidate the underlying FDIC regulations.
- Representing Citizens Bank in defending against CFPB civil enforcement action regarding Regulation Z credit card issues in Rhode Island district court, including the bank’s constitutional separation of powers claim against the CFPB challenging its authority to pursue the suit.
- Representing Chicago Venture Partners in defending against SEC civil enforcement action claiming convertible note lenders must register as “dealers” within the meaning of the Exchange Act in Northern District of Illinois district court.
- Represented CTIA-The Wireless Association in the D.C. Circuit in successfully upholding the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” repealing the “net neutrality” regime.
- Represented Verizon in successful D.C. Circuit appeal of the FCC’s order formally adopting “net neutrality” rules, obtaining vacatur of the rules.
- Represented Comcast in successful D.C. Circuit appeal of the FCC’s first “net neutrality” decision, securing vacatur of that decision.*
- Represented PHH Corporation in D.C. Circuit appeal of the CFPB’s actions against the company under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974—the first appellate challenge to a CFPB enforcement proceeding—and successfully obtained a stay of the agency order pending appeal and victory on the merits in a historic separation of powers ruling at the panel level, and ultimately prevailed before the en banc court on administrative law grounds and secured vacatur of $109 million penalty.
- Represented PricewaterhouseCoopers in Fourth Circuit appeal under Arbitration Act, obtaining precedent-setting win for employers.
- Represented Ford Motor Company in winning en banc Sixth Circuit appeal regarding telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Represented CTIA-The Wireless Association in Ninth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court in First Amendment and preemption challenge to City of Berkeley’s Ordinance requiring cellphone retailers to provide certain notices regarding radio frequency emissions, prevailing in invalidation of Ordinance.
- Represented the California Outdoor Advertisers’ Association in winning Ninth Circuit First Amendment challenge to City of San Francisco’s Ordinance regulating the advertisement of sugar-sweetened-beverages.
- Represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in C. Circuit appeal of the FCC’s interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, prevailing on the argument that the interpretation was overbroad in a victory with significant class action consequences.
- Represented American Indian tribe in challenge to HUD mortgagee letter, forcing HUD to delay the effective date of the letter and then winning a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the letter in Utah district court and ultimately securing withdrawal of the letter by HUD.
- Represented ProShares, a firm dealing in leveraged and inverse exchange traded funds, in submitting comments and persuading the SEC to refrain from issuing a rule that would restrict investor choice.
- Represented pro bono client Get Glam Beauty LLC in constitutional challenge to burdensome Mississippi cosmetology licensing law, prompting Mississippi to enact legislation exempting makeup artists.
- Appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to brief and argue the case in defense of the judgment below in Welch v. United States, involving the retroactivity of new rules on habeas review.
* Matter handled prior to joining Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
Ms. Walker graduated in 1994 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where she was a member of the Order of the Coif and Raven Society and served as Executive Editor of the Virginia Law Review. She also received the Robert E. Goldsten Award and John M. Olin Prize in Law and Economics.
Ms. Walker is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia.