Michael Li-Ming Wong is a partner in both the San Francisco and Palo Alto offices of Gibson Dunn. He is a member of the firm’s national Securities Enforcement, White Collar Defense and Investigations and Privacy, Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection Practice Groups. Michael focuses on white-collar criminal matters, complex civil litigation, data-privacy investigations and litigation, and internal investigations.
Michael has first-chaired more than twenty civil and criminal jury trials in federal and state courts. He served as lead trial counsel in a unanimous jury verdict that the San Francisco Daily Journal and Los Angeles Daily Journal recognized as one of the Top Defense Verdicts of 2017 in California, as well as another unanimous jury verdict honored as Top Defense Verdict of 2011. Law360 has named him an “MVP of the Year” among all lawyers in the United States for “successes in high-stakes litigation.” Michael is listed among Northern California “Super Lawyers.”
A Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US), Michael also assists clients with data-privacy counseling and litigation, including matters arising from data breaches and other cybersecurity matters involving law enforcement and governmental agencies. He is lead counsel in several high-profile matters involving alleged data breaches. In December 2017, The American Lawyer recognized Michael as its national “Litigator of the Week” in connection with his victory in a high-profile data-breach matter. In January 2018, Law360 featured Michael in its story recognizing Gibson Dunn as “Privacy Group of the Year.”
Prior to joining Gibson Dunn, Michael served for more than eight years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, where he was lead counsel on some of the district’s most significant and high-profile matters. During his tenure as a federal prosecutor, Michael served for several years as Chief of the White Collar Crimes Section, supervising investigations, prosecutions and trials involving white-collar fraud and public corruption. Michael was also Chief of the Major Crimes Section. He is a two-time winner of the U.S. Department of Justice Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney.
Michael served as a law clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court, and to Judge José A. Cabranes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an Editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Selected Litigation Matters
- Secured complete defense verdict on behalf of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) and one of its Bay Area portfolio hospitals, following jury trial in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in federal civil-rights lawsuit. Cross-examined the plaintiff, and also delivered both opening and closing arguments, persuading trial jurors unanimously to find in client’s favor in all causes of action and to award plaintiff zero damages despite plaintiff’s claim for a multimillion-dollar award in compensatory and punitive damages. In February 2018, the San Francisco Daily Journal and Los Angeles Daily Journal recognized this victory as one of the Top Defense Verdicts of 2017 in California.
- Secured partial acquittal and mistrial on all remaining counts following six-week criminal securities-fraud jury trial in which the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged a $32 million fraud in connection with a series of public offerings by a China-based oil and gas company. This case marked one of the DOJ’s rare setbacks in a high-profile white-collar prosecution. Examined all defense witnesses, and also delivered both opening and closing arguments, persuading trial jurors not to convict client on any of multiple criminal counts brought by team of prosecutors. Case was featured in The American Lawyer, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications.
- Secured complete defense verdict on behalf of Bay Area medical center following three-week jury trial in San Mateo Superior Court. Delivered opening statement and closing argument, persuading trial jurors unanimously to find in client’s favor in all causes of action and to award plaintiff, former CEO, zero damages despite plaintiff’s claim for multimillion-dollar award (subject to trebling under California law).
- Defeated plaintiff classes’ attempt to block $1.7 billion merger between Bare Escentuals and Shiseido; presented oral argument at court hearing on behalf of Bare Escentuals, leading to bench ruling in favor of client.
- Secured settlement of 100 cents on the dollar on behalf of hedge fund and class in lawsuit against publicly-traded life sciences company; on eve of court hearing to enjoin defendant’s proposed $330 million corporate acquisition, defendant agreed to repurchase $95.5 million of notes from clients at full par value, plus accrued interest and legal fees; matter was widely publicized in Bay Area press, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Business Week, The Recorder, and numerous other media outlets.
- Secured complete grant of summary judgment—one month before jury trial and nine months after retention as replacement trial counsel—on behalf of Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) in seven-year-old lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging $20 million federal antitrust claims and state unfair competition violations.
- Represented numerous global private-equity companies in litigation and investigations.
Selected Enforcement Defense Matters
- Represent Fortune 50 technology company in criminal investigation by U.S. Department of Justice into fraud allegedly perpetrated by UK company and its executives in connection with $11 billion merger.
- Represent Fortune 50 financial institution in criminal investigation conducted by special task force consisting of State Attorney General and multiple District Attorneys’ Offices.
- Secured written declination from SEC following four-year investigation of leading health system related to accounting, pension, disclosure and auditor issues, and despite SEC having previously issued Wells Notice announcing intent to file enforcement action.
- Secured declinations or no-actions on behalf of publicly-traded companies in multiple SEC investigations.
- Representation of former executives of life sciences company in investigation jointed conducted by U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Department of Justice, Consumer Protection Branch.
- Data-breach representation of pre-IPO Bay Area company; dealt with multiple law-enforcement agencies, none of which took any action against client or publicized breach; client subsequently held successful IPO and stock is now trading on Nasdaq with a ten-figure valuation.
- Successful representation of former senior executive of Barclays Bank PLC in connection with criminal investigation jointly conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and Manhattan District Attorney’s Office; secured result of no penalty and no mention of client in connection with $298 million settlement between Barclays and DOJ.
- Representation of Japanese manufacturing company in connection with trade-secrets investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, resulting in no charges filed and no actions taken against clients.
- Successful representation of former executives of Fortune 500 pharmaceutical manufacturer in an investigation by U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding the promotion of a prescription drug; government closed investigations without taking any action against clients.
Selected Anti-Corruption Matters
- Recently traveled to the Baltics, Brazil, China, Eastern Europe, Japan, Mexico, the Middle East, and Russia as lead counsel or co-lead counsel in anti-corruption investigations, training and compliance on behalf of multiple clients.
- Designed and implemented numerous anti-corruption compliance and training programs around the globe.
- Lead counsel in conducting on-the-ground FCPA due diligence in connection with global private equity company’s $150 million acquisition of China-based plastic and chemical products company.
- Conducted on-the-ground FCPA due diligence in connection with private-equity consortium’s $363 million take-private bid for U.S.-listed, China-based components and materials manufacturer.
- Conducted FCPA investigation involving alleged kickbacks paid to doctors by sales representatives of Hungarian subsidiary of global pharmaceutical company.
- Delivered in-person FCPA compliance training to employees in China, India, Japan and U.S. offices of prominent Bay Area social-networking company; conducted worldwide compliance review for that company.
- Representation of Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company on FCPA compliance and investigative matters in numerous countries.
- Representation of first individual indicted on FCPA-related charges in Bay Area.
- Representation of global private-equity firm in FCPA due diligence in connection with proposed acquisition of pharmaceutical distributor with operations in Central America and South America.
- Successfully completed FCPA investigation and training programs for international medical-device manufacturer, including on-the-ground work in South America, China and Russia.
- Co-Author, “The Data Security Governance Conundrum: Practical Solutions and Best Practices for the Boardroom and the C-Suite,” Columbia Business Law Review (July 2015)
- Co-Author, “The Private Equity Trap: How Global Anticorruption Can Ensnare the Unwary Private Equity Professional,” Journal of Private Equity (Winter 2013)
- Co-Author, “World War Z: Why Life Sciences Companies May be in the Path of the ‘New’ Securities Enforcement & Litigation Onslaught, & How to Avoid Trouble,” Expert Guide: Fraud and White Collar Crime (August 2013)
- Co-Author, “The Devil’s in the Disclosures: Compliance After Panther Partners,” Insights (April 2013)
- Co-Author, “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Pharma in the Chinese Market: United States Law Enforcement Pursues Corruption Crackdown Across Entire Industry,” CPB Review (September 2010)
- Co-Author, “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Pharma: Is DOJ Following Through on its Tough Talk Towards the Industry,” Bloomberg Law Reports – Risk & Compliance (June 2010)
- Co-Author, “Beefing Up ‘Corporate Miranda Warnings’: Averting Misunderstanding and Detrimental Consequences in Internal Investigations,” Wall Street Lawyer (August 2009)
Presentations & Speeches
- Speaker, “Lessons from Jury Research Both During and After Trial,” Bridgeport Conference on Jury Persuasion, San Francisco (April 2017)
- Speaker, “FCPA in China for 2017,” Strafford Webinar (January 2017)
- Speaker, “The Year of the Hack: Data Breaches and Consequences for Companies,” National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) National Conference, New Orleans (November 2015)
- Speaker, “Audit Committee Investigations,” ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting, Chicago (September 2015)
- Speaker, “How Deposition Testimony Plays Out at Trial,” Bridgeport Deposition Workshop, San Francisco (March 2015)
- Speaker, “Big Data, Bigger Deal,” University of San Francisco Law School (Feb. 2015)
- Speaker, “The Era of Big Data: Balancing Privacy Rights, Law Enforcement Needs, and Corporate Interests,” National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) National Conference, Scottsdale, Arizona (November 2014)
- Speaker, “FCPA in China for 2014: Compliance Strategies Given China’s Unique Cultural and Governmental Intricacies,” Strafford Webinar (July 2014)
- Speaker, “Anti-Corruption Compliance and Operational Strategy for China,” American Conference Institute Advanced Forum on FCPA & Anti-Corruption for the Life Sciences Industry, New York (April 2014)
- Speaker, “Between Scylla and Charybdis: When Civil and Criminal Liability Converge,” Defense Research Institute Professional Liability Seminar, New York (December 2013)
- Speaker, “Assessing and Mitigating Third-Party Fraud and Corruption Risk,” Accelus Governance, Risk and Compliance Forum, San Francisco (October 2013)
- Speaker, “SEC Enforcement in China,” (美国证券交易委员会在中国执法), CPE SEC Accounting and Reporting Conference, Shanghai, China (June 2013)
- Speaker, “Anti-Corruption Enforcement in China,” (美国海外反腐败法在中国的实施), CPE SEC Accounting and Reporting Conference, Shanghai, China (June 2013)
- Speaker, “Anti-Corruption Enforcement in China on the Rise,” Strafford Webinar (March 2013)
- Speaker, “Advanced Trial Advocacy,” NAPABA National Conference, Washington DC (November 2012)
- Speaker, “The Ostrich Defense Will Not Fly: The Future of Global Anticorruption Enforcement and What You Need to Know Now to Avoid Being Targeted,” CLE Seminar, San Francisco and Palo Alto (March 2012)
- Speaker, “U.S. Enforcement in the Life Sciences Industry,” Seminar on Life Sciences Law, Tokyo & Osaka, Japan (June 2011)
- Speaker, “FCPA Enforcement in Asia,” Seminar on Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Law, Taiwan Electrical & Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (台灣區電機電子工業同業公), Taipei, Taiwan (April 2011)
- Speaker, “Inside the Mind of the U.S. Prosecutor,” Seminar on Extraterrorial Reach of U.S. Law, Taiwan Electrical & Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (台灣區電機電子工業同業公), Hsinchu, Taiwan (April 2011)
- Panelist, “False Claims Act Litigation,” Minority Corporate Counsel Association CLE Expo, Chicago, IL (March 2011)
- Program Chair & Moderator, “Inspiring Integrity: How In-House Counsel Can Respond as an Investigation Unfolds,” NAPABA National Conference, Los Angeles, CA (November 2010)
- Panelist, “Reverse Angle Discussions of the FCPA,” NAPABA National Conference, Los Angeles, CA (November 2010)
- “Securities Law Roundtable,” California Lawyer (September 2010)
- Moderator & Panelist, “False Claims Act Liability for U.S. Stimulus Recipients: Why the Obama Administration’s Largesse Comes With Strings Attached,” NAPABA National Conference, Boston, MA (November 2009)
- Panelist, “Finding Your Own Trial Style,” NAPABA National Conference, Boston, MA (November 2009)
- Panelist, “FCPA Implications of Investing in Chinese Life Sciences Companies,” PharmAsia Summit, San Francisco, CA (October 2009)
- Panelist, “The Mortgage Meltdown: Recent Trends in Securities Litigation,” National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Regional Conference, Los Angeles, CA (June 2009)
- Panelist, “Anatomy of a Corporate Scandal,” NAPABA National Convention, Seattle, WA (November 2008)
- Guest Lecturer, “Prosecuting Business Crimes,” Seminar on Criminal Law, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT (April 2008)