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Lisa Phelan

Lisa Phelan

Morrison & Foerster LLP


Lisa M Phelan, former Chief of the National Criminal Enforcement and Washington Criminal I Sections of the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ), is a partner in Morrison & Foerster’s Global Antitrust Law Practice and Investigations + White Collar Group. With more than 25 years of service at the DOJ as one of the leading authorities in criminal antitrust matters, Ms Phelan draws upon her unmatched criminal investigations, litigation and enforcement experience, to guide clients through sensitive matters pertaining to international cartel actions and white-collar investigations, and to rapidly assess and address their total exposure to potential claims of unlawful collusion.

As Chief of the National Criminal Enforcement and Washington Criminal I Sections of the Antitrust Division, Ms Phelan supervised and coordinated all investigative and litigation work on international and national criminal cartel cases. Ms Phelan regularly coordinated investigations and prosecutions with cartel enforcement agencies throughout the world, including in the European Union, Japan, Mexico, Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Brazil, among others. She also regularly interfaced with other law enforcement units when investigations raised non-antitrust issues.

Prior to Ms Phelan’s appointment as Chief of National Criminal Enforcement, she served as a senior criminal litigator at the Antitrust Division, leading investigations and trials of multinational corporations and their executives for price fixing and related crimes. Ms Phelan has prosecuted more than 300 federal criminal cases, and oversaw dozens of jury trials throughout her tenure at the DOJ.

Clients turn to Ms Phelan for her deep knowledge and experience in moments of crisis. She is a trusted adviser when companies and executives are subpoenaed, or when enforcement agencies execute a search warrant or stage a dawn raid. Few in the world have the breadth of her experience to counsel and represent clients through each step of a cartel investigation, leniency application, plea negotiation or criminal jury trial. She is also an expert in the necessary components of effective compliance programmes, and as an asset to clients in preventing antitrust problems before they arise. She has worked on complex antitrust matters across numerous major industries, including financial services, technology, aviation, automotive, shipping, paper, petroleum, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, among others.

Ms Phelan has received numerous noteworthy accolades throughout her career, including the Presidential Rank Award, awarded by President Obama in 2015; the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, awarded by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2014; and the Assistant Attorney General’s Outstanding Service Award, bestowed on multiple occasions, in her capacity as a lead trial attorney and senior official at the DOJ.

Ms Phelan is consulted by law enforcement agencies and competition partners around the globe on best practices and policies in cartel enforcement and leniency programs. Ms Phelan speaks frequently at American Bar Association (ABA), International Competition Network, International Bar Association and various prominent white-collar crime conferences.

As an active participant in ABA programmes and activities for close to three decades, she has served as the Vice Chair of the Criminal Practices and Procedures Committee of the Antitrust Section, and on the Section’s International Cartel Task Force, which regularly meets with competition agency heads from around the globe to provide thought leadership, and to advise on competition law changes and practices, including leniency programme criteria. Ms. Phelan was a co-developer of the ABA’s inaugural Global Private Litigation Conference, held in Amsterdam in 2017, offering expert insights into the continuing path of multi-jurisdictional and collective antitrust redress in a rapidly changing landscape in antitrust enforcement and follow-on cartel litigation, and for 2018 and 2019, she has been elected to a top leadership post for the ABA Antitrust Section.

Ms Phelan has long championed the advancement of women within the legal profession and in the Antitrust Bar in particular. Recognised by MLex as a ‘trailblazer’ for women in antitrust, in recent years she founded the Women in Cartel group that has expanded its membership nationally and internationally. In 2013, she was named one of Global Competition Review’s Top ‘Women in Antitrust’. Ms Phelan serves on the firm’s Women’s Strategy Committee, working closely with firm leaders to ensure that the advancement of women is a constant strategic priority.

Ms Phelan received her JD magna cum laude from American University, Washington College of Law, where she served on the International Law Journal. She received her BA summa cum laude, also from American University.

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