White-Collar Defender Leslie Caldwell Up For Prosecutor Job

, Legal Times


Leslie Caldwell
Leslie Caldwell

Leslie Caldwell spent the last decade defending Fortune 500 companies and CEOs in criminal matters. On Tuesday, the Senate takes up her nomination to lead the U.S. Department of Justice's Criminal Division, where she'd be on the other side of the courtroom.

If she’s confirmed, Caldwell will leave behind a $2.8 million partnership income at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius—plus bonuses, such as the estimated $250,000 to $500,000 last year—as co-chairwoman of the corporate investigations and white-collar practice group, according to her nomination papers on file at the U.S. Senate.

Caldwell also would leave behind a client roster that includes tech companies such as Oracle Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett Packard Co. and Hitachi; big business Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc., 3M Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.; and financial institutions such as Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank Trust Co. and Fannie Mae.

Caldwell, a Morgan Lewis attorney since 2004, told the Senate she has conducted "numerous confidential internal investigations" for the clients. Sixty percent of those investigations have dealt with criminal matters, the other 40 percent with civil issues. She reported a net worth of $8.2 million, including a $1.9 million home in New York.

When describing her litigation history and experience in the courtroom, Caldwell wrote: "As a partner at Morgan Lewis, I have appeared occasionally—given my goal of my practice has been mainly to assist my clients in avoiding indictment or other events that would require court appearances."

The Justice Department’s Criminal Division, under Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., has touted its recovery under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and under health care fraud initiatives. But the Justice Department has also faced criticism for not being more aggressive in the pursuit of banks and other financial institutions in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

The nomination of Caldwell, who for two years led the investigation into the collapse of Enron Corp., has received support from former colleagues at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and from Securities and Exchange Commission officials, including Rob Khuzami, former director of enforcement who is now a Kirkland & Ellis partner.

Former Justice Department prosecutors wrote the Senate Judiciary Committee to support Caldwell's nomination, including the last lawyer to lead the Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, now at Covington & Burling. Former deputy attorney generals Jamie Gorelick of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, George Terwilliger of Morgan Lewis and Paul McNulty of Baker & McKenzie also wrote in support.

"Ms. Caldwell has held several management positions and has the necessary management skills to oversee the 750 plus individuals working in the Criminal Division," the letter from the former DOJ officials states. "She is thoughtful and pursues a principled approach to matters and policy issues."

In addition, throughout her career, she has worked well with state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as independent agencies such as the SEC and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the prosecutors wrote.

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