What is White Collar/FCPA Law?
White collar crime refers to those offenses that are designed to produce financial gain using some form of deception. This type of crime is usually committed by people in the business world who, as a result of their job position, are able to gain access to large amounts of other people’s money.Examples of white collar crimes are: tax evasion, insider trading, insurance fraud, bribery, embezzlement, and money laundering.White collar crime also encompasses those businesses that are international, which is covered under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The FCPA prohibits American businesses from making payments to government officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business and contracts in foreign countries;it also prohibits third-party payments, including joint-venture partnerships, in which payment is made to a third party with the knowledge that some or all of that payment will be passed on to a foreign government official as a bribe. Therefore, the FCPA applies not only to bribery but also to money laundering. It also applies to foreign businesses listed on the U.S. Stock Exchange and those conducting business from within the United States.
What does a white collar/FCPA lawyer do?
White collar is a very specific area of practice and the “day-to-day” practice is similar to civil litigation with a lot of research, drafting, factual development and argument, but with more significant client contact, which tends to be very close.
Most white collar crime is investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities, so defense attorneys have to like going to court against the government.Defense attorneys often come from the government, which makes this area of practice one with more senior attorneys, who aid their clients through government investigations, compliance issues, and possibly trial.The community of white collar practitioners is considered smaller and they “all know each other.”
Conducting internal or external investigations is a substantial piece of the work of a white collar/FCPA lawyer.In-house investigations may involve the drafting and implementation of investigation policies and protocols and the management of resources issues — regulatory expectations by the government as well as compliance resources.They will also deal with the creation of an ombuds program and respond to whistleblower complaints.As a government white collar/FCPA attorney, much of the work involves ensuring that the corporate policies and protocols in place are aligned with the regulations and policies outlined by the government and its respective regulatory agencies.
What to do if you are interested in white collar/FCPA law?
Relevant Courses: White Collar
- Anatomy of a Federal Trial: The Prosecution and Defense Perspective
- Federal White Collar Crime
- International White Collar Crime
- White Collar Crime
- White Collar Crime and Securities Fraud
- Writing for Practice: Federal White Collar Crime
Relevant Courses: FCPA
- Global Anti-Corruption Seminar
- Negotiating a Mergers and Acquisitions Transaction
- Week One: Law in a Global Context – Anti-Corruption and International M&A
- Criminal Law Association
Relevant Bar Associations
- American Bar Association, White Collar Crime Committee
- American Bar Association, International Anti-Corruption Committee
Helpful White Collar/FCPA Resources
- White Collar Crime Law Prof Blog
- FBI’s White Collar Crime Stories
- 1L Private Practice Series –presentation by Schiff Harding (found on this page)
- Georgetown Law Practice Area Podcasts (found on this page):
- John Chesley, Partner at Gibson Dunn
- Jeannie Rhee, Partner at WilmerHale
- Ron Safer, Partner at Schiff Hardin [at time of recording]
White collar lawyers either work for the government (or affiliated organizations) as prosecutors –including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center –or in private practice in law firms (Chambers list of the top DC white collar firms).
- Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section
- Securities &Exchange Commission (FCPA)
- Litigation/defense experience (e.g. public defender office)
- World Bank
- Overseas public interest group