People

Carl J. Nichols

Partner

Vice Chair, Government and Regulatory Litigation Practice Group

Nichols, Carl J.
Carl Nichols is a litigator who represents corporations and individuals in sensitive, high-profile, and high-stakes matters. He presently serves as lead counsel in a broad range of complex matters pending in different courts and before various government agencies. Mr. Nichols has tried several cases and arbitrations and has argued appeals in the US Courts of Appeals for the DC, Second, Seventh, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits.

Mr. Nichols joined the firm in 2010, after having served from 2005 until 2009 in the United States Department of Justice, first as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, and later as the Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General.

Current Practice

Mr. Nichols focuses his practice on advising and representing clients before federal agencies and in state and federal courts, including in actions brought by governments, lawsuits against governments, and in congressional investigations. He has handled complex, high-stakes litigation in areas including the False Claims Act, government and commercial contracts, international tax, trade secrets, administrative law, constitutional law, antitrust, and international law and arbitration, on behalf of clients in a wide range of industries. Mr. Nichols also has an active pro bono practice.

Representative Matters

Since joining WilmerHale, Mr. Nichols’ representative matters have included:

Litigation

  • Lead counsel for global aerospace company in government contracts dispute pending in the Court of Federal Claims.
  • Lead counsel for major financial institution in False Claims Act litigation pending in the Southern District of California.
  • Lead counsel for international financial institution in major fraud case pending in the Supreme Court of New York.
  • Lead counsel for global aerospace company in government contracts dispute pending in the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.
  • Lead counsel for two FBI agents in high-profile Bivens action pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Lead counsel for major strategy and technology consulting firm in trade secrets litigation in the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Counsel for technology company in trade secrets litigation in the Eastern District of Virginia.
  • Lead counsel for Florida Republican Gubernatorial Candidate in Eleventh Circuit appeal of high-profile campaign finance decision.
  • Counsel for international financial institution in connection with possible litigation arising out of substantial asset sale.
  • Lead counsel for major strategy and technology consulting firm in potential trade secrets litigation arising out of departure of major group of employees.

Investigations

  • Lead counsel for major technology company in investigation conducted by the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP)
  • Lead counsel for major technology company in investigation conducted by the Consumer Protection Section of the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia.
  • Lead counsel for major financial institution in investigation conducted by the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Counsel for international financial institution in related investigations conducted by the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and the House Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
  • Lead counsel for import-export company in antidumping matter before U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
  • Lead counsel for telecommunications company in investigation by Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).

Pre-Litigation Advice

  • Mr. Nichols regularly provides companies and individuals with pre-litigation advice in a broad range of areas.

Prior Experience

Mr. Nichols joined the firm after having served from 2005 until 2009 in the United States Department of Justice, first as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, and later as the Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General. In those positions, Mr. Nichols served as the government’s lead counsel in a number of landmark suits, including the House Judiciary Committee’s lawsuit seeking to enforce subpoenas issued to senior White House officials, several suits filed by the federal government to enjoin state investigations into alleged activities of the National Security Agency, and various lawsuits filed against telecommunications companies alleging their participation in national security programs. Mr. Nichols also personally handled matters arising out of the Fannie Mae securities litigation; cases involving challenges to the constitutionality of federal statutes and Department of Justice regulations; and cases challenging the recommendations of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

As Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General, Mr. Nichols advised the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, and Associate Attorney General on a wide range of legislative, regulatory, policy and litigation matters. He was also responsible for overseeing thirteen components of the Department of Justice, including the Tax Division, Antitrust Division, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Civil Rights Division, and Civil Division. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Mr. Nichols supervised the trial-court litigation of the government’s most sensitive civil cases. Mr. Nichols testified several times on various matters before Congressional Committees.

Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Mr. Nichols was a partner in a major national law firm, where he litigated complex commercial cases at the trial and appellate levels on behalf of clients in various industries.

Publications & News

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February 5, 2018

Justice Department Issues Memo Limiting Use of Agency Guidance in Affirmative Civil Enforcement Suits

On January 25, Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand issued a memorandum to all components of the Department of Justice with civil litigating authority limiting the use of agency guidance documents in affirmative civil enforcement cases.

January 25, 2018

Justice Department Issues Guidance on Dismissing Qui Tam False Claims Act Cases Over Relators' Objections

On January 10, the head of the Justice Department's Civil Frauds Section issued an internal memorandum instructing all Department attorneys handling False Claims Act cases to consider whether, when declining to intervene, the government should go further and move to dismiss meritless cases over relators' objections.

January 9, 2018

False Claims Act: 2017 Year-in-Review

False Claims Act recoveries topped $3.7 billion in fiscal year 2017, marking the eighth straight year of annual recoveries in excess of $3 billion.

May 30, 2017

The National Law Journal Names WilmerHale Washington DC Litigation Department of the Year

The National Law Journal has named WilmerHale the 2017 Washington DC Litigation Department of the Year in the General Litigation category.

April 19, 2017

President Trump Signs Buy American and Hire American Executive Order

On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed an important executive order promoting “Buy American” and “Hire American” policies.

March 14, 2017

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch

On March 13, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order setting forth the process by which the Trump Administration will consider the possible reorganization of the Executive Branch and the potential “eliminat[ion of] unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs.”

March 8, 2017

President Trump Signs Revised Immigration Executive Order

On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed a substantially narrowed version of the January 27, 2017 Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

February 28, 2017

President Trump Signs Executive Order Setting Guidelines for Identifying Regulations for Repeal, Replacement, or Modification

On February 24, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order setting forth guidelines pursuant to which the Trump administration will implement and enforce its regulatory reform initiatives and identify regulations for repeal, replacement, or modification.

January 31, 2017

False Claims Act: 2016 Year-in-Review

In 2016, the Department of Justice continued to give high priority to False Claims Act investigations and prosecutions. This WilmerHale Client Alert was republished by Pratt's Government Contracting Law Report.

January 12, 2016

False Claims Act: 2015 Year-in-Review

In 2015, the Justice Department continued to give high priority to False Claims Act investigations, bringing in nearly $3.6 billion in settlements and judgments.

Honors & Awards

Mr. Nichols won numerous awards in connection with his government service, including the Attorney General’s Medallion.

Professional Activities

Mr. Nichols is a frequent speaker on topics relating to the False Claims Act, national security and separation of powers.

Practices

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Education

JD, High Honors, University of Chicago Law School, 1996, Order of the Coif; Member, The University of Chicago Law Review

BA, High Honors in Philosophy, Dartmouth College, 1992

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia

Virginia

Languages

Spanish

Clerkships

The Hon. Laurence H. Silberman, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1996 - 1997

The Hon. Clarence Thomas, US Supreme Court, 1997 - 1998

Government Experience

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