People

Chris Johnstone

Special Counsel

Johnstone, Chris

Chris Johnstone represents individuals and corporations in investigations conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and other law enforcement agencies. As a resident of the firm's Palo Alto office, Mr. Johnstone has worked closely with the legal departments of many of the leading tech companies in Silicon Valley on high-stakes inquiries and corporate crises.

Mr. Johnstone also has experience litigating government enforcement actions. He has litigated two SEC enforcement actions in federal court and was a member of the WilmerHale trial team that prevailed on all claims brought by the SEC against two former executives of Thornburg Mortgage. In that case, Mr. Johnstone presented more than a dozen oral arguments.

In his pro bono practice, Mr. Johnstone represents individuals facing criminal charges in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. He has obtained successful results on behalf of clients facing decades in prison.   

Before entering private practice, Mr. Johnstone served as a law clerk for two years in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. During his clerkship with the Honorable Shirley Wohl Kram, Mr. Johnstone focused on criminal matters and cases involving the securities laws.

Representative Engagements

Investigations

  • Represented a Silicon Valley technology company in investigations conducted by the SEC, DOJ and other regulatory agencies.   
  • Represented a Silicon Valley technology company in an SEC investigation concerning its initial public offering.  
  • Represented two individuals in a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/Anti-Money Laundering (AML) investigation conducted by the DOJ. 
  • Represented a Los Angeles entertainment company in an antitrust investigation conducted by the DOJ and various state attorneys general.

Litigation

  • Representing an individual in a criminal case brought by the DOJ's Antitrust Division.
  • Represented the CEO and CFO of a mortgage origination company an SEC enforcement action concerning the accounting of impaired assets.
  • Represented the CFO of a hardware company in an SEC enforcement action concerning the accounting of stock option compensation.
  • Represented a search engine in an action seeking to enjoin the enforcement of a subpoena issued by a state attorney general.
  • Represented a technology company in a securities class action concerning its disclosures to investors.

Pro Bono and Community Service

  • Represented an individual charged with drug trafficking and conspiracy.   
  • Represented an individual charged with drug trafficking, conspiracy and illegal reentry.   
  • Represented an individual charged with drug exportation and conspiracy to pass counterfeit foreign currency.   
  • Represented an individual charged with wire fraud.   

Publications & News

View

February 6, 2017

SEC Dismisses Claims Against WilmerHale Clients

On February 3, the US Securities and Exchange Commission dismissed with prejudice the remaining claims against two former mortgage-lending officials in a financial crisis-related lawsuit on the eve of a retrial.

October 3, 2016

SEC Drops Centerpiece Of Case Against WilmerHale Clients

WilmerHale recently achieved a major victory after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dropped the centerpiece of its lawsuit against two former mortgage executives.

July 6, 2016

WilmerHale Hands SEC First 2016 Fraud Trial Defeat

A team of WilmerHale litigators persuaded an Albuquerque, New Mexico, jury to clear two former mortgage-lending officials on half of the 10 charges brought against them by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, while deadlocking on the remaining charges.

July 17, 2015

Litigating with the SEC

A chapter written by Douglas Davison, Michael Mugmon and Chris Johnstone, published in the Practising Law Institute's SEC Compliance and Enforcement Answer Book 2015

April 25, 2014

Should a Defendant Be Forced To Disgorge What He Never Possessed?

An article by Peter Vigeland, Douglas Davison and Chris Johnstone, published by the New York Law Journal on April 25, 2014.

April 4, 2014

Some prefer litigation when the SEC calls

An article by Michael Mugmon and Chris Johnstone, published in the April 4, 2014 edition of The Daily Journal.

October 3, 2013

California Overhauls State Anti-Securities Fraud Statute

On September 23, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 538—which overhauls the anti-fraud provision of the California Securities Law of 1968, and will likely make it more difficult for would-be plaintiffs to maintain lawsuits for securities fraud.

Practices

Skip Navigation Links.

Education

JD, University of Southern California Law School, 2004, Editor, Southern California Law Review

BA, Public Policy Studies, Duke University, 2001

Bar Admissions

California

Clerkships

The Hon. Shirley Wohl Kram, US District Court for the Southern District of New York, 2004 - 2006

Skip Navigation Links.