People

Debo P. Adegbile

Partner

Co-Chair, Anti-Discrimination Practice

Adegbile, Debo

Debo P. Adegbile, a member of the Government and Regulatory Litigation Group, focuses his practice on a range of matters at the intersection of law, business and government policy. He has significant experience in commercial, government-facing and appellate litigation, as well as strategic counseling in high-stakes cases, anti-discrimination matters and investigations. Mr. Adegbile co-chairs the firm's Anti-Discrimination Practice. In addition to his practice at the firm, Mr. Adegbile currently serves as a commissioner on the US Commission on Civil Rights, appointed by President Obama in 2016. 

His broad legal understanding is drawn from years of experience in the top tier of the law firm, government and not-for-profit sectors, including high-ranking roles with the Senate Judiciary Committee and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Mr. Adegbile's recent representations include municipalities and local government agencies involved in US Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations and/or False Claims Act litigation; a leading social media company responding to a federal inquiry; financial institutions in connection with federal fair lending compliance, investigations and putative ERISA class actions; and a leading university in a constitutional challenge to its admissions practices. He serves as counsel to a number of clients regarding Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fair lending compliance and enforcement matters, as well as DOJ policing or “pattern or practice” investigations. Mr. Adegbile also advises social media companies and universities on a range of anti-discrimination issues. 

Mr. Adegbile is a frequent speaker on Supreme Court and anti-discrimination law topics and has testified before Congress on multiple occasions.

Prior Experience

Mr. Adegbile began his career as commercial litigator at a leading large New York law firm where, for seven years, he litigated a range of complex commercial cases involving contracts, international arbitration, antitrust, patents, employment, First Amendment, civil rights, zoning and real estate interests. Mr. Adegbile also handled multiple internal and regulatory investigations.

From 2013-2014, Mr. Adegbile served as senior counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which capacity he advised Committee Chairman Senator Leahy on a range of issues, including Supreme Court jurisprudence and litigation, the First Amendment, voting rights, national security, intellectual property and nominations.

Mr. Adegbile spent more than a decade working for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), where he served in several leadership roles. At LDF, he served as the director of litigation and supervised a broad range of complex civil and criminal cases in trial and appellate courts, including the US Supreme Court, and served as the final decision-maker for key strategic litigation decisions. Mr. Adegbile continued to litigate complex cases in his role as LDF's chief litigator, and led LDF to several major victories. From 2012 to early 2013, he served as LDF's acting president and director counsel. In February 2013, Mr. Adegbile argued his second US Supreme Court case: Shelby County v. Holder. Previously, Mr. Adegbile argued Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder in the US Supreme Court.

Community Involvement

Mr. Adegbile is a member of the Vera Institute of Justice's board of trustees. He is also the vice chair of the Connecticut College board of trustees. From 1995-2002, he served as the first president of the board of The Catalog of Giving, a not-for-profit dedicated to supporting effective youth-serving organizations in New York City. He also served on the board of trustees of Manhattan Country School, an independent school in New York City, for 18 years, including service as board chairman.

Honors & Awards

  • Legal Services NYC (LSNYC) Public Service Leadership Honoree (2017)
  • First recipient of the Latino Justice Vanguard Award (2016)
  • New York Metro Super Lawyers list for appellate litigation (2015-2017)
  • The Nigerian Lawyers Association's Law & Justice Award (2015)
  • NYU School of Law BALSA Derrick A. Bell Jr. Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service (2015)
  • American Constitution Society Keeping Faith with the Constitution Award (2014)
  • The Bronx Defenders Partner in the Pursuit of Justice Award (2014)
  • Southern Center for Human Rights Frederick Douglass Equal Justice Award (2014) 
  • National Voting Rights Museum Institute Freedom Flame Award (2013)
  • Power 100 List of the Nation's Most Influential Black Attorneys (2013)
  • Root 100 List of Top African-American Achievers and Influencers (2012, 2009)
  • Council of Urban Professionals Catalyst Law Award (2012)
  • NYU School of Law BLAPA Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award (2012)
  • Alumnus of the Month, NYU School of Law (July 2010)
  • Chauncey Eskridge Award, SCLC (2009)
  • National Public Service Award, Stanford Law School (2009)

Publications & News

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February 2, 2018

The State of Voting Rights in America

In an op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer, Debo Adegbile, in his role as a commissioner of the US Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), previewed the panel's Friday visit to North Carolina by explaining how the USCCR helps to safeguard voting rights.

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.

June 20, 2017

Court Determines That Grocer's Website Not Used to Sell Goods Is Public Accommodation Under the ADA

Last week, following a bench trial, a federal district judge in Florida concluded that the grocery store and pharmacy chain Winn-Dixie violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act because its website is not compatible with industry-standard screen-reading software used by visually impaired consumers.

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.

December 16, 2016

WilmerHale Applauds Debo P. Adegbile’s Presidential Appointment to US Commission on Civil Rights

The White House announced on December 15 that President Obama tapped Debo Adegbile to serve a six-year term on the commission.

October 17, 2016

What Should Fox’s Chris Wallace Ask Clinton, Trump About SCOTUS?

In this Law.com article, US Supreme Court practitioners and other lawyers, including Debo Adegbile, provide suggestions for questions to ask candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the third and final presidential debate.

October 10, 2016

Debo Adegbile Featured in New York Times Op-Doc Discussing Voting Rights in America

Debo Adegbile lends his voice in the New York Times Op-Doc entitled “Supreme Court v. the American Voter,” which discusses the history and impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and where the country currently stands on the issue of preventing discrimination at the polls.

September 2, 2016

Partner Debo Adegbile Helps Nextdoor Curb Racial Profiling on Neighborhood Networks

When Nextdoor, a private social network for neighborhoods, realized that some members were engaging in racial profiling when reporting “suspicious” people and activities in their communities, the company was determined to respond.

August 23, 2016

High Court Inclusive Communities Ruling: 1 Year Later

In this article published by Law360, authors David Ogden, Franca Harris Gutierrez, Debo Adegbile, Michael Gordon, Stephen Carey, Sky Lynn Perryman and Adriel Cepeda Derieux analyze the evolution of disparate impact doctrine since the court's Inclusive Communities decision, with a particular focus on how the decision appears to be affecting enforcement cases brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

June 16, 2016

WilmerHale Wins Bank of America Award for Diversity and Inclusion

WilmerHale was recognized for creating an internal culture that encourages the recruitment, retention, mentoring and promotion of diverse attorneys.

Professional Activities

Named to the Board of Directors for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) in 2014.