Boyd Johnson


  • Partner-in-Charge, New York Office

Leveraging three decades of public and private sector experience, Boyd Johnson provides strategic counseling to companies, boards of directors, and senior executives in their most significant and sensitive investigations, litigation, and regulatory matters. Over the past three decades, Mr. Johnson has served in a variety of senior roles, including as global general counsel for Soros Fund Management, the investment management firm founded by George Soros; the co-chair of WilmerHale’s White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice; and the Deputy US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. A skilled trial lawyer who has tried numerous cases to verdict and managed litigation matters in-house as a general counsel, Mr. Johnson is uniquely positioned to bring high-stakes disputes to positive resolutions for clients. Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, and The Legal 500 have consistently recognized Mr. Johnson as one of the nation’s leading defense lawyers.

From 2018 to 2020, Mr. Johnson served as the global general counsel for Soros Fund Management. In that role, he oversaw legal, compliance, and regulatory functions in New York, London, and Hong Kong, and supervised the firm’s litigations, employment disputes, and regulatory inquiries. Mr. Johnson managed relationships with the SEC, the UK Financial Conduct Authority, and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission. He supervised the negotiation and structuring of capital markets transactions; mergers and acquisitions; and hundreds of investments across public and private equities and credit, venture capital, distressed debt, global macro, real estate, and other strategies. Mr. Johnson served on the boards of directors of the firm’s offshore and onshore funds and portfolio companies. He also served as a member of the firm’s Leadership Team and Valuation, Liquidity and Risk, and Cybersecurity Committees.

During his previous seven-year tenure at WilmerHale, Mr. Johnson was the co-chair of the White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice with attorneys in New York, Washington DC, Boston, Denver, and London. He represented financial services firms, public and private companies, and their boards and senior executives in criminal and civil investigations conducted by the DOJ, the SEC, the CFTC, FINRA, the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the New York State Department  of Financial Services, and the New York City Department of Investigation, as well as international regulators from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong. Mr. Johnson successfully represented dozens of companies in high-stakes criminal and civil cases involving insider trading and financial fraud, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and public corruption violations, antitrust concerns, Bank Secrecy Act and AML issues, False Claims Act and FIRREA actions, and cybersecurity incidents. Mr. Johnson conducted internal investigations for companies and advised business organizations on crisis response and media relations. He also represented companies and their senior executives in a variety of complex civil litigation.

Before joining WilmerHale in 2011, Mr. Johnson served as the Deputy US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) and oversaw the litigation of all criminal and civil cases brought on behalf of the United States in the Southern District. He supervised over 200 Assistant US Attorneys and managed, among other matters, the largest criminal enforcement effort against hedge fund insider trading in history; the criminal prosecutions and civil forfeiture proceedings related to the Bernard Madoff fraud; and FCPA, money laundering, tax fraud, and cybersecurity investigations and prosecutions. As Deputy US Attorney, Mr. Johnson participated in the creation of the SDNY’s Civil Frauds Unit and oversaw False Claims Act and FIRREA lawsuits against financial services firms and healthcare companies.

Before becoming Deputy US Attorney, Mr. Johnson served as Chief of the SDNY's Public Corruption Unit. In that capacity, he supervised bribery and embezzlement prosecutions of members of the US Congress, New York State legislators and New York City council members, as well as corruption investigations at the United Nations. While at the SDNY, Mr. Johnson also served as the Chief of the International Narcotics Trafficking Unit, focusing on the extradition and prosecution of drug kingpins, narco-terrorists, and the leaders of global money laundering networks. In that role, he worked with the US Treasury Department to build prosecutions against the leaders of the Cali Cartel and the Taliban based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

During his thirteen-year tenure at SDNY, Mr. Johnson tried more than fifteen cases to verdict and argued more than fifteen appeals before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He served as the lead prosecutor in the trial conviction of Monzer al Kassar for conspiracy to provide weapons to a terrorist organization.

Before serving as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Johnson represented companies in antitrust, false advertising, accounting fraud, and securities fraud matters for five years at another international law firm. After graduating from Cornell Law School, he clerked for the Honorable Laughlin E. Waters in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

Professional and Community Activities

Mr. Johnson is an active member of the New York City Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Council. He has served on the New York City Bar’s White Collar Crime Committee. He is actively engaged with a number of New York–based not-for-profit groups, including serving on the board of the New York Legal Assistance Group.

Mr. Johnson is frequently invited to speak on issues related to corporate criminal liability, financial fraud and insider trading, the FCPA, anti-bribery and corruption, money laundering, cybersecurity, and corporate governance and corporate culture. He has been a frequent speaker at SIFMA conferences, and has lectured at Yale Law School, Cornell Law School, NYU Law School, and Hamilton College.


  • Complex Civil Litigation

    • Represented global financial services firm in False Claims Act suit regarding mortgage-backed securities
    • Represented board of trustees of multi-billion-dollar pension fund in consent decree litigation in SDNY
    • Represented international broker dealer in 18 USC Section 1782 litigation in SDNY
    • Represented foreign bank in federal court proceeding to vacate FINRA arbitration award regarding rights to trading platform intellectual property
    • Represented public relations firm and executive in motion to quash proceedings in New York State Supreme Court
    • Represented municipal agency with 11,000 employees concerning DOJ investigation of certification for federal funding
    • Represented City of New York in securing dismissal of qui tam suit in SDNY
    • Advised investment management firm in connection with multi-jurisdictional proceedings in state courts to enforce default judgment involving private equity investment
    • Advised senior executive and not-for-profit foundations in connection with tortious interference with contract claims in SDNY
  • Financial Fraud, Insider Trading, and Financial Crimes Compliance

    • Represented US financial services firms in parallel investigations by the DOJ and the SEC regarding derivatives and mortgage-backed securities trading activity
    • Represented Audit and Risk Committee of securities broker dealer in DOJ and SEC investigations concerning offshore trading operations
    • Represented multiple US financial services companies in various DOJ and SEC investigations of alleged insider trading activity
    • Represented international construction management firm in DOJ investigation of historical union billing practices
    • Represented head of global money markets for financial services firm in LIBOR-related investigations by the DOJ, the CFTC, and the UK FCA
    • Represented senior executives at global financial services firms in DOJ, SEC, and UK FCA investigations of FX trading  
    • Advised investment manager in connection with SEC investigation of capital markets activity and RMBS transactions at broker-dealer
    • Developed and implemented financial crimes compliance surveillance program for global investment adviser 
  • FCPA and Public Corruption

    • Represented Fortune 100 company in connection with US Department of Justice's FIFA corruption investigation
    • Represented New York State agency concerning allegations of official corruption related to real estate development projects
    • Represented public company in oil services industry in DOJ and SEC FCPA investigations
    • Represented General Manager of Ukrainian pharmaceutical company in DOJ and SEC FCPA investigations
    • Represented Chief Financial Officer of Argentinian pharmaceutical company in DOJ and SEC FCPA investigations
    • Represented General Manager of Brazilian aeronautical services company in DOJ and SEC FCPA investigations
    • Advised global financial services firm regarding FCPA issues relating to multi-billion-dollar loan syndicate restructuring
  • AML and Economic Sanctions

    • Represented US financial services companies in DOJ and SEC investigations of alleged money laundering by financial advisers and their clients
    • Represented US financial services firm in DOJ investigation relating to alleged OFAC violations
    • Represented US financial services firm in DOJ and bank regulatory investigations of historical Bank Secrecy Act/AML program
    • Conducted internal investigations for global financial services firms relating to Bank Secrecy Act/AML program
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy

    • Represented US financial securities firm in data beach investigations by DOJ, SEC, numerous state attorneys general, and bank regulators
    • Advised US financial securities firms on cybersecurity infrastructure and data privacy issues
    • Advised global investment adviser concerning phishing and pharming attacks
  • Pro Bono Matters

    • Provided pro bono representation to indigent criminal defendants in US Courts of Appeal
    • Represented injured US war veterans in appeals for benefits
    • Advised clients of New York Legal Aid Group on immigration matters


  • Selected for inclusion on City and State New York's 2023 Law Power 100 list.
  • Selected as recipient of New York Legal Aid Group’s 2021 Visionary for Justice Award.
  • Selected as a New York "Super Lawyer" for white-collar criminal defense (2021–2023).
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America for work in white-collar criminal defense from 20182024.
  • Selected consistently as a leading attorney in the White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations category in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business.
  • Recommended repeatedly in the white-collar criminal defense litigation category of The Legal 500 United States, where he was praised for his "excellent strategic advice" and "familiarity with government and internal investigations."
  • Selected consistently by clients and peers as being among the world's leading investigations lawyers in GIR's Who's Who Legal: Investigations.
  • Recipient of US Drug Enforcement Administration's Administrator's Award, the DEA's highest honor.
  • Recipient of Attorney General's Award, the US Department of Justice's highest honor.
  • Recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award from Federal Drug Agents Foundation for his dedication to supporting federal, state, and local law enforcement.  

Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, Cornell Law School, 1992

      cum laude Editor, Cornell International Law Journal
    • BA, English and Government, Hamilton College, 1989

      magna cum laude
  • Admissions

    • New York

    • Connecticut

  • Clerkships

    • The Hon. Laughlin Waters, US District Court for the Central District of California, 1992 - 1993