Brenda E. Lee


  • Vice Chair, Anti-Discrimination Practice

Brenda Lee represents companies, universities, and individuals in a broad range of investigations and related proceedings, including white collar criminal, securities enforcement, anti–money laundering (AML), and anti-discrimination matters. She has significant experience representing financial institutions, tech companies, and individuals in parallel proceedings, including overlapping criminal and civil investigations. The vice-chair of the firm’s Anti-Discrimination Practice, Ms. Lee has extensive experience conducting racial equity and civil rights audits, culture reviews, sensitive internal investigations involving allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and discrimination, and reviews of corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Ms. Lee has represented clients in investigations and enforcement proceedings brought by the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA, FinCEN, state Attorneys General, and various Inspectors General. She has defended financial institutions, corporations, and individuals against allegations of securities fraud, Bank Secrecy Act/AML program violations, government contracting fraud, and other state and federal violations. She has conducted numerous internal investigations, both in the US and abroad, often involving allegations of fraud or financial reporting violations.  

Ms. Lee has substantial experience representing companies and universities in anti-discrimination matters and advising on issues related to gender and race. She has led or co-led dozens of racial equity and civil rights audits and other similar reviews for financial institutions, technology and social media companies, and non-profit organizations. She regularly handles internal investigations in the wake of allegations of harassment and discrimination across a broad range of industries. Ms. Lee also advises clients on best practices for effectively responding to harassment and discrimination complaints and developing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. 

Ms. Lee shares the firm's commitment to pro bono work, with an emphasis on children's law issues. In addition, she has represented multiple criminal defendants in Maryland state courts, including an individual who successfully challenged his life-term prison sentence on constitutional grounds.

Professional Activities

Ms. Lee serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. She also has a longstanding relationship with the Children's Law Center and previously served on its Advisory Board. She is a member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of DC.

Ms. Lee is co-hiring partner for the DC office and a member of the firm's Diversity Committee and Pro Bono and Community Service Committee.


  • Government Investigations and Enforcement

    • Representing a global financial institution in a DOJ investigation related to healthcare fraud
    • Representing a broker-dealer in a FINRA inquiry related to trade surveillance controls 
    • Represented the former CEO of a public company in obtaining voluntary dismissals of all criminal and civil securities fraud charges brought by the DOJ and SEC
    • Represented a global financial institution in parallel DOJ, FINRA, and state regulatory investigations of potential fraud committed by a registered representative
    • Represented a global financial institution in parallel SEC, FINRA, and FinCEN investigations of the institution’s AML program 
    • Represented a technology company in parallel investigations by over a dozen state Attorneys General, the FTC, the US Congress, and numerous international regulators regarding data privacy and consumer protection issues
    • Represented a major telecommunications company in an investigation by more than 40 state Attorneys General
    • Regularly represent a global financial institution in response to DOJ criminal investigations of the institution’s customers for fraud, money laundering, and bribery
    • Regularly represent a broker-dealer in response to SEC and FINRA investigations of registered representatives 
    • Represented multiple companies and individuals in investigations conducted by various Inspectors General
    • Represented the president of a global financial services firm in an SEC investigation
    • Represented a major global oil and gas company in connection with parallel SEC and DOJ criminal investigations and in other executive branch inquiries arising from an accident in the Gulf of Mexico

    • Led or co-led racial equity and civil rights audits for numerous companies, including Goldman Sachs, Invesco, The Home Depot, Maximus, and Stericycle
    • Advising multiple companies regarding DEI programs and initiatives, including those related to recruiting and hiring processes, talent management, and supplier diversity programs
    • Conducted internal reviews for multiple companies and their boards stemming from allegations of reverse discrimination related to DEI programs and initiatives 
    • Conducted an internal investigation for a global company following allegations of sexual misconduct at a facility outside the United States
    • Conducted an internal investigation for a media company following allegations of discriminatory behavior
    • Conducted a culture review for the New York Mets under the direction of new ownership, including a review of its anti-harassment policies and procedures, its processes for addressing workplace concerns, and interviews of employees about their workplace experience, to develop recommendations to enhance workplace culture
    • Conducted an independent review on behalf of a Special Committee of the Board of Directors of a large international nonprofit dedicated to helping refugees
    • Conducted an independent workplace culture review of a large technology company, including the company’s policies and practices concerning discrimination, harassment, and other workplace issues; how the company evaluates, promotes, and compensates employees; and how the company responds to and investigates complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation
    • Conducted a corporate culture review of a financial institution’s sexual harassment policies and procedures and how to improve the firm’s culture and foster best practices following the filing of a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination
    • Conducted internal investigations of a financial institution and related mediations in response to threatened lawsuits involving allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability
  • Higher Education Practice

    • Conducted an independent investigation for the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan into allegations of a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by an athletics team physician
    • Conducted an internal investigation of a state university regarding potential fraud
    • Represented a major research university in multiple Department of Education investigations under Title IX and in collateral criminal litigation


Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, Harvard Law School, 2007

      cum laude Executive Editor, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, David Westfall Memorial Dean’s Award for Community Leadership
    • AB, Biochemical Sciences, Harvard College, 2004

      magna cum laude
  • Admissions

    • District of Columbia

    • New York

  • Clerkships

    • The Hon. Richard J. Leon, US District Court for the District of Columbia, 2009 - 2010

    • The Hon. Alan D. Lourie, US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 2008 - 2009



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