Danielle Y. Conley


Danielle Y. Conley


  • Co-Chair, Anti-Discrimination Practice

Multinational corporations, educational institutions, executives and boards rely on Danielle Conley to manage multifaceted legal challenges and crises, including internal investigations and a wide array of regulatory and enforcement matters. A former Associate Deputy Attorney General in the US Department of Justice (DOJ), Ms. Conley combines a deep knowledge of how regulators work with significant litigation experience to help clients navigate complex, high-stakes matters. 


Ms. Conley co-chairs the firm's Anti-Discrimination Practice and has significant experience representing companies and universities in a wide range of civil rights and anti-discrimination matters. She regularly conducts sensitive internal investigations in the wake of reported allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination, as well as reviews of company culture. Ms. Conley also advises clients on best practices for effectively responding to harassment and discrimination complaints and developing diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Ms. Conley also regularly represents companies and universities in a wide variety of government enforcement actions before the DOJ and the Department of Education (DOE). She has also represented clients in civil litigation involving regulatory regimes such as Title IX, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the False Claims Act.

At the DOJ, Ms. Conley provided strategic counsel to senior government officials on a broad range of regulatory, litigation and domestic policy issues and managed some of the department's most significant and high-profile civil rights litigation and enforcement actions. 

Ms. Conley shares WilmerHale’s commitment to pro bono work. She has represented clients on a pro bono basis in cases involving complex issues of constitutional law, as well as in actions brought under the Voting Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the US Constitution.

  • With a Decision Deemed a “Defiant Defense of Affirmative Action,” WilmerHale Secures Trial Victory for Harvard

    A WilmerHale team achieved a victory on all counts for Harvard University in a high-profile challenge to the use of race in its undergraduate admissions process. 

    October 18, 2019
    Read More
  • Danielle Conley Named Among Diversity Journal’s Women Worth Watching

    Diversity Journal recognized Danielle Conley on its annual list of Women Worth Watching, which celebrates women who have made significant contributions to their organization.

    September 27, 2018
    Read More
  • The #MeToo Movement: The Critical Role of the Board in Preparing for, Responding to and Avoiding Sexual Misconduct Allegations

    As the #MeToo movement gains momentum, companies in nearly every major industry are dealing with allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment or even sexual assault—including allegations of widespread misconduct and inappropriate behavior within the upper echelons of the corporate structure.

    March 8, 2018
    Read More


  • Internal Investigations and Culture Reviews

    • Retained by the Board of Trustees of a large public university to conduct an internal investigation of allegations of sexual harassment against a senior university official 
    • Conducted an internal investigation on behalf of a major national retailer stemming from allegations of racial discrimination in the company’s legal department, including allegations against the company’s general counsel
    • Conducted an internal review of a large technology company’s sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation policies and procedures and its investigative process for responding to such complaints to ensure that such policies and procedures were both legally compliant and in line with the company’s values regarding a respectful and inclusive workplace culture
    • Conducted an independent corporate culture review of a financial institution’s sexual harassment policies and procedures, and provided advice to improve the firm’s culture and foster best practices following the filing of a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination 
    • Conducted an internal investigation for a nonprofit education organization based on allegations that one of its board members engaged in sexual misconduct several years ago 
    • Represented a large state university system and its board of regents in connection with a high-profile internal investigation of the mishandling of domestic violence reports by senior university athletic and administrative personnel
  • Government Investigations

    • Representing a technology company in an investigation before the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ based on allegations of discriminatory hiring practices 
    • Represented multiple universities in Title IX and Rehabilitation Act investigations by the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights and in Clery Act investigations by the Office of Federal Student Aid 
    • Represented a regulated utility in government fraud investigation before the DOJ based on alleged Major Fraud Act and False Statements Act violations in the procurement of federal contracts
    • Represented an insurance provider in a False Claims Act investigation based on allegations of overbilling
  • Litigation

    • Secured judgment on all counts for Harvard University in a case challenging its use of race in the undergraduate admissions process following a three-week federal bench trial
    • Represented a university in a civil suit brought under Title IX and various state laws based on the university's alleged mishandling of a sexual assault investigation
    • Represented an investment bank in a class action seeking damages and injunctive relief for violations of federal and state anti-discrimination laws
    • Represented a major defense contractor in a high-stakes contract dispute in a three-week trial in Indiana state court
    • Represented a large nonprofit corporation in a breach of contract action in federal court
    • Represented a professional sports team in a class action seeking damages and injunctive relief for violation of federal anti-discrimination law
  • Pro Bono Matters

    • Represented individuals and a nonprofit organization in a trial in the Southern District of Texas challenging Texas's photo ID law under the Voting Rights Act
    • Represented the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus as amici curiae in Shelby County v. Holder, a constitutional challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
    • Represented a proposed class of African-American homeowners in New Orleans in a lawsuit brought under the Fair Housing Act challenging a post-Katrina federal recovery program


  • Award Text

    40 Under 40

    Washington DC

    Washingtonian magazine, April 2017

  • Award Text

    Top Minority Business Leader

    Greater Washington DC

    2015 Washington business journal 

  • Award Text

    Pickering Fellowship

    NAACP Legal Defense Fund


Ms. Conley was recognized by The National Law Journal as a 2020 DC Trailblazer for her work on behalf of clients facing the often complex and difficult challenges that accompany allegations of discrimination and harassment in their workplaces or on their campuses.

Ms. Conley received the 2018 Women Worth Watching Award from Profiles in Diversity Journal.

In April of 2017, Ms. Conley was recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington DC's “40 Under 40.”

In 2015, the Washington Business Journal named Ms. Conley a Minority Business Leader. The list recognizes the entrepreneurial drive, creativity and success of the Greater Washington region's top minority business leaders.

Ms. Conley is a recipient of the firm's Pickering fellowship in Washington DC, established in honor of John H. Pickering. As a Pickering fellow, she spent six months practicing at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, an organization founded under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall that focuses on issues of education, voter protection, economic justice and criminal justice through advocacy and litigation. 

Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, Howard University School of Law, 2003

      cum laude Staff Editor, Howard Law Journal; Member, Charles Hamilton Houston National Moot Court Team
    • BA, English and African Diaspora Studies, Tulane University, 2000

  • Admissions

    • District of Columbia

    • New York

    • US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

  • Clerkships

    • The Hon. Rosemary M. Collyer, US District Court for the District of Columbia, 2004 - 2006