Douglas Gates focuses his practice on complex national security and defense matters and regulatory compliance, including internal investigations, government contracting, bid protests and matters before the US Congress. He counsels clients on a broad range of topics, including export controls, sanctions compliance, security clearances and classified information, geopolitical risk, international law and transaction review before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). 

In addition to his national security matters, Mr. Gates maintains an active pro bono practice. He represents clients before the US Supreme Court and Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals on topics including religious liberty, property rights and criminal justice.

Mr. Gates first joined the firm as a summer associate in 2017. Immediately prior to rejoining WilmerHale in 2021, he served as counsel to the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Mr. Gates clerked for the Honorable Carl J. Nichols of the US District Court for the District of Columbia and the Honorable Michael S. Kanne of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. 

Mr. Gates is a member of the Executive Committee for the Federalist Society’s International and National Security Law Practice Group. He has been a fellow at the James Wilson Institute on Natural Law and the American Founding, the Public Interest Fellowship, the Leonine Forum and the Salzburg Global Seminar.

Before his legal career, Mr. Gates was a US Navy surface warfare officer. He sailed in warships based in Japan and was flag aide to the Seventh Fleet Commander and a master instructor of Political Science at the US Naval Academy. He continues to serve as a reserve Commander assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.

Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, The University of Chicago Law School, 2018

      Managing Editor, The Chicago Journal of International Law
    • MA, National Security and Strategic Studies, United States Naval War College, 2015

      with Highest Distinction
    • MA, Security Studies, Georgetown University, 2007

    • BS, Political Science, United States Naval Academy, 2007

      with Merit
  • Admissions

    • District of Columbia

    • Maryland

    • US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

    • US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

  • Clerkships

    • The Hon. Carl J. Nichols, US District Court for the District of Columbia, 2019 - 2020

    • The Hon. Michael S. Kanne, US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 2018 - 2019



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