Heather S. Nyong’o

Heather Nyong’o is an experienced litigator and first chair trial lawyer. Multinational corporations and executives trust her when they face complex investigations and litigation. She advises throughout the United States and abroad. Ms. Nyong’o brings her experience and insight to government investigations including those that result in criminal or civil litigation. She fully serves her clients across every phase of an investigation and litigation, including through trial. Her service finds the right outcome, pivoting between resolution and trial. 

Ms. Nyong’o leads WilmerHale’s California Cartel Enforcement Practice, part of the firm’s globally recognized Antitrust and Competition Group. Her more than 17 years in the white collar and antitrust space includes a tenure in the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice (DOJ). She has led noted complex cases and also represents individuals and corporations in non-public grand jury investigations. Ms. Nyong’o frequently achieves favorable results for her clients. These results include non-prosecution agreements and closed investigations.

Ms. Nyong’o is widely known for her trial work: Diversity Journal included her in its 2017 “Women Worth Watching” list; Daily Journal featured her as one of the Top Women Lawyers in 2014 and 2016; and in 2014 GCR USA named her Litigator of the Week for her defense work. Chambers USA, Chambers Global and The Legal 500 United States consistently rank Ms. Nyong’o as a highly regarded lawyer. Chambers USA describes Ms. Nyong’o as a “criminal antitrust expert” and “very talented trial lawyer” who is “absolutely brilliant” and knows “how the Antitrust Division thinks.” 

Ms. Nyong’o won the Attorney General’s Award during her time at the DOJ. This is the DOJ’s second highest honor. While there, she handled the most significant investigations and criminal prosecutions that the agency had brought in recent years. After her trial attorney success at the DOJ, Ms. Nyong’o joined WilmerHale in 2014. She began her career at a major San Francisco Bay Area law firm, where she practiced intellectual property and complex civil litigation. 

Professional Activities

Known as a leader in her field of law, notable thought leadership organizations often ask Ms. Nyong’o to lead antitrust and trial panels at their sponsored events. Examples are: the American Bar Association (ABA), GCR Live, Practicing Law Institute, Golden State Institute and the National Institute on White Collar Crime. Ms. Nyong’o is a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America – Trial Lawyer Honorary Society. She is a member of the ABA’s International Task Force. She advises the California Lawyer’s Antitrust, Unfair Competition, and Privacy Executive Committee. The California State Bar and Westlaw’s Journal of Competition appointed Ms. Nyong’o as its editor-in-chief for two years.

  • Heather Nyong’o Named M&A and Antitrust Trailblazer by The National Law Journal

    The National Law Journal has named Heather Nyong’o, who leads the firm’s California Cartel Enforcement Practice, a 2018 Mergers & Acquisitions and Antitrust Trailblazer.

    November 1, 2018
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    • Successfully represented Rohan Ramchandani, Citigroup’s former head of European spot foreign exchange trading, through his federal grand jury indictment and trial. Mr. Ramchandani faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $1 million for his alleged involvement in one of the largest investigations in the history of cartel enforcement. Ms. Nyong’o served as the first chair trial lawyer in Mr. Ramchandani's trial, where he was acquitted of the charges brought against him.
    • Represented Chesapeake Energy when it was charged along with a competitor by the Michigan Attorney General with two counts of price fixing/bid rigging and one count of attempted bid rigging. Despite the co-defendant settling and pleading to the attempt charge, Ms. Nyong’o represented Chesapeake in a probable cause hearing on the three charges and achieved dismissal of the attempt charge and substantive price fixing charge.
    • Represented former Thornburg Mortgage executives, previously the second-largest independent mortgage company in the United States. The WilmerHale team achieved the firm’s third straight victory against the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) when the SEC dismissed the remaining claims against the clients in a lawsuit related to the 2008 financial crisis.
    • Achieved a rare fine reduction of 60 percent on behalf of an international manufacturer in a price-fixing investigation conducted by multiple national authorities into an alleged decade-long manufacturing cartel.


  • Award Text

    M&A and Antitrust Trailblazer

    The National Law Journal


  • Award Text

    Women Worth Watching

    Diversity Journal


  • Award Text

    Attorney of the Year

    The Recorder


Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, 2002

      Executive Editor, Ecology Law Quarterly, Member, Berkeley Law & Technology Journal
    • BA, Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, 1997

      Golden Key Honor Society
  • Admissions

    • California

  • Government Experience

    • Department of Justice

      Antitrust Division

      Trial Attorney, San Francisco Field Office