Ronald C. Machen


  • Chair, Litigation/Controversy Department

Ronald Machen, a member of the firm's global Management Committee and Chair of the Firm’s Litigation and Controversy Department is one of the nation's leading trial and white-collar defense lawyers. His practice focuses on government enforcement, corporate and congressional investigations, and litigating civil business disputes. An experienced litigator who has tried more than 35 cases to verdict, Mr. Machen specializes in litigating complex criminal and civil actions. He also routinely helps clients navigate high-stakes, crisis situations that garner the attention of multiple regulators, enforcement authorities, Congress and private litigants. Since his return to the firm, Mr. Machen has served as an independent monitor appointed by the US Department of Justice to assess and provide recommendations regarding corporate compliance and has routinely advised public companies on how to foster a positive culture and measure the effectiveness of corporate initiatives. He is currently litigating matters involving the state and federal False Claims Act, alleged breaches of contract, sexual discrimination and retaliation, federal patent infringement, and consumer fraud and is also leading a number of civil rights audits on behalf of various corporations and financial institutions.  

Prior to rejoining the firm in 2015, Mr. Machen served for over five years as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.  As the US Attorney for the District of Columbia from 2010 to 2015, Mr. Machen led the nation's largest US Attorney's Office with more than 600 attorneys and support staff. He oversaw the investigation and litigation of major criminal and civil matters concerning government procurement, healthcare fraud, securities fraud, national security, international corruption, economic sanctions, money laundering and structuring, and cybersecurity. Due to the office's location in the nation's capital, Mr. Machen was frequently responsible for representing the United States in matters of great significance to the entire country, including the successful prosecution of the largest domestic bribery and bid-rigging scheme in the history of federal  contracting, and a number of landmark settlements in False Claims Act cases against government contractors, healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies. He secured numerous convictions in terrorism cases and more than 160 convictions in public corruption matters.  He also defended the United States in a wide range of civil matters involving alleged age, race and sex discrimination, torts, and medical malpractice.  

As US Attorney, Mr. Machen established an Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section within his office and prioritized affirmative civil enforcement actions. As a result, during his tenure, Mr. Machen's office obtained financial recoveries of nearly $2.5 billion for US taxpayers from domestic and foreign corporations and financial institutions. In particular, he obtained resolutions with four global banks that moved money illegally through the US financial system on behalf of sanctioned countries and entities. Mr. Machen also established the first Cyber Unit within the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. He oversaw investigations and prosecutions involving significant cyber breaches of personal and financial data, sales of the use of “botnets,” cyber frauds committed against multinational corporations, and insider trading schemes that obtained confidential information through cyber breaches. While serving as US Attorney, Mr. Machen was also appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder as a member of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee, a small group of US Attorneys from across the country who provide advice and counsel to the Attorney General on policy, management and operational issues.

Prior to his appointment as US Attorney, Mr. Machen was a partner in WilmerHale's White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice, where he represented individual and corporate clients in the areas of white-collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement, corporate compliance and complex civil litigation. Mr. Machen also served as an Assistant US Attorney in the US Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia from 1997 to 2001, where he prosecuted matters involving bribery, mail fraud, government contract fraud, federal conspiracy, homicide, embezzlement and theft.

During his career, Mr. Machen has been repeatedly recognized for his professional accomplishments. In 2020, Mr. Machen was identified as a Criminal Law Trailblazer by the National Law Journal and he has consistently been recognized by Chambers USA for his white-collar crime and government investigations practice and selected by his peers as one of the Best Lawyers in America.  From 2015 to the present, he has been identified as one of DC's “Top Criminal Defense Lawyers” by Washingtonian magazine and in 2015 he was honored as one of the "100 Most Outstanding African American Leaders" for his contributions in the field of law by African Leadership Magazine. In 2013, he received the Equal Justice Award from the National Bar Association. In 2012, he was recognized as a “Visionary” by Legal Times for helping to advance the practice of law during his tenure as US Attorney. In 2008, The National Law Journal named him one of the “50 Most Promising Litigators in America Under the Age of 45” and also recognized him as one of the “50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America.” In 2006, the Washingtonian magazine named him one of DC's “Top 40 Lawyers Under the age of 40.”

Professional Activities

Mr. Machen is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trial Law Institute and the Diversity Law Institute.

  • WilmerHale Team Wins Landmark Patent Trial for Gilead Sciences Against US Government

    A WilmerHale legal team co-led by partners Ronald Machen and David Bassett won a landmark victory for Gilead Sciences on May 9, 2023 when a federal jury sided with the pharmaceutical company against the US government in a precedent-setting patent-infringement trial.

    May 15, 2023
    Read More


  • Named a Thomson Reuters Stand-out Lawyer – independently rated and selected by clients.
  • Named a 2020 National Law Journal Criminal Law Trailblazer.
  • Featured in the 2018 and 2022 editions of Savoy Magazine’s Most Influential Black Lawyers list, which focuses on top lawyers, showcasing visionaries, leaders and advocates—including partners and corporate counsel—from national law firms and Fortune 1000 companies who are widely recognized for their professionalism, protection of rights and community service.
  • Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America.
  • Recognized in the 2018–2024 editions of Chambers USA Guide for his white-collar crime and government investigations practice. Clients have described Mr. Machen as "probably the best I have ever dealt with—the most competent, the most diligent” and “extremely thoughtful - he leaves no stone unturned." Clients have also remarked: "what is so good about Ron is that you can present a matter to him and he looks at it and gets the big picture very quickly - he can create a strategic plan and get us where we need to go."
  • Recommended by The Legal 500 United States in 2016 for his government relations, white-collar criminal defense and general commercial disputes practices and in 2022-2024 for his white-collar criminal defense and corporate investigations practices.
  • Recognized as one of DC's "Top Criminal Defense Lawyers" for 2015 by Washingtonian magazine.
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in America in 2010 and 2021–2024.
  • Named one of the "50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America" and recognized as one of the "50 Most Promising Litigators in America Under the Age of 45" by The National Law Journal in 2008.
  • Recognized as one of the "100 Most Outstanding African American Leaders" for his contributions in the field of law by African Leadership Magazine in 2015.
  • Named a 2007–2010 and 2017–2024 Washington DC Super Lawyer for his civil and criminal defense work.
  • Selected by The American Lawyer as one of the nation's "Top Fifty Young Litigators" under the age of 45.
  • Recognized as one of the "Top 40 Lawyers Under 40" in Washington DC by Washingtonian magazine.
  • Recognized with the Equal Justice Award from the National Bar Association.
  • US Department of Justice, Special Achievement Award (two-time recipient).
  • Recognized as a “Visionary” by Legal Times for helping to advance the practice of law during his tenure as US Attorney.
  • Member, Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Named to the Lawdragon 500 Leading Litigators in America list.

Insights & News


  • Education

    • JD, Harvard Law School, 1994

    • AB, Stanford University, 1991

  • Admissions

    • District of Columbia

    • Illinois

    • US Supreme Court

  • Clerkships

    • The Hon. Damon J. Keith, US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 1995 - 1997



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