Lee, Randall R.

Randall R. Lee

Randall Lee is a widely recognized litigator and trial lawyer with nearly 30 years of experience in both government and the private sector. He founded the firm’s Los Angeles office in 2007 and served as its partner-in-charge from 2007 to 2017. With a practice that focuses on high-stakes internal investigations, SEC enforcement and white collar defense, Mr. Lee has been recognized by Global Investigations Review's Who's Who Legal: Investigations as among the world’s leading investigations lawyers, by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California and by Securities Docket as one of the 40 best securities enforcement defense lawyers in the country. Before joining the firm, Mr. Lee served as Regional Director for the Pacific Region of the SEC, where he was the SEC’s top official in nine western states, including California, and before that as an Assistant US Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Major Frauds Section in the US Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. 

Mr. Lee represents some of the country’s largest companies and their boards, audit committees, special committees and executives in investigations by the SEC, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and other governmental agencies, as well as in internal investigations of potential misconduct around the world. Recent matters include investigating a highly publicized data breach at a global technology company, representing the audit committee of a large public company in an investigation by DOJ and the SEC of alleged bribery in Russia, and defending a bank officer and bank director in a DOJ investigation of the bank’s anti–money laundering programs. He regularly handles investigations involving accounting and disclosure issues, insider trading, and regulations governing investment advisers and broker-dealers.

Mr. Lee’s clients benefit from his significant first-chair trial experience, which includes a victory in 2016 over the SEC on behalf of the former CEO and CFO of Thornburg Mortgage, once the nation’s second-largest independent mortgage company. The SEC charged the executives with scheming to defraud investors, mislead their auditors and falsify Thornburg’s financial statements in the early stages of the financial crisis. Mr. Lee prevailed after a three-week jury trial in federal court in Albuquerque, New Mexico, handing the SEC its first loss at trial since 2014. Mr. Lee then convinced the SEC to dismiss the case with prejudice, resulting in complete vindication for his clients. The National Law Journal selected Mr. Lee as a 2017 Winning Litigator for this victory, as one of a select few lawyers who achieved major wins in high-stakes cases.

Prior Experience

As Regional Director for the Pacific Region of the SEC from 2001 to 2007, Mr. Lee oversaw the SEC’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices, consisting of enforcement and compliance inspection programs covering nine western states, including California. The first Asian American to head an SEC regional office, Mr. Lee led numerous high-profile SEC enforcement actions during some of the most active years in the agency’s history. He managed a staff of approximately 175 attorneys, accountants, compliance examiners and support personnel.

From 1994 to 2001, Mr. Lee was an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, where he focused on the prosecution of complex financial crimes. Mr. Lee served as Deputy Chief of the Major Frauds Section of the US Attorney's Office, tried numerous cases to a jury, argued appeals before the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and led long-term grand jury investigations. Mr. Lee received an FBI Director’s Award for his investigation and prosecution of the former CEO of a California bank, who together with another executive and an outside lawyer conspired to defraud the bank out of millions of dollars and then laundered the proceeds through shell company accounts around the world. The three defendants were convicted of all counts after a five-week jury trial.

Before becoming a federal prosecutor, Mr. Lee was a transactional lawyer focusing on mergers and acquisitions, securities offerings, and general corporate matters. He began his career as an associate in corporate finance at Bankers Trust Company in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where he completed a year-long management training program ranked first in his class.

Professional Activities

Mr. Lee serves as vice chair of the board of trustees and chair of the executive committee of the Japanese American National Museum. He is a member of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers' Association and the Japanese American Bar Association. He previously served as chair of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Diversity Committee, as a member of the ABA Litigation Section Task Force on the Attorney-Client Privilege, and as a member of the board of directors of the Constitutional Rights Foundation and Asian Americans Advancing Justice—LA. 

Mr. Lee is a frequent speaker on subjects relating to securities regulatory and enforcement issues, internal investigations, the FCPA, corporate compliance and ethics, and white-collar crime. He has lectured on behalf of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) in Bangkok, and on behalf of the US State Department in Tokyo. 

Mr. Lee maintains an active pro bono practice. In 2015, Mr. Lee led a trial team that won rare jury verdicts in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of an inmate in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison against four California correctional officers for having retaliated against his client in violation of his First Amendment rights. He also led a team that, in partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the US Department of Veterans Affairs' refusal to grant equal disability benefits to an Army veteran and her same-sex spouse. A federal judge declared the relevant statute unconstitutional—the first case to decide whether married gay and lesbian veterans and their spouses should receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.  

Experience

  • Internal Investigations

    • Conducted investigation of a large data breach and the failure to timely disclose that breach, on behalf of a special committee of independent directors of a global technology company
    • Conducted investigation of whistleblower allegations concerning a company’s security and competitive intelligence practices, on behalf of a special committee of independent directors of a major technology company
    • Conducted an investigation on behalf of a special committee of independent directors of a California bank into allegations by an anonymous short seller about improper related party transactions
    • Conducted an investigation on behalf of the audit committee of a large food service distributor into certain practices at the company’s insurance subsidiary, in response to concerns raised by the company’s auditors and several former employees
    • Conducted an investigation of an executive hiring decision on behalf of a special committee of independent directors of a global hardware and software company in response to a shareholder demand
  • FCPA Matters

    • Represented the audit committee of a global networking and communications company in a DOJ and SEC investigation of whistleblower allegations of bribery of officials in Russia and numerous other countries; both DOJ and the SEC declined to bring charges
    • Represented a major hardware and software company in an investigation by DOJ and the SEC of alleged FCPA violations in Mexico
    • Represented a global engineering firm in an investigation by the SEC of alleged FCPA violations in China; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a large defense contractor in investigations by the SEC and DOJ of alleged FCPA violations in Thailand and the Czech Republic; matters closed with no action
  • Other SEC and DOJ Investigations

    • Represented the former CEO and CFO of Thornburg Mortgage from investigation through trial on charges by the SEC that they misled investors and their auditors in the early stages of the financial crisis; after a three-week trial, the SEC dismissed all claims with prejudice 
    • Representing a former BSA/AML officer and a member of the board of directors of a multinational bank in an investigation by DOJ and the US Attorney’s Office of the bank’s anti-money laundering program
    • Representing the CEO of a public company in a DOJ and SEC investigation of alleged market manipulation
    • Represented a major entertainment company in two separate SEC investigations of various accounting and disclosure issues; the SEC closed both matters with no action
    • Represented global semiconductor company in an SEC investigation of its accounting for certain reserves; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a major stock exchange in an SEC investigation of various alleged rule violations
    • Represented a semiconductor company in an SEC investigation of potential insider trading; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a global healthcare company in an SEC investigation of potential insider trading; the SEC closed the matter with no action as to our client
    • Represented a global software and hardware company in a DOJ investigation relating to executive compensation; DOJ closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a Los Angeles hedge fund in an SEC investigation of certain trades; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a Nevada investment adviser in an SEC investigation of valuation, trade allocation and other issues; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented an Arizona investment adviser in an SEC investigation of alleged violations of the Investment Advisors Act of 1940
    • Represented the CEO of a life sciences company in an SEC investigation of potential insider trading; the SEC closed the matter with no action as to our client 
    • Represented the CEO of a large Midwest investment adviser in investigations by the SEC, the US Department of Labor and a state attorney general concerning “pay to play” issues; matters concluded with no actions
    • Represented a California private equity firm and its principal in an investigation by the SEC and the California Attorney General’s office of “pay to play” issues; matters concluded with no actions
    • Represented a Los Angeles investment adviser and broker-dealer in responding to an SEC deficiency letter relating to valuation issues; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a major investment bank in an investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California relating to the distribution of mortgage-backed securities; the USAO closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a San Francisco financial technology company in an SEC investigation of various securities law issues; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a San Francisco private equity firm and one of its principals in an SEC investigation of potential insider trading; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a Los Angeles family office in an SEC investigation of potential securities law violations; the SEC closed the matter with no action
    • Represented a large regional broker-dealer in an SEC investigation of its alleged failure to supervise a registered representative
    • Representing an investment bank in an investigation by the US Department of Labor of valuation of an ESOP
  • Commercial Litigation

    • Represented an international bank in actions brought in federal court by an SEC-appointed receiver and a group of Taiwanese banks relating to claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty arising from a failed investment scheme for which the client was trustee
    • Represented regional investment bank in action against investment partner

Recognition

  • Recognized as a leading litigation attorney by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business for his work in white collar crime and government investigations
  • Selected by The National Law Journal as a 2017 Winning Litigator for his victory over the Securities and Exchange Commission at trial last year. He was chosen as one of a select few who achieved major wins in high-stakes court cases.
  • Selected by clients and peers as being among the world's leading investigations lawyers in the 2017 and 2018 editions of Global Investigations Review's Who's Who Legal: Investigations
  • Recommended in the 2017 edition of The Legal 500 United States for his corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense practice
  • Named to the Daily Journal's 2017 and 2015 Top 100 Lawyers in California lists
  • Included on Securities Docket's 2017 Enforcement 40 list
  • Named a 2015 Rainmaker by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association
  • Selected to Lawyers of Color's 2014 Power List, which showcases the most influential minority attorneys in the United States
  • Named a Star Lateral of the Year by The American Lawyer magazine in February 2008

Insights & News

Credentials

  • Education

    • JD, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, 1989

      Order of the Coif Articles Editor of the California Law Review
    • BA, Yale University, 1983

      cum laude, with distinction
  • Admissions

    • California

  • Clerkships

    • The Hon. James L. Buckley, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1989 - 1990

Credentials