Cooley Nabs Former Leader of WilmerHale’s LA Office

February 05, 2019


By Xiumei Dong

After spending the past decade building out WilmerHale’s Los Angeles office, Randall Lee has left the East Coast-based firm to join Cooley.

Randall Lee, who spent the past decade building out Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr’s Los Angeles office, has decamped the East Coast-based firm to join Cooley as a partner in Los Angeles.

Lee joined WilmerHale in 2007 to help the firm establish its office in Los Angeles, but he stepped down as the partner-in-charge of that office last year. Litigation partner David Marcus succeeded him in the leadership role.

“For me, the combination of an increasingly prominent litigation practice, combined with a phenomenal corporate practice and a huge California footprint represents an exceptional platform for my practice and for what I do,” Lee said, regarding his move to Cooley.

Lee specializes in high-stakes litigation, investigations and white-collar defense. Before joining WilmerHale, he served as the regional director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Pacific Regional Office for six years, where he oversaw the SEC’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices.

“Typically, I represent companies and individuals who are facing some sort of investigation by the government,” Lee said. “And in my experience, clients very much value lawyers who have been on the other side of the table, who have themselves spent time in government and who can advise the clients on how the government is likely to handle a particular matter.”

While at WilmerHale, Lee and partner Heather Tewksbury led a monthslong internal investigation at Uber Technologies Inc. into the allegations by a former employee that the company operated a program aimed at stealing competitors’ trade secrets.

WilmerHale did not respond to requests for comment regarding Lee’s departure.

Lee also has represented public companies, financial services firms, accounting firms and corporate directors and officers in SEC and other regulatory and law enforcement investigations, as well as in internal investigations of potential misconduct.

Before joining the SEC, Lee was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California from 1994 to 2001. Before that, he was an associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson for four years. Lee also clerked for Judge James Buckley on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“Our vision is to grow the litigation practice in Los Angeles so that it is comparable with all of our practices around the country in various offices,” said Mike Attanasio, chair of Cooley’s global litigation department. “Adding a lawyer of Randall’s stellar reputation and extraordinary accomplishment is precisely the step forward we wanted to achieve in Los Angeles and, frankly, anywhere in our global litigation platform.”

The litigation group Lee has joined at Cooley is 12 attorneys strong in Los Angeles, though it recently lost partner William Donovan Jr., former head of the L.A. litigation practice, who joined McDermott Will & Emery in November.

The firm’s Los Angeles office, which opened in 2012, has a total of 43 attorneys. Firmwide, Cooley has 377 lawyers in its litigation practice.

“Cooley has been here in L.A. for only six years and already is becoming a player in the market,” Lee said. “I loved building a practice and an office at WilmerHale, and I am excited to do something similar here at Cooley.”

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