Longtime federal prosecutor Aloke “Al” Chakravarty, who once tried Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has joined Snell & Wilmer as a partner in its cybersecurity, data protection and privacy practice in Denver, where he will co-chair the Am Law 200 firm’s white-collar and investigations group.
“Working for the government has been the great privilege of my career and I had the good fortune to be able to do it for 20 years at the state, local and international level,” said Chakravarty, who has spent the past 13 years at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Since 1998, Chakravarty has tried some of the world’s most high-profile cases as an assistant attorney general of Massachusetts, assistant general counsel of FBI and as a trial attorney in The Hague, Netherlands, at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 that killed three civilians and injured more than 250 other individuals, Chakravarty, at the time an assistant U.S. attorney in the city, was appointed to be part of a team investigating the attack, which eventually resulted in the successful prosecution of Tsarnaev in 2015.
But after his exhaustive work on the case, Chakravarty said that it was time to make a change.
“One of the things that resonated through doing traditional criminal cases and some of these more complex investigations was that it is often better to avoid problems in the first place rather than to hold people accountable after the fact,” Chakravarty said.
In addition, Chakravarty said that after years of sacrifices that his family made to support his work across the globe on various trials and matters, it was time to put them first.
“I finally got to a place where I decided that family should be driving my career decisions, not the other way around,” he said.
The Chakravarty clan eventually settled on Denver, where the now former federal prosecutor—Chakravarty left the Justice Department in January—had spent some time as a child. That move then led him to Snell & Wilmer, a 413-lawyer firm with Phoenix roots that took in $260 million in gross revenue last year, with profits per partner of roughly $800,000, according to data compiled by ALM Intelligence.
“I came out to Denver without knowing where I was going to go but very quickly as I started scouring the legal landscape out here I saw this great powerhouse firm who was really investing in what I do,” said Chakravarty, who began his legal career as a summer associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in 1996.
Snell & Wilmer opened its Mile-High City outpost in 2000. Denver, home to traditional industries such as financial services and natural resources, as well as up-and-coming areas such as legalized cannabis, provides plenty of opportunities for growth in the intellectual property and technology sectors. Both are part of Chakravarty’s background.
“It is really an interesting and exciting time for somebody in the white-collar and cyberspace to be able to counsel these midlevel companies,” Chakravarty said. “There are a lot of opportunities for somebody like me to build something that’s sustainable with these companies on the ground floor.”
Chakravarty’s move to Snell & Wilmer comes one month after the fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, an event that he reflects upon frequently. One thing he learned from the bombing victims, survivors and their families is to constantly move forward.
“They have such a ‘joie de vivre’ that they are not defined by what happened to them,” Chakravarty said. “They’ve grown from it and they’ve moved on and tried to tackle new challenges. I was really inspired by that vision and what I’ve seen from the hundreds and hundreds of people who were affected [and that] animated my desire to do the same professionally.”
In relocating to Colorado, Chakravarty will actually be closer geographically to Tsarnaev, the surviving brother who he helped put behind bars. Tsarnaev awaits his death sentence as an inmate in a federal maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado. The so-called supermax facility is about a two-hour drive south of downtown Denver.