Michael Gottlieb, a former associate White House counsel under President Barack Obama, has jumped from Boies Schiller Flexner to Willkie Farr & Gallagher, where he will remain in Washington, D.C., and be a leader of the firm’s new crisis management practice.
Gottlieb, who started at the firm last week, had joined Boies Schiller in 2013, after leaving the Obama White House. He’s had a number of other prominent stops in public service, including U.S. Supreme Court clerk, staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, assistant United States attorney, and the civilian leader of an international and interagency task force in Afghanistan.
In private practice, he’s aimed to focus on bet-the-company and enterprise-threatening matters that span the civil-criminal divide, or the congressional-regulatory divide.
“Those types of multi-dimensional challenges have always been interesting for me,” Gottlieb said.
He pointed to Willkie’s wide variety of complementary practices—namely white-collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement, business reorganizations and transactional work—as the incentive for his move.
“I wanted to find a platform that provided an opportunity to work on large problems for enterprises from different angles than at Boies Schiller,” Gottlieb said. “Having that full complement of different practice areas would allow me to be part of teams that could quickly respond to these types of crises that clients are facing and give me greater opportunity to build out and develop this practice.”
Gottlieb’s practice has a number of different strands. As an appellate advocate, he argued and notched a win before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 on behalf of class action plaintiffs in an antitrust case over vitamin C price fixing.
He’s also handled “impact litigation” in the fake news and conspiracy arena. One recent client is Aaron Rich, the brother of the slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, whose death became the focus of conspiracy theorists who falsely claimed he was murdered in retaliation for providing stolen DNC emails to WikiLeaks. Gottlieb’s suit pushed the Washington Times to issue a lengthy retraction and apology.
Gottlieb also represented Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis and secured an apology from InfoWars, which perpetuated the debunked “Pizzagate” falsehood that his business was the locus of a child sex trafficking ring.
He joined Boies Schiller shortly before fellow Obama administration veteran and crisis management specialist Karen Dunn came aboard in 2014.
Early in his career, he held clerkships with Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court, and the late Stephen Reinhardt on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He also practiced at Wilmer Cutler Picker Hale and Dorr.
“Michael’s distinguished record in court, combined with his unique background navigating high-profile and multi-dimensional disputes, is a valuable and important addition to our firm’s premier offerings in litigation, compliance, and regulatory matters,” Matthew Feldman, co-chairman and managing partner of Willkie’s Washington, D.C., office, said in a statement. “His clients rely on his trusted counsel—and his experience in litigation, investigations, regulatory and other high-stakes matters, both from industry and government perspectives, is a perfect fit for our clients and our Crisis Management Practice.”