Byron McLain, Foley & Lardner partner. Courtesy photo

A former federal prosecutor has made a move to Foley & Lardner’s Los Angeles office, where he plans to go from prosecuting companies to representing them.

Byron McLain joined the Milwaukee-based firm’s government enforcement defense and investigations practice Monday as a partner. McLain spent over six years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, where he most recently served as the deputy chief of its general crimes section.

In that role, McLain spent much of his time prosecuting businesses and industries. But he returned to Big Law because he wanted to help clients avoid that conduct altogether, he said, “addressing the problems at the front instead of being more reactive.”

McLain was an assistant U.S. attorney in the office’s major frauds and general crimes sections of the criminal division for five years before being promoted to the role of deputy chief. Before joining the public sector, he spent nearly five years at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he represented clients in a variety of complex criminal and civil matters.

McLain said his time at the U.S. Attorney’s Office has sharpened his skills as a trial attorney. He investigated and prosecuted white-collar crimes in a variety of areas, including health care, mortgage, securities and tax fraud, as well as movie investment fraud. He helped convict the orchestrators of a $21 million movie investment scheme involving a company called Gigapix, in a case that was featured on CNBC’s television series “American Greed.”

McLain has tried eight criminal cases to a jury verdict and argued two appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Byron’s impressive understanding of Department of Justice matters and priorities, particularly in the area of health care, will further strengthen our distinguished bench of former federal prosecutors and government enforcement defense advocates,” Lisa Noller, chair of Foley’s government enforcement defense and investigations practice, said in a statement.

McLain noted that he has specifically wanted to join Foley because of the firm’s commitment to workplace diversity.

“As an African-American attorney, I have a role to play in that. And, I am happy to have the opportunity to play that role,” he said. Beginning in January, McLain will be the president of the Los Angeles-based John M. Langston Bar Association, which is the largest and oldest organization for African-American legal professionals on the West Coast.

“[McLain's] solid reputation combined with his high-level government and private practice experience make him an excellent addition to our robust team of litigators here in L.A. and nationally,” added Jeffery Atkin, the managing partner of Foley’s Los Angeles office.

Foley opened its Los Angeles office in 1996, and now has 54 lawyers in the city. The office also added to its bankruptcy practice this year, bringing on partner Ashley McDow from Baker & Hostetler as a partner in April.