Joan McPhee


  • JD, magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1984; Articles Editor, Harvard Law Review
  • BA, Princeton University, 1980; Phi Beta Kappa


  • New York, 1986
  • Massachusetts, 1986
  • Rhode Island, 1991

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island
  • Honorable Abraham D. Sofaer, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • Boston Bar Association, Diversity & Inclusion Section Steering Committee (2009 - Present)
  • American Bar Association, White Collar Section
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2005-2017)
  • Legal 500 (2016-2017)
  • The Best Lawyers in America (2013-2018)
  • Who’s Who Legal: “Business Crime Defence” (2016)
  • Benchmark Litigation: Top 250 Women in Litigation (2012-2015)
  • Benchmark Litigation: Massachusetts Litigation Star (2007, 2008, 2010-2017)
  • Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly “Top Women of Law” (2015)
  • Expert Guides’ Guide to the World’s Leading Women in Business Law (2013-2016)
  • Expert Guides' Guide to the World's Leading White Collar Crime Lawyers (2014)
  • Expert Guides' Guide to the World's Leading Litigation and Product Liability Lawyers (Litigation) (2014)
  • LMG Life Sciences, Life Science Star (2012-2014, 2016)
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers (2009-2017)
  • Recognized in 2006 by Lawdragon as one of “the freshest faces in American law” and named to Lawdragon's list of “500 New Stars, New Worlds” based upon excellence in a sophisticated practice
  • Nightingale’s Healthcare News “Outstanding Healthcare Litigators” (2006) 

Joan McPhee


Joan is a member of Ropes & Gray’s governing Policy Committee and served as head of the firm’s Government Enforcement practice from 2003 to 2008. She has over two decades of experience representing companies and individuals in white collar criminal investigations and trials, as well as complex civil litigation and administrative enforcement matters. Joan represents clients across a number of industries, including healthcare and life sciences, financial services, and private equity.

Prior to joining Ropes & Gray, Joan served as an Assistant United States Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appeals Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. As a federal prosecutor, she investigated and tried nearly a dozen cases involving a wide range of criminal conduct, including financial fraud, obstruction of justice, racketeering, and organized crime.

From 1994 to 2001, Joan chaired the firm's Diversity Committee.


  • Lead trial counsel to Kurt Mix, formerly with BP, in a two-count felony obstruction of justice case related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mr. Mix was indicted in May 2012 and went to trial in December 2013 in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. In November 2015, in response to a defense submission and three weeks before a scheduled re-trial, the Department of Justice dismissed all obstruction of justice charges against Mr. Mix.
  • Represent several of the world’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers in parallel criminal and civil investigations into alleged unlawful promotional practices, including off-label promotion through physician speakership programs.
  • Represent the former president of a pharmaceutical company in multi-year off-label promotion investigation that concluded with no charges being brought against the executive.
  • Represent Medical Information Working Group ("MIWG"), an informal coalition of major pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers that addresses legal and policy issues pertaining to government regulation of off-label promotional practices. 
  • Represent MIWG, as amicus, in numerous cases, including successful bid for preliminary relief in Amarin v. FDA, a case involving a First Amendment challenge to FDA regulations and policies that prohibit manufacturers from sharing truthful, non-misleading information about their medical products, and United States v. Caronia, in which the Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with MIWG that an individual cannot be criminally prosecuted for disseminating truthful, non-misleading information about off-label uses of an FDA-approved drug.
  • Represent Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in its litigation against FDA, prompted by an FDA Warning Letter alleging that the company had engaged in off-label promotion of its flagship drug. In an across-the-board victory for Pacira, FDA took the unprecedented step of withdrawing the Warning Letter and approving revisions to the drug’s label. 
  • Represent pharmaceutical company in wide-ranging criminal investigation and parallel qui tam action focused on alleged fraudulent sales, marketing and pricing practices that concluded with a favorable, agreed-upon resolution for the company.
  • Represent private equity firm and portfolio company in government investigation into alleged submission of fraudulent claims for reimbursement from federal and state health care programs.
  • Represent major private equity firms, including TPG Capital, and their portfolio companies on regulatory and compliance matters, transactional diligence, civil litigation and enforcement matters.
  • Represent senior executive in five-year USAO/SEC securities fraud and tax evasion investigation that concluded with no criminal charges being brought against the executive.
  • Represent major international transport and customs brokerage company in U.S. Customs and Border Protection investigation that concluded with a favorable, agreed-upon resolution.
  • Represent major U.S. bank in multi-year financial fraud investigation that was successfully resolved with no criminal charges being brought against our client. 
  • Represent leading defense contractor in grand jury investigation involving alleged illegal export of military equipment that was resolved, after a five-year criminal investigation, with a civil settlement.
  • Represent national hospital system in Department of Justice investigation and parallel qui tam litigation in which we achieved two with-prejudice dismissals, negotiated a no-cost resolution to the multi-year qui tam lawsuit brought by a former employee, and obtained sanctions against opposing counsel for ethical misconduct.  
  • Represent health care company in multi-year Department of Justice and State Attorney General investigation and parallel qui tam litigation in which we obtained federal and state declinations after extensive presentations to the USAO and State AG. 
  • Represent major health care insurer in high-profile public corruption investigation that concluded with a non-prosecution disposition. 

Publications & Presentations