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
  • American Bar Association, White Collar Section
  • Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, Director


  • Benchmark Litigation: Top 100 Trial Lawyers (2018)
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2005-2018)
  • Legal 500 (2016-2018)
  • The Best Lawyers in America (2013-2019)
  • Who’s Who Legal: “Business Crime Defence” (2016)
  • Benchmark Litigation: Top 250 Women in Litigation (2012-2015; 2018)
  • 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)
  • LMG Life Sciences, Life Science Star (2012-2014, 2016)
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers (2009-2017)
  • Recognized 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"

Joan McPhee


Joan McPhee has more than 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. One of the nation’s preeminent white collar practitioners, Joan has been lauded for her handling of high-profile and high-stakes matters. She represents clients across a range of industries.

She was lead trial counsel for Kurt Mix, a drilling engineer, 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.

Based in the firm’s 350-lawyer New York office, Joan is a leader of Ropes & Gray’s Sexual Misconduct & Workplace Harassment practice, and also the firm’s independent investigations group, which draws on the experience and know-how of former federal prosecutors to conduct thorough inquiries with the highest level of integrity.

She has handled numerous internal investigations across a range of matters, and recently co-led a 10-month independent investigation commissioned by the United States Olympic Committee into the abuse of elite and Olympic gymnasts by Larry Nassar. The investigation culminated in a detailed December 2018 public report addressing “who knew what when” and what was and was not done in response, as well as contributing cultural conditions and underlying factors in the decades-long abuse.

Throughout her career, Joan has been dedicated to public service—in government, in community organizations and in leadership roles on diversity and inclusion initiatives in the legal profession.

She has held numerous leadership positions at Ropes & Gray, serving for 10 years as a member of the firm’s governing policy committee, and for many years as head of the firm’s government enforcement practice. In addition, Joan co-chairs the firm's diversity committee. She also has served in a leadership role with the firm’s pro bono committee and participates in the Women’s Forum. She maintains an active pro bono practice, and she has spearheaded the firm’s partnerships with the Innocence Project and Lawyers Without Borders. Her work with Lawyers Without Borders has included traveling to Tanzania to train local justice officials on investigating and prosecuting human trafficking crimes.

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. During her tenure as a federal prosecutor, in addition to conducting numerous investigations, Joan tried approximately a dozen cases involving a wide range of criminal conduct, including obstruction of justice, financial fraud, sexual exploitation of minors, racketeering and organized crime.

Publications & Presentations

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