Joan McPhee


Joan McPhee


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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.

Joan has handled high-profile and high-stakes matters for clients across a range of industries, including health care companies, private equity firms, financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, academic institutions and non-profit organizations. She has also represented numerous individuals, from senior executives and board members to physicians and engineers. She has defended companies and individuals in cases involving financial fraud, health care fraud, obstruction of justice, securities fraud, public corruption, tax fraud, and other alleged criminal and civil misconduct. She also counsels clients on risk mitigation and effective compliance measures.

In addition to her work on government enforcement matters, Joan is a leader of Ropes & Gray’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. In 2018, she 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. The detailed public report was described by the Washington Post as “thorough and unstinting.”

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 armed bank robbery, labor racketeering, financial fraud, sexual exploitation of minors and organized crime.

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 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. Joan also is a member of the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society.

Publications & Presentations

  • Crain’s New York Business “Notable Women in Law” (2020)
  • Women in White Collar Defense Association – The Laurie A. Miller Leadership Award for the Advancement of Women in White Collar Defense (2019)
  • Law360  “White Collar MVP” (2019)
  • The New York Business Journal’s “Women of Influence” (2019)
  • Benchmark Litigation: Top 100 Trial Lawyers (2018)
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2005-2020)
  • Legal 500 (2016-2018, 2020)
  • The Best Lawyers in America (2013-2021)
  • 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 (2009-2020)
  • 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"


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