Michael McGovern co-chairs the firm’s global government enforcement practice, and he previously served as Managing Partner of the firm’s 400-lawyer New York office.  An accomplished trial lawyer, Michael focuses his practice on high-stakes criminal cases where the survival of companies and the liberty interests of their highest-ranking officers and employees are in jeopardy.  He has successfully defended clients in a wide variety of high-profile and sensitive matters involving allegations of securities and commodities fraud, other types of financial fraud, domestic and foreign corruption, antitrust offenses, tax offenses, and health care fraud.  In such cases, Michael typically faces the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), various U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), as well as other enforcement agencies around the world.  

Clients uniformly praise Michael’s work, telling Chambers, “He is one of the really great white-collar lawyers in New York -- he just has such good judgment, is completely unflappable, and is very careful and analytical in the way he approaches cases.”  Clients especially appreciate his crisis management skills in the face of adversity, as one client said: “I can't imagine having a better attorney. I can’t speak more highly of him. He excels at all aspects: he is very good strategically, knowledgeable and calming.”

Prior to joining Ropes & Gray, Michael served for over seven years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he held supervisory positions in both the Organized Crime and Terrorism Unit and the General Crimes Unit. In those capacities, he supervised groups of more than 20 Assistant U.S. Attorneys in grand jury investigations and prosecutions of complex securities fraud, money laundering, terrorism, and RICO cases. Michael also argued more than a dozen appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In 2004, Michael received the Department of Justice’s award for superior performance as an Assistant United States Attorney.


  • Representation of international airline and its affiliates in a cross-border investigation by the DOJ, SEC and Colombian authorities into potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations
  • Representation of global bank in connection with various litigations filed under the federal Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA)
  • Representation of global medical device company in criminal antitrust investigation by DOJ and various State Attorneys General
  • Representation of various hedge funds and other investment management firms in insider-trading investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the DOJ, and the SEC
  • Representation of various national healthcare companies in DOJ investigations and parallel False Claims Act litigations
  • Representation of various multinational companies in alleged “criminal cartel” investigations by DOJ’s Antitrust Division and other competition authorities around the world
  • Representation of numerous traders and bank executives in global criminal investigations by DOJ, SEC, CFTC and other enforcement authorities of alleged bank fraud, “spoofing,” money laundering, and other financial crimes and regulatory violations

Trial Experience

Among Michael’s trial successes as a defense lawyer, he secured a jury acquittal on all counts for a bank president in a federal bank fraud trial prosecuted by DOJ; a post-trial misdemeanor disposition for a BP engineer charged by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force with two felony counts of obstruction of justice; and a post-trial dismissal of all criminal counts brought by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh against former President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor.

Michael also had a successful trial record as a federal prosecutor, which included winning jury convictions of the former Bosses of two different organized crime families of La Cosa Nostra. Also as a federal prosecutor, Michael secured convictions in several trials involving allegations of securities fraud. 

Areas of Practice