Debra Wong Yang

Instructor

Debra Wong Yang is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Los Angeles office. Reflective of her broad practice and comprehensive abilities, Ms. Yang is Chair of the Crisis Management Practice Group, former Chair of the White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice Group, which includes the FCPA Practice Group, and former Chair of the Information Technology and Data Privacy Practice Group. She is also a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. She previously served as the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, where she was appointed by President George W. Bush, who made her the first Asian-American woman to serve as a United States Attorney. Ms. Yang was also selected to serve on President George W. Bush’s Corporate Fraud Task Force and to chair the Attorney General’s Advisory Committees on Intellectual Property and Civil Rights.

In 2023, Ms. Yang was recognized by Chambers USA with an Outstanding Contribution Award where she was described by Chambers and Partners as “the epitome of an elite white-collar practitioner and go-to thought leader.” Lawdragon has recognized Ms. Yang as a “Lawdragon Legend,” one of the Top 500 lawyers in the United States, and a member of its inaugural 500 Leading Litigators in America for 2023. The Los Angeles Business Journal named Ms. Yang to its annual list of the Top 100 Lawyers in Los Angeles (May 2023), and has named her as one of the Top 500 most influential people in Los Angeles every year since 2016. In 2015, Ms. Yang was recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the 27 “stellar attorneys” on the Most Influential Lawyers: White Collar and Cyber Crime list. From 2017 – 2019 and 2021 – 2022, she was also named to its list of Most Influential Women Lawyers in Los Angeles, featuring 50 of the most accomplished female attorneys working in the region, and in 2018, 2020 and 2022 they named her among the Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Los Angeles. Who’s Who Legal included her in the 2023 Who’s Who Legal Investigations guide as a top practitioner, and from 2019 – 2023, Who’s Who Legal also recognized Ms. Yang in the field of Business Crime Defense. She was recognized in 2023 as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA in California for Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, an award she has received since 2009. The Daily Journal has named her to its list of California’s Top 100 lawyers over the past several years, including most recently in 2023, highlighting her role in defending companies in investigations and crises that make headlines and are highly confidential in nature. The Daily Journal has also repeatedly named Ms. Yang to its annual list of 100 Leading Women Lawyers in California. In 2019, Benchmark Litigation named her a California “Litigation Star.”

In 2022, the American Jewish Committee bestowed Ms. Yang with their prestigious Learned Hand Award. The Anti-Defamation League presented Ms. Yang with its prestigious Deborah Award, which honors “extraordinary women of achievement.” The award was given in recognition for her “professional and philanthropic dedication to the Los Angeles community.” She was also named by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Federalist Society as Lawyer of the Year. She previously served as a founding member and officer of many Asian- American bar organizations in Chicago and Los Angeles. Ms. Yang was recognized by The National Law Journal as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America. She has been recognized as a champion of civil rights by both the Los Angeles City Council and the Inglewood Superior Court. The Asian Pacific Bar Association selected her as the 2002 recipient of its Public Service Award and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association selected her as the 2003 recipient of the Trailblazers Award. Previously, she was appointed to the President’s Council for Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges and was given the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award.

Ms. Yang has remained active in the local and legal communities, roles for which she has been frequently honored. In 2009, she was selected by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to serve as a Los Angeles Police Commissioner, part of the civilian oversight committee of the LA Police Department. Ms. Yang has been an adjunct professor at the USC School of Law and has instructed at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and at California’s Judicial College. She is a former president and board member of The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, the secretary and board member of River LA, a board member of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, a board member of the LA Philharmonic and a past board member of colleges and other educational institutions.

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