Tara Lee

Partner, Washington, DC



Tara Lee is one of the United States' leading white collar and litigation lawyers. Named the US Trial Lawyer of the Year by Benchmark Litigation, Tara was the first woman ever to receive that distinction. Her investigations and litigation practice includes some of the highest profile investigations and civil litigation in the country.

She has numerous awards for her skills as a trial advocate and has been consistently ranked as one of America's leading lawyers by Chambers USA. In past years she has been recognized as a Pioneer and Trailblazer in Litigation by the National Law Journal, one of the Ten Most Innovative Lawyers in the US by the Financial Times, and as one of the top Female Powerbrokers in Law by Law360.

Tara is regularly listed as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the US by Benchmark Litigation and as one of the Top 100 Women in Investigations by GIR. For her groundbreaking pro bono work in international human rights law she received the Partner in Justice Award from the Center for Justice and Accountability. While serving on active duty in the US Navy JAG Corps she was named the ATLA Outstanding Military Trial Lawyer.

Ms. Lee's litigation practice is international in scope. She has experience successfully representing multinational companies, sovereign nations, public and private companies, funds, firms, partnerships and individuals in all types of litigation across a broad variety of industries, with a particular emphasis on complex commercial litigation, business-tort and mass tort litigation, and arbitration-enforcement litigation.

Tara has testified as an expert witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the intersection of international human rights law and US domestic and extraterritorial jurisdiction and has twice been invited to the United Nations to address UN Working Groups on matters concerning the US civil litigation exposure of businesses operating overseas.

She also has significant experience running high-visibility independent investigations and internal corporate investigations across a variety of subject matters, including ESG, corporate governance, bias, sexual assault and harassment, and corporate crime. She is especially skilled at leading a full community of stakeholders through the appropriate balance of advocacy and communications response to a crisis.

Previously, Tara served as co-chair of the National Trial Practice at one of the only major law firms solely devoted to business litigation and arbitration. She was also co-chair of the Global Investigations practice as well as the Global Chair of the Cross Border Litigation practice at one of the largest global law firms. Prior to law school, she was an officer in the United States Navy, serving in a US Navy helicopter squadron and in staff positions at Wing and AirPac commands.

Bars and Courts
District of Columbia
New York
US District Court for the District of Columbia
US District Court for the Central District of California
US District Court for the Northern District of California
US District Court for the Eastern District of California
US District Court for the District of Maryland
US District Court for the Southern District of New York
US District Court for the Western District of Virginia
US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
US Supreme Court
University of San Diego School of Law
United States Naval Academy


Recent major representations:

  • Independent Investigation – Morningstar Conducted an independent investigation into whether the human-rights-focused ESG ratings products at Morningstar Sustainalytics were biased against Israel or violative of U.S. anti-BDS legislation. Tara led White & Case's investigation team in this significant inquiry, which culminated in a 130-page, groundbreaking report. The company published the report in full, and pledged to adopt all of the report's recommendations.
  • In re USC Health Center, (C.D. CA) Defended the class action and individual racial harassment, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sex discrimination claims of 10,000+ former students against the University of Southern California, which concluded with a US$215 million settlement of claims at different tiers of victim engagement in the claim resolution process.
  • Hawkins v. DIGI Communications / RCS-RDS, (E.D. VA) (4th Cir.) Successfully defended largest cable operator in Eastern Europe obtaining total dismissal of US$80 million default enforcement claims. Obtained interlocutory appeal to Fourth Circuit on personal jurisdiction/extraterritorial jurisdiction grounds, ultimately obtained dismissal at trial court on subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction dismissal grounds affirmed by Fourth Circuit, and trial court ultimately dismissed remaining defendant on laches.
  • CapForum v. Bloomberg News, (D. DC) Defended Bloomberg on first amendment and copyright litigation challenging Bloomberg defending "hot news misappropriation" claims against Bloomberg on first amendment grounds, case named one of top ten copyright litigation matters of 2019.
  • WTA v. Super Slam, Ion Tiriac (S.D. NY) Represented Romanian billionaire Ion Tiriac, and his company, Super Slam, owner of Madrid Open, successfully defended anti suit injunction brought in SD NY by Women's Tennis Association as to three international defamation cases.


Litigation: government, logistics, infrastructure, and security industries:

  • Cabrera et al. v. Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp., Centerra Group LLC, et al. (D. DC). Defending one of eight defense contractor defendants in ATA case brought by 150+ wrongful death plaintiffs asserting the theory that defendants' alleged payments made in Afghanistan while working in support of DOD operations qualify as support to terrorists under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
  • Risinger v. SOC/SMG, Day & Zimmerman, (D. NV, 9th Cir.) Successively obtained reversal of class certification by trial court where certification had already been upheld by Ninth Circuit on 23(f), in a case where defense contractor's entire overseas workforce had been certified as a class. Had the class certification opinion survived it would have opened potential wage and hour class action litigation to tens of thousands of former defense contractor employees, industry-wide.
  • Brown v. Constellis (E.D. VA) Represented a stability operations company in internal investigation to defend a False Claims Act case based on alleged frauds in Kuwait, resulting in non-intervention decision by US government and voluntary dismissal by plaintiffs.
  • PGI v. Janus, (E.D. VA) Successfully obtained immediate dismissal of TRO and complaint filed in Ed Va on behalf of subcontractor on defense contract.
  • U.S. ex rel. Moldex-Metric Inc. v. 3M Co., (D. SC). Represented earplug manufacturer and plaintiff whistleblower relator in an FCA lawsuit resulting in a US$9 million recovery for the US government and fees award in favor of our client.
  • United States ex rel. Beauchamp v. ACADEMI LLC, (E.D. Va.)(4th Circuit) Represented a defense contractor in False Claims Act case based on alleged frauds in Iraq and Afghanistan, in a case where plaintiffs demanded over US$100 million, case settled on eve of trial for nuisance value.
  • United States ex rel. Kamal Mustafa Al-Sultan, (N.D. Ga.) Represented a logistics contractor in a False Claims Act case based on alleged frauds in contracts associated with food services in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • United States ex el. Badr v. Triple Canopy (E.D. Va.) (4th Circuit) (US Supreme Court) Represented a defense contractor in an action alleging violations of the False Claims Act, breach of contract and fraud. Successfully obtained dismissal of all claims, including government-intervened FCA allegations.
  • Dolarian Capital, Inc. v. SOC, LLC (E.D. Cal.). Represented defense contractor defending against a lawsuit filed by a military products broker regarding the sale and export of firearms and ammunition to Iraq and Afghanistan, case settled with plaintiff paying our client fees and withdrawing claims.
  • Wagner v. Samaritan's Purse and Clayton Consultants, Inc. (S.D.N.Y.) Represented Clayton Consultants, an international security and crisis management firm, defending against plaintiff's allegations that defendant Clayton negligently managed negotiations with her Sudanese kidnappers. Case dismissed with prejudice after successful settlement conference.
  • Alsaydi v. Four Horsemen International, et al. (S.D.N.Y.) Represented a government contractor in a lawsuit alleging wrongful death claims arising from an IED explosion in Afghanistan. Successfully advocated regarding applicability of the Defense Base Act as a complete bar to the plaintiff's claims.
  • Mohammed v. Erinys International, Ltd., et al. (S.D. Texas) Represented a UK defense contractor sued regarding an incident involving injury to civilians in Kirkuk, Iraq. Successfully obtained dismissal of all claims at motion to dismiss.
  • Vance v. CHF International (D. MD) Represented an international contractor sued for wrongful death after an employee's death in Pakistan. Successfully obtained dismissal of all claims at motion to dismiss.
  • Thompson, et al. v. MEP (E.D. NC) Defended a government contractor in a wrongful death action arising from a shooting involving multiple fatalities. Successfully raised derivative immunity defenses.
  • Brink, et al. v. Continental, et al. (D.D.C.) Represented multiple defense contractors (Northrop, Aegis) sued for US$2 billion in class action claiming damages based on allegations of injuries suffered while serving overseas in support of US operations. Obtained complete dismissal at MTD stage.