Leo Cunningham is a partner in Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati's litigation department with more than 25 years' of experience trying criminal and civil cases in state and federal courts and before arbitrators. He brings the judgment of a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor to all manner of client challenges, including the defense of white collar crimes and responding to government investigations related to such matters as healthcare, antitrust, securities fraud, mortgage fraud, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and export-control violations. He also has substantial experience conducting internal investigations, defending civil securities cases and qui tam actions, and trying intellectual property disputes.
Leo joined the firm as a litigator after clerking for a federal judge in the trial court for the Northern District of California. He left the firm for eight years to serve as a federal criminal prosecutor in the Northern District of California, where he conducted grand jury investigations, tried cases before federal juries in San Jose, and argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Since returning to Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in 1997, he has represented companies, officers, directors, and attorneys in all manner of sensitive disputes.
Leo served as a voting member of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for the United States Judicial Conference. He was appointed to two three-year terms by Chief Justice Roberts commencing in 2006.
In 2006, Leo was honored by California Lawyer magazine as an Attorney of the Year for winning a trial in Miami on behalf of victims of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's human-rights atrocities. He also has been recognized in Northern California Super Lawyers for business litigation and white collar criminal defense.
Leo was appointed by the judges of the Northern District of California to be a lawyer representative to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' judicial conference; during the last year of his tenure with the group, he was made co-chairperson of the lawyer representatives. He has lectured at the attorney general's Advocacy Institute, co-taught a course at Santa Clara University School of Law on federal criminal litigation, taught at Stanford Law School's advocacy skills workshop, and he lectures regularly on a variety of topics.
Leo is a former member of the firm's Policy Committee.EDUCATION:
- J.D., Harvard Law School, 1985
- Undergraduate Degree, Stanford University, 1982
Phi Beta Kappa; With Distinction; Recipient, Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Outstanding Service to Undergraduate Education
- Presenter, "Avoiding the Crosshairs: Practical Advice on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the New World of Whistleblowers, Regulators, and Prosecutors," National Association of Corporate Directors, Silicon Valley Chapter, November 18, 2010
- "Responsible Lawyering when the Government's Lurking: Ethical Issues in Investigations," WSGR Client MCLE Day, December 9, 2009
- State Bar of California
- U.S. Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. Court for the Southern District of California
- U.S. Court for the Eastern District of New York
- U.S. Court for the Western District of Texas
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. Tax Court