The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Ted Chung, Partner—Investigations & White Collar Defense
Ted Chung, chair of Jones Day’s Investigations and White Collar Defense practice, has deep experience conducting internal investigations, defending companies and individuals in criminal and regulatory proceedings, and counseling clients on compliance programs and issues.
Throughout his career, Ted has helped participants in many different industries address some of their most complicated and sensitive problems. He has served as investigative and defense counsel in numerous high-profile criminal and administrative matters in the United States and across Latin America, Asia, and Europe. These matters have involved allegations of bribery and other corrupt conduct; financial and regulatory fraud; procurement fraud; accounting irregularities; violations of export/import and immigration laws; and violations of corporate policy.
Prior to joining Jones Day, Ted served as general counsel to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn; a partner at another major law firm; an assistant U.S. attorney and deputy chief in the Criminal Division of the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office; the first assistant corporation counsel in the city of Chicago’s Law Department; and deputy chief of staff (public safety) for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Ted earned his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his law degree from Northwestern University.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Clients come to Jones Day’s Investigations and White Collar Defense practice for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they approach us after being contacted by law enforcement authorities or regulators. They seek our guidance on how to interact with these officials and request our help in defending against potential or actual criminal, administrative, and/or civil claims.
Other times, clients have received allegations of misconduct and want our lawyers to investigate the allegations. And, as is increasingly the case, companies also seek out Jones Day for help in evaluating and enhancing their compliance programs and mitigating legal, financial, and reputational risks.
We help our clients in all such situations by gathering facts, conducting legal analyses, and providing strategic and legal advice, among other things.
What types of clients do you represent?
We represent both companies and individuals. Many of our corporate representations are on behalf of large, multinational businesses—both publicly held and private. We represent companies in virtually every industry and with respect to issues and conduct across the globe. Our clients include a number of the largest businesses in the world. We also represent smaller enterprises. From time to time, we represent corporate executives and other individuals. We typically do so in connection with corporate internal investigations and/or government investigations or prosecutions.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
We work on a wide variety of investigations and white collar matters. Jones Day lawyers have handled some of the most significant white collar matters in recent history. Many of our internal corporate investigations arise out of whistleblower complaints, alleging that employees engaged in some form of misconduct.
Also in the area of internal investigations, we are regularly called on to investigate allegations that representatives of a corporate client made improper payments to foreign government officials in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and local anti-corruption laws.
In addition, we represent clients in the context of government enforcement actions. While we represent crime victims in some of these matters, it is more often the case that our clients are suspected or accused of having engaged in criminal activity. In those cases where our clients have been indicted, we vigorously defend them through pre-trial litigation and, if necessary, at trial.
Last, but certainly not least, we offer a strong pro bono practice, which includes the representation of victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, as well as the representation of individuals in wrongful-conviction cases.
How did you choose this practice area?
I served as a judicial clerk for a year immediately following law school. During that year, I found that I was most interested in the criminal cases that my judge assigned to me. From a factual perspective, the cases usually involved more of a human element. I likewise found that the legal issues were more compelling. So I was already starting to lean in the direction of a criminal practice when I joined a large law firm as an associate after my clerkship. Then, as a young associate, I worked on some corporate white collar matters with a partner who had recently come to the firm from the Chicago U.S. Attorney’s Office. I also helped another partner with a pro bono criminal appeal. I enjoyed this work so much that I ended up applying to be an assistant U.S. attorney myself. I got that job and, from that point forward, have devoted much of my career to investigations and criminal defense.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
My practice is very team oriented, so my days typically involve collaborating with clients and my colleagues at Jones Day. I spend a lot of time both on the phone and in in-person meetings. Occasionally (at least a few times a month), my work requires me to travel, usually by plane and sometimes overseas.
My common tasks include: (1) performing investigative, fact-finding activities (such as interviewing witnesses and reviewing important documents); (2) participating in strategy sessions relating to client matters; (3) analyzing work product prepared by colleagues; (4) keeping clients updated on our work and issues related to their matters; (5) negotiating or otherwise communicating with government enforcement officials; and (6) developing and implementing ways to ensure that the lawyers in our practice are kept up to speed on important legal developments and continue to develop their skills.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
Investigations and white collar defense is a high-intensity practice that puts a premium on both technical legal skills—e.g., research, writing, and oral presentation skills—and “soft” skills—namely, having a good work ethic and attitude, being able to deliver (or even thrive) under pressure and in a team setting, genuinely enjoying investigating issues, and defending those accused of regulatory or criminal misdeeds.
Classes (e.g., substantive criminal law and criminal procedure), skills-based formal training (e.g., trial advocacy), and observing practitioners in action (e.g., criminal trials) can be helpful in preparing junior attorneys for white collar work. But there is no substitute for real, on-the-job training. In my view, budding white collar lawyers should be proactive in seeking out opportunities to work on real cases with experienced lawyers, whether through public agencies or private firms.
What do you like best about your practice area?
There are many things about my practice area that I absolutely love. The thing I like best is the ability to work on hugely complex and high-stakes matters that raise issues and present challenges across many practice areas and geographies—and to do so on behalf of a number of the world’s leading companies, together with some of the very best lawyers in the world.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
Jones Day’s Investigations and White Collar Defense practice stands out in several respects. For one thing, ours is one of the largest and most geographically dispersed white collar practices in the world, while also being perhaps the most integrated such practice among the truly global law firms. We can call on more than 160 lawyers spread evenly across offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia/Australia. We function as a unified team.
Much of what we do is distinctly cross-border, involving investigations and defense work spanning multiple countries. We are also notable in that, while this is a field that has historically been male dominated, many of our team members are women. This gender diversity runs from our most accomplished senior lawyers to the many new lawyers who have joined our practice.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
At Jones Day, junior lawyers typically have their hands in every major aspect of our Investigations and White Collar Defense practice.
Fact Gathering. Junior lawyers are deeply involved in first-level fact-gathering activities and related strategy formulation for client matters. In this regard, they oversee the review of electronic data and hard-copy documents (where the most important facts are often buried, awaiting discovery); assist in the preparation for, and at times conduct, witness interviews; and help more-senior lawyers plot strategy.
Research/Analysis. Junior lawyers engage in legal research and analysis, preparing memoranda and other work product if/when necessary.
Interactions With Clients/Government. At Jones Day, junior lawyers are expected to handle certain interactions with client representatives (e.g., providing updates and addressing specific issues) and to help with presentations to government authorities (e.g., developing presentation materials and assisting in the meetings).
Practice and Client Development. Our junior lawyers often play key roles in practice activities and in client development efforts (e.g., preparing drafts of publications or presentations on key substantive issues, attending/assisting in internal training programs, and assisting with client pitches).
How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?
It is very fair to say that Jones Day’s Investigations and White Collar Defense practice will continue to grow substantially in the coming years. For as long as people continue to engage in, or be accused of engaging in, misconduct, there will be demand for good lawyers to investigate those matters and provide thoughtful, reasoned counsel to those involved and other interested parties.
Companies are increasingly recognizing the benefit of such counsel, especially now that more and more countries are following the lead of the U.S. in getting tough on corporate crime. Indeed, the globalization of corporate criminal enforcement accompanying the globalization of business more generally should lead to expanded opportunities for lawyers to join this fascinating area of the law.