Debra Wong Yang ’85, Partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and the former US Attorney for the Central District of California, will give the Commencement Address at the 2018 Boston College Law School Commencement on May 25, 2018.
The Law School’s graduation ceremonies will take place at Conte Forum on BC’s Chestnut Hill campus.
“I am very pleased that Debra Yang has agreed to be our Commencement speaker,” said BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau. “She has served in many leadership roles in both the public and private sectors, and is a valued member of our alumni community. She will bring a unique perspective to our graduating students and their guests.”
At Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Los Angeles office, Yang is Chair of the firm’s Crisis Management Practice Group, former Chair of the White Collar Defense and Investigations 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.
Yang was appointed US Attorney in May 2002 by President George W. Bush, becoming the first Asian-American woman to serve in that capacity. Prior to becoming US Attorney, she was a California state judge. She was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1997, serving for a time as a Supervising Judge, and became a member of the Los Angeles Superior Court bench in 2000. She was an Assistant US Attorney for seven years prior to her judicial career, a role in which she prosecuted violent crimes, white-collar crimes, arson, and computer crimes at the trial and appellate levels. She has served on the Ninth Circuit Jury Reform Committee.
Yang has a strong background in addressing and resolving problems across the white collar litigation spectrum, including through corporate and individual representations, internal investigations, crisis management, and compliance. The Los Angeles Business Journal named her as one of the Top 500 most influential people in Los Angeles (2016). In 2015, she 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. In 2017, the Los Angeles Business Journal also named her 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, they named her among its Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Los Angeles. LawDragon 2016 named her as one of the Top 500 lawyers in the United States.
Yang has long represented companies, boards, and audit and other board committees in internal investigations, compliance-related issues, and criminal investigations regarding the FCPA, health care laws, financial controls, trade secrets, and cyber/data intrusions, among multiple other areas. She serves as Special Counsel to a corporate compliance committee. She has managed cases in the crisis arena relating to corporate governance, entertainment, gaming, recalled products, health care, and insurance. She was twice appointed as a corporate compliance monitor on health care matters, once by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and once by the New York State Supreme Court at the request of the New York Attorney General’s Office. She authored the article “FCPA Program Continues to Focus on Individuals” along with Michael Wong in The Daily Journal, April 2016.
Yang launched Gibson Dunn’s Information Technology and Data Privacy Practice Group, which focuses on a field in which she has maintained particular interest and proficiency since prosecuting one of the first computer hacking cases as a young Assistant US Attorney. Yang was 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. She was appointed by the Attorney General to sit on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and on the Intellectual Property Task Force. Among the numerous articles Yang has written is “Countering the Cyber-Crime Threat,” co-written with Brian M. Hoffstadt and published in the Spring 2006 edition of American Criminal Law Review.
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. She is on the Executive Committee of the prestigious Committee of 100.
In 2012, the Anti-Defamation League presented 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.” In 2010, she was 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. Yang was recognized by the National Law Journal as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America in 2008. She has been recognized as a champion of civil rights by both the Los Angeles City Council in 2002 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 named her the 2003 recipient of the Trailblazers Award. In 2004, she was appointed to the President’s Council for Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges and was given the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award.