Melinda brings her stellar reputation, leadership skills and deep experience to Orrick’s San Francisco office.  She is a seasoned trial lawyer and a Fellow with the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.  Most recently, in January of this year Melinda and the team successfully represented a tech executive at trial who was charged with criminal theft of trade secrets.  Following a two-week jury trial and one hour of deliberations, the client was acquitted on all counts. 

After being nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, Melinda served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California from August 2010 through September 2015, overseeing the U.S. Department of Justice’s work in a district that is an epicenter for complex, cutting-edge investigations and prosecutions. She led a team of more than 130 criminal and civil Assistant U.S. Attorneys in handling a high volume of matters that involved export enforcement, computer intrusions and intellectual property theft, international corruption, digital currency issues, securities fraud, and economic crimes, health care fraud, national security, public integrity and civil rights violations, and organized crime, among other things. Melinda served as Co-Chair of the White-Collar Crime Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and was a member of the Cybersecurity and Health Care Fraud Subcommittees, where she collaborated with U.S. Attorneys nationwide on the development and implementation of national policies and practices regarding the government’s approach to economic crimes and cybersecurity.

Melinda is an experienced trial lawyer and is a Fellow with the American College of Trial Lawyers. She has personally handled securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, trade secret theft, bribery, antitrust, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, environmental, civil rights, defense contractor fraud, health care fraud, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and child exploitation cases. Melinda has served as lead or co-lead counsel in more than 20 jury and bench trials, including a number of complex white-collar and civil rights cases. Among her most notable trial accomplishments, Melinda served as co-lead trial counsel representing the CFO of a publicly-traded pharmaceutical company who was charged with violating the federal criminal securities laws. The client was acquitted and completely vindicated following a lengthy trial. She also successfully defended at trial the former GC of a publicly-traded software company, who had been charged with federal criminal securities law violations. Following a three-week jury trial, all charges against her client were dismissed.  And most recently, Melinda and the team represented a tech executive at trial who was charged with criminal theft of trade secrets.  Following a two-week jury trial and one hour of deliberations, the client was acquitting on all counts.  While serving as an AUSA, Melinda led the federal government’s successful investigation and criminal trial against prison guards at Pelican Bay State Prison charged with violating the civil rights of numerous prison inmates in their care. 

After earning her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1987, Melinda began her career as a litigation associate and then served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. She thereafter worked as a partner in a San Francisco boutique law firm before being tapped by then U.S. Attorney Robert Mueller (who later served as FBI Director and later the Special Counsel investigating Russian interference in U.S. elections) to serve as a supervisor in the San Francisco U.S. Attorney’s Office. Melinda stepped down as the Chief of the White-Collar Section in 2003, joining Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe as a litigation partner in San Francisco.

Melinda has conducted and supervised countless complex investigations in connection with her work representing companies, boards of directors and the government. She typically first meets with the client to discuss and understand the facts and allegations, as well as context and culture, and then to agree on a focused, efficient investigative plan. Melinda understands that some investigations require a broad, exhaustive approach, and that some can be more narrowly tailored and conducted in a way that minimizes disruption. These investigations have involved allegations or concerns regarding the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, trade secret theft, bribery, antitrust enforcement, health care fraud, public corruption, securities fraud, and mail and wire fraud, among others.  

Melinda also has significant experience representing high-level executives in connection with government investigations and cases, as well as in internal investigations. She is currently representing the General Counsel of a national bank; the founder and former CEO of a San Francisco-based tech company; the founder and CEO of a tech company in connection with a wide-ranging international investigation; the former CEO of a health care company; and more. Melinda understands the special challenges her individual clients face, cares deeply about the difficulties they face, and quickly gains their trust.

Melinda is called upon regularly to speak at conferences and law schools, as a keynote speaker, panelist, or moderator, on a wide range of legal and career-related subjects. She is also often asked by media outlets to provide information and commentary regarding issues ranging from the work of the Special Counsel to criminal justice reform.

  • Board Affiliations

    During her service as United States Attorney, Melinda was limited by government and ethics rules in her ability to serve on boards and with community organizations. Before her time as U.S. Attorney, Melinda served in the following board and related capacities:

    • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers (inducted March 2008).
    • Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representatives. This is a group of lawyers selected by the Northern District judges to assist in planning conferences and advising the Court regarding other matters. Ninth Circuit Lawyer Representatives are selected by the Court to serve three-year terms. Melinda was co-chair of the group in her second year.
    • Professional Responsibility Committee for the Northern District of California. This is a group of lawyers selected by the federal Northern District judges to assist in investigating and resolving ethics complaints lodged against counsel.
    • Bar Association of San Francisco Judicial Appointments Committee. This is a group that evaluates state judicial candidates.
    • Board Member, Bar Association of San Francisco.
    • Bar Association of San Francisco, Chair, Work-Life Balance Committee.
    • Member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
    • ACLU Lawyer’s Council.

    Melinda currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco, and on the Board of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.  She has also become active again as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

  • Some of Melinda's notable representations include:

    • Represented at trial the Chief Financial Officer of a Fortune 100 health care company in a federal criminal securities fraud case. The client was acquitted on all counts following an eight-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
    • Defended at trial the General Counsel of an international, publicly-traded software company against charges of securities fraud, bank fraud and wire fraud. Following a three-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, all charges were dismissed after the jury declined to convict (the verdict was firmly in favor of acquittal) and the court declared a mistrial.
    • Defended at trial a former tech executive charged with criminal theft of trade secrets.  Following a two-week jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and one hour of jury deliberations, the client was acquitted on all counts.
    • Conducted an independent investigation on behalf of a public university system concerning allegations that a University chancellor had engaged in misconduct.  The Chancellor resigned following the investigation. 
    • Successfully represented the founders and principals of a health care company under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office.  The investigation was closed without charges filed. 
    • Counsel for the founder and former CEO of a publicly-traded tech company in matters ranging from personal injury lawsuits to class action litigation. 
    • Counsel for the former General Counsel of a national bank in connection with SEC, DOJ, OCC and Congressional investigations, and class action litigation. 
    • Representation of a former Big Four accounting firm partner in connection with SEC and DOJ investigations.       
    • Representation of a tech CEO in connection with domestic and international government investigations. 
    • Counsel for numerous individuals, companies and audit committees in stock option backdating cases. No criminal charges were filed in any of these cases.
    • Counsel for numerous individuals in connection with a criminal tax shelter investigation in the Southern District of New York. No criminal charges were filed against our clients.
    • Counsel for a networking technologies executive facing criminal antitrust charges in the Northern District of California.
    • Represented the General Counsel of a publicly-traded electronics manufacturer in connection with a civil enforcement action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging securities fraud.
    • Defended the General Counsel of a publicly-traded software company in connection with a civil enforcement action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning stock option grants (and related class and derivative actions).
    • Represented the former marketing director of a Fortune 100 biotechnology company in a Grand Jury investigation concerning off-label promotion. No criminal charges were filed against our client.  
    • Represented a hedge fund in an investigation by the United States Attorney's Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding market timing and late trading. No criminal charges were filed and the SEC declined to bring an enforcement action.  
    • Represented an Internet search engine in connection with Grand Jury investigations related to online gambling and insider trading. No criminal charges were filed.
    • Represented the former chairman and Chief Executive Officer of a publicly-traded medical equipment manufacturer in connection with investigations by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission concerning revenue recognition.  No charges were filed.   
    • Conducted an internal investigation for a company that suspected its Chief Executive Officer was, without authorization and for the benefit of himself and his girlfriend, diverting company funds to accounts in Asia. The evidence gathered proved the company's suspicions were true, and the CEO was terminated for cause.