Debra Wong Yang is a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Los Angeles office. She is Co-Chair of the firm’s Crisis Management Practice Group and the White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice Group.
Ms. Yang previously served as the United States Attorney for the Central District of California. She was appointed in May 2002 by President George W. Bush, who made her the first Asian-American woman to serve as a United States Attorney.
Ms. Yang led the largest United States Attorney’s Office outside of Washington, D.C. The office serves the approximately 18 million people who live in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. The office employs approximately 260 Assistant United States Attorneys who litigate criminal, civil and tax matters in United States District Court.
After becoming United States Attorney, Ms. Yang was selected to serve on President Bush’s Corporate Fraud Task Force and to chair the Attorney General’s Advisory Committees on Cyber/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. She also served on the Ninth Circuit Jury Reform Committee.
Prior to being appointed United States Attorney, Ms. Yang was a California state judge. She was appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1997 and became a member of the Los Angeles Superior Court bench in 2000. As a judge, Ms. Yang acted as the Supervising Judge for the Hollywood Courthouse.
Ms. Yang served as an Assistant United States Attorney for approximately seven years prior to her judicial career. As a federal prosecutor, she handled violent crimes, white-collar crimes, international money laundering, arson and computer crimes. As an Assistant United States Attorney, Ms. Yang successfully prosecuted a number of high-profile cases, including a Glendale arson investigator convicted of setting fires throughout the state of California, the first federal carjacking case in California, the kidnapping of a local real estate agent and a computer hacker who received what was then the longest prison sentence for computer intrusion.
Prior to government service, Ms. Yang was in private practice at law firms in Los Angeles and Chicago. Her practice focused primarily on commercial litigation and pharmaceutical defense.
Ms. Yang has been an adjunct professor at the USC School of Law, where she taught trial advocacy. She has also been an instructor at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy and an instructor at California’s Judicial College.
Ms. Yang previously served as President of The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, where she played an instrumental role in the creation of this new landmark for Southern California. Ms. Yang was a founding member and officer of the first Asian American Bar Association in Chicago, and she has been an officer and board member of the Southern California Chinese Lawyer Association. In 2002, both the Inglewood Courts and the Los Angeles City Council honored her for her long-standing commitment to victim’s rights. The Asian Pacific Bar Association has selected her as the 2002 recipient of their Public Service Award. The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association selected her as the 2003 recipient of the Trailblazers award and in 2007, the Women’s Leadership Award. In 2004, she was appointed to the President’s Council for Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges and was given their inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award. She was also recognized by the Inglewood Court as a champion of civil rights.
Ms. Yang received her Juris Doctorate in 1985 from Boston College Law School and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.