Michael R. Dreeben


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Michael Dreeben is a member of the Supreme Court and Appellate Litigation Group and White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations Practice. He is one of the nation’s most experienced and skilled Supreme Court advocates. He served in the US Department of Justice’s Office of the Solicitor General for more than 30 years, including 24 years as the Deputy Solicitor General in charge of the government’s criminal docket in the Supreme Court.

Michael has argued 107 cases in the Supreme Court, including two in the Court’s most recent term, prevailing in both. He has briefed hundreds more. These cases span the gamut of constitutional and criminal law, including landmark cases on public corruption, private fraud, Fourth Amendment privacy, and the First Amendment. The civil matters include the separation of powers, federal securities law, RICO, and labor law. In addition, Michael has argued cases in every regional federal court of appeals, including ten cases before en banc courts, and has argued appeals in the Montana Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

In 2017, Michael served as Counselor to Special Counsel Robert Mueller III in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and obstruction of justice. He led the team responsible for giving legal and strategic advice to the Special Counsel and all prosecution teams. He also had a leading role in defending the statutory and constitutional authority of the Special Counsel.

Michael’s practice at O’Melveny embraces Supreme Court and Appellate, White-Collar Defense & Corporate Investigations, and civil and criminal litigation particularly involving constitutional claims and complex issues of first impression.

Michael serves as a Distinguished Visitor from Government at Georgetown University Law Center and as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. He has previously served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law and a visiting professor at Duke Law School, where he taught appellate advocacy and a seminar on constitutional litigation in the Supreme Court. Recently, he taught a seminar at the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Corporate & Government Experience

  • Judicial clerkship, Honorable Jerre S. Williams, US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (1981-1982)
  • Assistant to the Solicitor General (1988-1994)
  • Deputy Solicitor General (1995-2019)  
  • Special Assistant US Attorney in the District of Maryland (Summer 2006) 
  • Counselor to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III (2017-2019)

Honors & Awards

  • Named to the "500 Leading Litigators in America" list for White Collar Defense & Corporate Investigations; Supreme Court Advocacy by Lawdragon (2022)
  • Recognized by the Legal 500 US for Appellate (2020-2022); Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense (2022)
  • Recognized by Chambers USA for Appellate Law (2022)
  • Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service
  • Rex E. Lee Advocacy Award for excellence in legal advocacy
  • US Department of Justice, John Marshall Award for handling of appeals
  • Presidential Rank Award for Senior Executives
  • Tom C. Clark Award for Outstanding Federal Government Lawyer
  • Duke Law School, Charles S. Murphy Award for exemplary service to the community (2018)
  • 2019 “Fastcase 50” Award Winner (honoring 50 innovators, visionaries, and leaders in law)


Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia

Court Admissions

  • US Court of Appeals, First, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, Tenth, and District of Columbia Circuit
  • US Supreme Court


  • Duke University, J.D. 
  • University of Chicago, M.A. 
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.A.

Professional Activities


  • American Law Institute 
  • American Academy of Appellate Lawyers
  • Edward Bennett Williams American Inn of Court

Recent Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, “Overview of the Supreme Court 2020 Term,” Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education 6th Annual Appellate Practice Conference (December 2020)
  • Speaker, “Preparing for and Delivering an Effective Appellate Argument,” 30th Annual Conference on State and Federal Appeals (June 2020)
  • Speaker, “Navigating the Multi-polar Environment of US Privacy Regulation: Trends in Constitutional, Federal, and State Law,” Innovations in Online Privacy, Commerce, and Consumerism 2020 Conference (March 2020)
  • Panelist, “Caligula, H.A.L, and 1984: How ‘Corpus Linguistics’ May Be Changing the Interpretation of Legal Texts,” AI for Human Language Conference (March 2020)
  • Panelist, Supreme Court Review panel, Federal Bar Council Winter Bench & Bar Conference (February 2020)
  • Panelist, “Finding the Perpetrator in a Data Dependent World,” American University Washington College of Law, Justice in Cyberspace: A Symposium (February 2020)
  • Speaker, A Fireside Chat with Dean Gillian Lester, Columbia Law School Social Justice Initiatives (January 2020)
  • Keynote Speaker, Human Language Technology Conference, Washington, DC (December 2019) 
  • Speaker, Supreme Court Perspectives Luncheon, Winter Meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, Washington, DC (December 2019)
  • Speaker, Lives in the Law, Discussion with Dean Kerry Abrams, Duke Law School (September 2019)
  • Constitution Day Speaker, Representing the Government in the Supreme Court: A Conversation, Hofstra University Law School (September 2019)
  • Panelist, ABA Annual Meeting, Annual Survey of US Supreme Court Criminal Law Decisions, Criminal Justice Section, San Francisco, California (August 2019)
  • Panelist, The Future of American Sentencing:  A National Roundtable on Blakely, 2 Ohio St. J. of Crim. L. 619 (2005)
  • Panelist, Rex E. Lee Conference on the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States, 2003 B.Y.U. Law Rev. 112-120 (2003)


  • Resolving The Personal-Benefit Anomaly In Insider-Trading Law, Bloomberg Law (February 2023)
  • Defending Duren: Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Criminal Defense Attorney, ABA Criminal Justice (Winter 2022) (online)  
  • Stare Decisis in the Office of the Solicitor General, 130 Yale Law Forum (Jan. 15, 2021) (online) 
  • The Confrontation Clause, the Law of Unintended Consequences, and the Structure of Sixth Amendment Analysis, 34 Geo. L. J. Ann. Rev. Crim. Pro. iii (2005) (Prefatory Article) 
  • The Right to Present a Twinkie Defense, 9 Green Bag 2d 353 (Summer 2006)
  • Insider Trading and Intangible Rights: The Redefinition of the Mail Fraud Statute, 26 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 181 (1988)

Selected Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Investigations, Public Corruption, and Financial Fraud

  • McDonnell v. United States (2016): Corruption prosecution of Virginia governor
  • Skilling v. United States (2010): Honest-services prosecution of Enron official
  • Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States (2005): Obstruction-of-justice prosecution of Enron’s accounting firm

Technology and Privacy Issues

  • United States v. Microsoft (2018): Government’s right to access email stored overseas
  • Carpenter v. United States (2018): Government’s right to obtain location information from cellular phone providers
  • Riley v. California (2014): Government’s right to search cell phones seized incident to arrest
  • United States v. Jones (2011): Government’s right to conduct GPS surveillance of vehicles

Securities Litigation and Enforcement

  • Salman v. United States (2016): Upholding conviction for insider trading
  • United States v. O’Hagan (1997): Sustaining misappropriation theory of securities fraud
  • Virginia Bankshares, Inc. v. Sandberg (1991): Addressing implied private liability for proxy-statement fraud

First Amendment

  • City of Austin v. Reagan National Advertising (2022): First Amendment standards for content-based regulation 
  • Elonis v. United States (2014): Defining standard of liability for criminal threats in social media
  • Virginia v. Black (2002): Upholding liability for cross-burning
  • Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1992): Upholding liability for race-based assault

Separation of Powers and Constitutional Authority

  • Plaut v. Spendthrift Farms (1994): Congressional power to reopen final judgments of Article III courts 
  • Sabri v. United States (2004): Congressional power to regulate federal funds recipients
  • Medellin v. Dretke (2005): Executive power to implement judgment of the International Court of Justice

Press Releases

In the News

Law360: Law360’s Legal Lions Of The Week May 12

5월 12, 2023

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Puts New Limits on Fraud Prosecutions

5월 11, 2023

Law360: Supreme Court Reins In Corruption Prosecutions Yet Again

5월 11, 2023

CNN: Supreme Court Sides With Ex-Cuomo Aide and Buffalo Developer in Disputes Over Corruption Convictions

5월 11, 2023

Associated Press: Supreme Court Notebook: Gender Gap Persists at Arguments

4월 27, 2023

CNN: Anti-domestic Violence and Gun Groups Unite to Urge Supreme Court to Reverse Domestic Violence Ruling

4월 20, 2023

Law360: Justices Struggle To Navigate Odyssey Of Obstruction Case

4월 17, 2023

ABA Journal: What I Wish I’d Learned in Law School

3월 30, 2023

Bloomberg Law: Resolving The Personal-Benefit Anomaly In Insider-Trading Law

2월 23, 2023

The National Law Journal: Appeals Court Revives Fight Over North Carolina Law Limiting Candidate Speech

2월 8, 2023

Law360: 4th Circ. Finds NC Criminal Libel Law ‘Likely Unconstitutional’

2월 8, 2023

Law360: Justices To Weigh Obstruction Of Justice Qualification

1월 13, 2023

Daily Journal: Meta Can Sue Maker of Pegasus Over Spyware on WhatsApp

1월 10, 2023

Law360: NSO’s Immunity Claim In Meta Hacking Suit Dies At High Court

1월 9, 2023

Law360: 4th Circ. Probes Boundaries Of NC Political Speech Law

12월 6, 2022

Associated Press: 2 NC Democratic Attorneys Meet at Appeals Court Over AG’s Ad

12월 6, 2022

The National Law Journal: Fourth Circuit Appears Ready to Toss North Carolina Law Criminalizing ‘Defamation’ of Political Foes

12월 6, 2022

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Weighs Limits in Fraud Prosecutions

11월 28, 2022

POLITICO: Supreme Court Likely To Toss New York Corruption Convictions

11월 28, 2022

Reuters: US Supreme Court Leans Toward Limiting Public Corruption Prosecutions

11월 28, 2022

SCOTUS Blog: A Business Perspective: Diversity in University Admissions is a Compelling Interest

10월 27, 2022

SCOTUSblog: The Court of Art Criticism is in Session

10월 12, 2022

Harvard Law Today: Does Overturning Precedent Undermine The Supreme Courts Legitimacy

10월 6, 2022

Law360: The Firms That Won Big At The Supreme Court

7월 1, 2022

Law360: Justices To Mull Limits Of Fraud In NY ‘Buffalo Billion’ Cases

6월 30, 2022

Courthouse News Service: Supreme Court Narrows the Definition of Violent Crime

6월 21, 2022

Law360: Meta Tells High Court To Deny Spyware Co.’s Immunity Bid

5월 4, 2022

Law360: Baltimore Tells Justices To Turn Down Billboard Tax Case

4월 27, 2022

Courthouse News Service: High Court Rules Texas Billboard Law Doesn’t Violate First Amendment

4월 21, 2022

Law360: BREAKING: Justices Hand Win To Austin In Digital Billboard Fight

4월 21, 2022

Supreme Court Brief: Jackson Reading Group | Fighting for Veterans | ‘Read the Opinion’

4월 6, 2022

The Council of State Governments: SLLC Files Supreme Court Brief in Praying High School Football Coach Case

4월 4, 2022

Supreme Court Brief: Take the Money & Run | Kavanaugh’s Small ‘d’ Promise

12월 8, 2021

Bloomberg Law: Violent-Crime Definition Gets High-Court Hearing in Gun Case

12월 7, 2021

Supreme Court Brief: Religion, ERISA, Immigration | First-Timers & Former Clerks | Abortion Commentary

12월 6, 2021

Law360: The Term: Michael Dreeben On Arguing 106 High Court Cases

11월 18, 2021

Bloomberg Law: Dreeben Returns to High Court as Firm Lawyer for Argument 106

11월 10, 2021

Law360: Austin Billboard Fight Has Justices Talking BBQ And Kale

11월 10, 2021

Supreme Court Brief: Dreeben Returns | Professor Gets Gun Shout-Out | A $28,000-Case

11월 8, 2021

Miami Herald: Money Laundering More Prevalent in Real Estate than Anywhere Else

10월 11, 2021

ABA Journal: How has Practicing in the Supreme Court Changed Throughout the Years?

9월 27, 2021

Law.com: SCOTUS Lawyers Reject Most High Court Reforms, But Say Term Limits Warrant ‘Serious’ Study

7월 20, 2021

Bloomberg Law: Supreme Court to Consider if Attempted Robbery is ‘Violent’

7월 2, 2021

The National Law Journal: Inside the Biden SCOTUS Commission's First Marathon Day of Testimony

6월 30, 2021

Law360: High Court To Hear Speech Battle Over Austin Billboard Rule

6월 28, 2021

Alerts and Publications

Advocacy Group Files Complaint Urging FTC to Halt GPT-4 Amid Growing Pressure to Regulate Generative AI

4월 4, 2023

Will the Supreme Court’s Harvard/UNC Affirmative Action Decisions Imperil Corporate Diversity Programs?

3월 6, 2023

Governor Newsom Vetoes the California BitLicense, Calling It Premature

9월 27, 2022

Cheetah Mobile Enforcement Action Demonstrates SEC’s Focus on Rule 10b5-1 Trading Plans

9월 26, 2022

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco Announces Corporate Prosecution Policy Changes, Urges Corporate Defendants to Move Faster

9월 22, 2022

From New York to California: The BitLicense Goes Bicoastal

9월 21, 2022

Second Circuit Cabins Scheme Liability for Securities Fraud

7월 26, 2022

End of Roe Heralds New Legal Battles and Raises Complex Questions for Employers and Benefit Administrators

6월 27, 2022

SEC Plans for Busy 2022 and 2023 Spurred by Significant Increase in Tips, Complaints, and Referrals

5월 31, 2022

DOJ Gets Tougher on Corporate Crime

10월 28, 2021

Biden Administration’s National Security Memorandum Ramps Up Anti-Corruption and Anti-Money Laundering Efforts

6월 10, 2021

Supreme Court Narrows Computer Trespass Law

6월 9, 2021