November 1, 2023

Michael Schachter, Co-Chair of Willkie's White-Collar Defense Practice Group, has been named to The National Law Journal’s 2023 General Litigation Trailblazers, an annual series recognizing the country’s most accomplished litigators and trial attorneys.

Michael was recognized for winning a resounding victory and acquittal for Thomas Barrack, the founder/CEO of Colony Capital, in his closely watched illegal foreign lobbying trial. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Barrack with operating in the United States as an agent of the United Arab Emirates. The case also charged Barrack with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and numerous counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Michael helped lead a masterful defense during a seven-week trial which culminated in a verdict that completely rejected the government’s case, acquitting Barrack on all charges.

The National Law Journal highlighted Michael’s effectiveness at trial in vindicating Barrack and the far-reaching impact of the verdict. 

“Our win was a high-profile blow for the DOJ, forcing the agency to shift its litigation strategy and reassess viability of prosecuting commercial activity as espionage cases under Section 951 statute,” Michael told the publication. “This is an easily misunderstood area of the law capable of misuse by prosecutors. Lawyers will need to focus on compliance training to help clients identify potential land mines.”