Valarie Hays

Partner ( Chicago )

Direct 312.471.8781 Fax 312.471.8701 LinkedIn


Over the course of a legal career that has encompassed both public service and private practice, Valarie Hays has tried 16 federal jury trials, argued cases before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and supervised more than 100 criminal investigations.

During her tenure as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois, Valarie prosecuted serious crimes including fraud, public corruption, illegal guns, narcotics and other violations of federal law. Her remarkable dedication and tenacity earned her the Department of Justice Special Achievement Award an impressive four times. Since entering private practice, she has focused her attention on white-collar criminal defense, complex civil litigation, corporate internal investigations, and compliance program counseling.

If Valarie wasn’t practicing law, she’d be teaching it. She served as an Adjunct Lecturer of Communication and Trial Advocacy at Northwestern University and continues to assist with various trial advocacy training programs. She puts these skills to good use helping corporate clients develop strategies for improving their anti-corruption compliance programs, investigating potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) violations, conducting FCPA due diligence, and training employees on anti-bribery compliance.




Honorable Suzanne Conlon, District Judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (2000 – 2001)

Representative Engagements

  • On the eve of trial, convincing government to dismiss federal indictment charging Vice President of a bank with loan fraud after filing defense motions in limine.
  • Convincing the government to dismiss an indictment for wire fraud after defending the client in a federal criminal trial that resulted in a hung jury. 
  • Convincing the government to dismiss indictment charging real estate developer with violations of the Clean Air Act; the government originally was seeking a sentence of over nine years; after we prevailed on the eve of trial on evidentiary rulings that were unfavorable to the government, the case was resolved with the client pleading to a misdemeanor and no jail time.
  • Convincing the government to decline charges against individual being investigated for False Claims Act violations.
  • Convincing the government to decline prosecution of a gas company under federal investigation for Clean Water Act violations.
  • Convincing the government to dismiss charges against an oil and gas trader charged with market manipulation.
  • Obtaining favorable multi-million-dollar settlements for a corporate client as a result of negligent acts committed by bank directors and officers.
  • Representing multiple public global companies in developing their FCPA compliance programs and investigating potential FCPA violations, including in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
  • Representing a healthcare company in a government investigation involving fraud committed by the company’s top executives. The investigation concluded with no charges against the company.
  • Representing executives in government investigations related to the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The investigations concluded with no charges or other adverse actions against the executives.
  • Representing foreign company and executive in a U.S. Department of Justice bid rigging investigation. The investigation concluded with no charges.
  • Representing doctor in a government investigation involving alleged billing improprieties. The investigation concluded with no charges.
  • Representing a hospital in investigating and responding to a hostage situation.
  • Representing a large private university in investigating and responding to a student death after hazing incidents.
  • Representing a police department in investigating internal complaints of harassment and discrimination and evaluating the department’s policies and procedures.
  • Representing a company and individuals in government investigations related to alleged Minority Business Enterprise (“MBE”) fraud.
  • Representing individual under federal investigation for bankruptcy fraud.
  • Representing individual in a federal indictment charging tax fraud.
  • Representing a healthcare company in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) lawsuit.
  • Representing a medical device manufacturer in investigating allegations of false statements to government officials.
  • Representing a healthcare company in investigating allegations of whistleblower discrimination.



Harvard Law School, J.D., 2000
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.A., 1997, summa cum laude

Bar Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Trial Bar)
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana 
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan

Professional Memberships

American Bar Association
Section of Litigation
Corporate Counsel Committee
Criminal Justice Section
White Collar Crime Committee
Federal Bar Association
Former Board of Directors
Finance and Governance Committee

Harvard Law Society of Illinois
Board of Directors

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 
Women's White Collar Defense Association (WWCDA)


Honors & Awards

Illinois Leading Lawyer, Law Bulletin Media Leading Lawyers (2018-2020)

Illinois Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters (2017-2020)

Illinois Rising Stars, Thomson Reuters' Illinois Super Lawyers (2013-2015)

Illinois Emerging Lawyer, Law Bulletin Media Leading Lawyers (2015)

Publications & Presentations

10th Annual DOJ & SEC Enforcement 2017 Update, (panelist) (May 18, 2017)

“Recent Developments In White Collar Criminal Matters in the Central and Midwest Regions,” (moderator) ABA White Collar Conference (March 2016)

“Successful Women Lawyers,” (panelist) Lake County Bar Association Seminar (December 3,2015)

“Best Practices for Effective Anti‐Corruption Due Diligence and Monitoring in High Risk Countries,” (panelist) American Conference Institute’s FCPA Boot Camp (June 2015)

“Update on Enforcement of Books & Records Provision of the FCPA and How to Strengthen Internal Accounting Controls,” (panelist) FCPA Boot Camp, American Conference Institute (June 2014) 

“Current Trends in Whistleblower Law,” Corporate In‐House Training (July 2013) 

“Developing a Corporate Compliance Program to Ensure Compliance with Anti‐Bribery Laws in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada,” Corporate In‐House Training (May 2013) 

“Current Developments in FCPA Enforcement,” (panelist) Journal of International Law and Business Roundtable, Northwestern Law School (April 2013) 

“Ensuring Compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Other Anti‐Bribery Laws,” Corporate In‐House Training (March 2013) 

“The Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act: Environmental Compliance,” Corporate In‐House Training (March 2013) 

“Addressing Whistleblower Risk,” Corporate In‐House Training (February 2013) 

“Whistleblowers in Today’s Workplace,” Corporate In‐House Training (January 2013) 

“Ensuring Ethical and Corruption‐Free Practices,” (panelist) Bankers Accuity Presentation (October 2012) 

“How to Conduct Internal Investigations,” Corporate In‐House Training (April 2012) 

Community Service

CASA Lake County, Former Board of Directors

Federal Defenders, Panel Member