September 7, 2004

Carol Elder Bruce, Top Washington Trial Lawyer and Former Independent Counsel in High-Level Federal Investigation, Joins Venable LLP

5 min

WASHINGTON, DC (September 7, 2004) – Carol Elder Bruce, a prominent trial attorney best known for her role in two high-profile executive branch investigations, has joinedVenable LLP.

Ms. Bruce, 55, becomes a partner in Venable’s Washington, DC office. She moves from the DC office of Tighe Patton Armstrong Teasdale, PLLC, where she was partner.

In Ms. Bruce’s 30-year litigation career, she has been lead counsel in a significant number of white-collar and major criminal investigations and trials, both as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and later as a private practice trial attorney. In 2001, she represented Denise Rich before congressional committees and in a federal grand jury investigation, in connection with the investigation of President Clinton’s pardon of Ms. Rich’s ex-husband, financier Marc Rich.

In 1998, she was appointed Independent Counsel by a Special Division of the D.C. Circuit Court to investigate whether there were any federal law violations in connection with an Interior Department Indian gaming decision and then Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt’s Senate testimony about the decision. The 17-month investigation which ended with the exoneration of Mr. Babbitt won Ms. Bruce widespread public and editorial praise for her efforts.

Previously, Ms. Bruce had served as the Deputy Independent Counsel in the 1987-88 investigation of Edwin Meese, the Attorney General under President Reagan.

Ms. Bruce has a national litigation practice focusing on white-collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation. She has been on the leading edge of a small but growing category of civil actions brought against foreign nations (under the commercial exception doctrine to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act). She represented the families of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103, in a lawsuit against the government of Libya for its role in the 1988 terrorist bombing of that airliner. Currently, she represents a permanent U.S. resident and highly regarded international businessman and investor in his lawsuit under the FSIA against a Chinese provincial government for the government’s alleged misappropriation of multi-million dollars of her client’s corporate assets.

Other current clients include:

  • A university in defending a large antitrust action in Washington, DC that could potentially impact graduate medical education and admissions practices in hundreds of academic medical institutions nationwide.
  • A group of college students representing a possible class of over 2,500 suing the District of Columbia in a putative class action for false arrest and civil rights violations in connection with their arrests for underage possession of alcohol under a statute that provides for only civil, not criminal, sanctions.

“Venable has highly regarded and established litigation and white-collar practice groups, along with the support of a full service firm that will be of great benefit to my current clients,” said Ms. Bruce. “The firm also has a strong and growing presence in Washington, DC which is the locus of much of the enforcement activity and regulatory actions that affect many of my clients.”

Ms. Bruce also noted that she will be in the company of a large number of former government lawyers. Among Venable’s litigators are a dozen former federal prosecutors and ex-SEC-enforcement lawyers and former U.S. Attorney General and Venable chairmanBenjamin R. Civiletti.

Ms. Bruce’s bar activities and honors are numerous. She is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, widely considered the premier organization of litigators in North America, where she sits on the International Affairs Committee. She is an Honorary Board Member for The Innocence Project of the National Capital Region, which works to exonerate the wrongfully convicted through post-conviction DNA testing. Ms. Bruce served two terms as an elected member of the D.C. Bar’s Board of Governors. Last year, Legal Times named her one of the “top 20 litigation lawyers in Washington, DC.”

“Venable has over the year sought out lawyers who have distinguished themselves in government service, community works, and private practice achievements,” said Mr. Civiletti. “Carol joins a firm that welcomes and respects her many accomplishments.”

“By any measure, Carol is one of the elite trial lawyers in Washington and indeed the country,” said G. Stewart Webb, Jr., head of Venable’s litigation division. “She’s also well respected for her integrity and commitment to fair judicial process. We expect that she’ll make an immediate impact on our existing civil and white-collar litigation work as she continues to build and service her own premier client base.”

In her first four years with the U.S. Attorney’s office beginning in 1975, Ms. Bruce was lead counsel in over 100 jury trials, briefed and argued nine appeals, and managed the grand jury investigations of over 100 additional felony matters.

In 1979, she moved to the Major Crimes Division where she investigated and prosecuted public corruption and international terrorism cases, including the prosecution of a CIA employee for international terrorist activities, and the bribery and racketeering prosecution of a D.C. Superior Court judge – the only local judge to have ever been prosecuted in the city.

From 1981 until 1985, in the Special Prosecutions Section, Ms. Bruce handled white-collar fraud and securities law crimes, including a complex tax shelter fraud scheme, several tax evasion cases and insider trading.

Ms. Bruce received her J.D. from George Washington University in 1974; she also received her B.A. there in 1971. Her husband, James T. Bruce, is a partner at Wiley, Rein & Fielding. The couple has three children.

A photo of Carol Elder Bruce is available on request.

One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia. For more, visit