W. Warren Hamel

Warren Hamel

Warren Hamel chairs Venable’s Investigations and White Collar Defense Practice. Warren conducts internal investigations and aggressively defends individual, corporate, and nonprofit clients in a wide range of white collar and environmental criminal defense and civil enforcement litigation. Clients also seek his advice on compliance and internal controls, including information governance, managing whistleblower issues, FCPA compliance, and Sarbanes-Oxley–related matters. Before joining Venable in 2002, Warren served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, and was chief of Environmental Crimes and Enforcement for that office.

Warren has extensive experience investigating and litigating cases involving mail and wire fraud; bank fraud; fraud on federally funded programs; the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA); the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and False Claims Act (FCA); and the full panoply of federal and state environmental laws. He has led internal investigations for a broad range of clients, including, most recently, a U.S.-based financial services and insurance company, an India-based generic pharmaceutical company, and the South American subsidiary of a major U.S.-based retailer. Warren’s clients have also included attorneys and major law firms that face particularly complex challenges as they navigate government investigations while protecting client privileges and meeting their confidentiality obligations. In addition to the demands of managing a national practice, recent investigations and enforcement actions have taken Warren to locations in Europe, South and Central America, Singapore, Africa, and India.  

Warren has also represented print and broadcast media in libel cases, reporter’s privilege cases, and press access matters in federal court, and has acted as pre-publication advisor to media companies worldwide. He has also counseled clients on creating and implementing records and information management programs as part of the full suite of policies that are best practices in information governance. 


Government Experience

  • Assistant United States Attorney, United States Department of Justice, District of Maryland

Representative Matters

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

  • Represented an individual foreign national in a DOJ investigation of potential FCPA violations for bribery associated with port maintenance contracts in Panama
  • Working with Venable’s legislative practice, conducted an internal investigation into companies providing oil logistics support services to energy companies in Nigeria, in response to a U.S. Senate subcommittee inquiry and a Department of Justice (DOJ) shadow investigation into potential bribery and FCPA violations, resulting in no DOJ action
  • Advised an international media corporation on the creation and implementation of a comprehensive FCPA compliance program, including creating policy, training employees, and implementing compliance and audit systems

Internal investigations

  • Led an international team conducting an internal investigation in Brazil for a multinational corporation into allegations involving its Brazilian subsidiary’s financial integrity
  • On behalf of a major U.S. insurance and banking company, conducted an internal investigation of an alleged failure to alert board of substantial compliance risks, including potential retaliation claims   
  • Conducted an internal investigation for a software company into allegations reported in trade media of potential security lapses in development and sales of critical cybersecurity software program. Key customers briefed on conclusion that allegations proved incorrect 

Criminal defense

  • Represented a law firm in a federal investigation of alleged bribery of state official made against two firm partners. Managed response to multiple grand jury and trial subpoenas, conducted witness interviews, prepared firm attorneys and employees for trial, analyzed complex privilege issues, and represented the firm’s interests during a 4-week trial of the partners. The law firm has not been charged 
  • Represented an individual in a tax fraud investigation by IRS and DOJ, resulting in a favorable outcome after plea negotiations and a contested sentencing
  • Represented a law firm in a federal grand jury investigation of alleged unlawful immigrant visa submissions to the State Department. The government closed the investigation, with no action taken against the law firm
  • Represented a company in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and DOJ investigation into allegations of illegal importation of CITES-protected materials for the manufacture of high-end consumer goods, resulting in closing the investigation with no action taken

False Claims Act (FCA)

  • Defended a national logistics company in an investigation into allegations of overcharging in a nationwide Defense Department contract. After more than a year of discovery, advocacy, and negotiation, settled claims on terms favorable for the client. The government’s and the qui tam realtors’ original demand exceeded $1 billion. Under terms of the settlement, the company and a co-defendant paid a total of $13 million, and the FCA allegations against the companies were dismissed with prejudice, waived, and released
  • Represented a large nonprofit in a qui tam case; investigation resulted in dismissal of the complaint; client settled separate retaliation claims with the relator, and audit claims with the federal grant-making agency
  • Co-led a Venable team in defending against a five-year DOJ and FDA investigation into criminal and civil claims against an India-based generic drug manufacturer, ultimately negotiating a comprehensive settlement that included resolution of the criminal investigation and a qui tam case, for which the company paid a total of $500 million in fines, and allowed it to exercise its first-to-file right to market atorvastatin (generic Lipitor®) in the United States
  • Represented the chief marketing officer of a pharmaceutical company in a DOJ investigation of alleged off-label promotions, potential violation of FCA, and violations of the anti-kickback statute in promoting a branded drug, resulting in termination of the investigation without charges against the client

Environmental Criminal and Civil Enforcement

  • Represented one of the largest manufacturers of cast iron and ductile pipe in the United States in a multijurisdictional criminal investigation/prosecution focused on environmental and safety-related violations. Negotiated plea agreements in three of the five jurisdictions where DOJ had brought criminal charges. Also negotiated a groundbreaking consent decree to address hundreds of civil and administrative violations at more than 20 facilities nationwide, using an agreed-upon third-party consultant to evaluate internal company audits and make recommendations regarding violations and suggested penalties
  • Represented a home inspection company in parallel federal and state criminal investigations of allegations of improper lead paint testing and certification. Matter closed with no criminal charges
  • Represented minority partner in LLC in an EPA/DOJ investigation of allegations of illegal filling of jurisdictional wetlands. Investigation resulted in corporate plea by LLC; no individuals were charged in the matter




  • J.D. Columbia University School of Law 1985
  • M.A. University of Sussex, UK 1982
  • B.A. magna cum laude Princeton University 1980

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Clerk Experience

  • Honorable Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit 1985 - 1986

Professional Memberships and Activities

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Elected Fellow, American Bar Foundation
  • Member, Board of Advisors for the BNA White Collar Crime Reporter
  • Member, Federal Bar Association 
  • Member, Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference
  • Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America (LCA), Thomas A. Mesereau Cup Selection Committee
  • Member, The Trial Law Institute, LCA
  • Member, Diversity Law Institute, LCA
  • Member, Maryland State Bar Association, Environmental Law Section
  • Adjunct professor, University of Maryland Law School and Georgetown Law Center, 1999 - 2010


  • Chambers USA, Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, Maryland, 2022 – 2023
  • The Best Lawyers in America, 2018 – 2024
  • Benchmark Litigation, Local Litigation Star, Maryland, 2008 – 2024
  • Super Lawyers
    • Maryland, 2008 – 2019, 2021 – 2023
    • Criminal Defense: White Collar, Baltimore, 2013
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Peer Review Rated, 1997 – 2019
  • America’s Top 100 Attorneys
    • Criminal Defense Attorneys, 2018 – 2019
    • High Stakes Litigators, 2019
  • Daily Record, Leadership in Law Award, 2004
  • Investigations and White Collar Defense Practice, Chair (Venable was recognized by U.S. News – Best Lawyers as the Law Firm of the Year for Criminal Defense: White Collar, Litigation, 2012 – 2013)



  • Member, Board of Trustees, Chesapeake Bay Trust, 2006 - 2015; chairman of the board, 2011 - 2014
  • Board member, Francis D. Murnaghan Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellowship, 2000 to present
  • Board member, Community Law Center in Baltimore, 1988 - 2007