Pillsbury announced today that it has hired Ronald Cheng as a Litigation Partner in Los Angeles. Cheng will focus on handling cases for Pillsbury’s Chinese clients in the U.S. Cheng was most recently Chief of the Criminal Division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nevada and a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. He is the fourth former federal prosecutor to join Pillsbury in 2021.
“As we continue to expand Pillsbury’s global litigation practice, Ron adds significant heft to our China practice group while also deepening our growing bench of former DOJ lawyers,” said Deborah Baum, the leader of the firm’s global litigation section. “His extensive on-the-ground experience, sterling reputation in the U.S. and abroad, and Chinese language skills strengthen our very busy complex litigation practice, particularly on the West Coast. And we are delighted to bring on board another terrific colleague.”
“Ron is widely considered to be one of the best trial and appellate lawyers the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles has produced,” said Aaron Dyer, national Co-chair of Pillsbury’s Corporate Investigations & White Collar Defense team, and Cheng’s former colleague at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. “Few if any are held in higher regard by the community of former Assistant U.S. Attorneys. He is one of the smartest attorneys with whom I have ever worked, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with him again.”
“I’m ecstatic to have Ron join our team,” said Geoffrey Sant, co-chair of Pillsbury’s China Practice. “Just in the last year, we won judgments totaling nine figures for our clients in U.S.-China litigation matters, and we are busier than ever. Adding one of the most experienced and accomplished trial litigators in the United States is a tremendous coup. Ron has a skillset and track record of success in China-related trials and litigations that is unrivaled.”
Cheng served more than 22 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, first for the Central District of California—holding positions as Acting Chief of the Criminal Division and Chief of the Criminal Appeals Section. Notably, he was part of a three-attorney trial team that oversaw a three-month racketeering, money laundering and immigration fraud trial against former Bank of China managers and their spouses, based on a nearly $500 million embezzlement scheme against the bank from 1992 until 2001.
From 2005 to 2007, Cheng served as the U.S. Department of Justice's Resident Advisor in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where he developed law enforcement cooperation between Chinese and U.S. authorities in substantive criminal areas, including drug enforcement, human trafficking, alien smuggling, anti-corruption, money laundering, intellectual property rights enforcement, and computer crimes.
Most recently, Cheng served as Chief of the Criminal Division for the District of Nevada, supervising 40 AUSAs in the Las Vegas and Reno offices, covering matters involving fraud, trade secret theft, computer and intellectual property, money laundering, firearms and violent crimes, narcotics, and child exploitation and human trafficking offenses.
Prior to his latest DOJ term in Nevada, Cheng was a partner at O’Melveny focusing on anti-corruption, trade secret theft, corporate misappropriation, and commodities and currency market manipulation matters relating to Asia, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Burma, as well as data security and privacy matters, including the impact of China cybersecurity regulation.
“Pillsbury has a very strong and diverse China practice, but the complex cross-border litigation that Geoffrey Sant and others are handling for Chinese clients presents an opportunity for me to bring all of my experience together in a unique and exciting way,” Cheng said. “That, combined with the impressive growth of the firm’s corporate investigations and white-collar practice, including a former colleague in Los Angeles, makes for an outstanding match.”
Pillsbury’s litigation practice has grown significantly in 2021, spanning numerous disciplines and including a significant number of former government lawyers. To date this year, the firm has added Richard Donoghue, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and former Acting Deputy Attorney General, noted San Francisco-based appellate lawyer Daniel Bromberg, the former Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Gavin Newsom; former federal prosecutor Kimberly Jaimez in Los Angeles; oil and gas litigators Tony Guerino and Liz Klingensmith in Houston; international arbitration practitioner Derek Soller in New York; complex commercial litigators William Bosch and retired Judge James Catterson in DC and New York; and former Associate Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hovakimian in DC. The spree of 2021 additions recently led the American Lawyer to note that “Pillsbury has increasingly become the home of choice to many lawyers with top government experience.”
Pillsbury’s award-winning team of more than 200 litigators works with clients around the world to help them successfully resolve disputes, in trial and out of court, at home and in jurisdictions around the globe. The firm has garnered dozens of top-tier recognitions as a result of its exceptional litigation prowess, and was most recently recognized as one of the 12 most feared law firms to come up against in litigation by BTI Consulting Group.