Overview

Leila George-Wheeler is an attorney in Holland & Knight's Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice, and a member of the firm's Government Contracts and White Collar Defense and Investigations Teams. She focuses her practice on white collar defense, government and internal investigations, government contracts disputes and regulatory compliance, as well as complex civil litigation. She represents clients in heavily regulated sectors, including government contracts, healthcare, finance, information technology, transportation and infrastructure.

Government Enforcement and Internal Investigations

Ms. George-Wheeler represents clients facing administrative, civil and criminal enforcement actions by the government, as well as in government and internal investigations. She advises corporations responding to U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Inspector General (IG) investigations involving the False Claims Act (FCA), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), procurement fraud, healthcare fraud, public corruption, procurement integrity, kickbacks and gratuities violations, and whistleblower reprisal.

Ms. George-Wheeler also has advised corporations, nonprofit entities and individuals in regulatory, compliance and investigative matters involving the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the General Services Administration (GSA), the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Ms. George-Wheeler assists companies and individuals in responding to requests for testimony, information or documents made through Civil Investigative Demands (CID), IG subpoenas, grand jury subpoenas, regulatory audits or congressional inquiries.

With a background on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. George-Wheeler also supports the Congressional Investigations Team and has experience assisting clients in responding to concurring agency and congressional investigations.

Government Contracts and Compliance

Ms. George-Wheeler represents government contractors in bid protests and disputes before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (COFC), the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition (ODRA), and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office (SBA) of Hearings and Appeals (OHA). She advises clients on federal procurement law and compliance concerning Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), and other agency-specific regulations, voluntary and mandatory disclosure rules, IG audits, and suspension and debarment risks.

Ms. George-Wheeler counsels government contractors on a variety of federal procurement matters, including entering and navigating the federal marketplace, negotiating terms and conditions for prime and subcontracts, teaming agreements, and Other Transaction Agreements (OTA). She also reviews purchase agreements, conducts due diligence, and advises on merger and acquisition transactions involving government contractors.

Complex Civil Litigation

Ms. George-Wheeler's litigation experience also includes the representation of companies and government contractors in commercial claims and business torts, including breach of contract, trade secret misappropriation, tortious interference, fraud, conversion, breach of noncompetition agreements and unfair competition. These disputes have involved prime and subcontractors, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), employment hiring and consulting agreements, contractor data rights and intellectual property, aircraft and marine equipment leasing, pharmaceutical manufacturing/distribution. Ms. George-Wheeler represents clients in all phases of litigation, from pre-dispute stages, discovery and dispositive motion practice through resolution. She has represented clients in state and federal litigation, as well as in International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration and private mediation.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Ms. George-Wheeler worked on Capitol Hill for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where she focused on criminal and civil rights legislation, appropriations for the DOJ and the Federal Judiciary, and she participated in three U.S. Supreme Court confirmations. Ms. George-Wheeler also served as a law clerk for the U.S. Attorney's Office Fraud and Public Corruption Section and for Citigroup's Global Transaction Services in London, England.

Experience

  • Successfully negotiated a settlement resolution for a medical services contractor in an Inspector General (IG) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) False Claims Act (FCA) investigation involving qui tam allegations of double billing and retaliation
  • Defended several investigations by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) of healthcare services and major contingency operations support contractors performing in conflict zones
  • Assisted in the representation of government contractors in multipronged investigations by government agency IGs, the DOJ and congressional committees
  • Represented clients in responding to congressional inquiries, including before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
  • Successfully defended a maritime company in an investigation by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) relating to alleged business conducted with a Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN) and managed the client's response to the OFAC Administrative Subpoena and Cease and Desist Order

  • Conducted internal investigations and representation for contractors facing allegations regarding the False Claims Act (FCA), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the Anti-Kickback Act, potential bribery or gratuities violations, overbilling, improper timekeeping practices, procurement fraud, violations of price reductions clauses and most favored customer clauses, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) size and affiliation violations, and fraudulent failure to meet contract or grant specifications
  • Performed internal investigations for government contractors operating in foreign countries and complex operational environments, including conflict zones, overseas contingency environments and disaster zones

  • Successfully defended a shipping client's indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) award of a multibillion-dollar U.S. Navy contract in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (USCFC)
  • Obtained agency corrective action in several U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) bid protests and defended multiple clients' contract awards against protests by longtime incumbents before GAO and the USCFC
  • Successfully counseled clients negotiating and entering into Other Transaction Agreements (OTA) with the government agencies, including unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research and development
  • Conducted numerous mergers and acquisitions (M&A) due diligence reviews involving government contractors in a variety of industries, including defense, information technology, and manufacturing

  • Obtained a summary judgment for a biotech startup, dismissing proposal consultant's breach of contract claim for excessive fees in violation of the covenant against contingent fees
  • Successfully represented a government contractor in resolving trade secret misappropriation and tortious interference claims against a competing firm

Credentials

Education
  • Boston College Law School, J.D.
  • Syracuse University, B.A., International Relations and Spanish Language
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • District of Columbia
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Virginia
Court Admissions
  • All State Courts in New York
  • All State Courts in New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims
Memberships
  • Women's E-Learning for Leadership Program
Honors & Awards
  • Holland & Knight Public and Charitable Service All-Star, 2017

Publications

Speaking Engagements