Skip to Main Content

The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.

Evan Mehran Norris is a partner in Cravath’s Litigation Department who focuses on advising U.S. and multinational companies, boards, and senior executives on government and internal investigations, criminal defense, regulatory compliance, and related civil litigation.

Prior to joining Cravath, Evan served for 10 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. During his tenure he held a number of leadership positions, including Chief of the National Security & Cybercrime Section, and he was the lead prosecutor of the groundbreaking FIFA case.

Evan has been recognized for his white collar criminal defense work by the Best Lawyers in America and The Legal 500 US, as a Future Star by Benchmark Litigation, as a leading lawyer in White Collar Crime & Government Investigations by Chambers USA, and as one of Lawdragon’s “500 Leading Litigators in America.”

Evan received a B.A. from Columbia College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He joined Cravath in 2017 and was elected a partner in 2019. He sits on the firm’s Diversity Committee and serves on the board of the Iranian American Bar Association’s New York chapter.

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

At Cravath, I am a member of our Investigations & Regulatory Enforcement and Data Security & Privacy practices. I advise clients on a wide variety of matters, including domestic and cross‑border investigations involving matters such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, trade sanctions, and the False Claims Act. I also have a very active cybersecurity practice in which I represent clients in matters ranging from cyber incident response to compliance reviews. My work often involves representing clients before federal regulatory enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as before numerous state regulators.

What types of clients do you represent?

My clients include global and domestic companies, boards of directors, and senior executives, and come from a range of industries, including banking, fintech, healthcare, energy, telecommunications, e-commerce, transportation, mining, consumer products, pharmaceuticals, and real estate.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

The work that I have had the opportunity to handle at Cravath has been fascinating. In some ways, it is similar to the work that I did as a prosecutor—such as handling international corruption, financial fraud, and sanctions cases in different parts of the world. In other ways, it is completely different—for example, helping clients in the healthcare industry solve complex regulatory problems, or trying an M&A case in Delaware Chancery Court. I also spend a lot of time on cybersecurity matters, from dealing with ransomware attacks to providing compliance advice regarding policies and procedures, and other areas involving tech, which I find to be both interesting on an intellectual level and an area of growing need for clients.

How did you choose this practice area?

I first became interested in investigations and criminal law when I interned for a summer with the Manhattan D.A.’s Office while I was an undergraduate. That experience led me to apply to law school and ultimately to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn. The cases I handled and supervised as an AUSA for the next decade—in particular, the experiences I had leading international corruption investigations and running our national security and cybercrime unit—were formative for me and had a big impact on how I chose to continue developing my career when I joined Cravath.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

There really is no typical day at Cravath. One day I might be in my office in New York, and the next sitting in a client’s conference room halfway around the world—every day brings a new challenge and the opportunity to learn something new. One constant, however, is that I work collaboratively within my practice area and across the firm with attorneys and administrative staff at all levels, which is a very rewarding and enjoyable part of my role as a partner.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

That’s difficult to answer in the abstract. When associates come to me and tell me they want to pursue a career in investigations or cybersecurity, I try to understand why. Whether they are driven by interest in the substantive area of law, a potential future career in government, or something else, to me, the most important thing is to identify the core of what drives them and then to make recommendations around that.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

As a prosecutor, I had tools that gave me significant control over the scope of an investigation, but working for clients on the defense side means operating with fewer tools and less overall control than I used to have, which adds considerable complexity to each matter. For every internal and government investigation I handle, it is thus essential for me to gain an intimate understanding of how my clients’ businesses work by dissecting what they do well and examining any potential weaknesses—as a result, I am continuously learning. This facet of the work is challenging but also enormously important. 

What do you like best about your practice area?

Throughout my career, I have found that I am most engaged and motivated when I am doing really difficult work—which I have tended to see as work without precedent and, very often, with an international dimension. This was true during my time as a prosecutor, and one of the main things that drew me to Cravath was the knowledge that handling daunting challenges is a defining feature of the firm. In both my investigations and cybersecurity work, I have the privilege of helping to manage some of the biggest challenges my clients will ever face, often in a crisis setting.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

To a law student thinking about joining Cravath as a summer associate, I would say: if you are ready for a challenge, if you are ready for every day to be different from the last, come here. In your first week, you might be asked to prepare for and participate in conducting interviews in a corruption investigation involving a client’s business operations on multiple continents, and in your second week, you might get thrown into a ransomware attack and find yourself being asked to master the facts and law surrounding the forensics, the operational disruption, and the regulatory dimension all within the first 72 hours. Whatever the matter, you will be deeply and substantively involved and will get unparalleled training in how to not just sort through a legal problem, but also to sort through a business problem and understand every facet of it. The clients that we are lucky to have bring us their most difficult and important matters to work on, and coming to Cravath means you will be working on those matters day in and day out, including during your summer. 

How important is prior criminal law experience (e.g., working for the Prosecutor’s office or DA) in paving a successful career in white collar defense?

For me, the skills that I gained working as a prosecutor were an essential part of my ability to transition into my role at Cravath, especially when it came to helping clients facing government investigations. By the same token, while experience and time in government are very important, I believe the strategic thinking we bring to the table is our distinguishing characteristic regardless of whether the specific matter is a criminal investigation issue, crippling ransomware attack, complex regulatory question, or bet-the-company litigation.