Leslie Wright, '11: Prosecuting the College Admissions Scandal

Meet the Big Law Alums Prosecuting the College Admissions Scandal

A team of federal prosecutors in Boston under the leadership of U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling will oversee the sprawling college admissions fraud case against dozens of individuals, including a leading Big Law partner and Hollywood celebrities.

Federal authorities alleged dozens of people participated in a national conspiracy involving cheating on college-entrance exams. Prosecutors contend wealthy defendants, including business executives, actresses and sports coaches, took part in an alleged scheme to fix test scores and bribe entrance officials to boost the chances of family members gaining admission.

The co-chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, Gordon Caplan, was allegedly caught on a wiretap saying: “I’m not worried about the moral issue here.” The firm on Wednesday said it has placed Caplan on leave.

Lelling stood before cameras Tuesday announcing the charges, and the case now will unfold in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. So far, four assistant U.S. attorneys—part of Lelling’s securities and financial fraud unit—have made appearances. For Lelling, and the prosecution team, the case puts the Boston office in the national spotlight.

Leslie Wright joined the Massachusetts office as an assistant U.S. attorney in November from the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, where she was a trial attorney in Miami. Wright formerly was a Ropes & Gray associate in Chicago from October 2011 to February 2016. In a 2012 pro bono report compiled by Ropes & Gray, Wright said she’d worked on three asylum cases, “one of which resulted in asylum for a homosexual man persecuted for years because of his sexual orientation in his home country of Colombia.” She added: “I am tremendously appreciative of the firm’s support and encouragement of pro bono work, and have found the personal aspect of working with pro bono clients to be extremely rewarding.” Wright clerked on the federal trial bench in Chicago, and she earned her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

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