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Helen V. Cantwell is a litigation partner with extensive trial experience. Her practice focuses on white collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement actions, and internal investigations. She represents a wide range of individuals, companies, schools, and nonprofits, and frequently advises clients on their compliance obligations.
Chambers USA (2018) recognizes Ms. Cantwell as a leading practitioner in white collar criminal defense and investigations matters. She is described as “incredibly bright and sharp” by fellow practitioners, who praise her ability to “get up to speed lightning fast.” Clients note that she is a “very confident advocate” and commend her “standout judgment and attention to detail.” In the last year, Ms. Cantwell has garnered significant recognition from other notable publications, including Crain’s, which recognized her in their inaugural list of “Leading Women Lawyers in New York City” and Benchmark Litigation, where she is hailed as one of the ”Top 250 Women in Litigation.”
Ms. Cantwell is viewed by clients and the legal industry as a go-to adviser for the most sensitive white collar matters and internal investigations. She has deftly steered corporations like Toyota through complex, multi-jurisdictional investigations and has established herself as the first call for corporations and schools needing to learn the facts surrounding sensitive circumstances, including sexual misconduct, a need that has escalated in recent months. Specifically, Ms. Cantwell recently represented Syracuse University in a highly public defamation suit arising out of comments made by the basketball coach during an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse.
Before joining the firm, Ms. Cantwell served for eight years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where she was a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force and worked closely with the SEC, the CFTC and other law enforcement and regulatory agencies. She joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2000, after four years as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office. She is a recipient of the Department of Justice Director’s Award for Superior Performance as a Federal Prosecutor.
Before the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Ms. Cantwell spent a year working in Malaysia with the International Women’s Rights Action Watch, under a fellowship grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.
Ms. Cantwell joined Debevoise in 2008. She earned her J.D., cum laude, in 1995 from Harvard Law School, where she was President of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Wellesley College in 1992.
Last Updated July 2018