David Marcus ’82 has witnessed his share of drama, intrigue, and deceit in the courtroom.
His cases have covered bank robberies, drug shootings, white-collar crime, political corruption, insurance fraud, and technology wars. Over 25 years Marcus has prosecuted scores of criminals and litigated complicated civil cases with billions of dollars at stake. He served as an assistant U.S. attorney in California and as assistant attorney general in Massachusetts. He earned a place among Southern California’s Super Lawyers, a rating awarded to attorneys with high peer recognition and professional achievement.
“I’m lucky,” said Marcus, now a partner at WilmerHale in Los Angeles. “Every day I wake up and look forward to coming to work. My days are fast and furious, and I handle all kinds of cases, which keeps things interesting.”
After earning a Yale law degree in 1985 and spending a few years at a private firm, Marcus was an assistant attorney general in Massachusetts in public protection and consumer protection. He also spent time prosecuting street crimes in Dorchester, locking up violent offenders.
“It gave me the chance to do some public service,” Marcus said.
His most memorable case occurred after he moved to California to prosecute federal crimes for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The case involved a Los Angeles attorney accused of insurance fraud and perjury. The lawyer bought high-end yachts and then filed insurance claims on boats he said had been damaged or stolen.
“He was trying to get millions of dollars, and he had twice done it successfully,” Marcus said. “One of his stories was that his yacht had been hijacked by thieves off the coast of Italy.”
Unlike bank robbery cases where photos and eyewitnesses provide a simple evidence trail, the attorney fraud case required months of piecing together documents and sales transactions. The case took Marcus to Italy, where he convinced a coconspirator to testify.
“It was a lot of painstaking work,” Marcus said. “It was like putting together a very complicated puzzle.”
Ultimately, Marcus said, the lawyer was convicted and received a seven-year sentence.
In 2000, when Marcus left the U.S. Attorney’s Office and joined a private firm, his caseload landed him in the business world and battles over patent infringement, breach of contract, and antitrust laws. Though the cases do not involve criminal jail time, the financial stakes are high. Marcus has litigated disputes between cell phone giants and some of the world’s top technology companies, cases in which a company may face millions or even billions of dollars in damages.
“My first case out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I was defending a company where there was a two-billion-dollar claim against them,” Marcus said. “It was a big problem if they lost.”
The case was settled, and Marcus has since represented scores of other companies whose futures depended on whether they won or lost in court. Still, Marcus doesn’t lose sleep over the pressures and challenges of his job at WilmerHale.
“It doesn’t derail me,” Marcus said. “I focus on keeping the pace moving, making sure things get done and get done right.”