Valecia McDowell is a national thought leader in the areas of governmental and internal investigations, conduct risk management, and civil rights and racial equity assessments. Valecia is ranked in Chambers USA and Best Lawyers, included in national publications such as Bloomberg, American Banker, Corporate Compliance Insights, and Inside Counsel, and was one of the ten “Innovative Legal Practitioners” identified by the London-based Financial Times in 2023.


For more than 25 years Valecia has brought her candor, pragmaticism, and diligence to bear on behalf of her clients, establishing herself as a go-to attorney in the investigations arena. Valecia has experience conducting large scale internal and governmental investigations reviews across the United States, Europe, Asia, and South America, with specific knowledge and experience in the areas of consumer finance, financial crimes, and employee conduct risk, including practice and company-wide reviews and racial equity assessments.

Valecia has represented clients in disputes, investigations, and negotiations involving domestic authorities, such as the Federal Reserve Board, OCC, CFPB, DOJ, SEC, HUD, FINRA, CFTC, DOA, OIG, Congress, State Attorneys General in the United States, and international authorities, such as the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Japanese Financial Services Agency (JFSA), and the Comissão de Valores Mobiliarios (the Brazilian Securities Commission). She frequently uses her years of project management experience to lead sensitive, confidential internal investigations and civil rights reviews and assessments for Fortune 500 companies and recently led the team that published a racial equity audit report for CoreCivic, the largest private operator of corrections and detention facilities in the US.

Over the past year, the London-based Financial Times identified Valecia as one of ten “Innovative Legal Practitioners” in North America and Lawdragon listed her as one of the Top 500 Lawyers in America for her achievements in governmental investigations and civil rights. 

Valecia has also served as a guest instructor at the Duke University School of Law, teaching a course on internal investigations, and has frequently been selected to speak regarding conduct risk management at the SIFMA C&L Annual Seminar. Valecia has also written or been featured in articles published by Bloomberg, American Banker, Corporate Compliance Insights, and Inside Counsel on the topics of internal investigations, financial services compliance, and risk management.

Representative Experience

Regulatory Defense and Internal Investigations
  • Leading a team of more than 80 to conduct a risk analysis for a Fortune 50 company

  • Leading a team of more than 30 to conduct a review of consumer sales practices for a national bank

  • Defending False Claims allegations where mortgage company representatives were tried and convicted for fraud

  • Conducting a public company investigation involving accounting irregularities and executive misconduct in the manufacturing industry

  • Leading an investigation into allegations of public corruption on behalf of an international bank in South America

  • Leading an effort to self-report potential health care billing irregularities

  • Successfully representing a national bank in response to allegations of market manipulation lodged by various state attorneys general

  • Conducting a highly publicized investigation on behalf of the city of Charlotte involving allegations of sexual harassment by a city council member

  • Leading the team that published a racial equity audit report for CoreCivic, the largest private operator of corrections and detention facilities in the US. (CoreCivic Racial Equity Audit Report)
Civil Litigation

Valecia also possesses significant trial, arbitration, and regulatory defense experience in complex, high-stakes cases, particularly in the financial services, healthcare, securities, manufacturing, and telecommunications industries. 

  • Leading a team to obtain dismissal in a shareholder derivative class action lawsuit arising out of a $1.5 billion sales transaction for a publicly traded company

  • Leading a team to obtain a favorable settlement for a national bank after commencement of jury selection in a federal consumer finance trial in South Carolina

  • First chairing successful defense of Sarbanes-Oxley claims in Pennsylvania Administrative Hearing and on appeal before the Third Circuit

  • Successfully arguing before the North Carolina Business Court on behalf of Bank of America in its shareholder derivative lawsuit relating to the acquisition of Merrill Lynch

  • Trying a technical product development dispute before a jury, reducing the liability against our client by almost 90% and then successfully arguing the single remaining issue before the Eleventh Circuit, thereby eliminating all liability for out client



Valecia has been frequently recognized by her peers for excellence in the law:

  • Forbes - Top 200 Lawyers in America, 2024
  • Financial Times Innovative Lawyers North America, shortlisted for the "Innovative Practitioner” category, 2023

  • Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Litigators in America list, 2024
  • Best Lawyers in America, Litigation - Securities "Lawyer of the Year," 2023
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2013-present
  • Chambers & Partners USA Leaders in their Field, 2014-present
  • Chambers USA - North Carolina, Litigation: General Commercial, 2014-2023, Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, 2021-2023
  • Business Today Top 10 Powerhouse Lawyers Influencing White-Collar Crime Litigation in North Carolina List, 2023
  • Charlotte Business Journal Power 100 List, 2023
  • The Mecklenburg Times 50 Most Influential Women list, 2023
  • Business North Carolina Legal Elite, Litigation, 2023
  • Business North Carolina’s Power List, 2022-2023
  • Super Lawyers, "Top 100" list North Carolina, 2017-2020, 2022-2024; “Top 25” list Charlotte, 2017-2024; "Top 50" list of Women North Carolina, 2020-2024; 2014-present
  • Benchmark Litigation Future Stars, 2010-2017; Local Litigation Star, 2018-2024
  • North Carolina Lawyers Weekly Power List, Business Defense, 2023

  • Lawyers of Color "Nation's Best" list, 2019; Fifth Power List, 2020
  • Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award, 2017
  • Senior Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, 2009-present
  • Member, Trial Law Institute
  • Member, Diversity Law Institute
  • Co-chair, Moore & Van Allen Diversity Committee 
  • Current Board Member, Leading on Opportunity’s Council
  • Current Board Member, Duke University Law School’s Board of Visitors 
  • Current Board Member, Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation
  • Current Board Member, Duke Law Alumnae Council
  • Former General Counsel of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and Charlotte Regional Business Alliance 
  • Former Board Chair, Arts & Science Council
  • Former Board Chair, Community Building Initiative





Speaking Engagements

Blogs and Resources

Blog Posts




J.D., Duke University, 1998

B.A., Duke University, 1995, cum laude


  • North Carolina, 1998
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit
  • Eastern District of North Carolina
  • Middle District of North Carolina
  • Western District of North Carolina
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Forbes - Top 200 Lawyers in America, 2024

Financial Times Innovative Lawyers North America, shortlisted for the "Innovative Practitioner” category, 2023

Best Lawyers in America, 
Litigation - Securities "Lawyer of the Year," 2023

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