Erica Lai is a commercial litigator focused on antitrust, class actions, and white collar defense. She has counseled corporate and governmental clients litigating at all levels of federal and state trial and appellate courts, and federal agency proceedings. Erica’s broad litigation experience includes class action allegations of price-fixing under the Sherman Act, commercial contractual disputes in the financial services, utility, and railroad industries, and False Claims Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act defense. She has litigated cases in areas including environmental remediation, financial services, health care services and benefits, longshore labor, public utilities, and transportation. Super Lawyers named Erica as a 2019 Rising Star for antitrust litigation in Washington, D.C.

Erica has extensive pro bono experience in cases involving immigration issues, civil rights, and reproductive justice before federal district courts and courts of appeal, and advocacy to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Erica’s advocacy extends beyond litigation to advising clients on proposed legislation, bills before Congress, government relations initiatives, and congressional investigations, including helping secure congressional resolutions acknowledging the injustice of the Chinese exclusion laws.

Prior to joining the firm, Erica was a senior Litigation and Public Policy and Government Affairs associate at Covington & Burling LLP. Erica clerked for the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and the Honorable Michael M. Baylson of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In 2008, she served as a Law Clerk for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee.

Erica graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was on the Editorial Board of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. She also has a Public Policy Analysis Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Pomona College.

Erica Lai is a commercial litigator focused on antitrust, class actions, and white collar defense. She has counseled corporate and governmental clients litigating at…


University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D., cum laude, 2008); Pomona College (B.A., magna cum laude, 2005).

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia; State of California; Commonwealth of Virginia; U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Federal, Sixth, and Tenth Circuits; U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, Northern District of California, Eastern District of Michigan, and Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia

Activities and Affiliations

Board Member, President-Elect, and Former Education, Policy and Advocacy, and Nominations Committees, Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area

Board Member, Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center

Legal Advisory Board Member, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

Member, William B. Bryant American Inn of Court

Member, American Bar Association

Affiliate Member, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

Member, Women’s White Collar Defense Association

Antitrust & Other Complex Commercial Litigation

Represents direct purchasers in multidistrict antitrust litigation alleging a worldwide price-fixing conspiracy in the automobile parts industry.

Represented companies seeking to recover break-up fee following the termination of a merger agreement between two digital security and surveillance businesses.

Defended international shipping company in class action suit alleging violations of the Sherman and Clayton Acts and state antitrust laws, resulting in Third Circuit decision affirming dismissal of claims as preempted by the Shipping Act.

Secured jury verdict in favor of multinational energy company after three-week trial involving environmental liabilities.

Obtained dismissal of copyright infringement and breach of contract claims relating to a leading pharmaceutical drug, and subsequent appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

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White Collar Defense

Represented corporations in U.S. Department of Justice Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation and false claims act cases.

Counseled state agency in False Claims Act case involving private hospitals alleged to have overcharged for Medicaid services provided in the state.

Government Affairs

Secured congressional resolutions acknowledging the injustice of 19th and 20th century laws expressly discriminating against persons of Chinese descent.

Represented coalition of renewable energy companies on legislation to expand master limited partnership tax structure to renewable energy companies.

Represented corporate, governmental, and non-profit clients on immigration legislation to expand access to highly skilled work visas, trade and investment visas, and family-based visas.

Pro Bono

Briefed and argued appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, successfully challenging the dismissal of an inmate’s section 1983 action.

On behalf of the National Women’s Law Center and over 35 other women’s organizations, filed an amici brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to confirm that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination in the workplace does not exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers.

On behalf of the National Women’s Law Center and over 30 other national organizations, filed an amici brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit challenging the insufficient remedies awarded to the first transgender employee in the country to secure a jury verdict of employment discrimination and retaliation under Title VII.

On behalf of the Innocence Network and Pennsylvania Innocence Project, helped persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to allow evidence of a convicted individual’s actual innocence that was not presented to the trial court to act as a gateway to merits consideration of otherwise time-barred habeas claims.

On behalf of law historians, filed amici briefs in federal district and appellate courts regarding the definition of “emoluments” used in the Constitution.

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Erica Lai has been elected President-Elect of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area for the 2019-2020 year.  Founded in 1981, APABA-DC has grown to a network of hundreds of lawyers, law professors, law students, and other interested individuals, and actively serves the needs of the Asian Pacific American community.  Erica will assume the Presidency next fall.
We are pleased to announce that 33 of our New York and Washington D.C.-based C&G attorneys have been recognized by Super Lawyers this year across a wide range of practice areas. Super Lawyers also selected C&G co-founder Mark S Cohen and partners Jonathan S Abernethy and Daniel H Tabak to its list of the top 100 lawyers in the New York metropolitan area, and partner Karen H Bromberg to its list of the top 50 women lawyers in the New York metropolitan area.

C&G helped secure a victory in a case alleging that President Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting benefits from foreign governments without seeking and obtaining congressional consent. C&G represents five legal historians who filed an amicus brief citing extensive historical sources demonstrating that the Founding Founders shared the plaintiffs’ definition of emoluments. Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in denying Trump’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, expressly stated that “[t]he Court appreciates the illuminating analysis provided by the amici,” and that “Amici Legal Historians soundly reject the President’s narrow definition of Emolument as inaccurate, unrepresentative, and misleading.”

The National Law Journal published a piece about the importance of our clients’ amicus brief, mentioning Cohen & Gresser’s role, and quoting Washington, D.C. Managing Partner, Melissa Maxman, linked here.

This is the second time a district judge has relied in large part upon our legal historian clients’ brief in construing the Emoluments Clause.

Christian R Everdell has been promoted to partner, and Joanna K Chan, Erica Lai, and David F Lisner have been promoted to counsel.

"Congratulations and thanks to each of these exceptional attorneys for their commitment to excellence, integrity, and superb client service. We are very fortunate to have them," said Managing Partner, Lawrence T Gresser.

Cohen & Gresser helped achieve a precedent-setting ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Jerry Reeves v. Fayette SCI, et al. (No. 17-1043), that clears the way for wrongfully convicted defendants to seek federal habeas relief where their trial counsel failed to present credible evidence of their actual innocence. There is a split among federal circuit courts over what type of “new evidence” of actual innocence is required before courts can consider the merits of untimely habeas corpus petitions that allege constitutional violations.  Some circuits consider evidence only if it is newly discovered after trial, while others permit evidence available at the time of the trial that defense counsel failed to present. The Third Circuit had not weighed in on the issue. Cohen & Gresser filed a pro bono amici curiae brief on behalf of the Innocence Network and the Innocence Project of Pennsylvania urging the Third Circuit to adopt the broader newly presented standard, because the narrower newly discovered evidence standard would cut off a pathway to exoneration for innocent individuals whose attorneys failed to present exculpatory evidence at trial. In a precedential decision on July 23, 2018, the Third Circuit agreed, vacating the denial of Mr. Reeves’ habeas petition and instructing the district court on remand to consider his newly presented exculpatory evidence.

C&G welcomes the associates who joined the firm in 2016. "Our new associates are excellent lawyers and wonderful additions to the firm," said Managing Partner Lawrence T Gresser. 

In this C&G Client Alert, Melissa H Maxman, Ronald F Wick, Erica Lai, and Danielle Morello discuss the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) announcement that it will now consider crediting companies for “robust” compliance programs at the charging stage of criminal antitrust investigations. This signals a reversal of the DOJ’s longstanding policy of allowing substantial penalty reductions only for “early-in” whistleblowers.

Erica Lai moderated a panel with three lead attorneys from the litigation that enjoined the U.S. Department of Commerce from adding a question to the 2020 decennial census that would have required respondents to identify the citizenship status of every member of their households. Plaintiffs brought claims under the Census Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act alleging that adding the question would cause a disproportionate undercount in states with high numbers of non-English speakers, immigrants, and people of color, resulting in an inaccurate and incomplete head count. The panel was put on by the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area (APABA-DC), with the support of other local minority bar associations.
Erica Lai spoke on a panel with other counsel who represented or spearheaded amici briefs in the trio of watershed Title VII cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2019-20 term:  Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda, and R.G. & G.R. Funeral Homes v. Stephens. The cases address whether Title VII’s prohibition on employment discrimination “because of . . . sex” encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The panel discussed the U.S. Supreme Court arguments held earlier in the day. Erica Lai and C&G’s Washington, D.C. office filed a brief on behalf of the National Women’s Law Center and 36 other women’s rights groups answering the question in the affirmative and in support of the employees.
On September 22, 2019, Erica Lai moderated a panel on economic justice issues facing Asian American and Pacific Islander women, including equal pay, occupational segregation, wage theft, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual harassment.  Speakers included Jenny R. Yang (Urban Institute senior fellow and former U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair), Lisa P. Mak (Minami Tamaki LLP employment attorney), and Seri Lee (NAPAWF labor organizer).  The panel was part of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Power Up Conference, held in Washington, D.C.

On June 5, 2019, Erica Lai moderated a panel about birthright citizenship and other immigration issues impacting the Asian American community.  Speakers included John Yang (Asian Americans Advancing Justice), Karen Narasaki (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights), and Neal Katyal (Hogan Lovells and former Acting U.S. Solicitor General), as well as Shalin Nohria (Hogan Lovells).  Held at Hogan Lovells’ D.C. office, the event was co-sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area (APABA-DC) and other local minority bar associations. 

University of Pennsylvania Law School 14th Annual APALSA Conference, Philadelphia PA 

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association 4th Annual Convention, Washington DC