The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

Karen Popp

Photo of Karen Popp
Partner, Sidley Austin LLP

KAREN A. POPP, a partner in Sidley Austin’s Washington, D.C. office, is the global co-chair of Sidley’s White Collar Practice group and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Ms. Popp has extensive experience in corporate criminal defense, internal investigations, SEC Enforcement, Congressional investigations, corporate compliance and litigation. Ms. Popp is a former federal prosecutor in New York, lawyer in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice and Associate White House Counsel to President Clinton.

Ms. Popp has represented Sidley clients in a wide range of matters involving allegations of criminal, civil and ethical wrongdoing. She assists clients in developing, enhancing and executing effective corporate compliance programs. Her practice also includes representing clients in civil and commercial litigation.

Ms. Popp has been retained to lead confidential world-wide internal investigations and defend corporations and individuals in government investigations relating to alleged FCPA and OFAC violations, securities fraud, accounting irregularities, kickbacks, tax fraud, misuse of corporate assets, false claims, antitrust and other bribery, corruption and fraud. She has also represented clients in congressional investigations. Ms. Popp’s clients are from a diverse range of industries, including financial, technology, pharmaceutical, healthcare, retail, oil, communications,  insurance, security, charitable groups, transportation, labor and the government.

Ms. Popp’s practice also includes advising and auditing corporate compliance and ethics programs. She currently is outside counsel to several corporate compliance departments. She assists companies in responding to internal allegations of wrongdoing, conducting training for Boards of Directors, management, compliance departments and other company personnel, and conducting compliance due diligence regarding corporate acquisitions and joint ventures.

Before joining Sidley, Ms. Popp served as Associate Counsel to the President of the United States, where she advised President Clinton and the White House staff on Congressional and grand jury investigations and domestic policy issues. She worked with Senior Administration officials at various federal agencies and Congressional members and staffs on the Administration’s policy initiatives.

Prior to joining the White House, Ms. Popp served in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice where she advised Attorney General Janet Reno and the Department, the White House and other agencies of the Executive Branch on a wide range of legal matters. Before moving to Washington, D.C., Ms. Popp was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where she prosecuted RICO and other charges involving fraud, bribery, extortion, tax evasion, money laundering, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and perjury.

Ms. Popp has been recently named as one of the Top 250 Women in Litigation, a publication honoring the achievements of female lawyers in litigation practices in the United States. Ms. Popp received the “First Annual Transformative Leadership Award” given by InsideCounsel Magazine in 2010. She also was the 2006 recipient of the “Star of the Bar” award by the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. She has been an instructor with the NITA Program at Georgetown Law School, an Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School where she taught a Criminal Prosecution Clinic, and a Visiting Instructor in Business Law at N.C. State University. Ms. Popp is a frequent speaker at national conferences and before various other groups. She has been a legal commentator on programs aired on CNN, Fox News and NPR.

At Sidley and over the course of her professional career, Ms. Popp has been instrumental in the development of committees and programs that have contributed to achieving greater diversity in the workplace.  She is the first Chair of Sidley’s D.C. Women’s Committee and assisted the firm in winning the 2005 Catalyst Award for its achievements in recruitment, retention and promotion of women lawyers at the firm. She led the formation of the D.C. office’s Diversity Committee and also has provided valuable service to the Task Force for Diversity formed by the firm’s Executive Committee. Ms. Popp has helped to lead changes within the D.C. office and firmwide to provide improved mentoring opportunities and the inclusion of women and other diverse lawyers in firm leadership positions and client relationships. In the legal profession at large, she has advocated these same ideals in her roles as the co-founder and Chair of the Women’s White Collar Defense Bar of Washington, D.C., a board member of the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, and the former Chair of the Women’s Subcommittee of the ABA Criminal Litigation Committee. She is also a frequent speaker at women-focused law events.

Ms. Popp graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1985. She served as an editor on the North Carolina Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif. Upon graduation from law school, Ms. Popp clerked for the Honorable Sam J. Ervin III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she graduated cum laude in 1980 and thereafter studied law at Oxford University before attending law school in the United States.

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