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Valarie Hays leads the Chicago office's White Collar Defense & Investigations practice. Valarie is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who represents companies and individuals in government inquiries and complex commercial litigation in federal and state courts. She also conducts corporate internal investigations and advises clients on the execution of their compliance programs across a broad range of industry sectors, including healthcare, financial services, retail, and oil and gas. A first chair trial lawyer, Valarie has tried 17 jury trials over the course of her career and has obtained numerous dismissals and favorable resolutions for her corporate clients.

Valarie is known for her strong courtroom presence, her strategic ability to find and leverage the weaknesses in her opponents' cases, and her success in winning challenging cases and obtaining prosecution declinations. She has obtained multiple prosecution declinations on behalf of her corporate and individual clients in DOJ investigations.

Valarie's clients also hire her to conduct sensitive investigations. She recently was retained by a United States sports organization to conduct a workplace culture and harassment investigation. Valarie also was retained by the Board of Commissioners for the Chicago Park District to lead an independent investigation into the Chicago Park District's response to allegations of sexual assault and a widespread culture of sexual harassment, bullying, and hazing within the lifeguard community. She also has been retained to conduct sensitive investigations related to a shooting on a college campus, the sexual assault of a hospital employee, a student suicide after a college hazing event, gender and racial discrimination, whistleblower retaliation, and police department practices.


  • Pharmaceutical manufacturer in litigation involving alleged fraudulent conduct by a vendor.
  • Electronics manufacturer in consumer products class action alleging environmental contamination from product.
  • Former head of safety of a chemical company in litigation resulting from explosion at the company.  
  • Corporate owner of ships in litigation resulting from pipeline damage and resulting oil spill.
  • Global consumer goods company in class action involving allegations that a hair relaxer product caused burns and hair loss. Negotiated favorable settlement for client.
  • Global insurance company in class action involving allegations of employment discrimination. Obtained denial of class certification and a favorable settlement for client.
  • Consumer goods company in a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) matter involving an alleged hazardous product.
  • Electric company in enforcement action by DOJ for violations of clean air laws related to one of its plants in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Corporate provider of skilled nursing facilities in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) lawsuit related to FCA violations. Obtained favorable settlements for client.
  • FDIC as the plaintiff in multiple actions against directors and officers of failed banks. Obtained favorable multi-million dollar settlements for client.
  • FDIC as the plaintiff in a lawsuit against an insurance carrier who denied payment on a $22 million dollar bank fidelity bond. Obtained favorable settlement for client after the FDIC prevailed on summary judgment.
  • Global hotel supply distributor in lawsuit alleging fraud and breach of contract. Obtained dismissal of complaint for client.
  • Retailer of animal health products in lawsuit related to non-compete agreements.
  • Individual in wrongful conviction §1983 action against City of Chicago. Obtained a $25.2 million dollar verdict for client.
  • Bank executive in a DOJ and Office of Inspector General/Small Business Administration (OIG/SBA) case charging client with SBA loan fraud. Obtained complete dismissal of all charges against client.
  • Oil and gas trader charged with market manipulation. Obtained complete dismissal of all charges against client.


Deskbook on Internal Investigations, Corporate Compliance, and White Collar Issues (2nd ed.)
Practising Law Institute
Environmental, Social, Governance: The Professional's Guide to the Law and Practice of ESG
Environmental, Social, Governance: The Professional's Guide to the Law and Practice of ESG
Conducting Internal Investigations in a Highly Regulated Environment
Moderator, Chicago General Counsel Conference
What Your Company Needs to Know About Government Investigations
Spotlight: White Collar
Say It Ain’t So! ABA Panel Spotlights White Collar Crime Enforcement in the Heartland
Enforcement Edge: Shining Light on Government Enforcement


Chambers USA
Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Illinois) (2021-2024)
Best Lawyers
Criminal Defense: White-Collar (IL) (2024)
The Legal 500 US
International Litigation (2022)
Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense (2022)



  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • B.A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, summa cum laude


  • Illinois
  • Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan

Government & Military Service

  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chicago


  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, The Honorable Suzanne Conlon


  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation
  • Former Board of Directors, Finance and Governance Committee, Federal Bar Association
  • Board of Directors, Vice President, Harvard Law Society of Illinois
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Women’s White Collar Defense Association (WWCDA)