Erica MacDonald is a former U.S. Attorney and district court judge who has successfully litigated hundreds of cases in federal court and presided over thousands of cases in state court for more than two decades. She serves clients in white collar defense, internal investigations, trial strategies and quasi-judicial matters such as monitorships. Erica knows how to run investigations, how to try and win cases, how to work collaboratively with clients and counsel, and how to work with the media in any crisis situation.
White Collar Defense & Internal Investigations
The DOJ is increasing investigations and prosecutions of conduct such as health care fraud, fraud in government programs, COVID-19-related fraud, and conduct falling under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act. Erica serves clients in white collar criminal defense; internal investigations; and FCA, FCPA and qui tam litigation. She is experienced in complex investigations, including directing very sensitive investigations, and responding to grand jury investigations and inquiries. Erica also has a great deal of experience in developing and implementing crisis-management strategies and working with businesses for advanced planning, team assignments and implementation.
Complex Civil Litigation
Through her work as a trial lawyer and with the media, Erica has developed an ability to present complex arguments to nonlegal audiences: an essential skill for trial success. As a former judge, she has insight into how to argue effectively to the bench. She knows how to put together and run a trial team and effectively manage attorneys. Erica also knows the importance of developing and incorporating a media strategy into the litigation strategy.
The government’s use of quasi-judicial engagements is expanding and can include mediation, appointment as a monitor and consulting. Given her experience, Erica thoroughly understands the role of monitors in consent decrees and deferred prosecution agreements.
Prior to joining Faegre Drinker, Erica served as the 36th U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota from 2018 until 2021. After being nominated by the president, she was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate. As U.S. Attorney, she served as the chief federal law enforcement officer, focusing on prosecuting crimes related to terrorism, firearms, narcotics, child exploitation, human trafficking, financial fraud, healthcare fraud and public corruption. She also focused resources on affirmative and defensive civil cases and assisted communities throughout Minnesota in community-building efforts.
As Minnesota’s U.S. Attorney, Erica set law enforcement prosecution and investigation priorities for all federal law enforcement agencies in the district, including the FBI, DEA, ATF, IRS, U.S. Postal Inspection, U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Marshals Service. She also worked with the SEC, FBI and IRS to increase white collar investigations and prosecutions, and engaged in outreach and cooperation with state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies; members and leaders of the community; business leaders; and the media.
In 2019, Erica was one of 12 U.S. Attorneys appointed to the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, where she chaired its Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Working Group and served on the subcommittees on national security, cybercrime, white collar crimes and Native American issues. This service also gave her deeper insight into the workings of the DOJ and solid connections with its career staff.
Previously, she served as a trial court judge in Dakota County for more than eight years, presiding over thousands of jury trials, bench trials and evidentiary hearings, and ran two specialty courts: Dakota County Adult Drug Court and Juvenile Court. In Dakota County, Erica also honed her skills as a mediator, working with parties to resolve disputes prior to lengthy and costly litigation.
Prior to that, Erica served as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and the District of Minnesota, where she conducted prosecutions and investigations involving white collar crime, money laundering, tax and mortgage fraud, child exploitation, human trafficking, firearms violations and violent crime.
Before law school, Erica worked for five years with May Department Stores, rising through the ranks from assistant buyer to department manager to buyer. This experience gave her strong insight into the needs of clients and the importance of lawyer-client collaboration.
Erica is a long-term resident of Minnesota. She has lived in the same community in the same home for more than 20 years. She has two sons, both of whom also attended Notre Dame. For more information on her background, please visit her Wikipedia page.
U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
Minnesota Court of Appeals, Hon. Harriet Lansing, 2000-2001
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Hon. James H. Alesia, 1997-1999
DePaul University College of Law
J.D. graduated with top honors, Order of the Coif, DePaul Law Review (managing editor of lead articles) (1997)
University of Notre Dame
B.A. in American Studies, with minor in Business Administration (1989)
Insights & Events
Leadership & Community
- American Bar Association
- Federal Bar Association
- Women’s White Collar Defense Association
- Minnesota State Bar Association
- Minnesota Women Lawyers
- National Association of Former United States Attorneys
- Warren E. Burger Inn of Court
- Saint Thomas Academy Board of Trustees
- Notre Dame Club of Minnesota
- Faegre Drinker — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2022
- Best Lawyers® — Litigation - Real Estate, 2023
- Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal – Women in Business, 2023
No aspect of these recognitions has been approved by the highest court of any state.