Melissa Bayer Tearney

Department Co-Chair - Litigation

Melissa Tearney is co-chair of Choate's Litigation Department. She has been named a “Top Woman of Law” by Mass Lawyers Weekly, a “2016 Woman of Influence” by the Boston Business Journal, is a Massachusetts Super Lawyer and is listed in Best Lawyers in America.

Practice Focus

Government Enforcement & Compliance:  Ms. Tearney represents individuals and corporations in criminal matters in several substantive legal areas, including: healthcare fraud and abuse; securities violations; foreign corrupt practices; bank fraud; financial fraud; hazardous waste and other environmental violations; customs violations; antitrust violations; and civil and criminal RICO. She routinely represents clients before state and federal grand juries and investigative bodies, including matters before the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, and has extensive trial and appellate experience. She also assists clients to develop programs to comply with all applicable laws and prepares compliance manuals to prevent governmental or regulatory scrutiny. 

Representative Engagements

  • Defense of international pharmaceutical companies in federal and state investigations involving sales and pricing practices.
  • Defense of international medical device company in federal criminal and civil investigation alleging Anti-Kickback Statute violations.
  • Advising of pre-commercial and early stage companies in compliance matters, including structuring compliant business initiatives to reduce risk.
  • Design and implementation of compliance programs for multinational public companies.
  • Investigation of pre-approval activities relating to new indication for marketed product.
  • Defense of academicians and universities in research misconduct proceedings.

  • Defense of individual executives in securities-related investigations.
  • Defense of individual executives in federal and state investigations targeting international pharmaceutical companies.
  • Defense of medical device company in civil False Claims Act litigation.
  • Defense of individuals against allegations of environmental violations.
  • Defense of companies and executives against allegations of accounting fraud.
  • Defense of metal refining company for FCPA and customs violations.
  • Investigation of allegations that public company engaged in FCPA violations in China.
  • Investigation of allegations that public company engaged in FCPA violations in Brazil and management of subsequent voluntary disclosure.

Professional and Community Involvement

Ms. Tearney is a member of Hebrew SeniorLife’s Board of Directors and chair of the board’s Governance and Conflicts Committees as well as a member of the Development and Audit and Compliance Committees. She is a member of Greater Boston Legal Services and serves on its Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Ms. Tearney also serves on Camp Bauercrest’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee and is chair of Thayer Academy Board of Trustees. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association and Phi Beta Kappa. Additionally, Ms. Tearney is a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee and its Pro Bono Committee, and has served as co-chair of the firm’s Hiring Committee and Summer Program.

Education & Credentials

Harvard Law School
JD, 1991, cum laude
Harvard College
BA, 1988, magna cum laude