Member Spotlight

Welcome to the Women’s White Collar Defense Association (WWCDA) blog post series profiling its diverse, talented membership. A global group of more than 3,000 accomplished women attorneys and other professionals, members are from 48 chapters who specialize in the representation of clients facing criminal or civil enforcement, regulatory, and administrative actions, and in need of internal investigations and compliance counselling.

WWCDA spotlights Naana Frimpong, WWCDA Branding & Marketing Committee Member and Former WWCDA Awards Program Committee Co-Chair, Partner, DLA Piper (Atlanta, GA) and U.S. Representative on the DLA Piper Africa Board. Naana shares the path that led to her career in law, inspirations, the importance of her work and WWCDA’s role in her journey.

Naana Frimpong - Branding & Marketing Committee Member and Former Awards Program Committee Co-Chair

Naana Frimpong
Partner, DLA Piper (Atlanta, GA)
U.S. Representative on the DLA Piper Africa Board

Tell us a little about your practice/firm and any specializations you have cultivated.

I am a partner in DLA Piper’s Investigations and Compliance group and although I have extensive experience conducting a broad array of civil and criminal investigations for multinational clients, many high-profile or sensitive, and in front myriad enforcement agencies and regulators, I have a particular passion for global investigations and Africa. Our firm has the most extensive footprint of any law firm in Africa – we have 20 different countries that we operate out of and that is a real differentiator to clients. I am the firm’s U.S. representative to the DLA Piper Africa Board, and I lead our firm’s U.S./Africa engagement. There are many former federal prosecutors who have significant experience conducting internal investigations or defending companies in enforcement actions with regard to alleged misconduct occurring all over the world, including in Africa. However, there are few who I believe are as uniquely positioned to handle this work for clients and it is something I love to do.

Who/what inspired you to pursue white collar law?

I was an associate in the New York office of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP when the groundbreaking Siemens AG FCPA investigation began and I was quickly drawn to the nature of the work. I became a key member of the team that represented the audit committee of Siemens (a Munich-based multinational) concerning allegations that billions of euros in improper payments had been made to secure business around the world. For a two year period, I traveled multiple times to Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe in this sprawling investigation, overseeing forensic accounting teams and conducting and participating in interviews. I also saw first-hand the immense skill displayed by the former federal prosecutors and federal defenders who were working on the matter, and it made me hungry to acquire that skill set. By the end of that matter, I had been fully bitten by the white collar bug.

Who is the most influential person in your law career?

I have had many mentors at various stages of my legal career but without a doubt my parents have had the biggest influence on me and my legal career. Building a meaningful career that is impactful can be challenging to navigate and I think their example of perseverance, being purposeful about the life they wanted to lead, having a heart for others, having a strong work ethic, and pursuing excellence, had real impact on me. Both my parents had very humble beginnings, with parents who were cocoa farmers in the Ashanti region of Ghana, but my father was able to earn a masters and doctorate in law from a world class institution and my mother went back to school to obtain her masters degree too while raising several children, including one who was a mere toddler. They showed me in their daily choices, sacrifices, and goals that the most improbable of dreams was always possible.

How long have you been a member of WWCDA and what drew you to the organization?

I joined the WWCDA in the spring of 2017. I had newly rejoined private practice after serving as a federal prosecutor in Chicago and a mentor whom I adored encouraged me to join her in an annual meeting in Florida. This mentor (the late Cathy M. O’Neil, after whom we have a WWCDA award named) told me it was a wonderful organization that was filled with women who were deeply supportive of one another. And from that very first annual meeting, I fell in love with the organization and its purpose. Unlike other conferences where you often felt that attendees spent time sizing each other up, the WWCDA appeared to be filled with women who genuinely were interested in helping to elevate the other women around them and support their success.

Can you tell us more about your WWCDA leadership role in the Programs Committee and how it has helped or advanced your practice?

My most significant leadership role has been in connection with the Awards Committee. I served as a member of the nominating committee for the Catherine M. O’Neil Award initially, then later served as co-chair of the full awards committee. I loved how the WWCDA effectively created a tangible means of recognizing and elevating women who have done amazing things in the white collar bar and may not have always received the recognition they so richly deserved.

Tell us something about you that might surprise us.

I think people are often surprised to hear that I was raised in Ghana and Botswana, arriving in the United States at 18 to begin college in Western Massachusetts. The fact that my formative years was spent in West and Southern Africa, gives me a perspective that I think is invaluable. My high school was started in the early 1970s by liberal white South Africans who fled Apartheid to Botswana (at the northern border of South Africa) to set up a multi-racial school that was focused on educational excellence, community service and a commitment to provide opportunities to educate low-income Batswana. I think that it was a real gift to come of age in a multicultural and multi-lingual environment that was focused on meaningful social impact. Not only did it make it easy for me to navigate the new and unfamiliar and make lasting connections with people from different backgrounds and experiences, but I think it has made me a better person and lawyer.

What are your favorite activities to do outside of the office (hobbies, interests)?

I love to dig into a good fiction book – the type you can’t put down and end up staying up way too late reading to find out what happens. However, I rarely get to lose myself in pleasure reading. For now, a close second is reading with my children. I have two young children and one of my favorite pastimes is sharing my love of reading with my nine-year-old daughter (my six-year-old tends to want to repeat the same books, so that loses its appeal quickly). She is an avid reader but still enjoys when I read to her. We have finished the Chronicles of Narnia and got through quite a few of Anne of Green Gables together. It is wonderful to share the joy of reading, the magic of escaping to far-off places and imagining whole worlds – all from mere words on a page.

Expand Your Reach

WWCDA Membership offers you access to a supportive community that provides business development opportunities, educational programming, and fosters connections to expand your reach across the white collar defense law.