Described by Chambers USA as a "smart lawyer" "known for his intelligent handling of cases," David Isaak represents companies and executives in their most serious legal matters: government investigations and white collar criminal cases. A Partner at SKV in Houston, he is equally at home in civil or criminal court. Mr. Isaak is especially adept at protecting his clients’ interests in parallel civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings – a rare talent among even the most seasoned trial attorneys.
Mr. Isaak’s practice centers on representing clients in legally and factually complex government investigations and white collar criminal cases involving, among other things, health care fraud, tax fraud, securities fraud (including insider trading), antitrust, commodities manipulation, trademark infringement, theft of trade secrets, environmental crimes, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Often his victories are private, such as when he persuades prosecutors or regulators not to bring criminal charges or civil enforcement claims. For example, no charges were filed when he successfully represented a software company and executives in an FBI and DOJ Investigation into alleged trade secret theft. Mr. Isaak also recently represented a publicly traded company in an SEC inquiry, which ended in the SEC taking no action. In addition to these private victories, Mr. Isaak has also had many public successes for clients. He helped to secure the dismissal of all charges against a BP propane trader accused of violating the Commodity Exchange Act. Mr. Isaak was also a key member of the team that obtained a "not guilty" verdict on Clean Water Act charges against BP’s wellsite leader on the Deepwater Horizon after first securing dismissal of manslaughter charges.
Mr. Isaak's analytical skills, work ethic, and attention to detail gained him recognition at the University of Texas School of Law, where he was named Grand Chancellor—the Law School’s most prestigious honor awarded to the student with the highest grade point average after the second year of law school. He was also selected to the editorial board for the Texas Law Review. After law school, he honed his skills in civil litigation: clerking for the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and working for five years at Baker Botts, where he specialized in antitrust and securities litigation before developing an investigations and white collar criminal defense practice. Mr. Isaak has taught a course on public corruption offenses and the FCPA at the University of Houston Law Center and speaks frequently on a wide range of white collar criminal defense issues.
Represented software company and executives in FBI and DOJ investigation into alleged trade secret theft (no charges filed).
Represented global manufacturers’ employees in federal criminal price-fixing investigation (no charges filed).
Successfully resolved alien trafficking charges against Houston company (no criminal charges filed).
Represented Chief Legal Officer of oil and gas company in SEC and DOJ FCPA investigation (no charges filed or SEC action taken against officer).
Represented software company CFO in SEC and DOJ investigation into securities fraud allegations (no SEC or criminal charges filed).
Represented physician in health care fraud investigation (no charges filed).
Represented developer in criminal investigation by the U.S. Small Business Administration—Office of the Inspector General (no charges filed).
Represented global oil refiner’s employees in federal environmental investigation and trial of company. (no charges filed against his clients).
White Collar Criminal Defense
Not Guilty Verdict for Deepwater Horizon Well Site Leader. Mr. Isaak was a key member of the defense team that secured a not guilty verdict for Robert Kaluza a “well site leader” on the Deepwater Horizon on Clean Water Act charges following dismissal of manslaughter charges with the Court of Appeals affirming the dismissal.
Dismissal of All Charges Against Propane Trader. Mr. Isaak successfully represented a BP propane trader against allegations of violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and Fraud. The trial court dismissed all charges, and the dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.
Dismissal of Extradition Request Against Head of Global Investment Firm. Mr. Issak successfully represented the former head of a global investment firm against a request for extradition on fraud charges by the Mexican Government. Mr. Isaak first obtained bond for his client, which is rare in extradition cases, and later won dismissal of the extradition request.
Parallel Proceedings and Enforcement Actions
SEC Investigation (Securities Fraud). Mr. Isaak successfully represented a publicly traded company targeted by short sellers into investigation of spurious allegations. The SEC took no action against his client.
CFTC Enforcement Action. Mr. Isaak obtained a favorable settlement for a Shell natural gas trader in a Commodity Futures Trading Commission enforcement action.
SEC Enforcement Action. Mr. Isaak successfully appealed trial court’s decision that client had waived his Fifth Amendment rights in an SEC investigation.
Qui Tam False Claims Act Case. Mr. Isaak, along with co-counsel, successfully persuaded the Department of Justice’s Civil Division not to intervene in a qui tam False Claims Act action where the DOJ had previously demanded over $20 million to settle with Mr. Isaak’s client. The DOJ’s decision not to intervene led the relator to voluntarily dismiss the claims against his client.
"Rising Star" by Thomson Reuters, 2004-2012
Texas Litigation: White Collar Criminal Defense, Chambers USA, 2017-Present
"Super Lawyer" by Thomson Reuters, 2016-Present
State Bar of Texas
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
United States District Court for the Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of Texas
Federal Bar Association, President for the Southern District of Texas Chapter
American Bar Association, White Collar Crime Regional Subcommittee Co–Chair 2010-2015
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Criminal Justice Act Panel for the Southern District of Texas
InPrint, Advisory Board Member
Moderator - “The Mueller Report and Investigation, What They Can Teach Us About Federal Investigations,” April 2019, Federal Bar Association, Houston, Texas
"Parallel Criminal and Civil Litigation (with Karima Maloney)," Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, State Bar of Texas Advanced Civil Trial Course 2017
"When the FBI Knocks at Your Door: Criminal Issues in Civil Litigation," Houston & San Antonio, State Bar of Texas, Advanced Evidence & Discovery Course 2017
"Criminal Issues in Civil Litigation," Houston Bar Association, March 2017
“The Fifth Amendment in Civil Litigation” (with Karima Maloney), Harris County Civil Judges’ Summer CLE Conference, August 2017
"Not Guilty: The Deepwater Horizon Criminal Cases," Amarillo Area Bar Association, November 2016
Moderator - "Parallel Proceedings: Litigating in the Shadow of a Criminal Investigation" - SKV Business Crimes CLE, October 2016
Southwest Regional Update – Panelist, American Bar Association White Collar Criminal Law Conference, Miami, Fl., March 2014
The University of North Dakota
B.A., English, summa cum laude, 1994
University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign
M.A., English, with honors, 1996
University of Texas School of Law
J.D., with highest honors, 1999
Grand Chancellor; Order of the Coif
Editorial Board & Articles Editor
Texas Law Review
to the Hon. Thomas R Phillips, Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Texas, 1999-2000
Baker Botts LLP, 2000-2005
Gerger & Clarke, 2006-2014
Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, L.L.P., 2015-Present