Margaret Tough is an experienced civil and criminal trial lawyer. Her practice focuses on protecting individuals and companies facing complex attacks on multiple fronts by plaintiffs, regulators, and prosecutors. She has been recognized among the top women lawyers in California by the Daily Journal and as a “notable practitioner” who is "quick on the uptake, and unrelenting in formulating and then executing actionable plans to defend and protect her clients” by Chambers USA.

Ms. Tough has been trial counsel in very significant trials, including:

  • United States v. Pacific Gas and Electric: Core member of team in a series of matters (civil, regulatory, and criminal) arising from a tragic natural gas pipeline rupture in San Bruno, California. Tried a rare corporate criminal case in a two-month jury trial in federal court in San Francisco, reducing the company’s exposure by more than 99%: from over US$1.1 billion to just US$3 million.
  • Confidential insurance arbitration: Lead trial counsel representing client to a complete victory in an international arbitration against an insurer, resulting in an eight-figure recovery.
  • Økokrim v. Vilhelmsen: On Norwegian/US trial team, which won a full acquittal of an investor charged with money laundering offenses in Norway.
  • Jasmine v. Marvell: Defended Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. in a trade secrets misappropriation trial, which was named California defense verdict of the year.
  • SEC v. Jasper: Defended a former technology company CFO against stock options backdating charges.
  • United States v. Larson: Defended a private investment banker against complex tax shelter charges in a months-long trial in the Southern District of New York.

In addition to her trial work, Ms. Tough has also successfully defended many clients facing complex civil cases and government investigations, and has conducted numerous internal investigations in the United States and around the world.

Ms. Tough's recent experience includes representing:

  • Phillips 66 in litigation brought by attorneys general and cities throughout the US seeking US$ billions of remediation for the effects of climate change 
  • PG&E in separate state and federal criminal investigations regarding allegedly improper communications with its state regulator
  • PG&E in billion dollar civil and derivative litigation concerning the San Bruno pipeline explosion
  • The CEO of a public energy company in a hostile proxy battle, internal investigation, and related securities fraud and antitrust litigation concerning oil and gas leases
  • The board of directors of a public transportation company in an internal investigation regarding allegations of misconduct by senior management
  • An automotive company in a federal grand jury investigation
  • A private investment bank facing billions of dollars of lawsuits throughout the country concerning foreign currency investment tax shelters, including coordinating the defense of several dozen major civil cases throughout the country
  • A biotech company in a major DOJ/SEC FCPA investigation and related civil lawsuits
  • The CEO of a failed California bank in government investigations and related civil and regulatory proceedings
  • A global energy company in a multi-agency investigation regarding potential violations of US sanctions laws
  • A foreign attorney facing extradition on federal criminal charges
  • A pro bono client in obtaining a confidential settlement against a corporation related to a pedestrian fatality

Ms. Tough is a member of the board of directors of Ploughshares Fund, which works to reduce and eventually eliminate the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. She is an active participant in our firm’s pro bono efforts and associate development programs.

Bar Qualification

  • California


  • JD, University of Washington School of Law, 2001
    with honors, Order of the Coif, member, Washington Law Review
  • BA, McGill University, 1995
    with honors

Languages Spoken

  • French