Robert G. Chadwell , Member

Robert G. Chadwell


Bob Chadwell represents corporations, executives, and individuals in complex and serious white collar, regulatory, and civil investigations and prosecutions. 

Bob Chadwell is a founding partner who has practiced law for four decades.  His practice focuses on criminal and civil matters with a special emphasis on environmental issues, white collar criminal defense and securities fraud.

Bob began his career with Ritchie, Chadwell & Fels, a Tennessee criminal defense firm.  After clerking at the firm while in law school, he ultimately advanced to partner.

From private practice, Bob joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver, where he prosecuted white collar crime and fraud before joining the Mountain States Drug Task Force.  There, he coordinated investigations that brought many domestic and international drug conspirators to justice.

Bob was hired by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle to prosecute natural resource cases involving violations of the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act, Marine Pollution Act, and others.  After serving as Chief of the Criminal Division, Bob returned to the Major Crimes Trial Unit, where he specialized in environmental and foreign organized crime cases.

Since founding McKay Chadwell in 1995, Bob has represented clientele requiring his unique combination of strengths--his ability to handle nearly any legal problem involving state and federal government coupled with deep-seated compassion for every client. Bob’s clients range from multinational corporations to professionals and executives in highly regulated industries to individuals accused of wrongdoing.

Best Lawyers Award Badge


  • J.D., University of Tennessee College of Law
  • B.A., University of Colorado, Economics

Court & Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

  • United States District Court (Western District of Washington, District of Colorado & Eastern District of Tennessee)
  • United States Court of Appeals (Fifth Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, Tenth Circuit & Eleventh Circuit)

Bar Admissions 

  • Washington 
  • Colorado 
  • Tennessee (inactive)

Representative Cases

  • Criminal Environmental Investigation – Successful representation of a multinational natural resources company alleged to have unlawfully disposed of hazardous waste in particularly ecologically sensitive region. McKay Chadwell oversaw the representation of the client and organized the joint defense effort the firm arranged for all officers of the client who faced criminal exposure. In the multi-year investigation, McKay Chadwell coordinated a defense team representing the client and its officers by over 40 attorneys. The investigation concluded with no individuals prosecuted and the client agreeing to a nominal sanction.
  • Acquittal of Federal Charges, Tax Fraud – Successful trial defense of investment account executive accused of conspiring to commit tax fraud.  McKay Chadwell represented the client in all phases of the federal criminal prosecution, organizing a joint defense agreement between many co-defendants, conducting a rigorous investigation of the government’s allegations, engaging in motions practice, and defending the client at trial.  After a three-week trial, the jury acquitted the client in the first few hours of jury deliberations.
  • Vehicular Homicide Acquittal – Obtained acquittal for individual charged with vehicular homicide after his tractor-trailer was involved in an accident, killing four other motorists.  McKay Chadwell took the case to trial against skilled and experienced prosecutors.  Before the jury, McKay Chadwell demonstrated, for the first time, that key prosecution evidence was, in fact, unrelated to the incident.  The jury found the client not guilty of all counts and acquitted.
  • Multiple Fatality Incident, Criminal Environmental Investigation – Represented a refinery manager during a corporate internal investigation in response to a deadly refinery explosion.  McKay Chadwell and the client cooperated fully with the internal investigation and the subsequent federal regulatory and criminal investigations.  The case was submitted to a federal grand jury for criminal Environmental Protection Act violations against the client and the refinery operator.  No indictments issued.
  • Agricultural Cooperative, Food Products Industry – McKay Chadwell has represented a local food products company in various capacities, including defense services for internal, regulatory and criminal investigations relating to allegations of violations of environmental and workplace safety laws.

       -Conducted internal investigation into allegations of an unlawful discharge of anhydrous ammonia into a local stream.  McKay Chadwell negotiated with federal law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Justice to secure a misdemeanor resolution.

       -Represented client in an Environmental Protection Agency investigation related to a vendor’s negligent release of airborne hazardous substances at client’s facility in Oregon.  The matter resolved with a minimal monetary fine and without criminal proceedings.

       -Represented client in investigation into airborne hazardous substance discharge within client’s facility.  An internal investigation determined that the discharge was due to faulty insulation by a third-party contractor of a coolant pipe.  No criminal or regulatory actions were pursued against the client.

  • Procurement Fraud – Successful pre-charging defense of construction company that benefitted from procurement fraud committed by a government contracting reviewer.  McKay Chadwell coordinated the company’s participation in the government’s criminal investigation of the government employee and tirelessly worked to prevent the client from becoming a target in the criminal investigation.  The firm was ultimately able to secure a commitment from the Department of Justice not to criminally prosecute the client in exchange for a settlement agreement disgorging the benefit of the improperly approved government contracts.
  • Securities Fraud, Market Manipulation – Successful defense of stock trader charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with federal crimes and sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for multi-million dollar penny stock pump-and-dump scheme.  McKay Chadwell quickly interfaced with the SEC and federal prosecutors to protect the trader’s constitutional rights and mount a defense through analysis of thousands of pages of complex, raw trading data.  After a diligent defense investigation, the firm negotiated a favorable disposition for the client in the criminal matter while preventing the SEC from obtaining a double recovery in the parallel civil lawsuit.
  • Maritime, MARPOL Violations – Successful representation of foreign national ship captain detained for suspicion of violations of MARPOL, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, and the Clean Water Act regarding alleged unlawful discharges of oil into United States territorial waters.  The client’s ship and passport were detained through the two-month investigation.  With valuable input from McKay Chadwell, the government agreed to close its investigation of the client and release his passport, allowing him to return home overseas, with no criminal charges filed.

Awards and Publications

  • Recognized as Top 100 Lawyers by the American Trial Association
  • Named Washington Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine
  • Listed in Chambers USA, Washington
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America® in Criminal Defense: White-Collar
  • Named Best Lawyers in America® 2017 Seattle Criminal Defense: White-Collar "Lawyer of the Year" 
  • Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® Peer review as AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5*

*Peer review Rated Lawyer of AV® Preeminent™ and BV® Distinguished™ are certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.  Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process.  Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary.  Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.

Public & Civic Involvement

  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Federal Bar Association, Western District of Washington
  • Washington State Bar Association
  • King County Bar Association
  • American Diabetes Association
  • Virginia Mason Diabetes Center
  • Nature Conservancy
  • Thomas C. Wales Foundation
  • University of Washington Physicians, Community Trustee, 2010-2015


During his free time, Bob enjoys fly-fishing, chukar hunting, and other outdoor activities. He throws right-handed and bats from both sides of the plate.  He’s currently awaiting a call from the Seattle Mariners.


A small firm by choice, each attorney is accessible, responsive, and client-focused.

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