Areas of Practice
  • Georgetown University Law Center, L.L.M.
  • Rutgers University School of Law, J.D.
  • Harvard University, M.P.A.
  • Syracuse University, A.B., with distinction
Bar & Court Admissions
  • District of Columbia
  • New Jersey
  • US Supreme Court
  • US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

Joe R. Caldwell, Jr.

1330 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20036
TEL: +1 202 429 6455
FAX: +1 202 429 3902

Joe Caldwell is a widely sought, talented advocate for his corporate and individual clients in their most complicated commercial disputes and white-collar criminal matters.  He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) – a distinction reserved for one percent of trial lawyers in the United States and Canada – and recognized for his ongoing diversity, legal, and civic contributions locally and nationally. 

Mr. Caldwell represents clients in federal and state court litigation, and before congressional committees, administrative agencies, and arbitration tribunals.  In more than 100 jury trials, he has represented a variety of clients, including financial institutions, news organizations, global law firms, entertainment and sports entities, physicians, energy and construction companies, other business organizations, and an independent federal government agency.  He handles such civil matters as breach of contract, securities fraud, legal malpractice, banking issues, employment discrimination, and real estate, environmental and insurance disputes, and also conducts internal investigations.

In white-collar criminal matters, he has represented corporate CEOs in securities and other business fraud allegations, and physicians in Medicare fraud, professional practice, and peer review allegations.  He defends clients against allegations of conspiracy, money laundering, federal contract fraud, mail and wire fraud, tax crimes, public corruption, obstruction of justice, and in matters initiated by independent counsel.

Mr. Caldwell, who co-chairs the firm’s Diversity Committee, has been recognized for his legal work by Chambers USA, Best Lawyers in America, Washingtonian’s “Top DC Lawyers,” Washington DC Super Lawyers, Who’s Who Legal, Ebony Magazine’s “Top Six Black Super Lawyers in America,” and Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Top Black Lawyers.”  In 2015, he was appointed to the ACTL’s UK-US Legal Exchange, which consisted of three US Supreme Court Justices, three federal judges, and four US lawyers.  The team traveled to London to meet with their UK counterparts to review papers and discuss global legal topics such as federalism, terrorism, right to privacy, freedom of speech, and access to justice.  The team reconvened one year later at the US Supreme Court.

Apart from law firm experience, Mr. Caldwell previously served in federal, state, and local government.  He was appointed as legal counsel for the US Supreme Court and as special assistant to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, where he served for four years.  He also served as a deputy attorney general in the state of New Jersey’s Criminal Division, and later as chief of staff and legal counsel to former Washington, DC Mayor Sharon Pratt.

Early in his career, Mr. Caldwell was a captain on active duty in the US Army JAG Corps.  He served three years in Stuttgart, Germany, where he eventually became chief criminal defense counsel, and was later assigned to Washington, DC, from which he rode circuit as a criminal trial judge in the Southeastern US.

Before joining Steptoe, Mr. Caldwell was a partner at another global law firm where he chaired the firm’s 73-lawyer litigation section in Washington, DC for seven years, served on the firm’s Leadership Conference, and was founding chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee.

Mr. Caldwell has taught trial practice both with the adjunct faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, and as co-director of faculty at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Program.  Mr. Caldwell has also engaged in numerous pro bono activities.  He served initially as general counsel and later as board chairman of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the National Capital Area; on the board of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights; and as national co-chair of the DNC’s Lawyers’ Council.  In addition, he served two terms as vice-chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Harvard Kennedy School.  Currently he serves as chair of the Committee on Grievances (ethics committee) of the US District Court for the District of Columbia and as general counsel of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit initiated by President Obama to help young boys of color overcome obstacles to achievement.  He recently completed his three-year term as chair of the ACTL preeminent Judge Emil Gumpert Award Committee, which bestows a $100,000 award to the nonprofit or educational institution that has most notably improved the administration of justice.

Representative Matters

Civil Cases

  • ExxonMobil Corporation — handled indemnity lawsuit concerning intellectual property claims in Virginia
  • Raytheon Company — handled fraud and breach of contract arbitration trial on the merits in Chicago
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) — defended FDIC at trial in Washington, DC against claims of religious discrimination
  • Arbitron, Inc. — defended company in congressional investigation
  • Swain & Baldwin Insurance, Inc. — handled defense of multiple insurance fraud actions in federal courts in New York, New Jersey, Detroit, and Denver
  • National Public Radio — handled contract and employment disputes
  • Daunte Culpepper — handled NFL quarterback endorsement contract trial in Oregon
  • Bank of America and NationsBank — handled real estate dispute alleging billions of dollars in damages
  • SunTrust Bank — handled arbitration trial on the merits before National Association of Securities Dealers
  • Sidley Austin LLP — defended the firm at jury trial against allegations of tortious interference in a lawyer-client contract
  • General Motors Corp. — handled age discrimination lawsuits
  • AES Hawaii, Inc. — handled contract dispute between a Hawaiian energy producer and an Indonesian coal supplier
  • Fort Myer Construction Corporation — defended company against federal and state debarment actions in DC, Maryland, and Virginia

White-Collar Criminal Cases

  • Reliant Energy, Inc. — led defense against a federal indictment in San Francisco alleging manipulation of California energy prices
  • Defended corporate CEO in DOJ/FBI investigation against allegations of violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act regarding funds raised for the Hillary Clinton senatorial and presidential campaigns
  • Defended physician against Medicare fraud allegations in Virginia
  • Represented CEO of a financial services company in a DOJ/FBI investigation alleging a $34 million loan services fraud in Omaha, Nebraska
  • Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr Investigation in Washington, DC —  represented a real estate developer and Democratic Party fundraiser against claims that he had unlawfully dissuaded Kathleen Willey from testifying against President Clinton in the Paula Jones matter
  • Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz Investigation — represented a Tyson Chicken executive in Springdale, Arkansas, in trial, appeal, and presidential pardon against claims that he provided illegal gratuities to Secretary of Agriculture Michael Espy
  • Quibilla Shabazz — represented the daughter of Malcolm X against an indictment in Wisconsin alleging that she attempted to assassinate Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam
  • FBI/District of Columbia Car Dealership Sting Operation — represented former Rosenthal Jaguar sales manager, who obtained a defense verdict after a five-month jury trial against allegations of conspiracy and money laundering in the car industry


  • Chambers USA, Litigation: General Commercial (District of Columbia), 2011-2015
  • Best Lawyers in America, 2005-2018
  • Washington, DC Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2007-2017
  • Washingtonian Top DC Lawyers, Criminal Defense White-Collar, 2007-2017
  • Ebony Magazine’s Top Six Black Super Lawyers in America, 2007
  • Black Enterprise Magazine’s Top Black Lawyers, 2005

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Professional Affiliations

  • American College of Trial Lawyers Fellow, 2002-present
  • Chair of Emil Gumpert Award Committee, 2012-2015
  • Democratic National Committee, former National Co-Chairman of the DNC National Lawyers Council
  • Harvard Kennedy School, Dean’s Alumni Advisory Council, Vice Chairman, 2002-present
  • Committee on Grievances, US District Court, District of Columbia, 2011-present
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Washington Steering Committee, former Member
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters, National Capital Area, Board Chairman Emeritus