Leigh M. Skipper


  • Leigh M. Skipper
  • Phone: +1 215 979 1157

    Import to Address Book

  • Duane Morris LLP
    30 South 17th Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103-4196
  • Duane Morris LLP
    901 New York Avenue N.W., Suite 700 East
    Washington, DC 20001-4795

Leigh M. Skipper practices in the area of litigation. Prior to joining Duane Morris, Mr. Skipper served as the Chief Federal Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. During his tenure, he oversaw one of the largest federal defender offices in the country and was responsible for the training, strategy and supervision of more than 65 attorneys as well as investigators, technology and administrative support staff in the trial, appellate and capital habeas units. He successfully defended hundreds of cases involving fraud, tax, corruption, drug and other offenses and tried approximately 35 federal jury trials. Mr. Skipper was responsible for the training, management and selection of the attorneys on the Criminal Justice Act Panel and was accountable for all operational matters, including budgetary and personnel decisions.

Mr. Skipper is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and chair of the Public Defender Committee. He is also an adjunct professor at Drexel University School of Law, teaching classes on sentencing and federal criminal law. He is a past president of the Barrister’s Association of Philadelphia and the National Association of Federal Defenders and has served as a past chairman of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Judicial Selection and Retention Committee.

Mr. Skipper is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and a graduate of the University of Connecticut.

Areas of Practice

  • Trials
  • White-Collar Corruption, Fraud and Money Laundering
  • Corporate Investigations
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Securities Litigation
  • Tax

Representative Matters

  • Extensive direct case experience in wire, bank, bribery, tax, health care, RICO and securities fraud investigations and prosecutions.
  • Obtained a full acquittal as sole counsel in a federal bank fraud prosecution.
  • Successful disposition in a massive “pump and dump” securities fraud prosecution.
  • Obtained a not guilty verdict as sole counsel on a false filing tax count and aggravated identity theft count (a two year mandatory minimum) on behalf of a former IRS employee. A one year probationary sentence was imposed.

  • Obtained reversal after trial for Brady violation as sole counsel for wire fraud prosecution. Probationary sentence imposed.
  • Sole Trial Counsel in a case challenging the unreliability of latent fingerprint evidence under the Daubert standard.
  • Participated as lead counsel in the successful challenge of the reliability of hearsay evidence at a sentencing proceeding.
  • Successfully limited the admissibility of portions of audio recordings leading to a deadlocked jury.
  • Obtained complete acquittals as both sole and lead counsel in federal prosecutions involving firearms and Hobbs Act related offenses.
  • Sole counsel trial counsel in reversal of conviction on standard for reasonableness of search for parolee.
  • Obtained dismissal of indictment in false statement and conversion of government funds case.


  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • Supreme Court of the United States


  • Howard University School of Law, J.D.
  • University of Connecticut, B.S.


  • Duane Morris LLP
    - Partner, 2022-present
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
    - Chief Federal Defender, 2009-2022
    - Assistant and Supervisory Assistant Federal Defender, 1991-2009
  • Defender Association of Philadelphia-Jury and Bench Trials
    - Assistant State Defender, 1988-1991
  • Drexel University Kline School of Law
    - Adjunct Professor, 2014-

Professional Activities

  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
    - Chair, Public Defender Committee
    - Member, PA State Committee
  • United States Sentencing Commission
    - At Large Member – Practitioner’s Advisory Group
  • Pennsylvania Innocence Project
    - Board Member
  • Attorney Disciplinary Hearing Committee, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    - Panel Chair and Member, 1999-2005
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
    - Past Chair, Judicial Selection and Retention Committee, 2003 and 2008
  • Third Circuit Lawyers Advisory Committee
    -Chair, 1996
  • Federal Magistrate Judge Re-appointment Panel
    -Member, 2008
  • Barrister’s Association of Philadelphia
    - President, 2000-2001
  • National Association of Federal Defenders
    - President, 2014-2016

Honors and Awards

  • Recipient, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. Barristers Award for Commitment to Social Justice, 2019

  • Recipient, Temple Beasley School of Law Gideon Award, 2012

  • Recipient, Cecil B. Moore Barristers Award for Service to the Philadelphia Legal Community, 2011

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Co-presenter, “Fireside Chat with Darrin Howard,” Federal Criminal Law Committee for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Quarterly Meeting, January 2023