Robert  portrait

Robert Nichols

Partner

Government contracts lawyer with more than two decades of experience in government and private practice.

About

Robert Nichols helps government contractors solve complex legal problems and achieve their desired business solutions.

Robert has led several of the highest-profile matters in the industry, from a $10.5 billion bid protest at the Court of Federal Claims, to lawsuits arising from the Cuban government's imprisonment of a contractor for espionage, to managing parallel investigations by two agency Offices of Inspector General, two Suspension and Debarment Officials, the Department of Justice, and a Congressional oversight committee.

Prior to founding Nichols Liu, Robert was a partner and co-chair of the Government Contracts group at Covington & Burling, where he helped lead and grow the practice to over fifty attorneys. He also has been a partner at Crowell & Moring and served both at the White House and as a Judge Advocate General at the Army Corps of Engineers.

According to Chambers USA (2015): "Clients say: Robert Nichols is an outstanding strategist, good communicator, has an excellent bedside manner with executives and boards under stress, and good and timely follow-through.' He is praised for his creative and entrepreneurial approach to issues across a broad range of industries."

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Education

Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1997

Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1994

Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1991

Experience

  • Resolved hotly-contested completion disputes of U.S. Embassy in Baghdad where thousands of unauthorized deviations from specifications were preventing the U.S. State Department’s acceptance of the sprawling compound. Demonstrated in senior-level meetings and on-the-ground inspections that the project was materially compliant, leading to acceptance and the resolution of investigations by multiple agencies and Congress.
  • Successfully protested the terms of a $2 billion USAID procurement for consulting services related to economic growth and poverty reduction, convincing the agency to abandon its use of the “low cost, technically acceptable” evaluation scheme by arguing that LPTA was inappropriate for the complex, high-stakes services being sought.
  • Resolved tort claims arising from the incarceration of U.S. contractor for espionage by negotiating a creative settlement of the tort suit, converting that tort settlement into a contract claim by the prime contractor, and successfully negotiating payment to fully compensate the subcontractor while making the prime contractor whole.
  • Advised multiple sellers of military products to foreign governments through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) processes, gaining approval from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency for the sales and for using financing from FMF and commercial banks to enable the transactions.
  • Successfully defended a $1 billion award for embassy services against protests by three competitors, persuaded the agency to override the automatic stay of contract performance, and then successfully defended the override before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
  • Successfully protested the award of a contract to help reform the justice system in Mexico, obtaining corrective action that involved new final proposal revisions; and when our client won the second round award, successfully defended a challenge by the prior awardee and preserved the award to the client.
  • Represented PAE as government contracts counsel in six different M&A transactions that have grown PAE to a defense contractor with annual revenue in excess of $2 billion. PAE’s M&A included Defense Support Services, CSC’s Applied Technology Division, USIS’s Global Security and Solutions Business, A-T Solutions, and Lindsay Goldberg’s 2016 sale of PAE to Platinum Equity.
  • When a voluntary disclosure to USAID by one of its largest not-for-profits led the agency to suspend the entity for potential false claims and lack of internal controls, the board of directors hired Robert to lead the matter. When the agency refused to lift the suspension due to the lack of trustworthy internal controls and the entity was on the brink of shutting its doors, Robert successfully negotiated a grand bargain to transfer nearly all of the programs, assets, and employees to another not-for-profit and settle the False Claims Act (FCA) investigation.
  • Helped a major USAID contractor navigate the specific Organizational Conflicts of Interest (OCI) rules and requirements resulting from an acquisition that involved significant monitoring and evaluation services.
  • Filed a Supreme Court amicus brief on behalf of a government contractor trade association in support of a U.S. Navy contractor being sued for unwanted text messaging. The proposed class action raised significant questions regarding the application of derivative sovereign immunity to private contractors performing work on behalf of the federal government.
  • Assisted a coalition of nonprofit organizations in revising internal policies and standard subagreements to account for completely revamped uniform grant requirements that impose significant new burdens on the subaward process.
  • Represented an embassy contractor in an oversight hearing conducted by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform concerning the contractor’s construction practices.
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Education

Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1997

Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1994

Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1991

Practice & Expertise

  • International Contracting
  • Competition & Bid Protests
  • Investigations
  • Suspension & Debarment
  • Cybersecurity
  • Audits & Claims
  • Crisis Management
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Education

Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1997

Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1994

Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1991

Recognition & Affiliations

  • District of Columbia Bar
  • U.S. Virgin Islands Bar
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims U.S. Supreme Court
  • Chambers USA
  • Law360 MVP in Government Contracts
  • Legal 500
  • Super Lawyers
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Education

Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1997

Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1994

Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1991

Pro Bono

  • Pro Bono outside counsel for Childhelp, a not-for-profit that provides treatment for severely abused children
  • Pro Bono outside General Counsel for the Army Engineer Association, a not-for-profit government-industry association
Contact
Education

Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1997

Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1994

Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1991

Insights

Publications
Speaking Engagements
  • "Claims, Disputes, and Terminations" PubKGroup's 4th Annual Year-in-Review - Live Webcast (December 12, 2018). Moderator and Speaker: Robert Nichols
  • "Industry Trends" PubKGroup's 4th Annual Year-in-Review - Live Webcast (December 12, 2018). Speaker: Robert Nichols
  • Contact
    Education

    Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M., 1997

    Arizona State University College of Law, J.D., 1994

    Northern Arizona University, B.S., 1991

    Meet the Rest of the Team

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    • Investigations, False Claims Act litigator, white collar defense
    • Former DOJ Trial Attorney and agency General Counsel
    • Frequent speaker, author and commentator on procurement fraud issues
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    Bob Rhoad

    Partner
    • False Claims Act Litigator
    • "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyers® in Civil Litigation
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    • Suspension & debarment; internal investigations; civil and criminal fraud litigation
    • Air Force Debarring Official for 16 years
    • Managed 20 global investigations for Fortune 500 corporations
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    • Congressional and legislative advocate
    • Federal program expert (DOD, Energy, Army Corps Civil Works, Transportation)
    • Risk management and opportunity assessments
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    • Bid Protests and Claims
    • Former Partner and Founding Member of Crowell and Moring
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    • Suspension & debarment, claims, investigations, development of risk management and compliance programs
    • Develops innovative solutions to complex problems
    • Brings clarity to the maze of government issues
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    • Crisis management, government relations, host country relations
    • 40 years of government experience
    • Political and developmental strategist and leader
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    • Government and internal investigations; False Claims Act; Health Care Fraud
    • Former DOJ Trial Attorney in Civil Fraud Section
    • Significant experience with False Claims Act litigation, including jury trial and appellate experience
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    • Bid protests, claims, False Claims Act, and investigations
    • Former clerk for a U.S. District Judge and Trial Attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice
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    Annie Kim

    Investigator and Special Counsel
    • Investigations, false claims, suspension & debarment
    • Former USAID and Energy OIG agent with extensive experience conducting criminal, civil, and administrative investigations
    • 5 years spent leading investigations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Near East
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    • e-Discovery solutions and litigation support
    • Project management
    • 6 years in private practice
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    Adrian Wigston

    Investigator and Cost Accountant
    • Incurred cost audits, indirect cost rates, bid proposals, sub-recipient and sub-contract Management, cost-share contributions for cooperative agreements.
    • Former DCAA auditor and OIG auditor (Energy & Veterans Affairs) with extensive experience conducting incurred cost and performance audits.
    • CAS covered and non-major contractors. Award management for cooperative agreements with non-profit, education, and research and development award recipients.