David Isaak


 Described by Chambers USA as a "smart lawyer" "known for his intelligent handling of cases," David Isaak represents companies and executives in their most serious legal matters: government investigations; white collar criminal defense; and criminal appeals.  Equally at home in civil or criminal court, David is especially adept at protecting his clients’ interests in parallel civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings.  Respected for his skill at legal analysis and argument, David is also frequently called upon to brief and argue important legal issues at both the trial and appellate levels.   

David has successfully represented clients in investigations and white collar criminal cases involving, among other things, health care fraud, tax fraud, securities fraud (including insider trading), commodities manipulation, trademark infringement, theft of trade secrets, environmental crimes, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  Often David’s victories are private, for example, when he successfully persuades prosecutors or regulators not to bring criminal charges or civil enforcement claims.  Nonetheless, he has also had many public successes for clients.  Recently, David was a key member of the team that obtained a not guilty verdict on Clean Water Act charges against BP’s wellsite leader on the Deepwater Horizon after first securing dismissal of manslaughter charges.

David’s analytical skills, work ethic, and attention to detail gained him recognition at the University of Texas Law School, where he was named Grand Chancellor—the Law School’s most prestigious honor awarded to the student with the highest grade point average after the second year of law school.  He was also selected to the editorial board for the Texas Law Review.  After law school, he honed his skills in civil litigation: clerking for the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and working for five years at Baker Botts, where he specialized in antitrust and securities litigation.  He then spent nearly a decade with one of Houston’s most respected white collar criminal defense practices­ before joining SKV in 2015.  David has taught a course focusing on public corruption offenses and the FCPA at the University of Houston Law Center and is a frequent speaker on white-collar criminal defense issues.


Not Guilty Verdict for Deepwater Horizon Well Site Leader

David was a key member of the defense team that secured a not guilty verdict for of Robert Kaluza a “well site leader” on the Deepwater Horizon

Dismissal of All Charges Against Propane Trader

David successfully represented a BP propane trader against allegations of violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and Fraud.

Dismissal of Extradition Request Against Head of Global Investment Firm

David successfully represented the former head of a global investment firm against a request for extradition on fraud charges by the Mexican Government.  David first obtained bond for his client, which is rare in extradition cases, and later won dismissal of the extradition request.


Successfully represented software company and executives in FBI and DOJ investigation into alleged trade secret theft (no charges filed)

Successfully represented global manufacturers’ employees in federal criminal price-fixing investigation (no charges filed)

Successfully represented Chief Legal Officer of publicly traded company in SEC and DOJ FCPA investigation (no charges filed or SEC action taken against officer)

Successfully represented software company CFO in SEC and DOJ investigation into options backdating allegations (no SEC or criminal charges filed)

Successfully represented developer in criminal investigation by the U.S. Small Business Administration—Office of the Inspector General (no criminal charges filed)

Successfully represented oil refinery’s employees in federal investigation and trial (no charges filed against employees)


United States v. Kaluza—With Shaun Clarke and Dane Ball, David successfully represented BP well site leader Bob Kaluza in the government’s appeal of the trial court’s dismissal of manslaughter charges.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of SKV’s client and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

United States v. Radley—With Shaun Clarke and Dane Ball, David successfully represented a BP propane trader in the government’s appeal of the trial court’s dismissal of Commodities Exchange Act and Wire Fraud charges.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of David’s client and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

SEC v. Farmer—David successfully appealed trial court’s decision that client had waived his Fifth Amendment rights in SEC investigation.  The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded the trial court’s decision.


ERISA Class Action

David was a key member of the team that obtained summary judgment, affirmed on appeal, for energy company and its executives accused of misrepresenting the value of company stock in employee retirement plan.

CFTC Enforcement Action

Obtained favorable settlement for Shell natural gas trader in a Commodity Futures Trading Commission enforcement action.

Will contest

David was part of the team that successfully defended the will of famed Texas oilman Alfred Glassell against a challenge by one of his children. 

Texas Rising Star by Thomson Reuters, 2004-2012

Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters, 2016-2017

Chambers USA, Texas: White Collar Criminal Defense (Band 2)

Bar Admissions:

Court Admissions:
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
United States District Court for the Southern, Eastern, and Northern Districts of Texas


  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • American Bar Association, White Collar Crime Regional Subcommittee Co–Chair 2010-2015
  • Federal Bar Association, Secretary for the Southern District of Texas Chapter
  • Criminal Justice Act Panel for the Southern District of Texas
  • InPrint, Advisory Board Member

"The FCPA in the Trump Administration (forthcoming)", Houston Bar Association, March 26, 2018.

"Parallel Criminal and Civil Litigation (with Karima Maloney)," Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, State Bar of Texas Advanced Civil Trial Course 2017.

"When the FBI Knocks at Your Door: Criminal Issues in Civil Litigation,"  Houston & San Antonio, State Bar of Texas, Advanced Evidence & Discovery Course 2017.

"Criminal Issues in Civil Litigation," Houston Bar Association, March 2017.

“The Fifth Amendment in Civil Litigation” (with Karima Maloney), Harris County Civil Judges’ Summer CLE Conference, August 2017.

"Not Guilty: The Deepwater Horizon Criminal Cases,"  Amarillo Area Bar Association, November 2016.

Moderator - "Parallel Proceedings: Litigating in the Shadow of a Criminal Investigation" - SKV Business Crimes CLE, October 2016.

Southwest Regional Update – Panelist, American Bar Association White Collar Criminal Law Conference, Miami, Fl., March 2014.




University of Texas Law School
J.D., with highest honors, 1999
Grand Chancellor
Order of the Coif
Editorial Board and Articles Editor, Texas Law Review

University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign
M.A., English, with honors, 1996

The University of North Dakota
B.A., English summa cum laude, 1994


Quinn Emanuel

Gerger & Clarke

Baker Botts

Law Clerk
to the Honorable Thomas R. Phillips, Chief Justice
Supreme Court of Texas


Isaak David

David -Isaak 

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Isaak Feature Story