William E. Ridgway

William E. Ridgway

Partner, Co-Head, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy; White Collar Defense and Investigations; Litigation; Artificial Intelligence; Web3 and Digital Assets
William E. Ridgway is co-head of Skadden’s global Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Practice and a member of the Litigation Group. He is a former federal prosecutor with extensive trial and investigations experience who advises companies on their most sensitive cybersecurity, data privacy and white collar matters.


Mr. Ridgway has been recognized as a leading lawyer for crisis management, cybersecurity, data security incidents and high-stakes white collar matters by several industry outlets. He regularly leads the defense of investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, state attorneys general and other U.S. and foreign regulators. These investigations frequently involve matters related to cybersecurity and data breaches, financial fraud, trade secret theft, public corruption, antitrust violations, market manipulation (including spoofing) and the False Claims Act.

Mr. Ridgway has led the incident response and associated investigations for some of the most high-profile cybersecurity incidents in recent years, and his clients include financial institutions; technology, energy, insurance and health care companies; defense contractors; data brokers; and e-commerce retailers. He also is often retained to lead privacy and data security and technology class actions and litigations around the country.

Mr. Ridgway’s experience includes:

  • Data breach and ransomware response — advising Fortune 50 and other global companies in responding to ransomware attacks and other major cyber incidents
  • Government enforcement matters — representing businesses, their boards and executives in government investigations and enforcement proceedings brought by a range of U.S. and foreign agencies and regulators
  • Data privacy and technology litigation — defending companies in class action litigation related to cybersecurity incidents and other data privacy matters, which frequently involve complex and multijurisdictional issues
  • Internal investigations — conducting sensitive, complex internal investigations, enabling companies to take strategic action to manage crises, avoid regulatory actions and limit legal and reputational exposure
  • Trials and arbitrations — representing businesses and executives in high-stakes trials and arbitrations
  • Compliance and risk assessments — conducting compliance and risk assessments on behalf of global firms, in addition to advising these clients on cybersecurity incidents, data privacy and artificial intelligence issues
  • Crisis incident simulation and training — providing various crisis incident simulations and tabletop exercises for members of executive teams of international companies

In recognition of his work, Mr. Ridgway has been ranked as one of the top lawyers for cybersecurity and white collar matters globally, including repeatedly as part of Cybersecurity Docket’s Incident Response 50, which recognizes the “50 best data breach response lawyers in the business” (including in its 2024 edition). A fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, he has been selected to Global Investigations Review’s 40 Under 40 list of the world’s leading investigations lawyers and as one of Lawdragon’s 500 Leading Global Cyber Lawyers, 500 Leading Global Litigators and 500 Leading Lawyers in America. In addition, Chambers USA has repeatedly recognized Mr. Ridgway in its rankings and noted he is “increasingly called upon to represent clients in high-stakes white-collar proceedings, regularly handling complex investigations and cybersecurity matters.” Clients in Chambers also commented that Mr. Ridgway is an “effective advocate who can be trusted with sensitive matters,” is “so smart, so creative and incredible on his feet” and that he “is detail-oriented, a phenomenal writer and is excellent in court.” Additionally, he was named one of Crain’s Chicago Business’ 2023 Notable Litigators and Trial Attorneys and 2021 Notable Gen X Leaders in Law. 

Prior to joining Skadden, Mr. Ridgway was an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, where he served as the deputy chief of the National Security and Cybercrimes Section. In this role, he oversaw and managed all of the office’s cybercrime, data breach and intellectual property cases. During this time, Mr. Ridgway also held the positions of national security cyber specialist, computer hacking and intellectual property coordinator, and digital currency coordinator, handling cryptocurrency-related matters.

In his eight years as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Ridgway tried many cases and handled a wide range of high-profile cybercrime and intellectual property matters, including the prosecution of an international cybercrime ring responsible for stealing over $100 million, as well as prosecutions of the leaders of two prominent hacking groups for hundreds of cyberattacks that targeted businesses, nonprofits and government bodies around the globe. Mr. Ridgway also led the prosecution of the operators of one of the world’s largest online piracy rings.

Mr. Ridgway has received many awards and recognition throughout his career, including the Director’s Award for Superior Performance from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys for prosecut­ing an international racketeering enterprise (2015) and the Chicago Crime Commission’s Stars of Distinction Award for the prosecution of criminal enterprises operating in Chicago (2009 and 2010). In addition, he was selected as a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow in its 2017 class.

Mr. Ridgway has been a lecturer at University of Chicago Law School since 2011, where he teaches a class on cybercrime.



  • J.D., Stanford Law School, 2006 (with distinction; Articles Editor, Stanford Law Review)
  • B.S., Stanford University, 2003 (with distinction)


  • California
  • Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second and Seventh Circuits


  • Deputy Chief of National Security and Cybercrimes Section for the Northern District of Illinois (2014-16)
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (2008-14)
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Richard A. Posner, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (2007-08)
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Vaughn R. Walker, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (2006-07)

William E. Ridgway

Partner, Co-Head, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy; White Collar Defense and Investigations; Litigation; Artificial Intelligence; Web3 and Digital Assets