David J Apfel, Goodwin Procter LLP Of Counsel, practices Complex Business Litigation and Dispute Resolution

David J. Apfel

Of Counsel
David J. Apfel
+1 617 570 1970

David Apfel is Of Counsel in Goodwin's Complex Business Litigation and Dispute Resolution department. David is a former federal prosecutor who specializes in white collar criminal defense, SEC and other government investigations, internal corporate investigations, and bet-the-company civil business litigation. David is also the founder and chair of the firm’s Gaming & Gambling practice, and the founder and co-chair of the firm’s Cannabis practice. He has been regularly recognized by Chambers USA as a leading white collar criminal defense attorney, and he is perennially recognized in The Best Lawyers in America and as a “Super Lawyer” by Boston Magazine. He is a trial lawyer who represents corporations and individuals in an array of criminal and civil cases, ranging from Medicaid fraud to first degree murder, and insider trading to multi-billion dollar mortgage-backed securities litigation. He is also a trusted adviser to gaming and gambling companies, and to investors, banks, and others involved or considering involvement in state-legalized cannabis markets. David also has an active pro bono practice in which he represents indigents in federal criminal cases and state murder prosecutions.


David has defended Fortune 100 companies and other major corporations and individuals in public corruption, securities fraud, insider trading, health care fraud, stock option backdating, perjury, false statement, conflict of interest, money laundering, and other criminal prosecutions and investigations. He has likewise represented corporations and individuals in a range of civil cases involving the False Claims Act, excessive fees, civil RICO, breach of contract, land use and alleged banking irregularities. He also regularly represents and advises both established and start-up online and brick & mortar gaming and gambling companies in regulatory matters and with regard to the legality of their products. And he regularly represents and advises every level of participant in state-legalized cannabis markets across the country. David's recent representations include:

  • Bank of America in residential mortgage backed securities litigation;
  • Citizens Bank in connection with its provision of banking services to online gaming and sports betting operators;
  • Crown Resorts Limited — served as an expert witness on gaming and gambling matters on behalf of Crown in an Inquiry by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority for New South Wales, Australia
  • Rush Street Gaming in matters before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission;
  • Steve Wynn personally in matters before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission;
  • DraftKings on the legality of its offerings, and in regulatory investigations;
  • Pacific Western Bank in connection with regulatory compliance matters related to its provision of banking services to online gaming operators;
  • Southern Sky Renewable Energy-Rhode Island and its founder and CEO in trademark infringement and breach of fiduciary duty litigation;
  • Gotham Green Partners and Senvest Management in regulatory matters before state cannabis authorities, and in connection with investments in multi-state cannabis operators;
  • Consummate Holdings in matters before the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, and in connection with investments in the cannabis industry;
  • A California Cannabis Dispensary in merger and acquisition, and regulatory matters
  • Several New England banks in connection with establishing their cannabis programs;
  • An internationally prominent investment advisory firm in multiple matters including advice on potential cannabis-related investments;
  • A Massachusetts cannabis licensee in state regulatory investigations;
  • Fidelity Real Estate Company in real estate appraisal litigation — see Buffalo-Water 1, LLC v. Fidelity Real Estate Company, LLC, 481 Mass. 13 (2018)
  • A pharmaceutical company in a False Claims Act investigation conducted by the Massachusetts Attorney General concerning purported violations of Medicaid regulations with regard to the automatic refilling of prescription medications;
  • A top five international bank in an internal investigation concerning allegations that the bank corruptly attempted to influence state attorneys general to dismiss litigation involving the bank’s foreclosure practices;
  • A software development company in an internal investigation and related federal criminal and civil investigations regarding allegations that the company may have engaged in fraud and potential espionage;
  • A Fortune 50 company in connection with a federal grand jury fraud and tax evasion investigation;
  • A major financial services company in an internal investigation regarding the company’s efforts to diversify into the energy business, including allegations that the company had engaged in sharp practices with tribal nations;
  • A major New England manufacturer in an internal investigation examining a whistleblower’s allegations of fraud and violations of GAAP on the part of the company’s Finance Department;
  • A major mutual fund company in connection with an SEC investigation concerning conflicts of interest relating to the firm's securities trading desk;
  • A law firm and several individual partners of the firm in a stock options backdating investigation focused on one of the firm's clients and that client's CEO; and
  • A major university in a False Claims Act and breach of contract case involving work done by the university under contract abroad with USAID.

As part of David’s criminal defense pro bono practice, he has successfully defended numerous individuals charged with federal felonies and state first degree murder, and has argued and won appellate cases in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court including: (i) Commonwealth v. Cowels, 470 Mass. 607 (2015) (reversed murder conviction); and (ii) Commonwealth v. Costa, 472 Mass. 139 (2015) (resentencing obtained for juvenile convicted of double homicide).

Professional Activities

David is an active member of two panels from which attorneys are selected to defend indigents in serious criminal cases: (i) the Massachusetts State "Murder List"; and (ii) the U.S. District Court's Criminal Justice Act Panel. He sits on the Board of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (the Massachusetts Public Defenders) as a selectee of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. David is also a member of the Boston, Massachusetts and American Bar Associations.

David regularly speaks at conferences and on webinars, and writes articles regarding criminal defense and government investigations, online fantasy sports and other gaming and gambling matters, and issues pertaining to the emerging legalized cannabis industry.

Professional Experience

Prior to law school, David was a high school English, history and social studies teacher for 10 years (1975-1984) at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School in Sudbury, Massachusetts. From 1988-1994, he was a litigation associate at Goodwin. In 1994, he joined the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston where he prosecuted public corruption, securities fraud and other federal crimes until 1999 at which point he rejoined Goodwin as a partner in the Litigation Department.

David also served as a prosecutor in the Iran Contra investigation conducted by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh.




Northeastern University School of Law


Swarthmore College


U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Honorable Douglas P. Woodlock



  • Massachusetts


  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Recognition & Awards

  • David has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America Best Lawyers for his work in Criminal Defense: White-Collar 2022-2023.
  • Legal 500 2021-2023 Recommended Lawyer for Cannabis;
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Business Lawyers; Best Lawyers in America; and Massachusetts Super Lawyers (Boston Magazine);
  • John Marshall Award (1997), the U.S. Department of Justice's highest award for trial work;
  • Youth Advocacy Foundation Commitment to Justice Award (2015) for work helping to change the law re: juvenile justice in Massachusetts;
  • Goodwin’s Robert B. Fraser Award for pro bono service.