• Minnesota State University, B.S.
  • Willamette University College of Law, J.D.


  • District of Columbia
  • Washington
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims

Nicole Owren-Wiest


“Nicole is really special. She’s really effective, understands government disputes, and is very practical. She is very experienced and very strategic. She is very smart and knowledgeable. She provides phenomenal customer service and has been a great quarterback for our team. She has the highest legal skills.”—Chambers USA (2022)

“Nicole is a terrific [government contracts] lawyer. I’ve had the pleasure of working with and against her. She is a top-notch lawyer, and I highly respect her. When I see her on the other side, I know I have to bring my A game.”—Chambers USA (2022)

Nicole is nationally recognized in two of the most complex areas of government contracting: cost and pricing and intellectual property/data rights. She is one of only six lawyers recognized by Chambers USA in the “Cost Dispute Spotlight” for her depth of experience in cost accounting litigation.  Government contractors routinely turn to Nicole for strategic advice on high-value cost accounting disputes and claims, including multibillion-dollar disputes involving compliance with the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), cost allowability under the FAR Part 31 cost principles, and defective pricing claims under the Truth in Negotiations/Truthful Cost or Pricing Data Act.

While she is an accomplished litigator, Nicole’s main strength is her ability to combine thoughtful legal analysis with real-world practical advice. Clients turn to her as a trusted advisor and for her collaborative approach to resolving complex challenges, avoiding costly litigation, and being “really effective…very experienced…and very strategic.” Clients have commended Nicole for providing “phenomenal customer service,” for her sensitivity to business priorities, including “seeing beyond our immediate needs to help us address issues before they become risks or concerns, and for her ability to combine scholarly legal analysis with practical, solution-focused insight.”

Nicole regularly publishes and is a frequent speaker at government and industry events around the country on government contracts  legal developments. She is also frequently called upon to provide on-site training for legal and executive teams on a range of government contract topics.

In addition to a robust legal practice, Nicole is active in firm management. She is a member of Crowell & Moring LLP’s Government Contracts Group Steering Committee, chair of the firm’s Finance Committee, chair of the firm’s Security Committee, and a member (and former co-chair) of the firm’s Talent Development Committee. 


  • Chambers USA: Leading lawyer, Government Contracts (Band 2), 2014 – Present
  • Chambers USA: Special Recognition, Cost Accounting, 2021 – Present
  • Legal 500 United States: Leading Lawyer, Government Contracts, 2021–2022 
  • Acritas Stars Independently Rated Lawyers: Acritas Star, 2019, 2021 
  • Washingtonian: Top Lawyers, 2018 – 2019


Professional Activities and Memberships

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Procurement Council, 2013-Present

National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), Procurement Division

  • Contract Finance Committee

American Bar Association, Section of Public Contract Law

  • Vice-Chair, 2022 – Present, Acquisition Reform and Emerging Issues Committee
  • Program Co-Chair, Annual Meeting, 2022 
  • Former Co-Chair, 2008 – 2012; Vice-Chair, 2012 – Present; Accounting, Cost and Pricing Committee
  • Former Co-Chair, 2013 – 2016; Former Vice-Chair, 2016 – 2022; Research & Development and Intellectual Property Committee 
  • Editor-in-Chief, 2011 – 2019; The Procurement Lawyer

Representative Matters

Nicole’s counseling and litigation/dispute-resolution practice broadly includes Contract Disputes Act claims, REAs, DCAA cost and pricing audits, DCAA and DCMA business system reviews, TINA compliance and defective pricing investigations, False Claims Act investigations and litigation, data rights disputes, and general contract compliance. Nicole and her teams advise contractors of all sizes across numerous industry segments, including many of the top government defense contractors and small businesses preparing to perform their first federal contract. A sample of Nicole’s recent matters includes:

  • Ongoing representation of a major aerospace and defense contractor in an appeal before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) of a government claim seeking over $2 billion for alleged noncompliance with Cost Accounting Standard 420 due to its method of allocating independent research and development costs to government contracts (ASBCA No. 62094).
  • Ongoing representation of a major defense contractor in an ASBCA appeal of a government claim seeking recovery of allegedly unallowable costs incurred to continue contract performance during the COVID-19 pandemic (ASBCA No. 63233).
  • Ongoing representation of two major aerospace and defense contractors in separate appeals before the ASBCA involving the government's rights in contractor technical data and computer software (ASBCA Nos. 62496 and 62249 ).
  • Advising several different defense contractors in connection with separate pension segment closing adjustments under CAS 413.
  • Advising multiple defense contractors in pre- and post-COFD disputes involving allowability of costs under FAR Part 31 and in connection with pre-COFD allegations of noncompliance with CAS 403, 405, 410, and 418.
  • Successful zero-dollar resolution of a threatened government claim for $500 million for alleged noncompliance with CAS 410.
  • Successful settlement and full payment of the government’s share of a major contractor’s CAS 413 closing adjustment (totaling ~$16 million).
  • Successful, zero-dollar resolution of a pre-COFD $52 million government claim under a special “ price reopener” clause.
  • Successful ASBCA appeal of a $24 million government defective pricing claim for major defense contractor (government withdrew the claim).

Speeches & Presentations


Client Alerts & Newsletters

Press Coverage

Firm News & Announcements

June 15, 2022 Legal 500 United States Ranks Crowell & Moring in Eight Practice Areas in 2022 Guide
June 1, 2022 Chambers USA 2022 Ranks 70 Crowell & Moring Lawyers and 37 Practice Areas Among Best in U.S.
June 14, 2021 Legal 500 United States Ranks Crowell & Moring in Six Practice Areas in 2021 Guide
May 20, 2021 Chambers USA 2021 Ranks 63 Crowell & Moring Lawyers and 30 Practice Areas Among Best in U.S.
April 23, 2020 Chambers USA 2020 Ranks 53 Crowell & Moring Lawyers and 21 Practice Areas Among Best in U.S.
March 16, 2020 Fourteen Crowell & Moring Lawyers Named 2020 Acritas Stars
April 29, 2019 Chambers USA 2019 Ranks 53 Crowell & Moring Lawyers and 21 Practice Areas Among Best in U.S.
February 22, 2019 Law360 Names Crowell & Moring's Government Contracts Group a "Practice Group of the Year" for the Ninth Consecutive Year
May 9, 2018 Chambers USA 2018 Ranks 52 Crowell & Moring Lawyers and 24 Practice Areas Among Best in U.S.
November 30, 2017 Washingtonian Names Five Crowell & Moring Partners to 2017 "Top Lawyers" List
November 6, 2017 Nationally Recognized Government Contracts Lawyer Nicole Owren-Wiest Joins Crowell & Moring