Nicole Vele Photo

Nicole Vele

Senior Counsel
Washington, D.C.
The Wharf
1000 Maine Avenue SW
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20024

Overview

Nicole is an attorney with substantial experience in government procurement, litigation, and dispute resolution. Her background includes more than 11 years managing government contracts and both civil and criminal litigation for the U.S. Air Force.

Prior to joining Michael Best, Nicole served as an Air Force Judge Advocate General. Most recently, she served as a member of the Acquisitions, Fiscal Law & Litigation Directorate where she managed nine government contracts attorneys in the review of over $9B in acquisitions and reduced litigation risk for more than 150 requirements worldwide.

As Chief of the Field Support Center at Joint Base Andrews, Nicole led a team providing expert legal advice to acquisitions professionals worldwide on a variety of contracting issues including solicitations, source selections, modifications, claims, terminations, contracting officer’s final decisions, and corrective actions.

Later, Nicole was hand selected to serve as Team Lead for the Commercial Litigation Field Support Center, was awarded the division’s Albert M. Kuhfeld Outstanding Young Judge Advocate award, and was honored as the Acquisitions, Fiscal Law & Litigation Directorate’s Field Grade Officer of the Year in 2021.

Additionally, Nicole prosecuted felony cases, supervised administrative litigation, and served as the primary legal advisor on a cross-functional team where she worked to debar fraudulent contractors performing substandard, unlicensed electrical work on military housing in Afghanistan.

Experience

During her time in the Air Force, Nicole handled the following matters:

  • Provided analysis and legal support for a $1.6B Space Development Agency requirement that fortified it against a pre-award protest.
  • Litigated multiple Government Accountability Office protests that resulted in dismissal within three days of submitting the government’s response.
  • Navigated Africa Command through the reinstatement of a vital fuel contract that had been improperly terminated and saved the federal government more than $1.5M.
  • Saved the federal government more than $6M and assisted the command in procuring facilities critical to retrograde operations.
  • Served as the sole Contracts & Fiscal Law legal advisor for Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. Reviewed 130 projects valued at more than $32.3M that increased force protection and allowed for mission expansion in Somalia.
  • Acted as lead counsel for 235 joint acquisitions professionals enabling the execution of a multi-billion dollar contracting mission for U.S. and coalition partners resulting in the expeditious procurement of surveillance systems vital for the 2014 Afghanistan Presidential election. Saved the Government over $6M and assisted the command in procuring facilities critical to retrograde operations.
  • Primary legal advisor on cross-functional team composed of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Army Criminal Investigative Division, DOD Inspector General, and the FBI, that identified fraudulent contractors performing substandard, unlicensed electrical work on military housing units in Afghanistan.
  • Prosecuted more than 50 felony cases that resulted in convictions for rape, aggravated assault, the possession, use, and distribution of illegal drugs, absence without leave, and larceny.

Served as the lead undercover officer in over 400 narcotics investigations that resulted in hundreds of felony convictions stemming from plea agreements.

Honors & Recognitions

  • Patricia A. Tobin Government Procurement Law Award Winner, 2021
  • Arnold & Porter LLP, Government Contracts Moot Court Competition, 1st Place Best Overall Competitor, 2021
  • Field Grade Officer of the Year, Department of the Air Force, Acquisitions, Fiscal Law & Litigation Directorate, Andrews AFB, Maryland, 2021
  • First Place Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, National Contract Management Association, DC Chapter, 2021
  • Albert M. Kuhfeld Award (Outstanding Young Judge Advocate) • Air Force Test Center • Edwards AFB, California, 2019
  • Field Grade Officer of the Year, 412th Test Wing, Wing Staff Agencies, Edwards AFB, California, 2019
  • Bridge Award, Antelope Valley Career Prep Council, Palmdale, California, 2019

Professional Activities

  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Vice Chair, American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section, Battle Space and Contingency Procurement Committee
  • Vice Chair, American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section, Commercial Products and Services Committee
  • Member, National Contract Management Association

Education

Bar Admissions

Court Admissions

Community Involvement

  • Attorney Coach, Highland High School Mock Trial Team, 2018 - present
  • Board of Directors, Autism Society of America
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