Michelle Wilcox DeBarge


Michelle has spent over 25 years helping clients manage their legal risk so that they can focus on their mission and key business objectives.

A former executive in the nonprofit sector, Michelle chairs Wiggin and Dana's HIPAA Practice Group and co-chairs the Cybersecurity and Privacy Practice Group. She also chairs the Clinical Research Regulation and Compliance Practice Group and is a member of the firm's Health Care and Biotechnology and Life Sciences Practice Groups.

Highly regarded for analytical and people skills that supplement her depth of experience, Michelle advises national and international organizations—both well-established enterprises and startups—on a wide range of privacy/security and health information technology issues. These issues include state and federal privacy and security requirements; data breach and incident response; and health information exchange (including data management) in the context of integrations and affiliations. Michelle advises on the European Union's (EU's) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as on HIPAA and other U.S. and state privacy laws. Michelle holds the certifications of CIPP/U.S. (Certified Information Privacy Professional / U.S.) and CIPP/E (Certified Information Privacy Professional / Europe), both granted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals. She is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland/EU and is qualified to serve as a GDPR Data Protection Officer (DPO).

Michelle's health care and life sciences practice focuses on health care regulatory compliance and audits, HIPAA and related privacy requirements, clinical research regulation and clinical research contracting; and general operational matters in the health care regulatory area. Having represented providers in connection with Medicaid audits her entire career, she is respected by regulators and well-versed in both the legal and practical issues that need to be considered to ensure a favorable result. She represents a variety of clients in this area, including dentists, physicians, home health care agencies, DME providers, behavioral health providers and others. Michelle has also managed the legal contracting components of global clinical trials, including negotiating multi-million dollar/euro global clinical trial service agreements with contract research organizations. As noted above, Michelle also regularly applies her experience in health care data privacy, management and security outside of health care, to businesses in a range of industries with the same concerns.

Michelle is a Chambers USA ranked attorney. As one client put it, “The length and breadth of her legal knowledge and understanding of complex organizational issues is rare for any professional." Other clients have described Michelle as “very knowledgeable, approachable,” “very responsive and efficient,” and possessing “very good negotiation skills” with a “willingness to find solutions.” She is said to “always negotiate knowledgeably to put her clients in the most favorable position." Michelle has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2006 and as a Connecticut Super Lawyer since 2007. She has also been recognized in Best Lawyers in New England.

Before practicing law, Michelle was a program director with the American Cancer Society, where she worked with physicians, nurses, and other health professionals to implement rehabilitation and educational programs for cancer patients, health professionals, and the general public. She also supervised the communications program of a community-based health and social service agency.

Michelle lectures frequently on both the state and national level. She is a co-author of the "HIPAA Handbook: Implementing the Federal Privacy Rule in a Long-Term Care Setting," published by The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and is the author of "HIV-infected Physicians: The Duty to Disclose under the Informed Consent Doctrine," published in the University of Connecticut Law Review.

Michelle is a member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and the American Health Lawyers Association, and she serves on and is Chair-elect of the Board of Directors of Qualidigm. She also is former chair of the Advisory Committee on Patient Privacy and Security to the State of Connecticut's Health Information and Technology Exchange.

Michelle received her J.D. with high honors from the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she was the editor-in-chief of the University of Connecticut Law Review. She received a B.A. from Williams College and studied at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.


  • University of Connecticut School of Law  (J.D., 1993)
    • magna cum laude
  • Williams College  (B.A., 1987)

Bar Admissions

  • Connecticut
  • New York


  • Editor-in-Chief, Connecticut Law Review
  • Chambers USA, "Leading Individual," health care, since 2012
  • The Best Lawyers in America, health care, since 2006
  • Super Lawyer, health care, since 2007
  • The Best Lawyers in America, "Health Care Lawyer of the Year," 2012, 2016 and 2020

Memberships and Affiliations

  • American Health Lawyers Association
  • Applied Research Ethics National Association
  • Connecticut Health Lawyers Association
  • Connecticut Bar Foundation
    • James W. Cooper Fellow
  • International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP)
  • Qualidigm
    • Board of Directors