David T. Ralston Jr



David T. Ralston, Jr. is a partner and business lawyer in the Washington, D.C. office of Foley & Lardner LLP where his practice focuses on government contract litigation and counseling; rail and air transportation; and national and homeland security. He chairs Foley’s Government Solutions Practice.

David has handled virtually all aspects of government contracts, including bid and small business size protests, claims, defective pricing, intellectual property, qui tam litigation, and Cost Accounting Standards matters. He has successfully brought and defended more than a hundred bid protests, including representing Jordanian and Lebanese contractors in protests, and obtaining preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, and an award of attorneys fees, against the FBI in WHR Group, Inc. v. United States, 115 Fed. Claims 386 (2014). He has defended government contractors, both U.S. and foreign, against fraud and bribery charges, notably including coordinating corporate investigations, voluntary disclosures to the Justice and Defense Departments, and represented firms in debarment/suspension proceedings at numerous federal agencies. Mr. Ralston and a Foley team represented International Relief and Development in a successful effort to have a suspension enjoined and declared void ab initio in International Relief and Development v. United States Agency for International Development, 15-cv, 854-RCL (D.D.C. 2015). He has represented clients in 5th Amendment takings, money-mandating, and illegal exaction claims before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, including a settlement for more than $200 million.

In recent years, besides bid protests, David has been particularly active in matters concerning international and U.S. domestic content laws, such as the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement, Buy America/Buy American laws, the Berry Amendment, the Trade Agreements Act, U.S.-Canadian cross-border tax and trade matters, and international trade negotiations. He has also presented to European parliamentary and procurement leaders at the EU Parliament in Brussels on U.S. perspectives concerning how government procurement can be employed to spur innovation.

In rail transportation, David represents a leading Class I railroad, a major commuter rail carrier and shortline railroads on federal regulatory, legislative and compliance matters. In aviation, he has represented and advised a number of major U.S. airports on federal regulatory and grant assurance requirements, particularly in the security arena, and previously served as vice chair of the Federal Bar Association’s Transportation and Transportation Security Law Committee.

From 1980 to 1984, David served on active duty with the U.S. Army as a prosecutor and appellate attorney, handling over 100 courts-martial, including more than 30 contested cases. From 1984 to 1994, he served as a military judge in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Thought Leadership

David lectures and writes on government contracts matters, and is the co-author of an annually updated series of three Practice Notes in Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law entitled, "Government Contracts: Agency, GAO, and COFC Bid Protests". He is the lead author of "The Foley & Lardner Guide to Federal Procurement Protests" available in the Intelligence section on Foley.com and published as part of "Inside The Minds: The Impact of Recent Changes in Government Contracts," Aspatore Books, 2011.


David has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system. In 2011 - 2013, he was named one of America’s Leading Lawyers in the area of government contracts by Chambers USA, and in 2010 The Legal 500 cited him for his knowledge of government contracts issues and client availability. In 2013 - 2017, he was selected for inclusion in the Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers® lists for his work in government contracts, transportation/maritime and government relations.


Virginia Governors George Allen and James Gilmore appointed David to the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. He was elected as chairman of the board from 1997-2000, and served as vice chairman and chair of several committees. In 2010, Governor Robert McDonnell appointed him to the board of trustees of the Southern Growth Policies Board, a non-partisan public policy think tank focused on advancing effective economic development policies in 13 Southern states.


A law graduate of Georgetown University (J.D., 1979, cum laude), David received his B.S.F.S. degree from Georgetown University – School of Foreign Service (1976). He is a graduate of the Army War College National Security Seminar (2007).

Admissions and Professional Memberships

David is admitted to the bars of the District of Columbia, Virginia and New York, and served from 2008-2011 on the Litigation Section Committee of the D.C. Bar. He serves on the United States Court of Federal Claims Advisory Council, and previously has served on the board of the Federal Circuit Bar Association. He is admitted to practice before the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Armed Forces, the Federal, Fourth, Sixth and District of Columbia Circuits. He is also admitted before the U.S. District Courts for the District of Columbia, the District of Maryland, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. 

David previously chaired the Advisory Committee of the Catholic Charities Legal Network, which provides pro bono legal services to the needy in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and serves on the John Carroll Society’s Red Mass Committee, which sponsors the annual Red Mass in Washington. He serves as pro bono counsel to the Gregorian University Foundation, which supports the work of the Gregorian University in Rome. He and his wife Mary have three children and five grandchildren.