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Ex-Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia Returns to Gibson Dunn (1)

March 30, 2021, 7:16 PMUpdated: March 30, 2021, 8:01 PM

Eugene Scalia is returning to the partnership of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, where the son of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had worked before becoming the U.S. Secretary of Labor during the Trump administration.

Scalia will again co-chair Gibson Dunn’s administrative law and regulatory practice group, and he will advise clients on a broad range of regulatory, appellate, and labor and employment matters, the firm said.

Scalia took the reins at the Labor Department in September 2019 after former secretary Alexander Acosta resigned in the face of public criticism of his role in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. Acosta, a former Kirkland & Ellis associate, was the lead prosecutor a decade earlier when Florida hedge fund manager Epstein escaped the most serious charges stemming from his alleged teen sex ring.

Scalia was tasked with putting the finishing touches on a number of top Republican priorities during the Trump administration, several of which the Biden White House has signaled it will undo. He was also the face of the administration’s workforce policy during the Covid-19 pandemic, resisting calls to beef up requirements for employers to protect workers still punching in in-person as infections spiked.

Gibson Dunn is one of the most profitable law firms in the country, and Scalia was a highly paid partner there before entering government service.

He earned more than $6.2 million in income from Gibson Dunn the year before entering government, according to financial disclosures he made. In 2020, the average Gibson Dunn partner earned $4.125 million, The American Lawyer reported last month.

Scalia also disclosed that upon his departure from the firm he was eligible to receive nearly $26,000 a month in payments from a defined benefit plan run by the firm.

Scalia’s clients at Gibson Dunn included Bank of America, Chevron Corp., Facebook Inc., Juul Labs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Walmart Inc., according to the disclosures.

Scalia did an earlier stint at the Labor Department, serving from 2002 to 2003 as its solicitor, the principal litigator for the agency. He also served as special assistant to the U.S. Attorney General from 1992 to 1993. Apart from that, he has worked at Gibson Dunn, beginning at the firm in Los Angeles in 1990 and moving to its Washington office in 1993.

Scalia’s brother John is a fellow Big Law attorney, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig who represents employers in disputes with workers.

In a statement, Scalia said he looked forward to representing clients in high-stakes regulatory litigation and employment matters.

“Gene is one of our nation’s leading administrative law litigators and employment lawyers,” Ken Doran, chairman and managing partner at Gibson Dunn, said in a statement. “He is the only person who has served both as the Secretary of Labor and as Solicitor, the Department’s chief legal officer. This experience affords him unmatched and invaluable insights.”

As Scalia returns to private practice, he will confront a Labor Department that is decidedly more favorable to unions and concerns expressed by labor. His successor, former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was confirmed on March 22 as the 29th U.S. Labor Secretary, and the first in nearly 50 years to have been a union member.

Chris Opfer contributed to this article.

(Adds detail on Scalia finances, past government service, brother John Scalia, and predecessor Marty Walsh.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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