Kirkland Hires Back DOJ’s Criminal Division Leader Benczkowski

Sept. 1, 2020, 3:08 PM

Brian Benczkowski is returning to Kirkland & Ellis after a two-year stint leading the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, a position that saw him spearhead efforts to prosecute coronavirus-related fraud and issue guidance on corporate compliance programs and monitors.

Benczkowski, who oversaw more than 600 attorneys at DOJ, left the department in early July. He returns to Kirkland, where he was a partner from 2010 to 2018.

Brian Rabbitt, a former Williams & Connolly associate and chief of staff to Attorney General William Barr, replaced Benczkowski.

Barr, another former Kirkland partner, credited Benczkowski’s work combating the opioid crisis by employing a new data analytics approach.

Benczkowski’s confirmation for the DOJ post was highly contested, with only one Democrat senator voting to confirm him after his work in private practice for a Russian bank came under scrutiny. Democrats also said he lacked federal courtroom experience, but Benczkowski countered that the job mostly concerned management and leadership responsibilities.

The DOJ criminal division under Benczkowski’s watch issued guidance describing what the department would consider an effective corporate compliance program. It also developed a policy to consider the “costs and burdens” that a compliance monitorship would impose on a business before using the oversight tool.

Kirkland is the country’s largest law firm by revenue, according to AmLaw rankings, with more than $4 billion in 2019 revenue. Its share partners last year earned nearly $5.2 million on average.

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

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

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