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Orrick Hires Top S.F. Prosecutor as Litigation Head

Jan. 13, 2016, 10:19 PM

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe has hired the top federal prosecutor in San Francisco as head of its global litigation practice, the firm said on Wednesday.

Melinda Haag, who served as United States Attorney for the Northern District of California for five years, rejoins the firm as a partner on March 1, Orrick said in a statement. She will work out of the firm’s San Francisco office.

In rejoining Orrick, Haag replaces Stephen Foresta as head of the litigation department. Foresta served in the position since 2013, and before that, it was held by Walter Brown, one of Haag’s former colleagues when she worked at Orrick between 2003 and 2010.

“She will be helping drive strategy, attract talent and lead one of the largest business units in the firm,” said Brown, who first recruited her to Orrick in 2003 and again for her current role.

“When she told me she was stepping down, I made it my singular focus to try to recruit her back to the firm, at the exclusion of everything except client work,” Brown said.

Haag, who lead a team of more than 130 criminal and civil assistant U.S. attorneys, oversaw a number of cases while working for the Justice Department, including the prosecution of USA Performance Technology, Inc. and two individuals who a federal jury found stole trade secrets from E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company .

John Potter, an attorney at Quinn Emanuel Urqhart & Sullivan, who worked with Haag in the 1980s in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, described Haag as a “rare individual who is a fantastic attorney but achieves great success without any ego whatsoever.”

Haag was not immediately available for an interview. She said in a statement that it was an “honor to serve as United States Attorney, but I was able to leave after five years knowing that the public interests are in the hands of an extraordinary team of lawyers.”

She noted that she was impressed by Orrick’s growth during the time she was away, saying “they have clearly kicked it up another notch.”

Brown declined to disclose Haag’s compensation, but Orrick’s average profits per partner, according to The American Lawyer, are pegged at $1.6 million.

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