Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates has joined King & Spalding as a partner, where she will head up an independent investigations team.
Yates is returning to the the law firm—and the practice—where she cut her teeth as a young attorney, before spending 27 years in the Department of Justice. As an associate, Yates worked with former Attorney General Griffin Bell on an investigation into the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
In her new role, Yates will lead independent investigations into corporations. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has a similar position. In that role he has tackled several cases, including an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct at Uber.
“The practice really draws on so much of the work I’ve been doing my entire career at DOJ,” Yates told Bloomberg Law May 8.
Yates began her government service in 1989 as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District Georgia. She was appointed U.S. Attorney for that district in 2010, and became Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. in 2015.
Yates stayed on as Acting Attorney General following the election of Donald Trump, but was dismissed by the President just days into his term after she refused to defend his “travel ban” executive order.
Yates spent the last year as a distinguished lecturer at Georgetown University Law Center, where she taught classes on public policy.
Since leaving the DOJ, Yates has been openly critical of the Trump administration. In a July 2017 op-ed for the New York Times, Yates wrote that “the president is attempting to dismantle the rule of law, destroy the time-honored independence of the Justice Department, and undermine the career men and women who are devoted to seeking justice day in and day out, regardless of which political party is in power.”
Asked by Bloomberg Law for her current take on the DOJ under the Trump administration, Yates demurred. “Today, I’m trying to focus on the next step,” she said.
But she expects to continue “speaking on and being involved in things like criminal justice reform and the importance of the Justice Department.”