Corporate Law News

New Attorney General Bolsters Kirkland’s Influence at Justice

Feb. 14, 2019, 10:44 PM

Newly minted Attorney General William Barr is joining a cadre of former Kirkland & Ellis LLP attorneys working in the Justice Department leadership.

Barr, who was confirmed Feb. 14, is the fifth Kirkland alum now holding a top-ranked position at the DOJ — a number that may increase.

Barr plans to bring in Transportation Department Deputy Secretary Jeffrey Rosen, a 25-year Kirkland vet, as deputy attorney general, the New York Times reported Feb. 14. Rosen would need Senate confirmation and would replace current Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, who is expected to leave the post.

Barr joined Kirkland as of counsel in 2017, about eight years after an initial, short-lived run at the firm.

Former Kirkland attorneys sit atop both the Office of Legal Counsel — a legal adviser to the executive branch — and the Office of Legal Policy, two key offices overseen by the deputy attorney general.

Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel took charge of the Office of Legal Counsel in Nov. 2017. He spent more than three-and-a-half years at Kirkland before joining the DOJ as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in 2006.

Beth Williams spent about 13 years at Kirkland before assuming her role as assistant attorney general in Aug. 2017 overseeing the Office of Legal Policy.

One of the DOJ’s most active divisions is also led by a Kirkland alum. Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski steers the Criminal Division, and his former colleague while at Kirkland, Jeffrey Clark, serves as assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Kirkland isn’t the only global law firm that has alumni in DOJ leadership roles.

Former Jones Day partner Eric Dreiband was confirmed in Oct. 2018 as Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. DOJ Solicitor General Noel Francisco also served as a partner at Jones Day.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacob Rund in Washington at jrund@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com; Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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