Loretta Lynch, the first black woman to serve as U.S. attorney general, is joining Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison as a partner in its litigation department.
“I believe that she is one of the most highly regarded lawyers in the country,” said Paul Weiss chairman Brad Karp. “I think she’s going to be a unique asset to our clients and to the firm.”
Lynch, whose first official day at the firm is June 3, will represent corporations, boards of directors, and individual clients in federal and state government investigations, criminal prosecutions, and bet-the-company enforcement actions and other investigations.
In making her decision to rejoin a law firm, Lynch said its was important for her to find one that had strong practices, particularly within the white collar, investigations and crisis management space.
“I wanted to join a good team but I also wanted to be able to hopefully enhance a strong team,” Lynch said. “That’s definitely the Paul Weiss firm — it’s their ethos, it’s their work ethic, it’s their people, it’s their work — just top quality all the way through.”
But she also wanted a place that had a very strong commitment to social justice.
“I’ve been fortunate enough in my career both in private and the public sector to be able to work on fascinating ways to try and ensure justice, so I wanted a firm that would also give me the platform for those ventures,” she added.
Lynch will be resident at the firm’s New York headquarters but will work closely with its Washington office.
A former Cahill Gordon & Reindel associate, Lynch joined the Eastern District of New York as a drug and violent crime prosecutor in 1990. She then moved up to U.S. attorney, overseeing prosecutions across Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and Staten Island.
In 2001, she returned to private practice, becoming a partner at Hogan Lovells predecessor firm Hogan & Hartson, before heading back to the Eastern District in 2010. There she led public corruption cases against New York Rep. Michael Grimm, and former New York State Democratic officials Pedro Espada Jr. and William Boyland Jr. She also led the investigation into international soccer federation FIFA that resulted in the indictment of several senior officials.
She also served as a member of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2003-05 and as as special counsel to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Lynch became head of the Justice Department in 2015, nominated by then-President Barack Obama.
Over her two-year tenure, she worked to overhaul policing practices in Chicago, Baltimore and Philadelphia. She also oversaw the prosecutions of cybercrimes, financial fraud, and civil rights violations.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Lynch was criticized by some for her department’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Lynch is just the latest former U.S. attorney general to head to Big Law after serving as the chief lawyer for the federal government.
Eric Holder rejoined Covington & Burling as a partner in its litigation and investigations practice after he stepped down in 2015. Michael Mukasey, who served as U.S. attorney general from 2007-09 under President George W. Bush joined Debevoise & Plimpton as a litigation partner and now serves as of counsel at the New York firm.
Current Attorney General William Barr came to the post after practicing at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington.