Robert Mueller III is rejoining Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, the law firm where he was a partner before being appointed special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mueller will be joined in his return to the firm’s Washington office by James Quarles and Aaron Zebley, who both left the firm in May 2017 to be part of Mueller’s team.
“I’m glad to be at WilmerHale once again, a firm with a tradition of honoring public service,” Mueller said in a statement. “It was an honor to serve as special counsel. Now, I look forward to resuming my private practice alongside the talented lawyers at the firm.”
Mueller’s practice will focus on high-profile investigations and crisis management, which is similar to his practice at WilmerHale before he left to take the special counsel role in 2017. Mueller’s report from his nearly two-year investigation was released in April.
Mueller’s highly public and controversial tenure as special counsel was a familiar return to government service for the former FBI director who held that title from 2001 to 2013, longer than anyone other than J. Edgar Hoover.
While the majority of Mueller’s career has been in government, he has a history at WilmerHale that dates back to one of its predecessor firms, Hale and Dorr. Mueller was a partner there from 1993 to 1995. The firm merged with Wilmer Cutler Pickering in 2004, and Mueller joined what is now WilmerHale in 2014.
Practicing there from 2016 to mid-2017, Mueller made nearly $3.5 million representing clients like Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., the National Football League and Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., financial disclosures he filed as part of his government role show.
He also was popular on the speaking circuit, giving paid presentations to the likes of Goldman Sachs, Ford Motor Co. and Citi.
“Our firm is well-known for being a place where many people who have served in government come and return,” WilmerHale co-managing partner Robert Novick told Bloomberg Law. “It’s a firm that is known for doing very high-profile, high-stakes investigations work of all different sorts. It’s a platform that makes perfect sense for someone with his background and what he’s done.”
‘A Talent Business’
The end of the Special Counsel’s work has been opened the doors for a Big Law talent grab as attorneys on the team disperse, sometimes to their old firms or to new ones. .
Jeannie Rhee, who left WilmerHale for the Special Counsel’s office in 2017, joined Paul Weiss in June.
Davis, Polk & Wardwell re-hired partner Greg Andres after he worked on Mueller’s team and Cooley picked up former Paul Weiss attorney Andrew Goldstein, who also worked with Mueller. Zainab Ahmad, a longtime terrorism prosecutor, joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in New York after leaving the Special Counsel.
The Mueller investigation ultimately led to charges against more than 30 individuals. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort received a more than seven-year prison sentence for felony charges brought by Mueller’s team.
Mueller’s largest work product, a nearly 450-page report detailing his findings, became the focus of intense partisan scrutiny when it was initially only summarized by Attorney General William Barr.
Mueller sent Barr a letter expressing displeasure with that summary in a rare public reaction to the controversy swirling around his work.
“It’s nice to see him now live and in color,” Novick said of Mueller. “He’s a friend, a colleague, a partner, and someone in our view of great accomplishment. We’re a talent business and he is a talent. We’re delighted to have him back.”