Last night we wrote about some of the top-notch talent that will be filling senior legal positions in the Obama Administration. These are big names, and you probably also read about them in big publications, like the Legal Times or the Wall Street Journal.
ATL is willing to drill down deeper. We now bring you personnel news at more junior levels. If you graduated law school in the past 15 or even 10 years, you might actually know some of these people.
Our prior post focused on two of the most prestigious parts of the Department of Justice: the Solicitor General’s office, and the Office of Legal Counsel. We now turn our attention to two other top offices: the White House Counsel’s office, and the office of the Deputy Attorney General.
Over 300,000 people applied for 3,300 positions in the Obama administration. After going through a ridiculous screening process, these fine folks landed 20 of the most coveted legal jobs in the country.
See if you know any of them, after the jump.
A caveat: we believe these picks to be accurate, and many of them have been confirmed — either by other publications or by us, through direct contact with the individuals in question or close associates. But if you see an error, please email us. Thanks.
Obama has been praised — and sometimes criticized — for the elitism of his hires. Not surprisingly, in reviewing the names below, you’ll notice a few themes: legal academia, Supreme Court clerkships, and stints at law firms whose names start with “W” (especially WilmerHale, aka “the Democratic administration in exile”).
Office of the White House Counsel
As previously reported, President Obama has selected Gregory Craig — a prominent D.C. litigator and Williams & Connolly partner, perhaps best known for extracting President Clinton from the impeachment mess — as his White House counsel.
Deputy White House Counsels
Update / Correction (1/28/09): These hires have been confirmed by the White House. But we have an update and a correction.
The update is that Dan Meltzer will serve as the first among equals, or principal deputy (to be more precise, “Principal Deputy White House Counsel to the President and Deputy Assistant to the President”). The correction is that Norm Eisen’s title will be “Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform.”
Associate White House Counsels
Being an associate White House counsel is one of the best jobs a young lawyer can have. To get one, it helps to have previously held another one of the best jobs a young lawyer can have: a Supreme Court clerkship.
The rich get richer. As we previously wrote, “Supreme Court clerkships have become the Willy Wonka golden tickets of the legal profession. So many top-shelf opportunities within the law, such as tenure-track professorships and jobs in the SG’s office, are… reserved for members of the Elect.”
Susan Sher, the vice president for Legal and Governmental Affairs and General Counsel at the University of Chicago Medical Center will be an associate counsel to President elect Barack Obama. Sher is a close friend of Michelle Obama — and her boss at the U of Chicago — as well as Valerie Jarrett — incoming White House adviser…. Sher served as Mayor Daley’s Corporation Counsel between 1993 and 1997, where she worked in City Hall with Jarrett.
Oh, and she’s a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago School of Law. So it’s nice to know the Obama administration is open to people who didn’t go to Harvard / Yale / Stanford or clerk for a Supreme Court justice.
Office of the Deputy Attorney General
As previously announced, President Obama has selected David Ogden — shockingly enough, a partner at WilmerHale and former Supreme Court clerk (OT 1982 / Blackmun) — as Deputy Attorney General, the number two official at the DOJ.
As first reported by ATL, the principal assistant deputy attorney general, or number two to the number two, will be Kathryn Ruemmler. Ruemmler is a former Enron prosecutor turned Latham & Watkins partner.
Here are other members of the ODAG team:
The Obama Administration clearly places a premium on pedigree, at least in its legal hires. There’s not a Regent Law School grad in sight. An H-Y-S law degree and a federal circuit court clerkship seem to be the minimum credentials required for entry. A Supreme Court clerkship is practically a prerequisite.
Will this impressive brain trust ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice? Time will tell. For now, congratulations and good luck to the distinguished lawyers listed above.
Update (1/28/09): For additional hiring news, please see Musical Chairs: More Additions to the White House Legal Dream Team.