President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team selected several attorneys hailing from the biggest law firms in the U.S. The selections include many attorneys with notable backgrounds in the federal government. Their federal government experience ranges from working within the White House to other important agencies such as the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, FBI, and NSA. The picks signal the potential for many personnel changes once Biden takes office.
These transition team members occupy a range expertise within different review teams dedicated to understanding and improving major federal departments such as the Department of Commerce, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice. Serving on a transition team has traditionally been an inroad to landing a high-level federal gig. Reviewing career background for transition team members can provide insight to personal connections and provides an opportunity to strike up a relationship with the right people before the buzz hits Washington.
The Department of Justice transition team includes:
Michael Scott Bosworth from Latham Watkins, who served several federal government positions and was most recently the Deputy Counsel to the President and Deputy Assistant to the President from 2014 to 2017. He also served as special counsel to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2013 to 2014. At the White House, Bosworth worked with many other Department of Justice officials and Cabinet agency general counsels on matters of regulatory issues, immigration, finance reform, and the Affordable Care Act. Among his accomplishments, he was named in the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 list in 2016 and in the National Law Journal as a Washington, D.C. Rising Star in 2015.
Before joining the federal government, Bosworth was a prominent U.S. Attorney for the SDNY having served as the co-chief of the complex frauds unit and the deputy chief of the public corruption unit. He was awarded the National Association of Former US Attorneys’ J. Michael Bradford Award for his services. Following law school, Bosworth got his start as law clerk under prominent judges including Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.
At Latham, Bosworth serves in the white-collar defense, and litigation and trial practices.
Danielle Y. Conley, a former Associate Deputy Attorney General in the DOJ, is co-chair of the anti-discrimination practice and a member of WilmerHale’s management committee. She specializes in education, regulatory litigation, and crisis management. Conley regularly represents companies and universities in matters of civil rights and anti-discrimination, providing guidance for diversity and inclusion, and leading culture reviews.
Conley has been involved in matters of constitutional law and civil rights, having represented the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus in the landmark Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder.
Rajesh De from Mayer Brown held many high-level positions at the Department of Defense. He previously served as the General Counsel at the U.S. National Security Agency from 2012 to 2015 and was the Staff Secretary and Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States from 2010 to 2012. During this time, De covered issues such as foreign intelligence and cybersecurity. In the White House, he managed all written material provided to the president.
Prior to the White House, De was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy in the DOJ, working on cases of civil rights, criminal justice, and national security. A national security expert, he was previously involved as a counsel to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission), and was the General Counsel on the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism in the United States Congress.
He rejoined Mayer Brown in 2015 as the managing partner of the firm’s Washington office and leader of the firm’s cybersecurity practice.
Chai R. Feldblum from Morgan Lewis joined the firm from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she was commissioner. Feldblum co-led the Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. Feldblum also provides guidance on harassment prevention and leads workplace culture reviews.
Prior to the EEOC, Feldblum was a professor at Georgetown Law in Washington, where she founded the school’s Federal Legislation Clinic to address social justice issues, and was co-director of the school’s Workplace Flexibility. She was also involved in the drafting of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.
At Morgan Lewis, Feldblum specializes in labor, employment and benefits practice and is a leader of the firm’s professional development efforts, having founded the firm’s Creating Respectful Workplaces initiative. She has been recognized as an Employment Law Trailblazer by The National Law Journal in 2020 and has achieved many awards including the Dan Bradley Award from the LGBT Bar, for her roles in legislation and administrative rulings for LGBTQ rights, and the Eleanor Roosevelt Prize for Human Rights from the American Bar Association.
Shirlethia Franklin from Jones Day was previously the Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2015 to 2017. In this capacity, Franklin served as a principal advisor to U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and supervised the Department of Justice’s grant-making components. Franklin was a key member in the environment and natural resources division, coordinating and counseling cases such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She also served as White House Liaison and Counsel to the Attorney General under U.S. Attorneys General Eric H. Holder and Loretta E. Lynch and worked on DOJ hiring and training initiatives.
At Jones Day, Franklin focuses on business and tort litigation, government regulation, and white-collar defense practices, and litigates many disputes involving the federal government.
Kathleen Hartnett from Cooley is a leader in trial and appellate practices, specializing in commercial, regulatory, and constitutional matters. Hartnett previously served in the Obama administration as the Special Assistant to The President and Associate White House Counsel from 2011 to 2013 and the Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division for the U.S. Department of Justice from 2014 to 2016. During this time, Hartnett led many high-profile cases involving the Affordable Care and Dodd-Frank acts and was a supervisor for cases involving the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Defense and the SEC.
At Cooley, Hartnett works within the firm’s appellate, commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, and white-collar defense practices. She regularly handles business litigation and counsels employment matters. In her pro bono work, Hartnett works on many complex cases such as immigration, voting rights, and other public policy issues.
Neil H. MacBride from Davis Polk is head of the firm’s Washington office and a co-chair in the firm’s white-collar defense and investigations practice. He joined the firm after serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. As a U.S. Attorney, MacBride oversaw high-profile involving constitutional challenges to the U.S. laws and regulations. In 2009, he was nominated by former President Obama and confirmed onto the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and went on to be appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee in where he chaired the Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee.
Notably, MacBride was also a member of Obama’s transition team in 2008. He got his start in Washington serving as chief counsel and staff director to then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. from 2001 to 2005, providing guidance on national security and counter-terrorism issues following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
At Davis Polk, MacBride has represented many global and multinational companies in congressional hearings and investigations before Congress. MacBride is an accomplished attorney recognized by the Legal 500 U.S. for his White-Collar practice and by the National Law Journal for his cybersecurity practice.
Paul M. Tiao is head of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s privacy and cybersecurity practice and the energy sector security team. He joined the firm after serving as the special counsel to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under Director Robert S. Mueller, focusing on issues of cybersecurity and technology.
Prior to the FBI, Tiao was a legislative assistant to Sen. Richard Durbin from 2007 to 2008, working on matters of criminal and national security. An accomplished cybersecurity attorney, Tiao prosecuted and oversaw cybercrime and Intellectual Property cases as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Maryland and is a member of Maryland Cybersecurity Council and Virginia Cyber Security Commission. Tiao has been recognized numerous times by the Legal 500 U.S. for his Cyber Law expertise.
The members of the Department of Justice Review Team are diverse and not new to working within the federal government. The diversity of these selections is perhaps indicative of the growing importance of diversity in the law field. It also shows the importance of diversity to the President-elect. These transition team members are representative of a variety of practice area expertise which include white collar defense, labor and employment law, and cybersecurity. This highlights a parallel between the transition team and big law on the growing importance of workplace issues and cybersecurity.
Other members from AM Law 200 include:
Jonathan Meyer of Sheppard Mullin is on the Department of Homeland Security Review Team. Meyer had previously been Deputy General Counsel for the Homeland Security under Obama. During his time at DHS, Meyer led the legal team on cybersecurity issues and advised and assisted on many data security issues that DHS and other federal agencies had faced. Meyer’s expertise is demonstrated in an article published on the legal risks faced by businesses receiving loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the amount of data released by the Department of Treasury. Meyer is joined by other Departmental Alumni Paul Rosen of Crowell & Moring and Robert Silvers of Paul Hastings. Rosen previously served as Chief of Staff to Secretary Jeh C. Johnson at the Department of Homeland Security. In this role, Rosen handled several complex challenges and investigations for DHS, and advised the White House and Secretary on issues from counterterrorism and data security to national security risks. Also, of note, Rosen had served as counsel to Biden from 2006 to 2009. Silvers was previously the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cyber Security in the Department of Homeland Security and is currently vice chair of Paul Hastings’ cybersecurity practice. In his role at DHS, Silvers was the most senior official for cybersecurity and was responsible for cyber defense, responding to cyber incidents and the pursuit of cyber law enforcement investigations. Prior to this role, Silvers was Deputy Chief of Staff at DHS, handling law enforcement activities, CFIUS proceedings, policy, litigation and operations in the department.
John Bentivoglio of Skadden, previously worked under Biden as a legislative assistant and professional staff member from 1986 to 1992. Bentivoglio is now working on the Department of the Treasury review team. His experience includes his time serving in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice. Holding roles such as Associate Deputy Attorney General, Special Counsel for Health Care Fraud and Chief Privacy Officer. In these roles, he advised on issues ranging from data privacy, cybercrime, health care and international crime matters.
He is joined by Charles Yi of Arnold & Porter, Yi previously served as General Counsel for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Prior to this position, Yi held many different positions on Capitol Hill, including staff director and chief counsel on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; chief counsel and deputy staff director for the Senate Banking Committee and counsel for the House Committee on Financial Services. Yi is a veteran of the US Army, having served as a Captain in the Armored Cavalry. At Arnold and Porter, this month, Yi held a webinar on navigating the post-election landscape focused on financial services.
Ken Choe of Hogan Lovells is serving the Department of Health and Human Services Review Team. Choe previously served as Deputy General Counsel and Counselor to the Office of the Health Reform at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Also, of note, Choe was the lead departmental counsel with regards to the ACA. He also served as special assistant to the General Counsel at HHS and served as a senior litigator and public policy advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Victoria Suarez-Palomo of Orrick is serving on the Federal Reserve, Banking and Securities Regulators review team. Suarez-Palermo worked on Obama’s Treasury Department transition team in 2009. She previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Business Affairs and Public Liaison at the Department of Treasury. She was a named to the “Top 30 under 30” for Policy by Forbes Magazine in 2011 and named “101 Most Influential Latinos” in policy by Latinos Leaders Magazine.
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Managing Director of Manatt Health, is also playing a key role as the team lead for the Department of Health and Human Services Review team. An expert in health policy, Brooks-LaSure was instrumental in the passing and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. She previously served as deputy director for policy at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and as director of coverage policy at HHS. In April 2020, Brooks-LaSure co-authored a Q and A on the federal governments response to the covid-19 pandemic.
With the selection of these top attorneys to the transition team, it is clear there will be many changes to fill the void from appointments at the top law firms in the country and to the entire federal government.
— Brian Beth contributed to this report.