17 Top DC Attorney Hires by Big Law Firms

Wall Street powerhouse law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore planted its flag in Washington this year with a trio of partners who traded senior government jobs for Big Law.

The firm’s decision to open a Washington office, which initially included three partners who migrated from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., may have been the biggest of the “big deal” lawyer moves in DC this year.

Several notable moves from government to private practice happened throughout 2022. Former Biden administration legal heavyweights landed at large DC law offices, including former White House counsel Dana Remus, who joined Covington & Burling in early October, and Michael Huston, the former long-time assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General who joined Perkins Coie later that month.

The movers also included a pair of lawyers working on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol—Michelle Kallen and Marcus Childress—who both landed at Jenner & Block.

Increasing and wide-ranging cyber threats to corporations also spurred several prominent Big Law cybersecurity partner hires in Washington this past year.

Here are the top DC lateral moves from government in 2022, in reverse chronological order.

Jumping to Jenner

Jenner & Block landed two lawyers from the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S Capitol—Childress in November and Kallen in August.

Kallen, the former solicitor general of Virginia, works on Jenner’s appellate and US Supreme Court practice group as a partner.

Childress, an investigative counsel for the committee, was one of the first attorneys hired by the panel, where he conducted more than 60 depositions and interviews before leaving. At Jenner, he’s representing clients on congressional and other investigations, and he is handling civil litigation as a special counsel with the firm.

From SEC to Quinn

C. Dabney O’Riordan in November joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan after nearly two decades at the SEC, the last six years of which she spent as the head of the Asset Management Division.

In that role, she led a unit of about 60 lawyers specializing in how securities laws apply to private funds and asset managers. She also served as a founding member of the SEC enforcement division’s Climate and ESG task force. She will practice in the Los Angeles and Washington offices, according to the firm.

Betting the Company

Huston joined Perkins Coie’s DC office as a partner in October. While with the solicitor general’s office during both the Trump and Biden administrations, he argued nine cases before the US Supreme Court.

As co-chair of the firm’s appeals, issues, and strategy practice group, Huston is helping clients craft appellate strategies in “sensitive, bet-the-company matters,” according to his firm web page.

Cyber Challenges

Several Big Law firms responded in 2022 to a wave of computer hacks on corporations and new federal regulations promulgated as a result.

John Carlin landed at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in October as a partner in the firm’s DC office, where he’s co-leading its cybersecurity and data protection practice.

He previously served as a top adviser to Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. He noted in an interview that corporations were facing attacks from cyber-predators in ways they haven’t seen before.

Two other cybersecurity veterans, David Lashway and John Woods, in May switched from Baker McKenzie to Sidley Austin. Lashway arrived at his new firm as a co-leader of the firm’s privacy and cybersecurity practice.

Covington’s Win

Remus, White House counsel during the first 18 months of the Biden administration, in October joined Covington & Burling as a partner in the firm’s congressional investigations and white-collar defense practices.

Remus stepped into the position following stints working as the top lawyer for Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and in the White House, where she played an active role in the administration’s efforts focused on the federal judiciary. She helped lead the push to get Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed to the US Supreme Court, an event that made her the first Black woman to sit on the high court.

Antitrust Movers

A number of high-profile antitrust attorneys heeded the call to join the Justice Department as it prepares to take on new court cases against large companies.

Several also moved in the other direction, including Kathy O’Neill, who left DOJ’s antitrust division as its senior director of investigations and litigation to join Cooley as an antitrust and competition partner in DC.

Cravath Lands in DC

Cravath, unlike rival Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, ended its long run as a leading Wall Street-focused firm that avoided planting a flag in Washington. The firm in June opened a DC office with three high-ranking, former federal regulators, including two from the SEC and one from FDIC.

Jelena McWilliams, former chairman of the FDIC, is managing partner of Cravath’s new DC office. The new trio also include partners Elad Roisman and Jennifer Leete. Roisman is a former commissioner and acting chairman of the SEC, while Leete used to be associate director of enforcement at the agency.

The lawyers are advising firm clients on a range of matters, including financial services and fintech, corporate governance issues, and mergers and acquisitions.

Foreign Investments

David Plotinsky in February joined Morgan Lewis as a partner after 25 years in government, where he most recently served as acting chief and principal deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Foreign Investment Review Section.

In that role, he led the department’s work on matters relating to the Committee for Foreign Investment in the U.S., an interagency panel that conducts national security reviews of foreign investments and which has played a more active role in the deals environment in recent years.

WilmerHale’s Revolving Door

WilmerHale in January hired three former senior Federal Trade Commission officials, offering a significant boost to its competition practice in Washington as the Biden administration pushes forward an ambitious antitrust agenda.

The additions included Jennifer Milici, the former chief trial counsel for the FTC’s Bureau of Competition; Dominic Vote, an ex-assistant director who led review of mergers in areas such as semiconductors and software; and Frank Gorman, a nearly 25-year veteran of the agency who most recently served as deputy director of its Bureau of Consumer Protection.