News & Politics

Which Outgoing Obama Administration Officials Will Command Top Dollar?

A look at prospects for Obama's best and brightest legal talent.

Eric Holder and Kathryn Ruemmler.

Now that the President is into his second term, turnover in his administration is bound to increase—which means that competition for Obama’s best and brightest legal talent is heating up. The following Obama lawyers are among the most desirable private-practice prizes, and Washington legal recruiters estimate that their paychecks will be sizeable.

Eric Holder, US attorney general

Experience: Partner at Covington & Burling, where he made more than $2.5 million before leaving in 2009. Served as US deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton.

Prospects: His celebrity status, high-profile government career, and proven ability in private practice make him a low-risk, high-payoff investment for firms.

Expected Price Tag: Up to $5 million

Robert Khuzami, Enforcement director, SEC

Experience: Federal prosecutor in New York’s Southern District, where he pursued financial crimes. Before joining the SEC, he was a general counsel at Deutsche Bank.

Prospects: As the nation’s chief investigator of Wall Street wrongdoing, Khuzami—who left the SEC in January—gained insider perspective that financial clients will pay top dollar for.

Expected Price Tag: Up to $5 million

Meredith Cross, Corporation Finance director, SEC

Experience: Was chief counsel and deputy director of the Corporation Finance Division before joining WilmerHale as a securities partner in 1998.

Prospects: Cross, who left the SEC in December, had a leading role in rebuilding the agency post-Wall Street meltdown. Securities clients will clamor for her counsel.

Expected Price Tag: $2 million to $3 million

Lanny Breuer, Assistant US attorney general, Criminal Division

Experience: Partner at Covington & Burling, where he made more than $2.4 million before leaving in 2009. As special counsel to the President, he defended Bill Clinton during his Senate impeachment trial.

Prospects: The preeminent litigator oversees Justice’s 600 criminal prosecutors. Any white-collar defense practice would be lucky to have him.

Expected Price Tag: Up to $5 million

Donald Verrilli, US solicitor general

Experience: Cochair of the Supreme Court practice at Jenner & Block before joining the administration in 2009. Prior to becoming SG, he was associate deputy attorney general.

Prospects: Few government lawyers are as hotly pursued as the solicitor general. But Supreme Court practices aren’t typically moneymakers—a reason recruiters vary in their estimates for Verrilli.

Expected Price Tag: $2 million to $5 million

Kathryn Ruemmler, White House counsel

Experience: Most recently a partner at Latham & Watkins. Served in the Clinton White House and was a member of the Enron Task Force.

Prospects: Ruemmler, just 42, doesn’t have the profile of her recent predecessors. But her prestigious government and private practice experience make her an asset.

Expected Price Tag: $1.5 million to $2.5 million

This article appears in the February 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.