News & Politics

Robert Mueller Is Back in Private Practice at WilmerHale

Two other lawyers from the special counsel's office have rejoined the firm, too.

Robert Mueller pictured in 2013. (Photo courtesy UPI/Kevin Dietsch via Creative Commons License.)

The law firm WilmerHale announced Tuesday that former special counsel Robert Mueller has rejoined its partnership, where he will focus on “high-profile investigations and crisis management” as he did before leaving private practice to head the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“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,” said Mueller in a statement.

In February, while the special counsel’s investigation was still well underway, Washingtonian asked legal recruiters what kind of payday Mueller was likely to command upon a return to Big Law. Their estimate: somewhere in the range of $5 million in annual compensation. (Before he left the firm to become special counsel, Mueller made nearly $3.5 million, according to his financial disclosure form.)

Two other members of the special counsel’s team, James Quarles and Aaron Zebley, have also returned to Wilmer as partners. Just as Mueller did, they left in May 2017 for the special counsel’s office. There, Quarles was the team’s main contact with the White House and Zebley often served as an intermediary with senior Justice Department officials, according to a New York Times who’s who of the office.

Mueller’s return to Wilmer marks his third stint at the law firm or one of its predecessor firms. He was a partner at WilmerHale for three years before his appointment as special counsel. He was also a partner at Hale and Dorr, which eventually merged with another firm to create WilmerHale, from 1993 to 1995. In between, he was the longest-serving FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover.

“Few lawyers have been entrusted with as many matters of national significance as Bob,” said WilmerHale’s co-managing partner Robert Novick in the statement announcing his return. “We’re privileged to work alongside him once again.”

Senior Editor

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