Law School Alumni Earn Presidential Appointments

Winter 2009

With key government positions to fill, President Barack Obama, a Columbia College
graduate, did not stray far from his alma mater. Five Columbia Law School alumni have joined the 44th president in his new administration.

Eric H. Holder Jr. ’76, a partner at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., has become the first African-American attorney general of the United States. Holder, who served as deputy attorney general under President Clinton, said he looks forward to a few games of pickup basketball at the White House. “I’m not sure [Obama’s] ready for my New York game,” he joked.

Joining Holder in the new administration is fellow Covington & Burling partner Lanny A. Breuer ’85, who was nominated as attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division. Breuer, who has represented President Clinton and baseball star Roger Clemens, could inherit a number of ongoing investigations, including the probe into the Bernard Madoff scandal. Jeh C. Johnson ’82, a partner in the New York office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, returns to government work as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense. Johnson was previously general counsel to the Department of the Air Force under President Clinton.

Antony “Tony” Blinken ’88, the former staff director of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, secured a position within the administration as national security advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden. And drawing directly from the Columbia Law School faculty, Obama selected Trevor W. Morrison ’98 to become associate counsel to the president. In this role, which requires a one-year public service leave from Columbia, Morrison will advise the president on a range of legal issues.