A&O and CC partners among lawyers working behind the scenes on Trump transition team


They hail from Washington DC, the Rust Belt, Manhattan and Texas, with titles ranging from associate to partner. They specialise in the Department of Justice, national intelligence, financial regulation, currency, education and labour. The nearly four dozen lawyers who are advising President-elect Donald Trump’s executive branch transition bring a wealth of legal backgrounds.

As in past presidential transitions, the lawyers donate their time for a mix of reasons, including political conviction and party loyalty. They’re also positioning themselves to know the players – or to become the players – in the next administration.

It’s a game of DC connections. Even though these lawyer volunteers aren’t lobbyists, every one of their firms represents corporate interests.

Some of the lawyers’ names are unsurprising, but others are less expected (see full list at the end).

The list includes three magic circle lawyers – Allen & Overy (A&O) Washington DC partner Heath Tarbet, who was recruited from Weil Gotshal & Manges three years ago; Clifford Chance (CC) New York litigation partner Edward O’Callaghan, who joined the firm from Nixon Peabody in 2011; and CC associate Kaitlyn Ferguson.

There are five Jones Day lawyers – the most from any single firm. That group includes Washington DC partner Donald McGahn, who will be Trump’s White House counsel, and fellow DC partner Gregory Katsas, who could be the next US solicitor general.

Kirkland & Ellis counts three transition volunteers. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, McGuireWoods, Latham & Watkins and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher each have two lawyers volunteering.

Hunton & Williams’ Washington office managing partner David Higbee is advising on the Justice Department transition. Ralph Ferrara of Proskauer Rose, a former Securities and Exchange Commission general counsel who had a front-row seat to the collapse of his former firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf, is advising the transition on the Federal Reserve Board

Some are offering advice on more than one agency team. A&O’s Tarbert volunteers on the transition for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Thomas Wheeler of Frost Brown Todd in Indianapolis advises on Justice and on the Department of Education, while Cahill Gordon & Reindel DC partner Bradley Bondi consults on Export-Import Bank issues.

All Big Law lawyers working on the transition donate their time. (One, Robert MacKichan of Holland & Knight, is listed by the transition as a privately funded adviser. He said he should have identified himself to the transition team as a volunteer but did not because he is still employed by his firm. He reports his time working on the transition as non-billable hours to Holland & Knight.)

One Big Law affiliate, Nova Daly of Wiley Rein, is not a lawyer. A registered lobbyist, he worked for Century Aluminum, steelmaker Nucor, Solarworld Industries America and US-based rebar and aluminum industry groups in 2016, according to lobbying disclosures, and he holds the title of senior public policy adviser at the regulatory law firm. His involvement appears to flout the transition’s policy that bans lobbyists.

Three lawyers on the list also registered as federal lobbyists in 2016: Matthew Morgan of Barnes & Thornburg, who lobbies for local governments in the Midwest; Mark Paoletta, formerly of DLA Piper, who lobbied for Oracle Corp and the PGA Tour on tax issues and the Affordable Care Act; and Reed Rubinstein of Dinsmore & Shohl, who lobbies for the victims and survivors of the Fort Hood mass shooting.

Both Paoletta and Morgan may be among the closest to Trump’s White House inner circle, as they are advising on the transition in the Executive Office of the President. Several other transition volunteers worked as lobbyists in previous years, especially for energy, steel and other US manufacturing industries.

The list of Am Law affiliates at work on the transition is below. It is culled from the 4 January list of Agency Landing Teams provided by the transition.

Alexander Cohen, Latham & Watkins, partner
Andrew Davis, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, associate
Benjamin Powell, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, partner
Bimal Patel, O’Melveny & Myers, partner
Bradley Bondi, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, partner
Brian Benczkowski, Kirkland & Ellis, partner
Chad Mizelle, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, associate
David Higbee, Hunton & Williams, Washington DC managing partner
Don McGahn, Jones Day, partner
Edmund Searby, Baker Hostetler, partner
Edward O’Callaghan, Clifford Chance, partner
Eric Dreiband, Jones Day, partner
Eric Hargan, Greenberg Traurig, shareholder
Greg Katsas, Jones Day, partner
Heath Tarbert, Allen & Overy, partner
Patrick Rowan, McGuireWoods, partner
James Burnham, Jones Day, associate
James Lloyd, Sidley Austin, former attorney
Jeff Gerrish, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, partner
Jeffrey Dinwoodie, Davis Polk & Wardwell, associate
Jessie Liu, Morrison & Foerster, partner
John Moran, Kirkland & Ellis, partner
Kaitlyn Ferguson, Clifford Chance, associate
Keith Noreika, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, partner
Marcus Lemon, Polsinelli, shareholder
Mark Paoletta, DLA Piper, former attorney
Matthew Martens, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, partner
Matthew Morgan, Barnes & Thornburg, partner
Michael Battle, Barnes & Thornburg, partner
Nicholas Matich , Kirkland & Ellis , associate
Nova Daly, Wiley Rein, senior public policy adviser
Paul Lettow, Jones Day, partner
Paula Stannard, Alston & Bird, project attorney
Ralph Ferrara, Proskauer Rose, lawyer
Reed Rubinstein, Dinsmore & Shohl, partner
Robert Lighthizer, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, partner
Robert Mackichan, Holland & Knight, partner
Robert Tompkins, Holland & Knight, partner
Ronald Tenpas, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, partner
Sean Cunningham, Balch & Bingham, partner
Stephen Vaughn, King & Spalding, partner
Steven Engel, Dechert, partner
Tad Lipsky, Latham & Watkins, partner
Thomas Feddo, Alston & Bird, partner
Thomas Wheeler, Frost Brown Todd, principal
Todd Steggerda, McGuireWoods, partner