One giant leap for Nasa with first GC change in a decade

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has named a new general counsel for the first time in a decade following the retirement of current GC Michael Wholley.

The space agency’s deputy general counsel Sumara Thompson-King has taken on the top legal role, having been a deputy associate general counsel at Nasa since 1995.

She will be responsible for Nasa’s legal arm, known as the Office of the General Counsel (OGC), which is made up of over 170 staff and is headquarted in Washington DC.

The OGC is structured into four practice groups – commercial and IP law, contracts and procurement law, international law and general law, with each group managed by an associate general counsel.

The two most senior legal jobs at the agency are the general counsel and deputy, who work closely together alongside the associate general counsels for each practice area and the chief counsels at each Nasa centre.

It is not yet known if this structure will change following the promotion of Thompson-King, who has been working for Nasa since 1986.

She replaces retired Marine Corp Brigadier General Wholley, who joined Nasa in 2004 after previous GC Paul Pastorek returned to private practice. Nasa has had a general counsel in place for many years, with Edward Frankle retiring from the position in 2001 after 13 years in the job.

It is not yet known who will be replacing Thompson-King as Nasa’s deputy.