DoJ criminal division chief returns to Covington

US Department of Justice (DoJ) official Lanny Breuer is to rejoin Covington & Burling in the newly created role of vice-chairman after spending four years as head of the DoJ’s criminal division.

Breuer joined Barack Obama’s administration with Covington colleague Eric Holder, who remains US attorney general, in 2009. Since then he has been involved in a string of high-profile prosecutions, including sentencing one of the richest men in America, Allen Stanford, to 110 years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme, as well as overseeing eight of the top 10 largest penalties in US history, including a $4bn criminal fine against BP for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The 54-year old, thought to be one of the longest-serving criminal division chiefs in history, left the position earlier this month and officially starts at Covington’s Washington DC office today. He was initially reported to have left because of issues relating to a weapons-smuggling operation dubbed ‘Fast and Furious’. However, Breuer told The Lawyer that the allegations were “completely false” and had nothing to do with his move.

The vice-chairman role is a new one for the US firm, with Breuer telling The Lawyer that he expects the role to “evolve naturally” as he looks to expand relationships with new and existing clients firmwide. He was co-chairman of white-collar defence and investigations at Covington between 1989 and 1997, when he left to join the White House Counsel’s Office as special counsel to President Bill Clinton.

“I envision this role as an externally orientated one, helping Covington expand relationships with existing clients and helping them get new clients,” he said, adding that he hopes to spend plenty of time in London.