Continuing Hiring Tear, Latham Snags Former Top DOJ Official

Latham & Watkins announced on Wednesday that Leslie Caldwell, who served as assistant attorney general under the Obama Administration and years ago acted as director of the Enron Taskforce, is joining its white collar practice group in San Francisco.

Caldwell is well-known on both coasts, having served as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn earlier in her career, and then crossing the country to serve as a federal prosecutor in San Francisco, during which time she acted as chief of that office’s criminal division and its securities fraud section under then-U.S. Attorney Robert Mueller.

After leaving government in 2004, Caldwell spent ten years as a partner at Morgan Lewis, keeping offices in both New York and San Francisco.

In May 2014, after being confirmed by the Senate to serve as assistant attorney general for the criminal division, Caldwell oversaw the Department of Justice during a period in which prosecutors stepped up their efforts to gain evidence located overseas; and she was vocal in her belief that the world has entered “a new era of crime on a global scale,” in which organized crime more often than not involves an international element.

In an interview with Big Law Business, Caldwell said it’s the exception when a criminal case does not have an international component. One result is that federal prosecutors have been forced to develop close working relationships with their international counterparts in order to obtain evidence for their cases, she said.

“There is a very unwieldy treaty process,” said  Caldwell. “But in real time to obtain evidence, you have to have relationships.”

She added, “That happened before I got [to the DOJ]. It continued and increased exponentially while I was there. And it will continue now that I’m gone.”

At Latham, Caldwell is reunited with her colleagues from the Enron Taskforce, Kathryn Ruemmler, co-chair of the firm’s White Collar Defense & Investigations Practice, and Sean Berkowitz, who chairs the firm’s complex commercial litigation practice, as well as Alice Fisher, a partner and executive committee member.

She said the decision to join in San Francisco was partially related to lifestyle, and her affection for the Bay Area, but also related to a desire to be plugged in to the booming economy in California. Having taken and passed the California bar in 2012, Caldwell said she only needs to find housing before starting at the firm in September.

Her hire adds to Latham’s recent hiring tear which has included Nicholas McQuaid, a former deputy counsel in the White House in New York, along with four lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis.  In February, the firm hired Tom Nolan in Los Angeles, a veteran trial lawyer who has represented Toyota Motor Corp and MGA Entertainment. In March, it snagged Jack Sheridan, the former c0- managing partner of Wilson Sonsini, a corporate partner located in Silicon Valley.

UPDATED: This post has been amended to include comments from Caldwell.

Below, Greg Farrell of Bloomberg News interviews Caldwell at the 2016 Big Law Business Summit about enforcement policy.