Former special counsel prosecutor Zainab Ahmad is joining Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as a partner in its white-collar defense and investigations practice in New York, becoming the latest member of Robert Mueller’s team to land in Big Law.
Ahmad, who left the Special Counsel’s office in March, was a senior member of the group of 19 prosecutors. She was one of the prosecutors that secured a guilty plea and the cooperation of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Prior to joining the Special Counsel’s office in 2017, Ahmed spent 11 years as a federal prosecutor but was ready to take on something new as she heads into private practice at Gibson Dunn.
“I’m kind of at the stage where I was ready for the next challenge and the next phase,” Ahmad said.
After clerkships with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Ahmad joined the Eastern District of New York in 2008 prosecuting gang activity in Brooklyn and Staten Island but quickly moved on to terrorism cases like the 2007 plot to blow up fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy Airport.
Ahmad was appointed deputy chief of national security and cybercrime section of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York in 2013. There she prosecuted and oversaw some of the most high-profile international terrorism investigations in the U.S., focusing on attacks by Al-Qaeda and ISIS against U.S. personnel and diplomats.
In 2017 she was appointed to Mueller’s office as senior assistant special counsel.
“It was a real honor to be a part of the team and get to work with Bob Mueller. I truly admire him and I’m proud of the way we handled the investigation,” Ahmad said. “I’m glad to have been a part of it.”
In her new role at Gibson Dunn, Ahmad will advise on regulatory and civil litigation matters involving cybercrime, corruption, sanctions, and anti-money laundering, in addition to white-collar and investigations work. Ahmad said she also hopes to leverage Gibson Dunn’s international platform to work on internal investigations and other cross-border matters, which was key to her decision to join the firm.
“I like the talking across and thinking across cultures and different legal systems and languages,” Ahmad said. “So looking at law firms I wanted to try and find a firm that was really international, not just had a couple of offices abroad, but saw itself as offering a global platform and that really stood out to me about Gibson.”
Ahmad is just the latest Mueller team member to land in Big Law since the investigation ended in March. Last month former Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Jeannie Rhee joined Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison as a partner in Washington. Greg Andres returned to Davis, Polk & Wardwell while former Paul Weiss attorney Andrew Goldstein joined Cooley in Washington and New York.
(Updated with comment from Ahmad throughout)
To contact the reporter on this story: Meghan Tribe in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org