In Conversation With Kathy Ruemmler

Former White House counsel and Latham partner shares war stories and wisdom with clients, alumni and Latham lawyers.

November 30, 2015

Latham & Watkins' Women Enriching Business (WEB) groups in Houston and San Francisco recently hosted former White House Counsel and now Global Co-chair of Latham's White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice partner Kathy Ruemmler for a candid conversation with clients, alumni and fellow lawyers in both cities. Ruemmler shared stories about her experiences including crisis management war stories from the West Wing.

Ruemmler took participants on a career inspired journey, reminiscing about the challenges and successes in the West Wing.

“It was a difficult job working in the White House. The stakes were high, and you needed to work quickly and accurately in a variety of circumstances,” Ruemmler said. “I learned something new every day and I am grateful to have worked with such a talented group of individuals.”

Ruemmler talked about how she handled high pressure cases at a young age in a male-dominated environment, and noted that her work as a prosecutor on the Enron case was the hardest and most complex of her career.

Ruemmler also offered advice to her fellow lawyers and other business professionals:

  • Take risks in your career
  • Listen and observe
  • Trust your judgment
  • Don’t take things too personally
  • Be reliable

Ruemmler rejoined the firm last year after serving for almost six years in the Obama Administration, first in the Department of Justice and later as Counsel to the President. As President Obama’s chief lawyer, she was one of his most senior advisors, providing advice on all legal matters implicating domestic and foreign policy and national security. She advised on all significant litigation matters, including the most consequential cases heard by the United States Supreme Court. Ruemmler also managed the Administration’s response to congressional and other investigations and was responsible for the selection and nomination process of federal judges. President Obama has described her as having “an uncanny ability to see around the corners that no one else anticipates.”

Prior to her White House service, Ruemmler served as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, joining the Justice Department on the first day of the Obama Administration as its highest-ranking political appointee. In that role, she was the Deputy Attorney General’s primary advisor on a range of criminal policy, law enforcement, national security, and civil litigation matters. She worked closely with the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General in the overall management and supervision of the Justice Department’s components, including the United States Attorney’s Offices.

Ruemmler has significant jury trial experience and has tried more than 20 cases to verdict both inside the government and in private practice. She worked for six years as a federal prosecutor, first as an Assistant United States Attorney in Washington, D.C. and later as the Deputy Director of the Enron Task Force. Ruemmler was one of the lead prosecutors in the successful securities fraud prosecution of former Enron CEO’s Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. She delivered the closing argument in that case and received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the Department of Justice’s highest award, for her performance. Ruemmler was previously a litigation partner at Latham where she represented corporate and individual clients in a variety of criminal and civil enforcement matters, internal investigations, and at trial.

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