White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler To Leave for Private Sector

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 24, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler plans to leave by the end of the year to return to private practice in New York.

Ruemmler served in the administration from day one of Obama's presidency -- first as principal associate deputy attorney general, the third-ranking official at the Justice Department, and later in the White House, as deputy counsel and later counsel, reports The Associated Press.

With the coveted spot up for grabs, who are the fortunate few contenders?

C'est la vie, Ruemmler

As White House counsel, Ruemmler advises Obama on a variety of legal issues we legal folk could only dream of handling -- from immigration policies to Cabinet and judicial nominations to his signature health care law. Ruemmler is a member of Obama's national security team and helps guide his counterterrorism decisions.

Her work also entails a fair amount of scandal-thwarting that could understandably prompt one to ditch a coveted in-house gig for private practice.

Ruemmler rose to prominence in the Washington legal establishment as one of three lead prosecutors in the high-profile case against Enron executives Kenneth Lay and ­Jeffrey Skilling, who were convicted on securities and wire fraud charges.

Who's Next?

So, who has the political and legal chops (not to mention the audacity) to step up to the plate and be a lawyer to a president who once upon a time was a law professor?

Ron Klain, the former chief of staff to vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and current president of Case Holdings, may be one of the fortunate few candidates being considered to succeed Ruemmler as President Barack Obama's White House counsel, reports Politico.

Klain, 52, is a political tiger who worked in the counsel's office early in the Clinton administration before becoming Attorney General Janet Reno's chief of staff and later Al Gore's top aide.

Jeh Johnson, the former top lawyer at the Pentagon, is another potential successor, according to Politico.

Regardless of who manages to fill Ruemmler's big -- and incredibly fabulous -- shoes, one thing is certain: The successor should be willing and prepared to dish out unpopular advice when needed. It's a cornerstone of in-house counsel work, from the White House to the lowest hanging fruit startup.

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