Updated, 1:03 p.m.
President Barack Obama this morning officially nominated Ronald Machen, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia (see The BLT's post on this from yesterday here).
Machen, 40, said he "is very excited for the opportunity to serve the residents of the District of Columbia."
He has a background in both civil and criminal litigation, according to his biography on the firm's Web site, which notes that, among other things, he recently represented The Boeing Co. on issues related to an Air Force tanker program.
From 1997 to 2001, Machen served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, according to the White House. Machen graduated from Stanford University in 1991 and Harvard Law School in 1994.
The National Law Journal declared him one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America last year.
Wilmer co-managing partner William Perlstein said Machen will stay with the firm until he is confirmed by the Senate. "He will have to stop doing federal work. That’s what the basic rules are while he’s waiting" for confirmation, Perlstein said. Other partners, including former FBI general counsel Howard Shapiro, who chairs the firm's litigation/controversy practice, are available to step in as needed, Perlstein said, and he noted that David Ogden, currently second-in-command at the Justice Department, will return to the firm in February.
Still, Perlstein said, Machen's departure will be a loss for the firm. "He really is spectacular. He’s one of these guys who really is just as good as his reputation," Perlstein said. "He’s got great judgment. He understands people and he’s going to do a great job...it’s a very important position and high visibility because it’s in Washington."
Wilmer partner Howard Shapiro, who heads the litigation practice, said that Machen has already made arrangements to hand off any matters he can no longer handle. His most active current matter is "a major internal investigation for a major client of the firm in which he’s leading" that he'll be able to keep working on, Shapiro said.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said in a statement that she had recommended Machen for the job, and said that "because Ronald Machen’s special set of professional and personal qualifications are well suited to our city and its law enforcement requirements today, I believe that he will be warmly embraced by D.C. officials and residents."
Norton assembled a nominating commission after Jeffrey Taylor, the interim U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia for more than two years, resigned in May. In her statement, Norton thanked Obama for permitting her to "participate in the selection of this important law enforcement official in our city."