Preeta Bansal, the general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget, is leaving to join a think tank and possibly return to private practice, according to a memo sent to OMB staff today.
Bansal has been the top lawyer for the White House’s budget shop for more than two years. The job is at the center of key decisions across the executive branch, including decisions about appropriations and regulations, and it’s an important point of contact for general counsel throughout the federal government.
“Preeta has been an integral part of the senior team here and an important contributor to the discussion of legal and policy matters across the EOP and the entire government,” said the memo, signed by OMB Director Jacob Lew and obtained by The National Law Journal.
According to the memo, Bansal will “spend some time at a think tank as she makes a transition back to the private sector.” The memo did not give a reason why Bansal chose now to leave, and she did not respond to a request for comment.
Before joining the Obama administration, she was head of the appellate practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and she served as New York state solicitor general under then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. In 2009, Bansal was mentioned as possible nominee for U.S. solicitor general, an offer that went to Elena Kagan and, more recently, to Donald Verrilli.
The National Law Journal reported on Monday that several large law firms are actively looking for a top appellate lawyer. Neal Katyal, who is resigning as principal deputy solicitor general at the end of the current Supreme Court term, is among those on the market.
Lew’s memo also announced Bansal’s successor: Boris Bershteyn, an associate White House counsel who served as a Bansal deputy from April 2009 to November 2010. A Yale Law School graduate, he clerked for Justice David Souter and for Judge José Cabranes on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, according to Lew’s memo.
Bershteyn has also worked for Skadden and for Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, according to his financial disclosure form. He was born in Kiev, Ukraine, according to his New York Times wedding announcement.