Susan Davies, the deputy White House counsel in charge of the nominations process for potential federal judges, is leaving the Obama administration to teach at Harvard Law School, according to a news release today from the school.
The move is the latest of several within President Barack Obama’s legal shop. Last month, Kathryn Ruemmler succeeded Robert Bauer as the president’s top counsel, and the Senate confirmed Donald Verrilli Jr. as solicitor general. Ruemmler and Verrilli, like Davies, had served as deputies to Bauer.
Davies will be a lecturer at Harvard and will teach a class in the fall on legislation and regulation, according to the news release. She and other White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the news release quotes her as saying she’s “delighted” to be joining the Harvard community.
It was not immediately clear who would succeed Davies in vetting judicial nominees. An e-mail to Davies today was met with an out-of-office reply noting her transition out of the White House Counsel’s Office and directing business related to judicial nominations to Chris Kang, another White House lawyer.
Though she worked outside the spotlight, Davies became a familiar face to those who followed the Supreme Court nominations of Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. She frequently accompanied Kagan on visits with senators, and she sat behind the two nominees during their confirmation hearings.
Davies joined the White House in 2009 as an associate counsel after serving as a top lawyer to Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she focused on intellectual property. Previously she was part of the Justice Department’s antitrust team in its case against Microsoft Corp. and she worked in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin. She clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy and for Justice Stephen Breyer when Breyer was a circuit judge.
Cassandra Butts, who ran the judicial nominations process before Davies, left in 2009 to become a senior adviser at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Also leaving the White House for Harvard Law School is Vivek Kundra, the U.S. chief information officer, according to the news release. Kundra will hold a joint fellowship this fall, working at the law school's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.
National Law Journal photo by Diego M. Radzinschi.