Updated at 5:00 p.m.
Leslie Caldwell, a New York-based partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and veteran white-collar defense lawyer, was nominated today to serve as assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Caldwell would fill the position vacated by Lanny Breuer, who left the Justice Department earlier this year to rejoin Covington & Burling as the firm's vice-chairman. Breuer was one of the longest-serving leaders of the division in recent time.
Caldwell has been a partner at Morgan Lewis since 2004; she co-chaired the firm's white collar practice from 2004 to 2009. Before joining the firm, she served as director of the Justice Department's Enron Task Force from 2002 to 2004. She spent her early career as a federal prosecutor, serving in U.S. attorney's offices in the Northern District of California and in the Eastern District of New York.
Caldwell was not immediately available for comment. A spokeswoman for Morgan Lewis declined to comment.
As head of the Enron Task Force, Caldwell led the department's investigation into the collapse of Enron Corp. and the prosecution of former company officials. Her team included Kathryn Ruemmler, who Caldwell hired and would go on to become President Barack Obama's current White House counsel.
In California and New York, Caldwell prosecuted violent crimes and securities fraud cases. In San Francisco, she served as chief of the criminal division and securities fraud section. In New York, she was senior trial counsel for the business and securities fraud section and chief of the violent criminal enterprises section, according to the White House.
At Morgan Lewis, Caldwell's clients in white-collar matters have included Hewlett-Packard, Oracle Corp. and Fannie Mae.
Caldwell would take over a division that faced criticism during Breuer's tenure for not prosecuting major financial institutions for their role in the 2008 financial meltdown. At the same time, Breuer was credited with expanding the division's profile, securing billion-dollar settlements in pharmaceutical and banking cases and creating a new money-laundering unit.
The White House also announced the nomination of a Justice Department lawyer to the U.S. Tax Court. Tamara Ashford, the nominee, is the deputy assistant attorney general for appellate and review in the department's Tax Division.