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Why Greg Craig Chose Skadden Over Williams & Connolly

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  • Why Greg Craig Chose Skadden Over Williams & Connolly

    Not many people give the big stiff-arm to Williams & Connolly, one of the most highly regarded litigation firms in the world. But Greg Craig isn’t everyone. So it doesn’t come necessarily as a total shock that the former White House counsel would hang his hat elsewhere.

    So why Skadden? We’ll get to that in a minute. For now: let’s flesh out the news: Craig will start in Skadden’s D.C. office on March 1. He’ll lead Skadden’s new “global policy and litigation strategy practice group.” Translation: he’ll help Skadden’s clients figure out litigation strategies and help them navigate the D.C. political and regulatory worlds, when called upon. Click here for the story from Above the Law, which broke the news.

    We chatted with Craig briefly on Wednesday. He told us that he’d told folks that he wasn’t going to talk to law firms about potential employment until he left the White House. At the time, he said he was still strongly considering going back to Williams & Connolly, the firm in which he “grew up.”

    But shortly out of the gate, he got a call from an old friend, Skadden’s Cliff Sloan. “Cliff made a very compelling case,” said Craig. “I was extremely impressed with Skadden right away.”

    What, exactly, did he like? It’s size and breadth. “Look, I love Williams & Connolly,” he said. “Those lawyers will always be family to me. But they’ve decided to stay a Washington firm and have decided to stay focused on litigation. All that makes sense. It’s one of the best litigation firms around.”

    That said, Craig wants to go big. Global. “I was looking for something bigger in scope, and Skadden’s got that,” he added. “It’s scope is huge. It’s got tax, M&A, regulatory, energy. It’s in China and other parts of Asia and all over the world. That appealed to me.”

    So what, exactly is Craig going to be doing? He says he’ll be helping clients “navigate the U.S.” That could be “Congress or the regulatory community or the foreign-policy world,” he says. “A lot of companies need that advice, and I think I’ve got the range of experiences to help them.”

    Craig was White House counsel for President Obama for about a year. But Obama administration officials reportedly grew dissatisfied for months over Craig’s management of Guantanamo policy and other matters. He was replaced in November by Perkins Coie’s Bob Bauer. Click here, here and here for earlier LB posts on the Greg Craig situation.

    Craig started at Williams & Connolly right after graduating from Yale Law in 1972, and stayed there pretty much until 2009, though his tenure was punctuated with other stints — a stint as a public defender, one working for Ted Kennedy, another in the State Department, another in the Clinton White House.

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