Forced to Resign, US Attorney Takes Job at Michigan Law School

Barbara McQuade. (Courtesy photo) Barbara McQuade. (Courtesy photo)


It didn’t take Barbara McQuade long to find a new job after being forced to resign as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

The University of Michigan Law School announced Tuesday that McQuade will join its faculty in May, teaching criminal law, criminal procedure and national security law. She will have a “professor from practice” title, which is given to seasoned practitioners who join the academy later in their careers.

McQuade was among the 46 holdover federal prosecutors appointed by former President Barack Obama who were ordered by President Donald Trump on March 10 to step down.

“I have loved serving in this job as much as anyone has ever loved any job,” McQuade said at the time.

Former U.S. attorneys often accept positions in private law firms after leaving government service and sometimes run for office, but the legal academy offers another pathway. Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and perhaps the most high-profile of the fired federal prosecutors, has yet to announce his next career steps. But he told The New York Times in 2014 that he was unsure that he had “a taste for private practice,” and has said on multiple occasions that he does not harbor political ambitions.

McQuade’s appointment is a homecoming of sorts. She graduated from Michigan Law in 1991. And she’s no stranger to the classroom. She taught as an adjunct at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law from 2003 to 2009.

“I am honored to return to Michigan Law School to teach the next generation of law students at a critical moment in our nation’s history,” McQuade said in an announcement of her appointment. “Michigan’s unique learning environment opened a new world of ideas for me when I was a student there, and I am thrilled to join its great faculty.”

She added that helping students understand laws, courts and the legal system “has never been more important.”

Michigan Law Dean Mark West noted that as a U.S. attorney, McQuade oversaw more than 100 lawyers and upward of 1,000 cases a year. “Her legacy includes an impressive number of important convictions, and our students will benefit tremendously from the experience and perspective she brings to the classroom,” West said.

Among the cases McQuade oversaw while serving as U.S. attorney from 2010 to 20017 were the conviction of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and 30 others of public corruption charges; the conviction of an Al-Qaeda operative who tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit in 2009; and a $4.3 billion fine against Volkswagen related to emissions tests.

Additionally, McQuade was the vice chair of the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee during Loretta Lynch’s tenure, and was co-chair of the Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee for seven years.