Washington corporate defense lawyer Alice Fisher interviewed on Saturday to be the next FBI Director, after the agency was shocked by the firing of James Comey last week. Fisher’s among the reported top contenders.
The National Law Journal has done comprehensive coverage of Fisher, the former Bush-era Criminal Division chief-turned law firm leader, over the years, since she’s been a major name in public service at the U.S. Justice Department and private practice at Latham & Watkins.
Here are some highlights of Fisher’s career, based on past NLJ coverage:
Fisher had no experience as a prosecutor when she first joined the Justice Department in 2001.
She had worked in private practice at Sullivan & Cromwell and Latham & Watkins before moving to government. “What she lacks in prosecutorial experience she makes up in knowledge of the law and an ability to understand the facts of the matter we are dealing with,” then-U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia Paul McNulty said in this 2003 profile of Fisher.
Michael Chertoff, the former Homeland Security secretary who became a sharp critic of Donald Trump during the election, was her mentor.
Chertoff hired Fisher to work on the Whitewater investigation with him for the U.S. Senate, then she joined Latham & Watkins, where Chertoff was once a partner. (He is now senior of counsel at Covington & Burling.) She became a Latham partner in 2000.
Fisher followed Chertoff to the Justice Department when he became Criminal Division chief in 2001. This 2006 story about Chertoff’s proteges described their professional relationship.
Rooting out corporate fraud, especially related to contractors during the “war on terror, became her mission at Justice while she was Criminal Division chief.
From a 2008 story: “Fisher promoted efforts to ensure integrity in the government, including developing and chairing the National Procurement Fraud Task Force, which has charged, convicted, or brought civil actions in more than 300 cases, including 46 individuals or companies criminally charged in procurement fraud related matters to the global War on Terror.
Fisher’s division brought enforcement actions against 16 individuals or companies under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 2007, a substantial increase from the four individuals or companies charged under FCPA in 2002 or the three charged in 2003 and in 2004. Fisher also oversaw the implementation of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Miami, which has secured more than 100 convictions since March 2007.”
Fisher is experienced in leadership and management of a private company.
Last April, she stepped down as office managing partner and joined the firm’s nine-person executive board.
Her corporate clients at Latham most often sought her help with criminal defense, especially related to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
Her corporate representation has focused on the healthcare and pharmaceuticals industries, and the defense, financial services and oil and gas sectors. In 2011, she said about a third of her practice related to FCPA violations.
Fisher advised petroleum distributor Buckeye Partners on regulatory matters in a $1.15 billion acquisition last year.
Mitt Romney asked Fisher for help on law enforcement policy during his 2012 presidential campaign.
She served in the campaign advisory group alongside former U.S. attorneys general William Barr and Michael Mukasey, and former deputy attorneys general George Terwilliger III and Mark Filip.
She vouched for now-Justice Neil Gorsuch during the confirmation hearing for his Supreme Court appointment.
The two have been friends for more than 25 years, since they summered together during law school at Sullivan & Cromwell.
Her colleagues and her law firm are bipartisan.
Fisher was head of Latham’s D.C. office when Kathryn Ruemmler, White House counsel to President Barack Obama, joined the office.
Firm clients have included Monsanto Co.; the American Beverage Association, in its challenge of New York City’s “soda ban” and San Francisco’s sugar warning policy; and the University of Texas at Austin, in its successful defense before the Supreme Court of using race-conscious criteria when admitting students.
Fisher is well-known and well-liked in Washington.
Fisher, known for her outgoing personality, “was popular in the Criminal Division and known for delegating authority to prosecutors, rather than micromanaging them,” a former Obama-era Justice Department lawyer who worked on fraud cases said Saturday.
She’s also a member of the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court in Washington, which puts her in touch regularly with other top white-collar lawyers around town. The group meets for dinners once a month.