Isn’t government work supposed to be all reasonable hours and plentiful federal holidays? Not for lawyers at the U.S. Department of Justice, at least according to Alice Fisher. She’s just spent two years hunting down bad guys, virtually round-the-clock, as deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s criminal division. “I did the job as hard as I could for as long as I could,” she says.

But after fighting terrorists and corporate malefactors, Fisher, 36, was ready for some rest. She took two-and-a-half months off, and then returned to Latham & Watkins, where she’d spent five years before joining Justice in 2001. Fisher listened to recruiters from other firms, but finding no “compelling reason” to change direction, she ultimately opted to go home to Latham. It’s no surprise other firms wanted her. Fisher handled some of the biggest and hottest department issues of the past two years, from setting up the task forces on terrorism financing and Enron Corp. to serving on the President’s Council on Corporate Responsibility and helping to draft the criminal provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

When Fisher started at the Justice Department–a mere six weeks prior to the September 11 attacks–she had no experience as a prosecutor and was eight months pregnant. But criminal division assistant AG Michael Chertoff had trusted her abilities. The two had worked closely together, first on the Senate Special Committee investigating Whitewater, then at Latham. Chertoff is now back in New Jersey, serving as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Though Fisher, a graduate of Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, says she is looking forward to working with corporate clients instead of suspected terrorists, her life is hardly free of government entanglements. Her husband, Clint Fisher, is director of external affairs at the new Transportation Security Administration. Lucky for their two sons, Alice Fisher now lives the laid-back life of a corporate litigator.