President Donald Trump has nominated Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner Christopher Landau to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Mexico, 14 months after the appellate luminary left his longtime post at Kirkland & Ellis.
The announcement came in a release late Monday night. The U.S. has not had a Senate-confirmed ambassador to Mexico, its third largest trade partner, since Obama appointee Roberta Jacobson resigned in May 2018.
Landau, 55, spent 25 years at Kirkland & Ellis, joining as an associate in Washington, D.C., in 1993 after clerkships with U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. He was named a partner with the firm in 1995 and later chaired Kirkland’s appellate practice.
His move to Quinn Emanuel came 16 months after the firm acquired appellate boutique Bancroft, which included former solicitor general and longtime Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement.
Landau was one of 41 members of the Supreme Court Bar who signed a letter supporting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the high court in August, before sexual misconduct claims were leveled against the judge. His name was later circulated as a possible choice to replace Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Instead, he received the nod to serve as the U.S.’s top representative to Mexico. Landau was born in Madrid, is fluent in Spanish, and earned a certificate in Latin American Studies as an undergraduate at Harvard.
“Chris is a brilliant lawyer and has been an outstanding advocate for Quinn Emanuel’s clients,” managing partner John Quinn said in a statement. “As an ambassador, he will bring his unique intelligence and high professionalism to the task of advocating for the country.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Landau will join Big Law veterans A.B. Culvahouse and David Friedman as sitting U.S. ambassadors. Culvahouse, the chairman of O’Melveny & Myers from 2000 to 2012, was confirmed in January to serve as ambassador to Australia, and he presented his credentials to Australia’s governor-general just last week.
Earlier in his term, Trump nominated Friedman, a name partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman who is a bankruptcy specialist, to serve as ambassador to Israel. Friedman was confirmed in March 2017 and became ambassador that May.
Trump has also nominated Seyfarth Shaw real estate partner Adrian Zuckerman to serve as ambassador to Romania. That nomination, initially from July 2018, is still pending before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. One potential sticking point may be an allegation from Zuckerman’s time at Lowenstein Sandler that he sexually harassed a legal secretary. A 2008 lawsuit against Zuckerman and the firm was settled less than a year after the filing.