Michael Leiter. ()
The former director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Michael Leiter, has joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s Washington office as a partner in the firm’s national security practice.
The move for Leiter, which Skadden announced on Tuesday, marks the latest in a career that’s included several years in various government roles and in high-ranking corporate positions for software and defense companies. Most recently, Leiter served as an executive at Reston, Virginia-based technology and defense company Leidos Holdings Inc., Skadden said in a statement.
Before the more recent stint in the private sector, Leiter served as the director of the NCTC, a counterterrorism and policy organization that falls under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and was created in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Former President George W. Bush nominated Leiter for the leadership role. He received Senate confirmation in 2008 and stayed on during the Obama administration, before leaving in 2011.
Earlier in his career, Leiter held roles as deputy chief of staff in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran, according to Skadden.
“Mike’s exceptional service to our country in the national security sector and unique knowledge of the interplay between business imperatives and national security will be of tremendous value to our clients,” Ivan Schlager, head of Skadden’s national security practice, said in the firm’s statement.
Following his departure from the NCTC, Leiter was head of global government and cyber solutions at software company Palantir Technologies Inc., as well as a senior counselor to the company’s CEO. He left Palantir in 2014 before moving to Leidos, where he eventually became president of the company’s $2.5 billion defense business unit.
Among other roles at Leidos, Leiter oversaw integration efforts after a 2016 combination with Lockheed Martin’s information systems and global solutions unit. Skadden, along with Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, advised Leidos on that transaction, which was valued at $5 billion when it was announced.
Outside of his recent corporate positions, Leiter has also served as a national security analyst for NBC News, and he’s a member of Rand Corp.’s board of trustees and a member of the Aspen Institute’s homeland security advisory group. He’ll keep the Rand and Aspen Institute adviser positions after moving to Skadden, the firm said.
Leiter said he was drawn to Skadden’s reputation and expertise in the national security realm.
“Skadden’s national security capabilities and understanding of complex multijurisdictional transactions and investigations are unparalleled. I look forward to working with such highly skilled attorneys and taking advantage of the firm’s unmatched global platform,” he said.
Skadden’s hire of Leiter comes in a year in which the firm’s Washington office has seen some departures but also has had new partners come on board.
Earlier in 2017, the firm saw former international trade partner Robert Lighthizer and energy and infrastructure partner Martin Klepper leave for roles in the Trump administration—Lighthizer was tapped to become U.S. Trade Representative, while Klepper leads the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau.
In July, however, the firm hired Donald Vieira, a former chief of staff in the U.S. Justice Department’s national security division. Vieira joined Skadden after a stint with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he led the firm’s national security and Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. practice.