Amy Jeffress.
Amy Jeffress. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ.)

Amy Jeffress faces building a book of business from scratch in her next legal endeavor. She started as a white-collar defense and national security partner at Arnold & Porter on April 14, after 20 years working for the federal government.

At first, she’ll rely on colleagues to build her workload, she said.

“Even in government you meet lots of people who then go into private practice or in-house, and I’ll rely on them as well,” Jeffress said Thursday.

Jeffress joins other former administration officials who work on national security cases at Arnold & Porter, including John Bellinger, a former State Department adviser, and Jeffrey Smith, who worked at the Central Intelligence Agency. And she is among a handful of former government officials who have returned recently to or entered for the first time private practice jobs after years in the Obama administration. Robert Mueller joined Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in March after leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 12 years.

Jeffress, 49, spent the last two years as the Department of Justice’s legal attaché at the embassy in London, focusing on fraud and criminal cases. Before that, she counseled Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. on national security issues and worked on detainee review and interrogation policy at Guantanamo Bay.

In September, Jeffress moved back to the U.S. from London with her husband, Christopher “Casey” Cooper. Cooper left Covington & Burling this year after winning confirmation as a federal district court judge in Washington.

At Arnold & Porter, Jeffress now will find herself on the defense side of issues she previously would have prosecuted.

“Any good lawyer will always try to understand both sides of a case,” she said. “While it’s going to be a different role for me, I don’t expect it to be an entirely new enterprise.”

Contact Katelyn Polantz at kpolantz@alm.com. On Twitter: @kpolantz.