Kathryn Ruemmler.
Kathryn Ruemmler. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ.)

Kathryn Ruemmler leaves the White House on Friday after nearly three years as President Barack Obama’s top lawyer.

Ruemmler earlier announced plans to return to private practice, although she has not disclosed any firm. She has close ties with Latham & Watkins, where she formerly was a partner.

Ruemmler first joined the administration in 2009 as principal associate deputy attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice. She later joined the White House as a deputy counsel. Obama elevated her to White House counsel in June 2011. She twice extended her service in the White House at Obama’s request.

Kirkland & Ellis partner W. Neil Eggleston will succeed Ruemmler. Eggleston has worked at the White House for two weeks, alongside Ruemmler. The two lawyers on Thursday attended the Senate Democratic Caucus lunch to support the nomination of David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Liberal and conservative advocates want to know more about Barron’s work in the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel.

Ruemmler was among the youngest lawyers ever to take the White House counsel post when she succeeded Robert Bauer in 2011. Bauer returned then to Perkins Coie. Gregory Craig, now a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, was the president’s first top in-house attorney.

Her departure comes amid legal turnover at the White House. Thomas Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser from 2010 to 2013 and a veteran of the Clinton and Carter administrations, rejoined O’Melveny & Myers as a partner, vice chairman and a member of its management committee.

Danielle Gray, Obama’s former cabinet secretary and adviser, will work with Donilon on complex regulatory and legal issues, the firm said. Gray starts at O’Melveny May 19 as a partner. Donilon started at the firm Thursday.

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr announced Thursday that Edward Siskel, deputy White House counsel and deputy assistant to the president, would join the firm as a partner.

Other notable moves to private practice from this White House’s second term include: Karen Dunn, a former associate White House counsel, who joined Boies, Schiller & Flexner as a partner in February; former White House adviser Ed Pagano, who joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; and White House special counsel Jonathan Su, who joined Latham & Watkins as a white-collar defense litigator.

Contact Todd Ruger at truger@alm.com. On Twitter: @ToddRuger.