In another high-level hire, Geoffrey Berman, the interim U.S. attorney for the Southern District New York, has selected Audrey Strauss, a Southern District alumna who recently worked as chief in-house counsel for a leading aluminum producer, to serve as his senior counsel.
A 1971 graduate of Columbia Law School, Strauss worked for the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s Office from 1976 to 1983, in which time she was promoted to chief of the office’s appeals unit.
After leaving the Southern District, Strauss took a job with the now-defunct Mudge Rose Guthrie & Alexander, which counts both Berman and U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York among its notable alumni, and made partner while she was at the firm. Strauss also worked alongside Berman in the Office of the Independent Counsel investigating the Iran-Contra affair.
From 1990 to 2012, Strauss was a litigation partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Following her tenure there, aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. named Strauss as its chief legal officer, holding that position until her 2016 retirement.
Last year, Strauss was named to the board of the Innocence Project, but stepped down from that role to rejoin the Southern District.
“It is an illustrious record of service, and I am so happy that she has decided to return to the office,” Berman said in a news release.
Berman, who is widely viewed as President Donald Trump’s likely nominee for Southern District U.S. attorney, was named as interim head of office in January.
On his first day on the job, Berman named Kirkland & Ellis partner Robert Khuzami as his deputy.
Robert Fiske Jr., who served as Southern District U.S. attorney from 1976 to 1980, said Strauss was a “star” in the office during her time there and said he is a “huge fan of hers.”
“I think Geoff wants to run the office the best way he can, and I think he’s doing that with these two great appointments,” Fiske said.
Berman’s appointment lasts 120 days, and the district court can name an acting head at the end of the interim period if the U.S. Senate has yet to sign off on a nominee for office.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, the state’s junior senator, has said she will use her “blue-slip prerogative” to oppose Berman’s nomination because Trump held a personal interview with the nominee.
A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, did not respond to a request for comment as to whether or not he will support Berman’s nomination.