Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California
Melinda Haag, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California (Jason Doiy / The Recorder)

SAN FRANCISCO — After a long hiring freeze, the U.S. attorney’s office in the Bay Area will soon get an infusion of new blood.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag is in the process of hiring about a dozen assistant U.S. attorneys, an expansion of about 10 percent, lawyers with knowledge of the matter said. Spread across the criminal, civil, appellate and tax divisions, the new recruits will bring the office to the full 125 lawyers it has been allocated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The group is the largest that Haag has been able to recruit since she shaped her team shortly after taking the reins in 2010. For much of her tenure, Haag has contended with hiring freezes that left her unable to replace lawyers who moved on.

“I suspect it’s a huge relief to the office to have the opportunity to be able to hire again,” said former criminal division chief Miranda Kane, who is now of counsel at Munger Tolles & Olson.

The office has been interviewing candidates for about six weeks, and offers should be extended by mid-June, a lawyer with knowledge of the matter said. New hires are generally initiated as a class, with training sessions conducted by fellow assistant U.S. attorneys.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California declined to comment.

White-collar defense lawyers said Silicon Valley companies may sense sharper scrutiny as local regulators fill out their ranks.

“The addition of that many new [assistant U.S. attorneys] will certainly result in an uptick in the movement of cases, as well as the initiation of new cases,” said Grant Fondo, a white-collar partner who joined Goodwin Procter from Haag’s office last year.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also gearing up for growth locally. The agency is preparing to hire more than one staff attorney to work in its enforcement group in the Bay Area, said Michael Dicke, associate regional director. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Marc Fagel said the hiring comes at a prime time, given the ambitious agenda set by SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White, though of course a few new recruits are just a start.

“There’s never enough people for the amount of work that the SEC would like to be doing,” said Fagel, who served as the agency’s regional director in the Bay Area until last year.

Contact the reporter at jlove@alm.com.