Attorneys At The Succeeding In Spite Of Top Dismal Diversity Trends
Loretta E. Lynch, Partner, Hogan & Hartson L.L.P.
As a girl, Loretta Elizabeth Lynch would spend hours with her father, who was a pastor, and watch court proceedings in the courthouse of Durham, N.C. Her fascination with court proceedings was compounded by stories of her grandfather, also a pastor and who created his own version of the Underground Railroad in the 1930s. He hid people in trouble and helped them flee to the north to escape retribution under the anti-African-American Jim Crow laws of the time. “I realized the power the law had over your life and how important it was that the people who wield that power look at each situation with a sense of fairness and evenhandedness,” says Lynch.
Lynch went on to graduate from Harvard College in 1981 and from Harvard Law School in 1984. She experienced her share of bumps and biases early in her career. “I would go out to take depositions and be mistaken for the court reporter all the time,” she says. Nonetheless, she forged a stellar career in law that includes an 11-year stint, from 1990, as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York in the borough of Brooklyn. She prosecuted narcotics, guns and Asian organized-crime cases and served on the prosecutorial team in the civil rights case of Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant who was sexually assaulted by uniformed police officers in a Brooklyn police precinct in 1997. “I was extremely proud to be a part of that team,” she says.
In 1999, President Clinton appointed Lynch the United States Attorney for the Eastern District, a post she held until 2001. In 2002, she joined Hogan & Hartson L.L.P. as a partner in the firm’s New York office. A member of the firm’s litigation group, she defends clients in commercial, white-collar crime and corporate compliance cases. “I find fulfillment in so many parts of my practice, whether it’s helping a company resolve their issues or helping a victim of a violent crime find closure and move on. I love public service, and I always want to remain close to that,” says Lynch, who taught at St. John’s University School of Law in 1999.
One of her most gratifying public service undertakings is her pro bono work for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which was established to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations in the 1994 tribal genocide in that country. Serving as a special counsel to the tribunal’s prosecutor in 2005, she investigated allegations of witness tampering and false testimony involving those who testified against their tormenters. “They are very vulnerable because even though they testify under pseudonyms, there is always fear of reprisal and revenge against them,” Lynch explains. Occasionally, she would foray into a few games of tennis to de-stress. She also relaxes by spending time with her husband and two stepchildren. “They’re a lot of fun,” she says.