Chris Galford Jan. 21, 2016, 3:33pm


SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. attorney in San Francisco intends to follow her work in the public sphere with a return to her old law firm.

Melinda Haag, who has spent the past five years as the U.S. attorney for the area, will return to the firm from whence she came on March 1, rejoining the international law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliff LLP as their global litigation business unit leader. It's a different role from the one she left as partner in their firm in 2010, but it will also mean a return to law from a public role with emphasis on the administrative.

"I am thrilled to return home to Orrick," Melinda wrote in a press release. "It was an extraordinary honor to serve as U.S. Attorney, but I was able to leave after five years knowing that the public’s interests are in the hands of an extraordinary team of lawyers who are handling some of the most important and cutting-edge cases on the DOJ's docket. At the same time, I am excited by the growth and client results achieved by Orrick's litigation team over the past five years. They have clearly kicked it up another notch, and I'm honored by the opportunity to lead this top-tier team."

According to Adi Weisman, Orrick's media relations manager, in addition to her the worldwide litigation business team she'll be heading, Haag will also be rejoining the firm as a partner in its white-collar practice.

"Since Melinda's departure, Orrick's white-collar practice has doubled," Weisman told the Northern California Record.

Yet Haag won't be going anywhere. Though her office has changed, she will still be working out of San Francisco. She'll go from overseeing an office of hundreds of lawyers and staff on cases involving everything from intellectual property theft to organized crime, to running a global staff of 330 lawyers carving out a place in the business world.

“She is a first-chair trial lawyer of the highest caliber who has deep insights into the complex enforcement issues our clients face, and she adds one of America’s leading women lawyers to our trial bench and senior leadership team," said Walter Brown, head of the firm’s White Collar and Corporate Investigations Group, in a press release.

Brown was also the man who recruited Haag to Orrick originally in 2003, taking her in from her role as chief of the San Francisco U.S. attorney's office on white-collar crimes. As such, in many ways, she'll be returning to her roots in this new role.

That said, Haag will be leaving behind her a storied career in public service. Under her tenure, her office oversaw a plethora of high profile cases, including fraud charges against the head of Calpers, the nation's largest public pension plan, and a racketeering case that ended in a guilty plea from former state senator Leland Yee.

From a start in political science at the University of California, San Diego in 1983, she has come a long way, serving on and off in both the public and the private sphere. In rejoining the firm, Haag will be far from the only former government official about the halls, however.

"Orrick is home to more than two dozen former government prosecutors and senior agency enforcement officials on both coasts. Melinda joins McGregor 'Greg' Scott, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California and is deputy leader of the firm’s white-collar practice," Weisman said.

According to their credo, Orrick is a global law firm focused on counseling companies in the tech, energy and infrastructure, and finance sectors. They have offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia, with client work divided between advice and litigation.

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