At a Glance
- Career History: Associate Deputy Attorney General (2009-2010); attorney and partner, Jenner and Block LLP (1988-2009)
- Alma Mater: Yale University, B.A., 1979; Columbia Law School, J.D., 1983
Path to Power
Since his time as an undergraduate, Verrilli has stood out as a high achiever. He received his B.A. cum laude with distinction in history from Yale University in 1979, and went on to attend Columbia University Law School where he was a James Kent scholar and editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review. He received his J.D. with honors in 1983.
After graduation, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The majority of Verrilli's work for Jenner & Block clients was in copyright and telecommunications law. He also won important cases relating to First Amendment rights and workplace descrimination. He took many pro-bono cases, most often those of death-row inmates relating to Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to counsel.
Though he doesn't have significant litigation experience on hot-button national-security issues like indefinite detention and interrogation techniques, Verrilli has defended the rights of the accused in pro-bono cases, some of which made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. During his one year tenure in Obama's Justice Department, he helped draft new restrictions on the government's use of the controversial "state secrets" privilege to block lawsuits.
After graduating from law school, Verrilli clerked for William J. Brennan, Jr., one of the U.S. Supreme Court's most outspoken liberal justices during the period when Verrilli worked for him. Brennan was a lifelong opponent of the death penalty, standing by the court's majority opinion in Furman v. Georgia (1972), which was overturned four years later.
Verrilli is a good friend of Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, who he helped to craft the Justice Department's state secrets doctrine. Verrilli's former boss at Jenner & Block, Tom Perrelli, currently serves as associate attorney general and joined the Justice Department around the same time as Verrilli.
Verrilli has donated a large sum of money to Democratic House, Senate and presidential candidates over the past 15 years. Since 1994, he donated $18,500 to PACs that helped elect Democrats, $41,118 to individual Democratic candidates, and $3,600 to his firm's PAC, Jenner & Block.
Some of his biggest beneficiaries have been Barack Obama ($12,368 between 2003 and 2008); Hillary Rodham Clinton, ($3,300 between 2000 and 2007); and Judith Feder ($3,300), a Washington-based health-policy expert and unsuccessful candidate for Virginia's 10th district in 2008.