U.S. Supreme Court

Meet Donald Verrilli, the Lawyer Who Will Defend President Obama's Health Care Law


Solicitor General Donald Verrilli isn’t talking about the challenge to the Obama administration’s health care law, but he does reflect on his transition from BigLaw to government service in a newspaper interview.

Verrilli is a former Jenner & Block partner who oversaw the firm’s Supreme Court practice. He tells USA Today he settled in Washington, D.C., with the expectation that he would end up at the Justice Department. He was in his 50s and still working outside government when Barack Obama became president.

Verrilli decided it was time to make the leap. “I took the attitude, if they wanted me to sweep the floors at the Justice Department, I would be happy to do that,” he said.

He got a job as associate deputy attorney general, followed by a stint as deputy counsel working on matters such as the BP oil spill. He was confirmed as solicitor general in June 2011.

USA Today describes Verrilli as tall and “mustachioed” with a “modest and non-ideological” style. A former colleague, Paul Smith, said Verrilli could be quite intense on behalf of private clients, but he has apparently altered his style. “I think he’s made a conscious choice, that that’s not the tone the solicitor general should take,” Smith told USA Today.

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