The Immigration Managers: New Ranking Immigration Lawyer at Justice

By David North on August 4, 2010

There's a new ranking immigration lawyer at the Department of Justice; his background is corporate law, civil rights battles, and Yale.

He is William Horsley Orrick III. If that sounds familiar, it is because his namesake and late father was an Assistant Attorney General during the Kennedy years, running the Civil Division. He was later a federal district court judge in California. And the new appointee's grandfather was a founder of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, a 22-office, global law firm headquartered on the waterfront in Washington's Georgetown.

The younger Orrick went to Yale College, Boston College Law School, getting cum laude degrees at both, and then practiced civil rights law in Savannah, Ga., before joining a major San Francisco law firm. He subsequently became a partner at that firm, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, according to a press release from the firm. He did corporate law there.

Orrick's first political appointment, a year or so ago, was as Counselor to the Assistant AG in the Civil Division, which includes the Office of Immigration Litigation, of which he is now chief. His predecessor in the chief's job, Juan Osuna, once editor of the immigration bar's trade paper Interpreter Releases, was promoted to Associate Deputy Attorney General for Immigration Policy, the department's ranking immigration authority.

The Office of Immigration Litigation (OIL) has 310 lawyers and 100 or so support staff. They argue the government's position on immigration matters in various federal courts.

If OIL thinks someone should be deported, they usually are, and if OIL drops the case, the alien stays in the country.

I have no insights into Orrick's thoughts on immigration matters. Given this administration's posture it is probably better to have the new OIL boss a newcomer to immigration law than to be a seasoned member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which would have been another possibility.