Orrick adds top litigator from Akin as slew of firms mark DC hires

DOJ veteran Esther Lander joins tech-focused firm as Goodwin, Steptoe, Willkie and Weil also add DC partners

Esther_Lander Image courtesy of Orrick

Orrick has added a top litigator in Washington DC from rival Akin, amid a glut of partner laterals in the US capital.  

Esther Lander has joined the firm’s employment practice as a partner following her second stint at Akin, in between which she spent eight years at the Department of Justice (DOJ), where she was principal deputy chief of the employment litigation section in the civil rights division.

Lander brings extensive experience representing major tech and other Fortune 500 companies in systemic discrimination matters, including those involving the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the DOJ, Department of Labor and Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

“We are fortunate to have Esther join us,” said Erin Connell, co-chair of Orrick’s EEO and OFCCP compliance practice and pay equity task force.  

“Our clients are operating in an environment of heightened government enforcement and increased regulation, particularly in tech, financial services and life sciences. Esther brings expertise counselling companies with practical advice involving complex, nuanced issues and has a proven track record of bringing matters to successful resolution with government regulators and enforcement agencies. We could not have a better leader for our employment practice in Washington.”

At the DOJ Lander directed a nationwide civil rights litigation programme and first chaired several systemic discrimination enforcement actions and investigations on behalf of the DOJ.  

She left the DOJ to rejoin Akin as a partner in 2014 and has since represented corporate clients in employment discrimination litigation, including class actions, and regularly advises on topics including EEOC and OFCCP compliance, pay equity and DEI issues.

At Orrick Lander has joined an employment team that has prevailed in high-profile employment matters for marquee clients including Oracle, Microsoft, Twitter and Kleiner Perkins.

Lander is the firm’s 36th hire in Washington DC in the past two years following its eye-catching 2023 merger with financial regulatory and enforcement firm Buckley, which added 100 lawyers across the US and created a firm with revenue in the region of $1.4bn. The combined firm has around 180 lawyers in Washington DC.  

Lander’s move comes amid a glut of partner hires by Big Law firms in Washington DC in recent months. Goodwin said today it had added Lori Gordon to its IP litigation practice from Perkins Coie, where she was co-chair of the post-grant practice.  

Meantime Steptoe has continued it own stream of DC partner hires this week with national security and risk management lawyer Karl Hopkins from Bradley Arant Boult Cummings and Tim Moran, who joined from Holland & Knight as head of energy and infrastructure finance and M&A. Both men brought teams that joined in New York and, in Hopkins’ case, the Houston office the firm opened in January after joining forces with Texas trial boutique SKV. 

Willkie also bolstered its DC partner ranks this week with the addition of Robert Lepore, a former section chief of the DOJ’s antitrust division, while Weil hired US Securities and Exchange Commission veteran Christopher Mulligan for its private funds practice

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