Akin Gump Expands Appellate Practice Former Justice Department and ACLU Official Joins Firm
(Los Angeles, California) – Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP announced today that Michael Small, a former Justice Department and ACLU official with extensive experience in high-profile constitutional and civil rights matters, has joined the firm as senior counsel in the appellate and litigation strategy practice group.
Mr. Small joins a distinguished group of Akin Gump attorneys who handle appellate matters nationwide. Led by accomplished appellate lawyer Rex S. Heinke, the group includes former 9th Circuit Judge and Supreme Court clerk William A. Norris, and Edward P. Lazarus, a former Supreme Court clerk, assistant U.S. attorney and acclaimed author. Collectively, the lawyers in Akin Gump’s appellate practice have more than 50 years of experience before state and federal trial and appeals courts. Since its inception, the group has been involved in appeals dealing with complex business litigation, including class actions, labor and employment, antitrust, tax, intellectual property, the First Amendment and federal Indian law.
Mr. Small served in the Justice Department from 1993-1997. As deputy associate attorney general, he assisted in the development of legal and political strategy for the Clinton administration on a wide range of civil rights and constitutional issues. Prior to his appointment to that position, he worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, an elite unit that serves as the “lawyers’ lawyers” by providing advice on complex questions to the attorney general, the White House counsel, and general counsels at executive branch agencies. During his government tenure, Mr. Small played a critical role in the development of reforms to affirmative action in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Adarand Constructors v. Pena, and in the defense of scores of federal laws in response to Supreme Court decisions curbing the reach of national authority. He also had an integral part in the formulation of the Justice Department position in a series of landmark separation of powers cases, including Paula Jones’ suit against President Clinton and litigation over the constitutionality of the line item veto. In addition, Mr. Small advised law enforcement and intelligence agencies on the legality of certain sting and covert operations, and was a key member of inter-agency working groups that took measures to prevent default on the national debt during the budget impasse between the president and Congress, and to restructure Mexico’s debt during that country’s financial crisis.
After leaving the government, Mr. Small taught constitutional law as a visiting professor at UCLA Law School, and will continue to pursue academic projects while at Akin Gump. Most recently, he served as the chief counsel of the ACLU of Southern California, where he coordinated litigation in the areas of racial profiling, diversity in higher education, freedom of expression and religious freedom and was responsible for managing the ACLU’s legal department.
Mr. Small began his career at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C. He received his B.A. from the University of Michigan and his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Law Journal. Following law school, Mr. Small was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and studied international human rights law in Great Britain. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.
Rex S. Heinke, chair of Akin Gump’s appellate practice, commented, “We are extremely pleased that Mike has joined us. He is a highly talented and well-respected attorney whose depth and breadth of experience will serve our clients well.”
Founded in 1945, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P., a leading international law firm, numbers more than 1,000 lawyers with offices in Austin, Brussels, Dallas, Denver, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Riyadh (affiliate), San Antonio and Washington. The firm has a diversified practice and represents regional, national and international clients in a wide range of areas, including antitrust; banking and financial institutions; capital markets; communications; corporate and securities; employee benefits; energy, land use and environment; entertainment; estate planning, wealth transfer and probate; financial restructuring; government contracts; health; insurance; intellectual property; international; investment management; labor and employment; litigation; mergers and acquisitions; privatization; project development and finance; public law and policy; real estate and finance; taxation; and technology.
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