Get to know U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Posted at 12:21 PM, Nov 08, 2014

Who is Loretta Lynch?

She was confirmed today as the new U.S. Attorney General, by way of a 56-43 vote in the Senate — but many people may not know her background.

Colleagues of Lynch have described her as having “the total package of skills” needed to succeed in that role, according to MSNBC. But let’s get to know the woman who could become the nation’s top-ranking lawyer. Obama himself described her as a "tough, fair and independent" lawyer, in his official announcement of her nomination in November.

A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Lynch, 55, is a two-time graduate of Harvard. Her father and grandfather were both pastors — the latter being a civil rights leader that helped people flee the injustice of the anti-African-American Jim Crow laws during the 1930s.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1984, Lynch worked as a litigation associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, one of New York’s most prominent law firms.

In 1990, she began working in the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, taking a “massive pay cut,” according to Time magazine. Eventually, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, a post she held from June 1999 to May 2001.

Perhaps her most prominent trial conviction came in 1999, when she served on the team that successfully prosecuted several New York City police officers for beating and sexually assaulting a Haitian immigrant while she was held in custody.

In 2002, she left the Eastern District to become a partner at Hogan & Hartson law firm. In 2010, Obama nominated her to again serve as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, which she has done since then.

In 2014, Lynch’s office indicted Michael Grimm, a Republican congressman from New York, for fraud. On Oct. 27, 2014, Reuters reported that Lynch was a “leading candidate to replace U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder,” who announced his decision to step down last September. In November, President Obama officially nominated her for the position.

Lynch will be the first African-American woman to hold the office of U.S. attorney general.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.