Trump Taps Kirkland Ellis Partner for Labor Solicitor

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By Ben Penn

Kate O’Scannlain, a partner at global management firm Kirkland & Ellis, will be President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Labor Department’s top legal post and No. 3 overall position, the White House announced late Sept. 28.

O’Scannlain, a 2005 graduate from Notre Dame Law School, focuses her practice on the labor and employment law aspects of corporate transactions and private equity, according to her Kirkland Ellis bio. If confirmed as solicitor of labor by the Senate, she would arrive at the DOL at a time when the agency’s legal office is reviewing several major regulations issued under the Obama administration.

She previously represented BP PLC during the high-profile litigation involving the Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill. O’Scannlain also has experience with the National Labor Relations Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

She would serve under Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who briefly worked as a Kirkland Ellis associate in the 1990s. She’s been with the firm’s Washington office since 2005 and was promoted to partner in 2011.

If confirmed as solicitor, O’Scannlain would oversee a large legal office, with hundreds of DOL attorneys across the country, and will have her own litigation authority. Since February, the solicitor’s office has been directed on an acting basis by Nicholas Geale. As of August, Geale also became the secretary’s chief of staff.

The White House nomination comes as Acosta awaits Senate confirmation of a handful of other DOL appointments, including Patrick Pizzella for deputy labor secretary and Cheryl Stanton for Wage and Hour Division administrator.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Penn in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at

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