Elis to join Obama administration

As the Obama administration gears up for 2011, two Yalies have been nominated to join the team: Donald Virrilli Jr. ’79 and David S. Cohen LAW ’89.

President Obama announced the appointment of Virrilli and Cohen to key administrative positions in the Departments of Justice and the Treasury, respectively, in a press release Monday evening. He is nominating Virrilli for the post of solicitor general of the United States, and Cohen for the post of undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

“I am grateful these accomplished individuals have agreed to continue their service to the nation, and I’m confident they will serve ably in these important roles,” said Obama in the release. “I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”

Virrilli, a graduate of Yale College, went on to Columbia University to get his law degree, where he served as editor in chief of the Columbia Law Review.

Virrilli served as a litigator for 20 years for the Washington, D.C.-based firm Jenner and Block, where he primarily worked on First Amendment, telecommunications, intellectual property and pro bono cases.

Virrilli also spent over 15 years at George University Law Center as an adjunct professor, focusing on First Amendment issues. Currently, Virrilli is serving as a deputy counsel to President Obama.

Cohen, a Yale Law School graduate, received his undergraduate degree, magna cum laude, from Cornell University. Before getting involved in government, Cohen previously worked as a partner at the law firm WilmerHale, where he focused on civil litigation, white-collar criminal defense, internal investigations and anti-money laundering counseling.

At present, Cohen serves as the assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the Department of the Treasury. In this capacity, he formulates and coordinates the department’s counterterrorist financing.

If confirmed, Virrilli will replace former Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who is now a Supreme Court justice, and Cohen will replace former Secretary of the Treasury Stuart Levy.

Both Kagan and Levy received their law degrees from Harvard University.

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