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David Ogden speaks on law and politics at Elon

Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General David Ogden spoke with Elon law students Sept. 16 and with undergraduate students Sept. 15 on a range of subjects including political appointments, the evolving priorities of the Department of Justice and the role of attorneys as advocates.

Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General David Ogden at Elon University

Ogden, a Partner and Co-Chair of the Government and Regulatory Litigation Practice Group at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C., served as deputy attorney general in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2010. In that position, he was the second ranking official of the U.S. Department of Justice and its chief operating officer, supervising the Justice Department’s 110,000 employees, almost $30 billion budget, and all of its components and operations.

Mr. Ogden also served as head of the Obama transition team at the U.S. Department of Justice, associate deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, and clerk for Justice Blackmun at the U.S. Supreme Court.

At Elon Law, Ogden spoke about his work in building the government and regulation litigation practice area at WilmerHale.

“There is something to knowing how to litigate against the government,” Ogden said. “There are a whole set of regulatory regimes and statutory regimes that set up regulation requirements that actually can give rise to civil litigation.”

David Ogden speaks with students at Elon University with professor and chair of the Department of English Kevin Boyle

Litigation of this type can manifest in a range of areas including antitrust, racketeering, civil rights and environmental law, Ogden said.

Ogden described his experience, while serving as Deputy General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Defense, defending “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” a policy with which he personally did not agree.

“One of the things, as a pretty young lawyer, that I had to struggle with was: What was my role?” Ogden said. “It wasn’t a policy that I approved of and I didn’t believe in it, but it was the law. So, I had to deal with the fact that my job was to work within this policy that I really did not agree with.”

David Ogden greets an Elon Law student, with associate professor of law Scott Gaylord

Ogden went on to explain that situations in which personal beliefs conflict with professional requirements are not limited to government jobs. This is a common problem for attorneys and it exists in all areas of law, he said. 

On Sept. 15, Ogden spoke with students at Elon University about the intersection of law and politics. Click here for a report on those remarks by The Pendulum, Elon's student newspaper. Prior to his formal presentation at Elon University, Ogden held a question-and-answer session with students, describing his career path and life priorities.

Ogden encouraged students to be open to unique career opportunities and welcome challenges while being mindful of the impact work has on one’s family.

“It’s just incredibly important that you find a way to make the compromises you need with your career to give time and energy to your family.” Ogden said.

Mr. Ogden has a law degree from Harvard and an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with Elon University professor and chair of the Department of English Kevin Boyle. Ogden’s visit to Elon was sponsored by the Fund for Excellence.

Reporting for this article provided by Courtney Roller L'13.




Philip Craft,
9/20/2011 8:44 AM