Former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch will address Duke Law School’s 2017 graduates at their hooding ceremony on May 13. She will subsequently receive an honorary degree from Duke University at its commencement exercises on May 14.
Lynch, who led the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) from 2015 to 2017 as the 83rd attorney general, was the second woman and the first African-American woman to serve in the post. During her tenure as attorney general she focused extensively on issues relating to countering homegrown extremism and radicalized Americans overseas, cybersecurity, domestic violence reduction, and such civil rights matters as combatting human trafficking and protecting LGBT citizens and voting rights.
Having joined the DOJ in 1990 after practicing litigation at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, Lynch served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1999-2001 and again from 2010 to 2015, during the Clinton and Obama administrations, respectively. As U.S. attorney, she oversaw federal prosecutions in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Long Island. During her service in the Eastern District she prosecuted cases involving narcotics, violent crimes, public corruption, and civil rights, including the high-profile case of Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant who was sexually assaulted by uniformed police officers in a Brooklyn police precinct in 1997.
From 2002 to 2010 Lynch was a partner at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells) in New York. While in private practice, Lynch performed extensive pro bono work for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, established to prosecute those responsible for human rights violations in that nation’s the 1994 genocide. As Special Counsel to the Tribunal, she was responsible for investigating allegations of witness tampering and false testimony.
A native of Greensboro, N.C., Lynch was raised in Durham, where her parents still live. She graduated from Durham High School before attending Harvard University where she received her AB in English and American literature in 1981 and her JD in 1984.