Eric H. Holder, Jr. was born in New York City and attended public schools there, graduating from Stuyvesant High School, before earning a B.A. in American History from Columbia College in 1973 and a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1976.
Upon his graduation from law school, Mr. Holder joined the Department of Justice through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. He was assigned to the newly-formed Public Integrity Section, where he investigated and prosecuted corruption involving officials in local, state, and federal government. In 1988, President Reagan appointed Mr. Holder to serve as an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, where he presided over hundreds of criminal and civil trials during his five years on the bench. In 1993, President Clinton appointed Judge Holder to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder to serve as Deputy Attorney General of the United States, a position that he held until the end of the Clinton administration. He was the first African American to serve as Deputy Attorney General and United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. At the request of President George W. Bush, Mr. Holder served as Acting Attorney General in 2001 pending the confirmation of Attorney General John Ashcroft.
In July 2001, Mr. Holder joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice group, where he represented clients in complex civil and criminal cases as well as internal corporate investigations.
President Barack Obama nominated Mr. Holder to be Attorney General and his nomination was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 2, 2009. Mr. Holder began his service as the eighty-second Attorney General of the United States the following day. He was the first African American to serve in that position. He remained in office until April 27, 2015, becoming the third longest serving Attorney General in the nation’s history.
While Attorney General, Mr. Holder oversaw the government’s efforts to address many critically important issues arising at the intersection of law and public policy, including national security investigations and prosecutions; landmark antitrust, environmental, fraud and tax cases; the defense of voting rights and marriage equality; and reform of the federal criminal justice system. In 2014, Time magazine named Mr. Holder to its list of 100 Most Influential People, stating that he “worked tirelessly to ensure equal justice”.
After his departure from the Department of Justice, Mr. Holder returned to Covington & Burling and is resident in their Washington office. He focuses on complex litigation and investigatory matters that are international in scope and raise significant enforcement issues and substantial reputational concerns.
Mr. Holder’s many civic commitments have included service on the boards of Columbia University, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Meyer Foundation, and the Save the Children Foundation, among many others. He also served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission Ad Hoc Advisory Group.Mr. Holder has received numerous awards and honorary degrees in recognition of his professional and civic contributions, including the NAACP Chairman’s Award, the Department of Justice’s John F. Keeney Award, the District of Columbia Bar Association’s Beatrice Rosenberg Award, George Washington University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal for Outstanding Service in Human Rights and The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Robert F. Kennedy Justice Prize. The District of Columbia Bar Association has recognized Mr. Holder as its Lawyer of the Year and Legal Times named him, in 2008, as one of “The Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Past Thirty Years”.