Late this afternoon, the former president of the State Bar of California and a partner in Munger, Tolles & Olson’s San Francisco office announced he will temporarily join the Obama administration as a special counsel to the president. Special counsel for what Bleich wasn’t saying.
“My direction was to do something special,” he said in a brief telephone interview. “You know, all I can say is it’s more of a trouble-shooting role.” He added that he will be “acting as a legal adviser to the president.”
Bleich got a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and his law degree from UC-Berkeley School of Law in 1989. He joined Munger, Tolles & Olson in 1992 and made partner three years later. His practice consists primarily of complex business litigation.
Bleich, who lives in Piedmont with his wife and three children, said he’ll only be gone for three or four months. His family will stay here, but Bleich will “try to come back on weekends.”
Bleich said he first met Obama in the late ‘80s while serving a clerkship with D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Abner Mikva, who was trying to recruit Obama to work in the office. Bleich said he got to know Obama better when the future president was running for the Illinois Senate.
The White House came calling 10 days ago, Bleich said, and he eventually met with Obama in the Oval Office. And even though the two were old friends, he said, “it was still an inspiring moment.”
Bleich said he didn’t know whether he would attend Cabinet meetings, but noted he “got the blue pass, so I get to go into the deeper recesses of the White House — and give my family a nice tour.”
Asked whether his name might start showing up in the news, Bleich said, “If I’m doing my job right, no.”
— Mike McKee