News & Insights

Press Release

May 8, 2018

Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates Rejoins King & Spalding

- Will Spearhead the Firm’s Independent Investigations Practice

ATLANTA and WASHINGTON, May 8, 2018 — King & Spalding today announced that former Acting Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates has returned to the firm as a partner on the Special Matters & Government Investigations team. Her global practice will be based primarily in Washington, DC and Atlanta.

Yates, a 27-year veteran of the Department of Justice, rose through the ranks of Assistant United States Attorneys to become U.S. Attorney in Atlanta, Deputy Attorney General, and Acting Attorney General. As Deputy AG from January 2015 through 2017, she served as the second-highest ranking official in the department and was responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of DOJ and its 113,000 employees. She oversaw all prosecutorial, litigation and national security components as well as all U.S. Attorneys’ offices and DOJ law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, DEA, ATF, U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons. She is currently a Distinguished Lecturer at Georgetown University Law Center focused on public policy.

“Sally Yates is a lawyer’s lawyer,” said Robert D. Hays, Jr. chairman of King & Spalding. “Her return continues a longstanding K&S tradition of launching young lawyers into public service and welcoming them back into private practice. Adding Sally is a remarkable development for our firm and our clients.”

While Deputy Attorney General, Yates was responsible for overseeing the Department’s most significant matters and for crafting and implementing initiatives focused on many of DOJ’s strategic priorities, including corporate fraud, cybercrime, gang violence, civil rights and financial crime. Additionally, she led DOJ’s criminal justice reform initiatives during her tenure and implemented substantial prison reform measures.

Prior to assuming her duties as Deputy Attorney General, Yates served for five years as the first female U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. She immediately became a leader in the Department, serving as the vice chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. An accomplished trial lawyer, she prosecuted a wide variety of complex cases, specializing in white collar matters. She tried numerous high-profile public corruption cases, including one against the former mayor of Atlanta, and was lead prosecutor in the case against Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.

Yates said, “I’m excited to get back to practicing law with the firm where I started my career. Not only was K&S my first legal home, it has an unparalleled tradition of legal excellence, uncompromising ethics, and commitment to civic engagement and public service. I’m looking forward to building upon the firm’s independent investigations practice for public and private organizations and boards, and helping organizational leadership navigate complex and sensitive challenges. And I’m excited to be practicing with such an exceptional group of lawyers and staff who truly work as a team to do the very best legal work.”  

“We are very fortunate to have Sally join our team,” said Special Matters practice Chair Wick Sollers. “As a legal strategist, independent investigator and trial lawyer, she is as talented and hardworking as any lawyer I know. She is also widely respected for her integrity and resolve. We are confident that general counsel, CEOs and boards of directors will welcome her insight, especially if they need an independent counsel who can navigate a matter with civil, criminal or reputational ramifications.”

“U.S. and multinational entities that need a trusted perspective from independent, credible counsel can rely on Sally and our team throughout the firm’s 20 offices around the world. Whether supported by our long-established offices in Atlanta, D.C., New York and London, or our other offices, including the recently-established offices in L.A., Chicago and Tokyo, Sally has the resources of one of the most sophisticated Investigations practices in the world that can handle any matter, anywhere,” said Mark Jensen, managing partner of the Washington, DC office.

Before entering government service, Yates worked as a King & Spalding civil litigation associate from 1986 to 1989. She earned her BA from the University of Georgia and her JD, magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Yates is the sixth former federal prosecutor to join King & Spalding’s Special Matters & Government Investigations team in the past year.

About King & Spalding
Celebrating more than 130 years of service, King & Spalding is an international law firm that represents a broad array of clients, including half of the Fortune Global 100, with 1,000 lawyers in 20 offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm has handled matters in over 160 countries on six continents and is consistently recognized for the results it obtains, uncompromising commitment to quality, and dedication to understanding the business and culture of its clients. More information is available at

Media Contact:
Micheline Tang


Appendix – Select List of Awards for Sally Yates

  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow, State Chair
  • Southern Center for Human Rights 2018 Luminary Award, 2018
  • University of Georgia School of Law Distinguished Service Scroll, 2018
  • Anti-Defamation League Elbert B. Tuttle Jurisprudence Award, 2018
  • John Holliman Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award, UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, 2018
  • Bar Association of Washington D.C. Lawyer of the Year, 2017
  • American Constitution Society Legal Legend Award, 2017
  • Muslim Advocates Freedom Award, 2017
  • Islamic Speakers Bureau Courage Award, 2017
  • Detroit NAACP Freedom and Justice Award, 2017
  • Emory University Public Interest Inspiration Award, 2016
  • Urban League of Greater Atlanta Champion of Justice Award
  • Atlanta Bar Association Leadership Award
  • Attorney General’s John Marshall Award
  • Stonewall Bar Association Award
  • University of Georgia Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Common Cause of Georgia Democracy Award
  • Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network Award
  • Foundation for Improvement of Justice Award
  • Department of Justice Director’s Award
  • FBI Director’s Award
  • ATF Director’s Award