Rakesh Kilaru, 32
Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel, Office of the White House Counsel
Hometown: North Royalton, OH
How did you get here?
Before attending law school, I worked as a paralegal in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. I was inspired by my colleagues’ collective commitment to public service, and was eager to return to the government after law school. I was fortunate enough to clerk for two years after graduating from law school, and then began working as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington, DC. I enjoyed every day at the firm, but always had an eye toward returning to the government.
In April 2015, I heard that a vacancy was opening up in the White House Counsel’s office—fortuitously, one created by the departure of Jeremy Maltby, one of my mentors during his time at O’Melveny prior to joining the Administration. A number of folks I look up to, including Susan Davies and Danielle Gray, had served in the Counsel’s office earlier in the Administration and encouraged me to apply for the position. And luckily, Neil Eggleston decided to bring me on board!
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your career?
Above all, my family—my mom, who made countless sacrifices raising me and my sister by herself; my sister, who put up with a lot from her troublesome younger brother; and my wife, who is by far the better half of our relationship. But I’ve also been incredibly lucky to have had a number of great sponsors throughout my career. The two judges for whom I clerked—Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III and Justice Elena Kagan—taught me how to think more sharply and write more clearly. And during my pre-law school year at DOJ, I was fortunate to befriend Judge Sri Srinivasan, who has been a role model for the past decade, both as a lawyer and as an all-around wonderful person.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment during the Obama administration?
Working with an incredibly talented group of friends and colleagues, both within our office and throughout the White House complex, to help implement the President’s policies.
Can you describe your time working for the Obama administration in 10 words?
Every day, I enter the complex excited and leave inspired.
Complete the sentence: “When I’m not working, I…”
I’m cooking, playing basketball, or—above all—fanatically following my hometown sports teams (especially the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Ohio State Buckeyes).