W. Neil Eggleston, a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School and a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, has received a 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Lawyer. He was presented with the award as part of the American Lawyer Industry Awards on Nov. 15, in New York City.
Eggleston was one of five attorneys, including Harvard Law School alum Kenneth C. Fraizer ’78, the former CEO of Merck, who were recognized. The award honors those with distinguished careers at some of the country’s most prominent law firms, organizations and companies, and those who have also made their mark through pro bono, government or civic work.
As a litigation partner at Kirkland in Washington, D.C., Eggleston focuses on enforcement defense, including at the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and other enforcement agencies. He has held top roles in government, private practice and academia, and served as counsel to two United States presidents.
From May 2014 to January 2017, Eggleston served as counsel to President Barack Obama ’91. As the president’s chief lawyer, he advised the president on all legal and constitutional issues across a broad spectrum of domestic and foreign policy matters. These include significant litigation, the defense of congressional investigation.
He was deputy chief counsel of the congressional committee that investigated Iran-Contra Affair in 1987-1988. He also served as associate counsel to the president during the first term of the Clinton administration. He represented the Office of the President during the Independent Counsel investigation into the Whitewater and Lewinsky matters, litigating executive privilege and attorney client privilege assertions by the president.
During his legal career, he has represented senior officials and high-profile executives and corporations on significant investigations and ethics matters, shepherded the process for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee, and served as a leader on justice reform efforts and impactful pro bono matters.
Eggleston regularly advises corporations and corporate boards on a wide range of legal issues, including corporate governance, civil litigation, internal investigations, and allegations of fraud. He has experience representing corporate audit committees in SEC and audit-related issues. He also has broad experience advising individuals and companies facing congressional and regulatory investigations.
Eggleston graduated from Duke University in 1975 and Northwestern University Law School in 1978. He clerked for Judge James Hunter, III on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and then for Chief Justice Warren Burger on the Supreme Court of the United States.
He began his career as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he was a trial attorney in the criminal division, from 1981 to 1985, and then chief appellate attorney, from 1985 to 1987.
Frazier, who retired in 2022 after 30 years Merck, recently created with Kenneth Chenault ’76, the former CEO of American Express, the OneTen initiative, which recruits companies to create more than one million new jobs for Black inner-city workers. A longtime leader at Merck, Frazier joined the company in 1992, and for 10 years, from 2011 through 2021, served as president and chief executive officer. He has served as a Merck director since January 2011 and chairman of its board of directors since December 2011.