Legal Industry

Covington adds former U.S. deputy defense secretary as advisor

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Signage outside of the law firm Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C., U.S. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) - David Norquist, the former second-highest ranking official in the U.S. Department of Defense, has joined Covington & Burling's aerospace and defense industry practice as a senior advisor.

Covington announced his hire in a statement on Tuesday, a week after it announced Michele Pearce – the former acting general counsel of the Department of the Army – would join its public policy practice. Pearce previously held senior staff positions in the Defense Department and on Capitol Hill.

Their hires come as "national security issues continue to receive significant attention from all levels of government," Covington management committee chair Doug Gibson said in the statement.

"Serving as the Pentagon's number two civilian leader, David is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges and priorities facing clients in the defense industry," Gibson said.

Norquist was deputy secretary of defense from 2019 to 2021, a role that included managing the department's day-to-day business operations and the Pentagon's budget, among other things. During his tenure the department grappled with issues such as the spread of COVID-19 and tensions between the United States and Iran.

Norquist, who is not a lawyer, also briefly served as acting secretary of defense at the start of the Biden administration.

He started his career at the Department of the Army. He then served as deputy under secretary of defense in the Office of the Comptroller and as chief financial officer at the Department of Homeland Security.

Norquist said in Tuesday's announcement that Covington attracted him because of the firm's reputation as "one of the top firms in the defense industry." The Washington, D.C.-based firm is also known for its political clients, including the Biden campaign in 2020.

He did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

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