Profile on Sally Katzen: Former Head of OIRA
by Nina Hart
Notice and Comment Blogger Nina Hart recently had the opportunity to interview Sally Katzen, the former head of the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) during the Clinton Administration. Below she shares insight on her administrative law experience and lessons in leadership.
An Unexpected Path
Sally Katzen says that her path to law school began unexpectedly. “I wanted to be a math major at Smith College,” she recounts, but the College refused to give her credit for her AP Calculus class. “I was bored, so I went casting about for other things.” She settled on Government 101, and liked her professor so much that she enrolled in his Constitutional Law course. Even with this burgeoning interest in the law, Katzen recounts that the details of why she decided on law school are a bit fuzzy. “My senior year in college, on my 21st birthday, President Kennedy was assassinated, and apparently over the weekend I applied to law schools.”
Katzen graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, and spent one year clerking for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. After that year, she went to work for what was then the small firm of Wilmer Cutler & Pickering. Here, she began developing an expertise in both economics and administrative law. “The firm did a lot of communications law, and I was fortunate to spend a lot of time representing CBS and the Communications Satellite Corporation,”Katzen says. “I drafted comments and participated in hearings at the FCC.”