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Karl R. Thompson


(T) +1.202.879.3440
(F) +1.202.626.1700


  • The University of Chicago (J.D. with high honors 2000; Order of the Coif; Articles Editor, University of Chicago Law Review); Cambridge University (Ph.D. in Political Theory 1998; M.Phil. in Social and Political Sciences 1992); Harvard University (B.A. in Physics 1991)

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia and New York


  • Law Clerk to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court of the United States (2002 Term) and Judge David S. Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit (2000-2001)

Government Service

  • Served with the U.S. Department of Justice as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General (2014-2017), Acting Assistant Attorney General (2014), Deputy Assistant Attorney General (2011-2013), and Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General (2009-2011), Office of Legal Counsel, and Counselor to the Attorney General (2013-2014)

Karl Thompson counsels clients about, and litigates cases involving, complex statutory and constitutional questions.

Prior to joining Jones Day in 2017, Karl spent nearly three years as the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). In that role, he provided authoritative legal advice to the president, the attorney general, and the executive branch agencies regarding the legality of proposed executive branch actions. While at OLC, Karl signed formal written opinions and provided informal advice about a wide range of subjects, including national security, fiscal and administrative law, banking, cybersecurity, treaty interpretation, economic sanctions, immigration, congressional oversight, environmental statutes, criminal justice, the constitutional separation of powers, and the president's authority under Article II of the Constitution. He also supervised the work of all OLC attorneys, including four deputy assistant attorneys general, and represented OLC in its interactions with senior executive branch officials, including the counsel to the president, the attorney general, and the general counsels of the cabinet agencies.

Prior to serving as head of OLC, Karl was a counselor to the U.S. Attorney General, handling issues related to the Civil Division, the Office of the Solicitor General, and OLC. He also previously served as a deputy assistant attorney general and counsel in OLC.

Before entering government service, Karl worked at a law firm in Washington, where he focused on international and appellate litigation. As part of this practice, he litigated and argued cases in federal courts of appeal, federal district courts, and state courts and drafted numerous briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Areas of Focus


Karl Thompson