Preeta D. Bansal, J.D.

Preeta D. Bansal, the former Solicitor General of the State of New York, is a lawyer whose career has spanned government service and private practice.  As a current partner at the international law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Ms. Bansal heads the appellate litigation group.  She regularly represents major Wall Street and corporate clients on significant issues of law before the federal and state appellate courts and the United States Supreme Court.  She also maintains a high-profile pro bono practice for public interest clients on novel issues of constitutional law.  In addition to the full-time practice of law, Ms. Bansal currently serves as a Commissioner and as Past Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan independent federal agency to which she was appointed in 2003 by the United States Senate (then-Minority Leadership), and elected Chair by her fellow Commissioners in 2004-2005.  She presided over acclaimed Commission studies on human rights guarantees in the constitutions of predominantly Muslim countries and on the expedited removal process for U.S. asylum seekers, and published op-eds on the Iraqi and Afghan constitutions in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Dallas Morning News.

Ms. Bansal served as the Solicitor General of the State of New York during New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s first Term.  As the ranking statutory legal officer after the Attorney General, Ms. Bansal oversaw and coordinated the significant legal positions of the 600 lawyers of the Attorney General’s Office in the United States Supreme Court and the state and federal appellate courts.  She is widely credited for her critical leadership role in raising the excellence and quality of the New York Attorney General’s office.  The New York Law Journal in a 2004 article described her as having provided the intellectual “bedrock” of the legal philosophy of “federalism” used by Eliot Spitzer, and as “instrumental” in the assembly of the quality and well-credentialed legal team that comprised the Spitzer Administration.  Mr. Spitzer himself praised “her tireless commitment to excellence, her clear vision,” and her “creative” and “astute” thinking that “always insisted upon intellectual honesty and excellence.”  The New York Times in a profile called her a “legal superstar” and a “nimble, unorthodox thinker,” and the New York Law Journal referred to her as “one of the most gifted lawyers of her generation, who combines a brilliant analytical mind with solid, mature judgment.”  During each year of her tenure as Solicitor General, she received the “Best United States Supreme Court Brief” award from the National Association of Attorneys General.

Ms. Bansal is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe College and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was Supervising Editor of the Harvard Law Review.  She served as a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court, and to then-Chief Judge James L. Oakes of the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Ms. Bansal served in the Clinton Administration from 1993-1996 (as a Special Counsel in the White House and as a Counselor in the U.S. Justice Department), during which time she worked on the selection and confirmation of President Clinton’s appointed federal judges and Supreme Court Justices, openness of government proceedings, and violence against women and youth violence issues.  She also practiced law in Washington, D.C. and New York City from 1991-1993 and 1996-1999.  She has taught constitutional law, and was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  She has been a regular speaker on constitutional law and intellectual property issues in the United States and abroad, and has authored and co-authored pieces published in the Harvard Law Review and Yale Law Journal, among other publications. 

Ms. Bansal currently is a commissioner on New York City Mayor Bloomberg's bipartisan Election Modernization Task Force; a Trustee of the national Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; a Board Member of the National Women's Law Center; an Advisory Board Member of the Clinton Global Initiative; a Board Member of the New York City Bar Justice Center; a Board Member of The Fund for Modern Courts; a co-chair of the American Constitution Society’s Federalism and Separation of Powers Working Group; a United States Advisory Committee member of Human Rights Watch; and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  She served on the Government Reform Committee of Governor Spitzer’s transition in 2006, and was also one of the co-chairs of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s transition team.  In 2006, she received the “Woman of Power and Influence Award” from the National Organization of Women at that organization's fortieth anniversary dinner. 


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