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Stephen W. Preston

General Counsel of the Department of Defense


Stephen W. Preston is General Counsel of the Department of Defense. Appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, he was sworn in on October 28, 2013. By statute, the General Counsel is the chief legal officer of the Department.

Mr. Preston served as General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency from July 2009 until his appointment as DoD General Counsel. Earlier positions in government have included General Counsel of the Department of the Navy (1998-2000), Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice (1995-1998), and Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Department of Defense (1993-1995).

Mr. Preston was previously a partner at the law firm of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP in Washington, DC, where he was co-chair of the Defense and National Security Practice Group, as well as a member of the Regulatory and Litigation Departments. He joined the firm in 1986.

A member of the District of Columbia Bar, Mr. Preston is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has been active with the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security and, prior to his appointment as CIA General Counsel, served on the board of directors of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Awards presented to Mr. Preston include the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service (with silver palm in lieu of third award); the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award; the CIA Distinguished Intelligence Medal; the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal (two awards); the CIA Director's Award for Distinguished Service; and the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award.

Mr. Preston received a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Yale University and a Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard University. He is married, with two children, and lives in Washington, DC.