Carolyn Lerner was appointed Chief Circuit Mediator for the U.S. Courts of the D.C. Circuit in September 2017. Prior to her selection, she headed the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) from 2011 until her term ended in 2017. Professor Lerner was nominated by President Obama and unanimously confirmed by the Senate to head OSC, an independent executive branch agency that protects whistleblowers and provides oversight of federal agencies to curb government waste, fraud, and abuse. OSC also enforces the Hatch Act, as well as the laws prohibiting employment discrimination, nepotism, and discrimination on the basis of military service. Professor Lerner frequently testified before Congress on oversight investigations and other good government initiatives.

During her term as Special Counsel, Professor Lerner established a mediation program that has been recognized as “the gold standard” for alternative dispute resolution programs in the federal government. Professor Lerner previously taught mediation as an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University Law School. She has created alternative dispute resolution programs and trained mediators for government agencies and non-profits, and mediated cases for the U.S. District Court, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the D.C. Human Relations Commission.

Professor Lerner was a founding partner of the civil rights and employment law firm Heller, Huron, Chertkof, Lerner, Simon & Salzman. She practiced there from 1997 to 2011. While in private practice, Professor Lerner served as a special master for the U.S. District Court in a sexual harassment and retaliation class action against the D.C. Department of Corrections.

Professor Lerner earned her Bachelor’s degree from the Honors College at the University of Michigan and her J.D. from New York University Law School, where she was a Root-Tilden public interest scholar. After law school, Professor Lerner clerked for Chief Judge Julian Cook, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.