Loretta Lynch Bio

5 Things to Know About the First African-American Woman Attorney General

Loretta Lynch
Loretta Lynch replaced Eric Holder as U.S. attorney general in President Barack Obama's administration. Mark Wilson/Getty Images News

Loretta E. Lynch serves as the U.S. attorney general. She was nominated to the post by President Barack Obama in September 2014 and, upon confirmation more than half a year later, became the first African-American woman to serve in the position.

Lynch replaced Eric Holder, the nation's first African-American attorney general.

What the Attorney General Does

The attorney general represents the United States in legal matters and serves as a consultant, of sorts, to the president and heads of the executive departments of the government.

 According to the office, the attorney general also appears before the U.S. Supreme Court "in matters of exceptional gravity or importance," though such appearances are rare.

Related Story: List of Attorneys General from 1980 to 2008

The attorney general also oversees the network of U.S. Attorneys based throughout the United States and is the fourth in the line of presidential succession behind the secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense.

Nomination Controversy

The confirmation process for Lynch took longer than almost any other in history. In fact, only two other presidential nominations dragged on longer than hers: President Ronald Reagan's choice for attorney general, Edwin Meese, and President Woodrow Wilson's, according to The New York Times, which cited the Congressional Research Service.

Republicans blocked the confirmation because of Lynch's defense of Obama's executive actions on immigration, which would have protects millions of people living in the United States illegally from being deporting, among other things.


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Some Democrats, however, believed Republicans were merely throwing up roadblocks to her nomination because she was chosen by a president from the opposite party.

Professional Career

Here is a timeline of Lynch's professional career:

  • 1984 to 1990: Associate at the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel
  • 1990 to 1999: Assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York
  • 1999 to 2001: U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York
  • 2001 to 2010: Partner at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, LLP
  • 2002 to 2007: Pro bono as counsel to the prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania
  • 2010 to 2015: U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York
  • April 23, 2015: Confirmed as U.S. attorney general; the U.S. Senate vote was 56 in favor, including 10 Republicans, and 43 opposed.



Lynch graduated from Harvard College in 1981 with a bachelor of arts degree in English and American literature, and Harvard Law School in 1984 with a law degree.

Important Quotes

On the right of people living in the United State illegally in the workforce: “I believe the right and the obligation to work is one that is shared by everyone in this country, regardless of how they came here. Certainly, if someone is here — regardless of status — I would prefer that they be participating in the workplace than not participating in the workplace.” 

Related Story: Why You Shouldn't Call Them Illegal Immigrants Anymore

On whether Republican skepticism that she would perform her duties like Holder did: "I will be myself, Loretta Lynch."

Personal Life 

Lynch's full name is Loretta Elizabeth Lynch Hargrove. She is married to Stephen Hargrove and has two stepchildren.

She was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1959. 

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Murse, Tom. "Loretta Lynch Bio." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/loretta-lynch-bio-3367662. Murse, Tom. (2016, August 23). Loretta Lynch Bio. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/loretta-lynch-bio-3367662 Murse, Tom. "Loretta Lynch Bio." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/loretta-lynch-bio-3367662 (accessed December 18, 2017).