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  • Satellite Evolution Group

NASA names new agency General Counsel


NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced the selection of Iris Lan as the agency’s new general counsel, effective immediately. She succeeds Sumara Thompson-King, who retired from NASA last December.


“The Office of the General Counsel’s work often goes unseen,” said Nelson. “I want to thank Scott Barber and Charles “Pete” Polen, both of whom served as acting general counsel. Our team of attorneys, paralegals, and professionals are critical to NASA fulfilling our mission to explore the unknown in air and space, innovate for the benefit of humanity, and inspire the world through discovery. With Iris at the helm, I am confident they will continue to help NASA maintain our standing as the world’s premier space agency.”


Before joining NASA, Lan was an associate deputy attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, with responsibilities over the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys and the Department’s Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. As a senior career official for more than a decade, she advised the deputy attorney general and the attorney general on some of the most significant legal and enforcement issues across the country.


She began her career with the Justice Department as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where Lan prosecuted many of the nation’s most complex counterterrorism, counterintelligence, export control, cyber intrusion, and corporate fraud cases. Later, she also was deputy chief of the appellate section, supervising attorneys in briefing and arguing cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.


Lan graduated from Harvard University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics and a master’s degree in history of science and graduated from Harvard Law School. Before joining the department, Lan clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and served as a commercial litigator in private practice.


Lan is an elected member of the American Law Institute, serving as an adviser for the organization’s project on the law of compliance and enforcement for organizations.

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