July 1, 2005

Department of Agriculture General Counsel Nancy Bryson Joins Venable

4 min

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 1, 2005) – Venable LLP welcomes U.S. Department of Agriculture General Counsel Nancy S. Bryson as a partner to the firm’s Washington office.  Ms. Bryson, a longtime Washington, DC attorney who also worked in both the Departments of Justice and Labor, will head the firm's Food and Agriculture practice within Venable's Regulatory Group.

Ms. Bryson has spent the last three years leading the USDA’s 230-attorney General Counsel’s office.  In addition to its well known role as guardian of America’s food supply, the department is responsible for a vast array of related programs.  The USDA also is the steward of the national forests, and it works to ensure open markets for U.S.agricultural products abroad.

As General Counsel, Ms. Bryson participated in senior policy deliberation and helped formulate USDA policy.  She regularly testified before both houses of Congress and was responsible for maintaining collaborative relationships with her counterparts at the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Interior and Commerce, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Office of Management and Budget. 

Ms. Bryson also directed department litigation and mediation in matters involving advertising, marketing and safety of food products, animal and plant health, animal identification, agricultural trade, agricultural antitrust issues, environmental and natural resources, and civil rights disputes.  The sheer breadth of matters she worked on is reflected by a partial list of USDA programs that regularly called on her office for counsel, including:  the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service; the Food and Nutrition Service; the Food and Safety Inspection Service; the Agricultural Marketing Service; the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; the Forest Service; the Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Rural Development.

“Nancy has been at the forefront of our nation’s agricultural policy and brings substantial added experience as a top-rank lawyer with a keen understanding of regulatory issues tied to natural resources,” said Brock Landry, who co-chairs Venable’s Government and Regulatory Affairs Group.

“Her tenure at USDA came at an especially critical time, given the enormity of food and agri-product safety issues that have surfaced in recent years, from fears of bioterrorism to mad cow and avian influenza, along with bioengineered crops and medicines,” Mr. Landry added.  “It is certain that these concerns will continue to challenge manufacturers, growers, distributors, retailers and other players in our nation’s food and foodservice industries.  We’re fortunate to have a partner with Nancy’s background to help our clients operating in this regulatory landscape.”

In addition to Ms. Bryson, Venable has recently added a number of top Washington regulatory players to its partnership.  Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for the Department of Homeland Security, and John Muleta, chair of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, both came to the firm in the past two months.

Ms. Bryson joined the USDA in 2002, after spending 17 years in private practice.  “After 9/11, I wanted to return to public service,” she said.  “The USDA proved to be a great opportunity – the department is at the nexus of so many vital areas affecting our nation’s health and security, as well as our economic prosperity.  Upon USDA Secretary Ann Veneman’s recent departure, I felt it was a natural time for me to transition back to private practice.  Venable became immediately attractive not only because of its Washington prominence, but for its practice strength in a number of key areas, including regulatory, food and drug, environmental, government contracts, and especially homeland security.”

An avid gardener and amateur horticulturalist, Ms. Byrson is keenly interested in the growing reliance by life sciences companies in the use of plant varietals and organic compounds.  “Specialty crop production will play an increasingly important role in America’s future food and drug supply,” she said, noting the regulatory gauntlet that biotech companies must pass in gaining product approval.  “Venable’s track record in representing companies before the EPA, FDA, USDA and other agencies was another key draw to the firm.”

Prior to joining the USDA, Ms. Bryson was a longtime partner at the Washington law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP, where she worked chiefly on environmental and natural resource matters in litigation as well as in policy initiatives, licensing proceedings, rulemaking and legislative representations.

Earlier in her career, she served as Assistant Chief of the Environmental Defense Section of the US Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  While there she served as counsel to the EPA on the seminal administrative law case of Chevron v. N.R.D.C. Before her stint at the DOJ, Ms. Bryson worked as Assistant Counsel for Appellate Litigation in the U.S. Department of Labor.

Ms. Bryson earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center (1975) and B.A. from Boston University(1972).

One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia. For more, visit www.Venable.com.