Emma Leheny is a Partner in the firm’s Education practice. Her 25-year career spans private practice and public service and includes a decade in senior executive leadership positions.  

Prior to joining Potomac Law Group, Ms. Leheny was appointed as Principal Deputy General Counsel and served as Acting General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Education, where she oversaw a large, diverse litigation and regulatory portfolio and managed a 120-attorney office. Her tenure with the Biden Administration focused on Title IX litigation and rulemaking, federal student aid policy, the distribution of emergency pandemic funding, and the re-opening of K-12 schools nationwide.  

Ms. Leheny previously served as Senior Counsel for the National Education Association, which represents three million employees and their local associations. While at NEA, Ms. Leheny concentrated on federal education policy, appellate litigation, and employee/employer relations. 

Before joining NEA, Ms. Leheny was the California Teachers Association’s Chief Counsel where she directed all legal work for the organization, which represents more than 300,000 public education employees and 1,000 local associations.  

Before moving in-house, Ms. Leheny spent a decade in private practice where she led large-scale litigation matters through trial and appeal in state and federal courts. Ms. Leheny also provided daily advice and counsel to local, statewide, and national associations. 

Ms. Leheny began her career as a judicial clerk for the Hon. Warren J. Ferguson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, after which she was awarded a Skadden Fellowship, which she completed at the Western Center on Law & Poverty in Los Angeles. 

Representative Experience

  • Provided drafting, comments, and testimony in legislative and rulemaking processes, both state and federal, on education and employment topics
  • Authored amicus briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts of appeal on behalf of students and educators
  • Participated in collective bargaining and provided labor relations advice to associations in the higher education, K-12, and other public employment sectors
  • Represented higher education faculty and faculty associations in matters relating tenure, due process, and academic freedom
  • Served as lead counsel in class action, group, and individual litigation through trial, settlement, and appeal

Honors & Awards

  • Peggy Browning Award for distinguished career in labor law, 2015
  • Harvard Law School Wasserstein Fellowship for distinguished public interest career, 2014

Publications and Speeches

  • “Bargaining and Litigation in the Post-Pyett Era,” California Labor & Employment Review (co-author 2011)
  • Public Sector Labor Relations column, California Labor & Employment Review (co-author, 2003-2006)
  • Frequent law school and conference speaker on education law, legal ethics, and labor and employment topics


  • National Immigration Law Center Executive Board (2010-2015)


Northeastern University School of Law, J.D.

Brown University, A.B., with honors

Previous Experience

  • U.S. Department of Education, Principal Deputy General Counsel
  • California Teachers Association, Chief Counsel
  • Rothner, Segall & Greenstone, Partner
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Judicial Clerk


  • Washington D.C.

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