David Bernhardt

David Bernhardt

Senior Counsel


The only person to ever be confirmed by the U. S. Senate to serve as secretary of the Interior, deputy secretary (chief operations officer) and solicitor (chief legal officer) of the Department of the Interior in its 172-year history.

David Bernhardt assists client’s efforts to solve matters of federal administrative law, regulatory compliance, infrastructure siting, natural resources development, energy and government investigations. While serving as the 53rd secretary of the Department of the Interior, David led a U.S. cabinet department with an asset portfolio that exceeded $300 billion, a $16 billion annual budget and nearly 70,000 employees through a period of transformational improvement and change. 

A creative problem solver, David focused his efforts to further conservation stewardship, expanded opportunities for access to hunt and fish on public lands, drove regulatory change and worked to enhance our nation’s energy independence. He led the Trump administration’s effort to enact the Great American Outdoors Act and President Trump tasked him with playing a key role on initiatives such as addressing the threat to the domestic supply chain from reliance on critical minerals from foreign adversaries and serving as co-chair of the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council. 

Before serving as secretary, David served as deputy secretary at Interior, where he led many significant initiatives ranging from: creating and implementing policies and practices to address a systemic culture of harassment in the workplace; modernizing business processes related to permitting authorizations and denials; dramatically improving the ethics program; and developing one of the most diverse leadership teams in the department’s history.

Previously, David served as department chair for the firm’s Natural Resources Department and was a founding shareholder of the EERS practice group. In addition to serving as senior counsel at Brownstein, David is active in other charitable and business endeavors.



  • J.D., The George Washington University Law School, with honors
  • B.A., University of Northern Colorado


  • District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit