NAACP Legal Defense Fund : Defend, Educate, Empower

Skip to Navigation
"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

James Cadogan

Director of the Thurgood Marshall Institute

James Cadogan is the Director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.’s Thurgood Marshall Institute (“Institute”).  As Director of the Institute, Mr. Cadogan manages targeted advocacy and research initiatives that enhance LDF’s ability to fight for racial justice and address structural inequality in the 21st century, and contributes to the development and execution of LDF’s strategic communications.

Before joining LDF, Mr. Cadogan served eight years in the Obama Administration, most recently at the U.S. Department of Justice as Counselor to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  Mr. Cadogan was a member of the Attorney General’s senior management team, oversaw various operational and policy components of the Department, and advised the Attorney General on criminal justice matters.  Previously, Mr. Cadogan held positions as Senior Counselor and Director of Policy and Planning in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division; as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in DOJ’s Civil Division; and as a Special Assistant at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Through his government service, Mr. Cadogan gathered a wide range of experiences leading policy development, managing multidisciplinary teams, and executing public-facing initiatives.  He helped design DOJ’s comprehensive federal reentry reforms (2015-16), served as a lead staffer on the Restrictive Housing Working Group that restructured the use of solitary confinement at the Federal Bureau of Prisons (2015-16), and led the accountability team for President Obama’s Federal Law Enforcement Equipment (“demilitarization”) Task Force (2014-15).  He managed execution of federal community policing initiatives, advised the White House’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, and served as Executive Editor of DoD’s consolidated report to Congress on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Mr. Cadogan has also testified on civil rights matters before the United Nations Human Rights Council and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

During the 2008 general election, Mr. Cadogan co-directed Obama For America’s Voter Protection program in Ohio. He began his career in 2006 as a litigation associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York. 

A noncareer member of the Senior Executive Service, Mr. Cadogan has served as an adjunct professor at Catholic University Law School, is a recipient of the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service (2014), a recipient of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence (2011), and is a fellow of the Truman National Security Project.

Mr. Cadogan received an A.B. in English Literature from Princeton University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.