Bill Otis is a 1974 graduate of Stanford Law School and has held a number of positions in the federal government. He started his career in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, and in 1981 was asked to become head of the Appellate Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. While in that position he argued more than 100 criminal appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He was a charter member of the Attorney General's Advisory Subcommittee on the Sentencing Guidelines, where he served for ten years. In 1992, he was detailed to the White House to act as Special Counsel for President George H. W. Bush. He left the U.S. Attorney's Office in 1999, but returned to federal service three years later as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Energy. In 2003, he was appointed Counselor to the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, where he remained until 2007. He is presently adjunct professor of law at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C.
He has appeared before both Houses of Congress to testify on diverse subjects in criminal law including the death penalty, illegal drugs, and the operation of the Sentencing Guidelines. A number of media outlets have interviewed him on these and other subjects, including the New York Times, Atlantic magazine, CBS's "Sixty Minutes," "The O'Reilly Factor," ABC News, and MSNBC. He has written several op-ed pieces for the Washington Post, covering everything from legal ethics to Scooter Libby's sentence commutation.
He and his wife split their time between their homes in northern Virginia and Hawaii.