Earl Adams Jr., sworn in as deputy administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration less than a year ago, has left the agency.

He has joined global law firm Hogan Lovells in its transportation practice as a partner based in Washington, D.C., returning to the firm that he joined as an associate in 2002, where among other things he will advise on regulatory issues related to autonomous vehicles and other new transportation technology.

Earl Adams Jr. has left his post as FMCSA deputy administrator and joined a law firm.  -  Photo: Hogan Lovells

Earl Adams Jr. has left his post as FMCSA deputy administrator and joined a law firm.

Photo: Hogan Lovells

“Earl led the FMCSA’s work on developing and issuing the agency’s first regulations on the operation of autonomous vehicles, a top priority for our transportation and automotive clients,” said Janice Hogan, practice group leader for the firm’s Global Regulatory & Intellectual Property, Media, and Technology group.

Adams, who served as both deputy administrator and chief counsel for the FMCSA, will advise on compliance and enforcement matters for various transportation clients at Hogan Lovells, including surface transportation, intermodal, electric vehicle, autonomous vehicle, air travel, and infrastructure providers.

‘Rapid Technological Advancement’

“The firm provides an ideal platform to expand my practice in a time of rapid technological advancement, particularly for AVs and related areas, as well as increased global investment,” Adams said.

Not long after he was sworn in as deputy administrator, Adams spoke during a panel discussion on insurance and autonomous trucks at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting.

Referring to FMCSA’s regulatory notice requesting more information on how it should regulate these vehicles, Adams pointed out there are a lot of uncertainties as the industry moves forward with highly automated trucks, from regulations, to public acceptance, to liability.

“I don’t have answers, but I do have questions, things I know we have to ask ourselves,” Adams said.

‘The Work is Not Done’

Announcing his departure from FMCSA on LinkedIn, Adams called his time at the agency and the Department of transportation “a true highlight of my professional career.”

“I am proud of the work we did to focus on the root causes of crashes, increase the impact of FMCSA's grant dollars, promote transparency in the sector, and leverage technology to improve safety outcomes,” he said.

“The work is not done but I know that the amazing team at FMCSA and USDOT are up to the charge.”

Adams’ departure is the latest change in leadership at FMCSA.

In late 2021, deputy administrator Meera Joshi, who was acting administrator and had been nominated to head the agency, announced she was leaving the administration to accept a position as a deputy mayor of New York City.

Current FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson was confirmed by the Senate in the fall of 2022 after serving as interim administrator after Joshi’s departure.

Last September, Jack Van Steenburg, a 15-year agency veteran of FMCSA, retired, and the agency promoted Sue Lawless to assistant administrator, executive director and chief safety officer.

More on Earl Adams Jr.

In addition to his leadership roles at the DOT, Adams served as a member of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and was the agency’s representative on several Interagency Policy Committees created by President Biden’s Domestic Policy Council, advising on issues involving innovation and technology.

Prior to Adams’ most recent public sector tenure, he also served as Office Managing Partner at a Washington, D.C. firm, where he advised transportation, infrastructure, and renewable energy clients on regulatory and compliance matters. 

Adams earned his J.D. from Boston College Law School, as well as a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College. 

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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