An expert in administrative, environmental, and food and drug law, Richard A. Merrill joined the law faculty in 1969 after four years of practice with the Washington, D.C., firm Covington & Burling. In 1975 he took a leave from the Law School to serve for two years as chief counsel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where he received the FDA Commissioner's Special Citation and the agency's Award of Merit. He was dean of the Law School from 1980 to 1988. During the fall of 1988, he was scholar-in-residence at the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, and in the spring of 1989, he was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University. He was a member of the faculty of the American law session of the Salzburg Seminar in 1981 and 1986.
A former Rhodes scholar, Merrill was editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review. After graduation, he served as law clerk to Judge Carl McGowan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He has been a consultant to the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Merrill has been a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences since 1979, and has served on several IOM committees on such topics as risk assessment in environmental decisionmaking, pesticide regulation, nutrition labeling of food, science advisory committees at FDA, and food additive reform. Merrill currently is co-chair of the National Academies Program on Science, Technology, and Law.
Merrill is a member of the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Virginia Law Foundation. Since 1991, he has been of counsel to Covington & Burling.