While President-elect Joe Biden is in the process of assembling his leadership team in Washington, there's a lot of chatter within the local legal community about who he will tap to serve as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts. One rumored candidate to replace Andrew Lelling is Suffolk County D.A. Rachael Rollins. GBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with Northeastern University law professor and GBH News legal analyst Daniel Medwed to reflect on Lelling's legacy in the state and share his thoughts on what comes next. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: First of all, could Joe Biden simply decide to keep Lelling as our U.S. Attorney? I assume there's no requirement you have to fire everybody when a new president takes over.

Daniel Medwed: Well, that's absolutely right. There's no law or regulation mandating turnover in these positions. It's more of a norm, or really a matter of pragmatism, that the new commander in chief wants his own people in these positions in order to execute his law enforcement priorities. For what it's worth, I think Lelling is particularly unlikely to stay in the job because he's quite conservative, especially for Massachusetts, and he's stirred up a lot of controversy in his three plus years in that position.

Mathieu: Well, let's get into a little bit of that. There have been a bunch of high profile cases in Lelling's tenure. What's your overall assessment?

Medwed: Well, it's very much a mixed bag. As you note, he seems very fond of high profile, somewhat splashy prosecutions. And on the one hand, he deserves a lot of credit for some of them. He's gone after the Massachusetts state police. It's one thing to investigate an agency like that a very powerful agency but it's something else to bring a few indictments and even secure some convictions, which he has done. He's gone a long way to rooting out corruption in the state police with its huge overtime billing scandal and other misdeeds. He also should be applauded for those Varsity Blues cases. That's when he prosecuted wealthy families for interfering with the admissions process at elite schools across the country, often by using a local intermediary named Rick Singer. Those cases were a shot across the bow to parents across the country that they should be on the up and up and not try to manipulate the process. But on the other hand, I think he's sometimes gone too far. The prime example of that is the case against Newton State Court Judge Shelley Joseph, who was charged with obstruction of justice for basically allowing an undocumented immigrant to evade apprehension by ICE in her Newton courtroom. I think it's a really bad signal for federal prosecutors to go after state court judges who don't directly violate federal criminal law, but simply don't actively assist in a very controversial federal policy.

Mathieu: Rachael Rollins, as I mentioned, is a name that keeps coming up here, Daniel. I know you're a fan. What's your take on that?

Medwed: I think it would be a great choice, and here's why. First, she has the experience. She's a former assistant U.S. attorney. She spent, I believe, four years in that office as a federal prosecutor. She also has a lot of administrative experience, not just in her current position, but in her previous stints in state agencies. Second, she's a brilliant, principled leader who is absolutely fearless, as we all know, when talking truth to power, [and] when going after powerful figures and saying things that need to be said. That's exactly what we need in a U.S. attorney someone who is going to go after people like the Massachusetts State Police. The only downside, I think, is I'd hate to see her leave her current job because she's doing great work in Suffolk County, and in many respects, being the chief district attorney for a major county is a more important job, I think, than being the U.S. attorney.

Mathieu: Really? So Suffolk is more important than the state?

Medwed: The Boston-centric view of the world, right?

Mathieu: Is that where you're going with this, though?

Medwed: Well, here's what I'm trying to say, which is the bread and butter of law enforcement relates to state level crimes. Assault, rape, robbery [and] murder, those are prosecuted at the state level. The really attention-grabbing, headline-grabbing cases that involve interstate activity like sophisticated white collar criminal activity or things like official corruption or mass bombings, those are federal crimes. But they're few and far between. For the average citizen, if you really care about your community, the local district attorney has more clout [and] more influence than the U.S. attorney.