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Ahead of McKenna Merger, Dentons Draws Newt Gingrich

The Honorable Newt Gingrich

(Wall Street Journal) – Newt Gingrich is heading to the law firm world.

The former Speaker of the House, author, and one-time Republican Presidential hopeful plans to join Dentons as a senior adviser June 1, he said Tuesday.

Mr. Gingrich said he began talking to the firm a few months ago and that Dentons’ global scale provided “an absolutely fascinating opportunity to try to bring the rule of law across the planet.” After a merger earlier this year with Chinese law firm Dacheng and another in the works with U.S. firm McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, Dentons is now the largest law firm in the world.

A historian by background and not a lawyer, Mr. Gingrich said he plans to work with Dentons’ lawyers and the firm’s clients on navigating regulatory issues in the U.S. and abroad, among other things.

“Having been actively studying politics and government since 1958, I can look at longer time horizons and suggest to people: How do you avoid the problem before it becomes the big problem,” Mr. Gingrich said. For instance, Mr. Gingrich said, a company like Google may have been able to avoid its current regulatory problems in Europe if they’d “adopted a strategy of more proactively dancing with E.U. bureaucracy” several years ago.

Mr. Gingrich said talks with Dentons were immediately comfortable because of his close ties to several lawyers at McKenna Long dating back to his early days as a Georgia congressman.

Mr. Gingrich said he’s “clearing a fair amount of time” to work at Dentons, but he’ll continue doing some other projects. His next novel is coming out in October, he said, a terrorist adventure with “political complexity.” Mr. Gingrich, who has published 26 books, said he’s also working on a project to introduce young people to President George Washington through a movie and social media campaign.

As Dentons and McKenna Long finalize their merger, some McKenna lawyers won’t be making the move—something firm leaders said earlier this year was expected.

A group of 19 government contracts lawyers in Washington, D.C., for instance, joined Covington & Burling LLP earlier this month. Frederic Levy, one of the partners who made the move, told Legal Times that the merger prompted the jump.

In Los Angeles, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP has taken on 13 McKenna lawyers in entertainment, government contracts, real estate and transportation-related practices. And in Atlanta, Baker & Hostetler LLP hired a 30-lawyer team from McKenna, most with a health-care specialty.

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