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Robert J. Dole is adamant that he won’t lobby for Alston & Bird clients. But the former senator and senior GOP statesman promises to add a lot of clout to the firm by bringing in new clients and advising current ones. Dole will join Alston & Bird’s Washington, D.C., office as special counsel. “They’ve got a great reputation nationwide, and hopefully I can be of some help in promoting their efforts in Washington and around the country,” said the longtime Senate majority leader, who will be special counsel to Atlanta-based A&B. “The most respected and trusted name in American politics is now a part of Alston & Bird,” said Ben F. Johnson III, Alston’s managing partner. The firm has a five-lawyer government affairs group but is also active in health care, tax policy, homeland security and Sarbanes-Oxley work, Johnson said. Dole’s move, he added, allows A&B lawyers to practice in those areas “at a much higher level.” Alston & Bird senior partner Oscar N. Persons, who chaired Dole’s 1988 and 1996 presidential campaigns in Georgia, said of the move, “I think it means that certainly our culture has an attraction [for] someone of his stature.” Persons added that Dole’s influence won’t be limited to government affairs and that the former senator also has an interest in health care law. The move lends credibility to Alston’s Washington office, which is small by inside-the-beltway standards. Since he left politics in 1996, the 79-year-old Dole has made more of a name for himself in television ads for Pepsi-Cola and Viagra than he has in his law practice. But for the past six years, the former senator has also been using his Capitol Hill influence to represent foreign countries and other clients at Washington’s Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, which merged with Piper Rudnick in October. Dole’s clients include the governments of Kosovo, Taiwan, and Slovenia, but he emphasized that he’s an intermediary for these clients, not a lobbyist. For example, Kosovo doesn’t have an embassy in the United States, so Dole introduces Kosovan diplomats to American officials. “I don’t lobby,” he said. In a meeting with Alston partners Wednesday, Dole said he discussed his transition to the firm. He’ll use his Capitol Hill connections to bring in new clients and advise current ones, he added. “I think my strength would be in understanding how the government works at the executive and legislative levels and foreign policy areas.” Dole and Johnson wouldn’t comment on compensation, but unnamed observers told the Washington Post that the move could mean more than $1 million a year to Dole. In the past, Dole has represented Tyco International, the Chocolate Industry Coalition, and the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Dole said he considered a move to a “large handful” of law firms when it became clear in September that Verner would be acquired by Piper Rudnick. Among other Alston partners, Dole discussed the move with Persons. Dole said he was attracted to the firm’s small size in Washington. At 55 lawyers, the office isn’t “so big,” he said. Dole also considered the firm’s ranking in Fortune magazine as the third-best U.S. company to work for, he said. “It sounded like a pretty good work environment.” He’ll spend most of his time in Washington but plans to come to Atlanta occasionally. His wife, Elizabeth H. Dole, whom North Carolina voters elected to the Senate in November, owns a home in Salisbury, outside of Charlotte, and has an office in Raleigh. Alston, with 675 lawyers firmwide, has offices in Charlotte and Raleigh, and Bob Dole plans to work out of both offices. When Elizabeth Dole is in Charlotte, “Rather than sit in the bus depot, I can go to an office,” joked Bob Dole. Policy adviser Marshall Harris and four support staff followed Dole to Alston. Before Dole was elected to Congress from Kansas in 1960, he served in the state legislature and also was elected to four consecutive terms as county attorney for Russell County, Kansas. In 1968, he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was elected Senate majority leader in 1984 and became the nation’s longest-serving Republican leader. In 1976, President Gerald Ford tapped him to be his vice presidential running mate in what was to be an unsuccessful contest against James Earl Carter Jr. In 1988, Dole lost the Republican nomination for president to George H. W. Bush. He resigned from the Senate in 1996 to run for President and lost to William Jefferson Clinton.

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