Robert T. Grand ()
Donald Trump may have had a hard time soliciting lawyer contributions on the campaign trail, but as president-elect he is having far more success bringing them into the fold.
Longtime Republican supporter and Barnes & Thornburg managing partner Robert Grand has been named to Trump’s inaugural committee. Grand joins a team led by private equity billionaire Thomas Barrack Jr., a fellow lawyer, vocal Trump supporter and candidate to head the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Grand’s group will help coordinate all official events surrounding the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.
“I’m honored,” Grand said Thursday. “Anytime you can participate in a peaceful transition of power in this country, which is what the inauguration symbolizes, it is an honor.”
Grand will serve on the 15-member finance committee responsible for raising funds for the inaugural activities in late January. The National Law Journal, a sibling publication, reported in 2009 on the dozens of big firm lawyers and other well-heeled donors that contribute to the committee tasked with pulling off the historic occasion.
For several decades, Grand has been a prominent Republican powerbroker in Indiana, advising many of the state’s GOP candidates and politicians. He was former chief-of-staff to the late Indiana Gov. Robert Orr before joining Barnes & Thornburg in 1987. Grand became head of the Indianapolis-based Am Law 100 firm in late 2014 after longtime leader Alan Levin stepped aside after 17 years as leader.
Grand previously served as Indiana finance chairman for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaign and was a member of the 2000 Bush-Cheney recount team in Florida. In 2012, he ran Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s fundraising efforts in Indiana. The American Lawyer reported this summer on Grand’s fundraising role in Indiana for Pence, and Grand assisted Pence during his vice presidential vetting process by the Trump campaign.
“I’ve served in a number of capacities for Gov. Pence,” Grand said. “[He] is a wonderful guy and it’s been a great opportunity to work with the campaign.”
The Litigation Daily, a sibling publication, noted this week a pending suit before the Indiana Court of Appeals where Pence and his legal team from Barnes & Thornburg are defending the vice president-elect’s decision to withhold information from a public records request, as well as details about Barnes & Thornburg’s work for Indiana challenging President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration.
Grand is the latest big firm lawyer to be bandied about for a role with the Trump transition team laying the groundwork for a future administration.
Earlier this week, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who earlier this year became chair of Greenberg Traurig’s cybersecurity, privacy and crisis management practice, emerged as a potential candidate for U.S. Secretary of State in a Trump cabinet. In early October, Giuliani took a leave of absence from Greenberg Traurig until the conclusion of the presidential campaign.
Giuliani’s work in private practice has led numerous media outlets to cast doubt on his ability to serve as the country’s top diplomat without running into conflicts. Greenberg Traurig did not respond to requests for comment regarding Giuliani’s status at the firm.
The American Lawyer reported earlier this week on Trump naming Michael Best & Friedrich partner Reinhold “Reince” Priebus as his chief of staff. Another individual on a shortlist for Trump’s cabinet is Jeffrey Holmstead, head of the environmental strategies group at Bracewell in Washington, D.C., who is being considered by Trump’s transition team to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
On Monday, The NLJ reported that former Seyfarth Shaw of counsel Victoria Lipnic was the leading contender to head the U.S. Department of Labor under Trump. G. Roger King, a retired Jones Day partner, is reportedly under consideration for a possible position with the National Labor Relations Board, whose picks could also raise conflicts issues for Trump.
Pieter Hoekstra, a nonlawyer former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who worked at now-defunct Dickstein Shapiro and Greenberg Traurig, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate to run the Central Intelligence Agency.
Kirkland & Ellis partner Brian Benczkowski, who joined the firm in 2010 after serving as a top Republican aide on Capitol Hill, emerged Wednesday as the new head of Trump’s transition team for the U.S. Department of Justice after former federal prosecutor Kevin O’Connor was ousted from the role. (O’Connor was reportedly caught up in a purge of those linked to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one that also claimed transition counsel William Palatucci of Gibbons.)
Leading Trump’s policy implementation team is Ado Machida, a former partner at Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C. Other members of Machida’s team include Paula Stannard, a project attorney at Alston & Bird who will advise on health care reform. Stannard previously served as acting general counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.