Dentons has landed former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens as counsel for its extensive public policy practice, where he will work with the firm’s state attorneys general and government affairs teams.
Olens, a Republican who served as Georgia’s attorney general from 2011 to 2016, joins Thurbert Baker in Dentons’ Atlanta office. Baker preceded him as the state’s AG, serving for 13 years under three different governors. Baker co-heads Dentons’ US AG practice, whose members represent companies before attorneys general offices. Former Florida AG Bill McCollum is also on the team.
“Sam brings two decades of public service and leadership experience to our Atlanta Public Policy practice,” said Eric Tanenblatt, who chairs the firm’s public policy practice, in a statement.
Dentons and other firms have been expanding their state AG practices in recent years, as many states’ attorneys general have gotten more active in investigating companies over a range of issues, from data breaches to opioids to fair lending practices.
Tanenblatt said the AG team members advise clients on “federal and state business and regulatory issues, investigations and litigation.”
Dentons has large government affairs practices locally and in Washington. The firm added former state representative Ed Lindsey as a partner in 2016 to its Georgia lobbying practice, from his own firm, Goodman McGuffey Lindsey & Johnson (now Goodman McGuffey).
“[Olens’] connectivity in the legal, political and business communities is precisely what our clients in Atlanta and across the country need to leverage the growing global business platform that Georgia offers,” said the firm’s Atlanta managing partner, Sharon Gay, in a statement.
Olens stepped down as attorney general in fall 2016 in the middle of his second term, when the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents appointed him president of Kennesaw State University. Chris Carr succeeded him as the Georgia attorney general.
He resigned as Kennesaw’s president on Feb. 15—a decision he’d announced in mid-December—amid controversy over his handling of issues that included a protest by cheerleaders who knelt during the national anthem. Olens kept the cheerleaders from the field during the anthem at the next football game, then reversed that decision. In November, the Board of Regents released a report saying university presidents had been instructed not to interfere with the expression of students’ First Amendment rights.
Olens also served as chairman of the Cobb County Board of Commissioners from 1998 until 2010, when he became state attorney general. He’s also served as chair of the Atlanta Regional Commission and vice-chair of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water District, while maintaining a private practice as a civil litigator.
A graduate of Emory University School of Law, Olens is licensed to practice in Georgia and Washington, D.C.