Former Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn has joined DLA Piper as a partner in the firm’s Wilmington office, where he plans to represent clients in litigation involving state attorneys general, insurance regulators and other state agencies.
Denn’s return to private practice follows his 14 years in public service, which included stints as insurance commissioner, lieutenant governor and one term as the state’s top law-enforcement official. Denn, who championed criminal justice reform and took on the opioid crisis as attorney general, did not pursue a second term as the head of the head of the Delaware Department of Justice and officially left office earlier this month.
The firm said Denn would also be actively involved in the firm’s pro bono practice, with a focus on the needs of at-risk children in Delaware. Denn said Thursday that he was not yet ready to discuss the specifics of those projects, but one would focus on elementary-school-aged children and another would be targeted more broadly at youths up through the age of 18.
“Matt is a well-known lawyer with a stellar reputation, both in Delaware and across the country with his fellow attorneys general,” said Stuart Brown, managing partner of the firm’s Wilmington office. “He has developed valuable relationships across numerous industries during his years in the public sector, and we are thrilled that he has joined the firm.”
Denn said that DLA Piper—whose Wilmington ranks include former governor Mike Castle and retired Delaware Supreme Court Justice Henry duPont Ridgely—had a “blue-chip” reputation in markets across the country, with a commitment to public-interest work in Delaware and beyond.
“The firm’s size and geographic scope made a lot of sense for me,” Denn said in an email. “Some of the expertise that I bring from my prior experience as state AG and state insurance commissioner is relevant in all 50 states, so a firm with 25 offices around the country will allow me to broadly apply that expertise.”
In addition to his other responsibilities, Denn said he would be assisting companies and institutions with special and internal investigations.
“Having run a state Attorney General’s office and a state Insurance Commissioner’s office provides me with unique insight into how those offices are run, how decisions are made, and what steps the firm’s clients can take to pro-actively avoid problems and address problems when they do arise,” he said.
Denn, a graduate of Yale Law School, joined the Wilmington firm Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor in 2000, after working for Delaware Volunteer Legal Services. From 2001 to 2003, he served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and wrote legislation that included the Patient’s Bill of Rights and the Emergency Health Powers Act.
After an unsuccessful bid for state Senate, Denn, a Democrat, served four years as insurance commissioner, before being elected lieutenant governor in 2009. In 2015, he succeeded Beau Biden at the helm of the DOJ, where he launched a number of initiatives to crack down on illegal guns and the drug trade.
While at times skeptical of broader efforts to reform Delaware’s criminal laws, Denn worked on efforts to expand access to drug treatment and to better prepare inmates to re-enter society. In 2015, he crafted legislation that ended mandatory life sentences for repeat offenders and gave judges more discretion in sentencing.
Denn announced in August 2017 that he would not seek re-election, citing family considerations and the “grueling” nature of politics. He has since said that he does not regret the decision.