U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian at the federal courthouse in Albany
U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian at the federal courthouse in Albany (Tim Roske)

Richard Hartunian, who served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York from 2010 until last month, said Tuesday he will join Manatt, Phelps & Phillips as a partner in the firm’s corporate investigations and white-collar defense group.

Hartunian announced last month he would step down after seven-and-a-half years as U.S. attorney. He is scheduled to officially join Manatt’s Manhattan and Albany offices in August, the firm announced Tuesday. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant Jaquith became acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York on July 1.

“I completed 20 years of service with the Department of Justice and I’m looking forward to getting back into the private sector,” Hartunian said.

Hartunian said he talked with many different firms before settling on Manatt. He cited what he called the firm’s collaborative approach in working with clients as a draw, as well as its health care industry work.

“We had done a lot of work in that sector in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, [and] I put a lot of focus on improving our health care program in the Northern District of New York,” Hartunian said. “So when I learned about Manatt [and] some of their needs, I thought that it might be a good fit.”

Hartunian started his career as an associate at Devine, Piedmont & Rutnik in 1987. He was an assistant district attorney in Albany county from 1990 until 1997, when he joined the Department of Justice as assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York. In 2006, he became the Northern District’s narcotics chief and organized crime drug enforcement task force coordinator before being appointed by President Barack Obama as U.S. attorney in 2010.

“I had a rare opportunity [to] rise through the ranks and become a United States attorney,” Hartunian said. “That’s a real gift to have had that opportunity in your career as a lawyer.”

During his tenure as U.S. attorney, Hartunian focused on terrorism and border security, gang and drug activity as well as public corruption, financial fraud and Native American issues. At Manatt, Hartunian said he plans on focusing his practice on internal and white-collar investigations, criminal and regulatory enforcement actions as well as complex civil litigation.

“These are all kind of natural fits, I think, and I’m really excited about the opportunity,” said Hartunian, who tapped Major, Lindsey & Africa’s Brian Burlant and Jon Lindsey for his move.

Hartunian isn’t the only former government official to join Los Angeles-based Manatt on the East Coast this year. Earlier this year, former President Bill Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn joined Manatt’s Washington, D.C., office as partner and chair of its federal regulatory and government practice.