At age 70, Lanny Davis is starting a new law firm. The peripatetic litigator and public relations spinmaster announced this week that he has formed Davis Goldberg & Galper, as well as a public relations operation, Trident DMG. Davis said both shops are “dedicated to integrating law, media and policy into solutions for clients.”
The new ventures build on Davis’ long career bridging law, politics and public relations. He spent 28 years at Patton Boggs and six years at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, as well as a seven-month stint at McDermott Will & Emery. Between Patton Boggs and Orrick, he served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton during the run-up to the Monica Lewinsky crisis.
After leaving McDermott in 2010, he ran his own law firm, Lanny J. Davis & Associates, was an executive vice president at the PR firm Levick Communications, and founded the PR firm Purple Nation Solutions with Republican strategist Michael Steele.
When asked why he was forming another new firm now, Davis offered a practical explanation: “I have a second wife of 31 years and an 18-year-old senior in high school and an 11-year-old to put through college,” he said. “I figure I’ll be writing tuition checks at least until I’m 84.”
Davis also said he was too busy to continue to practice by himself. He recruited Adam Goldberg and Joshua Galper, who both worked with him at Orrick and Patton Boggs, to start the new firm. Goldberg, who was special associate counsel to President Clinton from 1996 to 1999, has been running his own firm, Trident Law Group, since leaving Orrick in 2011. Galper was most recently general counsel for Personal.com, a data storage company.
A fourth founding partner of the new ventures, Eleanor McManus, is a non-lawyer who was a senior vice president at Levick and a longtime producer for CNN’s Larry King Live.
Davis Goldberg & Galper will offer a unique crisis management practice, Davis claimed, because as practicing lawyers he and his partners can provide the shield of attorney-client privilege. He said he expects the three-lawyer firm to grow significantly and open outposts in other cities.
Davis said the timing of this announcement is unrelated to the emergence of his friend Hillary Clinton as the leading presidential candidate. Davis has been close to the Clintons since their days as students together at Yale Law School. (Some of Davis’ Clinton-related emails became public last year in disclosures by the U.S. Department of State.)
“We’re very friendly,” he said of the relationship. “But this is not even a little bit connected. It’s completely a coincidence.”
When Davis left McDermott he said he would continue to work closely with McDermott lawyers serving McDermott clients, according to a November 2010 feature story in The American Lawyer. At the time, the firm’s co-chair, Jeffrey Stone, described the parting as “amicable.” Davis said on Thursday that the arrangement worked out “exactly the way we envisioned,” and that he worked for one of McDermott’s biggest clients for three years. Davis declined to identify the client, and the firm would not comment.
In his solo practice, Davis represented outgoing Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane before she was indicted last year for perjury and obstruction of justice. He is also representing Richard “Bo” Dietl, a private investigator suing Ford Motor Co. for defamation. (Dietl is better known for Arby’s commercials, where he employs his sleuthing skills to probe the quality of meat in competitors’ sandwiches.)
Davis declined to name other current clients.
“My brand is so well-known that it’s a little bit of a paradox,” he said, referring to his work as a crisis management specialist. “If people knew that someone had hired me, they’d think, ‘Boy, they must be in trouble.’”