More than a year after Cephalon Inc. merged into Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the former’s general counsel has returned to private law firm life.

Jerry Pappert, former Pennsylvania attorney general and current chairman of the Pennsylvania Banking and Securities Commission, has joined Cozen O’Connor’s commercial litigation group as a shareholder in Philadelphia. The former Cephalon general counsel will also be working closely with Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies, the firm’s government relations arm, Cozen O’Connor said Monday.

At Cozen O’Connor, Pappert will focus on assisting clients with government investigations, white-collar criminal matters, corporate compliance, government relations and commercial litigation, the firm said.

Pappert isn’t unfamiliar with his new firm. He served as summer associate at Cozen O’Connor in 1987.

Pappert stayed on at Teva through the end of 2011 and spent the first half of 2012 finishing out his six-year term on the Commonwealth Financing Authority. Pappert said he took the summer to figure out what his next step would be and had conversations with a number of firms.

Pappert said he maintained several relationships with Cozen O’Connor attorneys from his days as a summer associate and was impressed many of those lawyers were still at the firm.

“I’ve always respected how they built this firm up into the diverse and broad firm it is,” Pappert said. “This firm, from a business perspective, offered me the best opportunity to use a number of different skills and experiences I’ve had.”

Cozen O’Connor CEO Thomas A. “Tad” Decker said the firm had tried to recruit Pappert three or four times in the past. Decker said Pappert would fit in with a number of practices in the firm, including work for pharmaceutical companies, litigation and investigations, consumer protection class actions, white-collar defense and the firm’s government relations arm, among other areas. Decker noted the firm does a lot of intellectual property litigation work for generic pharmaceutical companies and said Pappert would play a role in that work.

Pappert hasn’t completely closed the books on his public sector service. He was named by Governor Tom Corbett to serve as chairman of the five-member state Banking and Securities Commission. The General Assembly recently voted to merge the state’s Securities Commission into the Banking Department to create the new entity, a measure that went into effect October 1. The commission is charged with enforcing rules and regulations under the Pennsylvania Securities Act and Takeover Disclosure Law.

The commission is scheduled to meet for the first time this week. Pappert said he was excited to be the first chairman on the ground floor of a new structure. He said the role keeps him involved in state government in Pennsylvania, which he said was something important to him and something he thinks will be important to the firm’s clients.

Aside from his government and litigation experience, Pappert now gets the chance to market his experience as a general counsel of a large, publicly held corporation.

Pappert said he’s optimistic he now better understands the pressures general counsel face in hiring the right lawyers for the right cases, watching budgets and delivering results to their bosses and, ultimately, shareholders.

Decker said Cozen O’Connor is “pretty tuned in as a firm” to the need to be very efficient with its clients. He said Pappert understands that need.

Pappert worked as general counsel at Cephalon from 2008 through 2011, when he assisted the company in its October 2011 sale to Teva. Prior to that he was a partner at Ballard Spahr, where he focused on business litigation with an emphasis on litigation involving the government.

Pappert had joined Ballard Spahr directly from the Attorney General’s Office in 2005. From 1997 to 2003, Pappert was the first deputy attorney general of Pennsylvania, where he served as lead trial and appellate counsel in the office’s successful effort to prevent the sale of Hershey Foods by the Hershey Trust Co. Pappert was appointed to serve as state attorney general in 2003, leading investigations and prosecutions in the areas of public corruption, organized crime, narcotics trafficking, insurance fraud and environmental crimes.

Pappert wasn’t the only Cephalon in-house counsel to rejoin private practice once the company was sold. In January, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius hired Cephalon’s former deputy general counsel, Steven A. Reed, into its litigation practice.

Gina Passarella can be contacted at 215-557-2494 or at Follow her on Twitter @GPassarellaTLI.