Former Ga. AG still working on AG issues

By John O'Brien | Nov 10, 2011


WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - As the power given to state attorneys general grows, more attorneys like Thurbert Baker might be needed.

Baker, a former Georgia Attorney General, hasn't seen his life change much since his return to the private sector. Important still are the relationships Baker built with his colleagues during his 13 years in office, and as a partner in the Atlanta office of McKenna Long & Aldridge he serves as a bridge between his corporate clients and state attorneys general.

"We work with clients mostly in the business community, helping them deal with attorney general issues," Baker said. "And we talk to AGs about our clients' interests. It's been a good transition, still working with and talking with my old colleagues."

Baker feels the importance of his work will grow as the office of state attorney general does.

Longtime Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is leading the nationwide resolution of claims against the five largest mortgage service providers over their foreclosure practices.

And the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, will give state AGs the power to enforce certain federal laws.

President Barack Obama's pick to head the bureau is former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, though he has not been confirmed and a political stalemate might occur in the U.S. Senate.

Another former attorney general, Hubert Humphrey III of Minnesota, has been chosen to lead the bureau's Office of Older Americans, which is designed to help the financial decision-making of seniors and protect them against scams targeting the elderly.

"The more of a logjam you get in Congress, the more you'll see AGs get involved," Baker said.

McKenna Long currently has more than 20 attorneys working on the attorney general practice.

"We're a full-service operation," Baker said.

Former Gov. Zell Miller appointed Baker to attorney general in 1997 to replace Mike Bowers, who resigned to mount an ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Baker's popularity in the state grew in his three election wins (50.9 percent in 1998, 55.6 percent in 2002 and 57.2 percent in 2006).

But in 2010, Baker sought the Democratic nomination for governor and received only 21.6 percent of the vote, losing to former Gov. Roy Barnes. That left him with the opportunity to join a specialized practice within McKenna Long.

"It's just wonderful to get into the practice and maintain relationships with my former colleagues," Baker said.

"First of all, AGs are a unique bunch of people. I think we all understand and appreciate what it is to be one. It's a bond we share. We appreciate each other and the challenges we shared."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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