Updated 4 p.m.
Anastasia Kelly, the former top in-house lawyer for American International Group Inc. who resigned Dec. 30 over compensation issues, has joined DLA Piper's Washington office, the firm announced today.
Kelly joins DLA Piper as of counsel, something she said she chose to do because she wasn't ready to accept something full time. "I'm easing into this very slowly," she said. "I really want to take some time off and really figure out what I want to do and how I want to do it."
A number of law firms invited her to join them after her well-publicized departure from AIG, Kelly said, but she planned on waiting until fall before jumping into something new. She had dinner in Washington with Lee Miller, the joint chief executive officer of the firm, Francis Burch, firm's global chairman, and Charles Scheeler, a partner in the Baltimore office who worked with Kelly during her tenure at both AIG and MCI/WorldCom. They "took me out to dinner and sat me down and said, 'Look, We think you'd have a lot of fun at DLA." As they talked, she said, she decided it made sense to affiliate in some way with the firm.
"I said, is there a way I can do it where I'm not full-time?" Kelly said, adding that she asked, "why don't we do the of counsel and ease into it and see where it gets us?"
Scheeler said that he was one of several "points of intersection" Kelly had with DLA Piper. "When it became clear that she would be available...we made it very clear to her that we would love to have her as a member of the team," he said.
Scheeler and Kelly both said Kelly briefly worked at DLA Piper in the summer of 2006, after her stint at MCI/WorldCom and before she joined AIG. She "was consulting with us in terms of how to mentor and help our women lawyers succeed," Scheeler said.
Scheeler said that DLA Piper still performs litigation and transactional work for AIG. Kelly said she doesn't expect to work on AIG matters, but hopes she can help the firm with its relationship with the company. "I built and had a great team at AIG, and they're all still there. And I have a great relationship with the company and I have a great relationship with my team," she said.
Scheeler said that "my sense is that Stacia's immense contributions to AIG were well recognized by ...the board and management. My belief, my strong belief, is that there is still an enormous reservoir of respect for Stacia at AIG."
Kelly joined AIG in 2006, and was named a vice chairman of the company in January 2009, after the insurance giant received a public bailout during the financial crisis. Before going to AIG, she was an executive vice president and general counsel of MCI/WorldCom, another company that faced the aftermath of an accounting scandal. Before that, she was a senior vice president and general counsel of Sears, Roebuck and Co., and was also a partner at the firm then known as Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.
Kelly, 60, said an interview that ran last month in Fortune Magazine in which she spoke out about the compensation concerns that led her to leave AIG did a good job in laying out how she felt about her departure from the company. "It was a personal decision," she said. "I'm sorry that I'm not there for the people because I really miss the folks, but I think I made the right decision for myself."
Last month, AIG hired a new general counsel, Thomas Russo, a former Lehman Brothers lawyer and a partner at Patton Boggs.