Davis joins the Philadelphia-based firm in its government affairs practice. He will continue to maintain his private practice, Lanny J. Davis & Associates, which handles crisis management clients in both the legal and public relations realms.
In an interview, Davis said he was joining Dilworth to maintain his private practice while offering his crisis management services to more clients.
“I saw an opportunity to take my crisis management practice and have a relationship with Dilworth that would allow me to serve Dilworth clients at the same time that I maintain my independence,” Davis said. “This is a turning point for me to actually look to develop a separate company outside of my law firm that would be the non-legal side of my practice.”
Davis said his decision to join Dilworth was not a result of any souring relationship with McDermott Will & Emery, which he left in April 2010 to set up his own shop, but rather the chance to work with James Wholey, co-chair of Dilworth’s government affairs group in D.C.
“They’re a great group of people and I’m still working on a number of McDermott client matters,” Davis said of his former firm.
Davis had served as the special counsel to President Bill Clinton from 1996-98, and was appointed to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board by former President George W. Bush.
Davis has attracted negative attention for his representation of controversial figures. He helped Republic of Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo draft a speech in which the African dictator pledged reform. Human rights groups for years have accused the Obiang regime of torture, murder and corruption.
In December, Davis was hired by Pennsylvania State University to help navigate allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Having a team of Dilworth attorneys at his disposal will allow Davis to take on larger client matters like those plaguing Penn State, he said.
“My biggest client and challenge in terms of time is Penn State University,” Davis said.