Inez Tenenbaum, who leads the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, is joining Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough on Dec. 1.
Tenenbaum, appointed chairman of the commission by President Barack Obama in 2009, joins the firm as a partner. She said she will split her time between the firm’s Washington and Columbia, S.C. offices. The firm, based in Columbia, S.C., has more than 400 lawyers across the country.
As head of the consumer safety commission, Tenenbaum oversaw the implementation of more than 50 consumer safety rules that were part of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Under Tenenbaum's leadership, the safety commission created saferproducts.gov, a government website where consumers can share experiences with different products.
The recall of Chinese-made children’s toys that contained lead pushed Congress to pass the safety law. The implementation of the rules, Tenenbaum said in an interview with Legal Times, protected consumers and set standards for companies looking for guidance on standards.
Nelson Mullins, which is known for its corporate and litigation work, reached out to Tenenbaum in February after she announced her intent to step down. Initially she had intended to remain at the commission until a successor was named. As the year went on, she decided to set a firm departure date of Nov. 30. Tenenbaum said she did not consider joining another firm. She is close with Nelson Mullins name partner Richard Riley, who performed the marriage ceremony for Tenenbaum and her husband.
In her work for the firm, Tenenbaum said she will counsel companies about pitfalls in the consumer product safety arena.
"I hope to build my practice around educating manufacturers how to avoid noncompliance, recalls and costly mistakes," Tenenbaum said. "I want to take that passion for education and use it to further consumer product safety."
Before Tenenbaum took over the leadership of the consumer safety commission, the agency had not had a chair for three years. Tenenbaum formerly served as the the South Carolina superintendent of education from 1998-2007.