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Dentons law firm boosts its public policy practice

By Maria Saporta

Less than two weeks after Dentons placed its signature in Atlanta, the world’s largest law firm announced the hiring of a couple of new members to its government affairs practice.

Jeff Hamling, who has been serving as vice president of state and federal affairs for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, will join Dentons on July 27 as senior managing direct. Previously he also served as the former deputy chief of staff of U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.).



Dentons also has named James Richardson as managing director in the firm’s bi-partisan government affairs practice.

Richardson is a strategic communication and public affairs professional who has served as an advisor for national Republican candidates and office holders, such as former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Presidential candidate and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Most recently, Richardson served as vice president of public affairs for the digital and online company – Hynes Communications.

Both Hamling and Richardson will join former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who started with the firm in June – at the time it was still called the McKenna, Long & Aldridge.

Jeff Hamling

Jeff Hamling

Their hiring also follows the departure of three members of the government law and policy practice from Dentons at the beginning of July. Chuck McMullen, Tharon Johnson and Blake Ashbee left Dentons/McKenna to join the Greenberg Traurig law firm.

“Jeff has a track record of proven success as a lobbyist at the State Capitol and with the Georgia U.S. Congressional delegation,” said Eric Tanenblatt, co-practice leader of Dentons U.S. Public Policy and Regulation practice, in a statement. “He has expertise on business related issues, such as tax, healthcare and transportation policies, which will bring great value to our clients. James has a great reputation around the country as an effective strategic communicator on complex issues.”

James Richardson

James Richardson

Hamling and Richardson will be joining a well-known and politically connected U.S. Government Affairs practice in Georgia that already includes Gordon Giffin, former Ambassador to Canada; Thurbert Baker, former Georgia Attorney General; and Mark Burkhalter, former speaker of the Georgia.

Other team members include:

  • Eric Tanenblatt, Co-practice Leader of Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice, who served in the Administrations of Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, Chief of Staff to Governor Sonny Perdue, Advisor and National Finance Co-Chair for Governor Mitt Romney 2012 Presidential Campaign, and senior advisor to former US Senator Paul Coverdell.
  • Keith Mason, Chief of Staff to Governor Zell Miller and Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs for President Bill Clinton.
  • Randy Evans, outside counsel to the Speakers of the 104th-109th Congresses of the United States. In 2011 he was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to co-chair the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission.
  • Buddy Darden, former member of the U.S. Congress.
  • Stefan Passantino, recognized as one of the leading political law attorneys, and served as national counsel to two former Speakers of the United States House of Representatives.
  • Billy Linville, an aide to Mayor Shirley Franklin and Governor Roy Barns, and Vice President of Public Affairs for AT&T.
  • Steve Labovitz, a public-private partnership expert and former Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Atlanta.
  • Sharon Gay, a former vice president for governmental affairs at the Atlanta Metro Chamber of Commerce and Deputy Chief of Staff and Executive Counsel for the Mayor of Atlanta.
  • Ben Vinson, former counsel to the Georgia House Majority Caucus.
  • Lem Ward, an attorney for the City of Atlanta for nearly 20 years, serving most recently as chief counsel.
  • Dan Baskerville, former lobbyist for the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and policy analyst for the Department of Environmental Protection.

“Business leaders and many elected officials understand that we are now firmly entrenched in a global economy where policy changes in a marketplace thousands of miles away can have a direct and sometimes immediate impact on our local economy here in Atlanta” said Gordon Griffin, chair of the firm’s U.S. Public Policy and Regulation practice.

Gordon continued: “Likewise, marketplaces that were out of reach to us just a few years ago are today readily within our grasp. Having professionals like Jeff and James with expertise that reflects this new reality is exactly what our clients are looking for.”

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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