Former Georgia AG Sam Olens joining Dentons law firm

By Maria Saporta

Former Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens is starting a new chapter in his life – joining Dentons, the largest law firm in the world.

Before joining Denton’s, Olens served a relatively brief stint as president of Kennesaw State University, a role he held for about year before he resigned under pressure last December.

Dentons, which acquired the Atlanta-based law firm – McKenna, Long Aldridge – in 2015, has been a popular firm for former political leaders. And that played a part in why Olens decided to join Dentons.

“I met with at least 10 law firms,” Olens said of his post KSU career search in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “There were no shortage of opportunities.”

Sam Olens

Sam Olens

But Dentons had two advantages. First of all, Olens knew he would not be limited to one practice area, but be able to serve across several fields and work with businesses throughout the country.

Olens first full day with Dentons was on Tuesday, and he is looking forward to working with former Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, who held that post right before Olens. Dentons’ Public Policy Practice has hired several leaders who have been involved in public service – including several former mayors from major U.S. cities.

“I kept coming back to Dentons,” Olens said of his search. “This is the best fit for me because of the relationships I have had with people in the firm and because of the broad scope of practice.”

Olens was elected as Georgia’s 53rd Attorney General in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. During his tenure, he navigated many of the state’s most pressing legal issues, including:

  • litigating the water disputes between Georgia and Florida; *
  • securing federal approval for the deepening of the Port of Savannah ­- one of the fastest growing ports in the United States;
  • promoting a pro-business climate to attract multi-million dollar business deals;
  • strengthening the state’s Medicaid Fraud Division; addressing transportation and economic development issues; and
  • enacting legislation to curb human trafficking and prescription drug abuse in Georgia.

Olens also worked worked alongside legislators to pass a re-write of Georgia’s Open Meetings and Open Records Laws.

Before becoming Georgia’s Attorney General, Olens served as chair of the Cobb County Commission as well as chair of the Atlanta Regional, and those experiences have contributed to him having knowledge in diverse fields – from transportation and infrastructure to constitutional law to higher education.

“Sam brings two decades of public service and leadership experience to our Atlanta Public Policy practice,” said Eric Tanenblatt, chair of Dentons’ national Public Policy practice. “He joins an impressive team of former attorneys general and deputy attorneys general, including fellow former Georgia AG Thurbert Baker and former Florida AG Bill McCollum. Together, they will offer guidance to clients on federal and state business and regulatory issues, investigations and litigation.”

Sharon Gay, managing partner of Dentons’ Atlanta office, also was pleased Olens had joined the firm.

“Sam will be an asset to our clients who are seeking thoughtful and innovative solutions in navigating the intersection of law, business and government,” Gay said in a statement. “His connectivity in the legal, political and business communities is precisely what our clients in Atlanta and across the country need to leverage the growing global business platform that Georgia offers.”

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) described Olens joining Dentons as being a great fit.

“Sam is an excellent lawyer and did a superb job as attorney general in Georgia and as chair of the Cobb County Commission,” Isakson said. “He has a deep understanding of law, business and government, and with Dentons’ reputation and history in Georgia and its offices all over the world, Sam will be able to offer Dentons the type of excellent experience and expertise for which the firm is known.”

Although Olens plans to always be involved in public service, he does not intend to run again for elected office.

“I was in public office for 18 years,” Olens said. “I greatly appreciate the opportunity to have served. But I have no interest in being on a ballot again.”

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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