Baldacci joins Portland law firm

PORTLAND, Maine—Former Gov. John Baldacci is joining the law firm of Pierce Atwood as a senior adviser for economic development and government relations.

Baldacci, who served two terms as governor from 2003 to 2011, was a congressman for 12 years and served in the Maine Legislature and Bangor City Council before that. Following his two terms as governor, Baldacci, a Democrat, served in the Obama administration as director of the Department of Defense’s Military Health Care Reform Initiative where he worked for the former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Clifford L. Stanley, to conduct a full-scale review and evaluation of military health care and wellness.

“I worked for the best people with the best people, and I really enjoyed that,” Baldacci told the Bangor Daily News.

His contract with the DOD expired last month. Baldacci, who had briefly entertained the notion of running for Senate to replace retiring Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, said he was looking for a position that would allow him to spend most of his time in the state.

He lives outside of Bangor in Holden, with his wife, Karen, who is reestablishing her career as a registered dietician, Baldacci said.

“This gives me an opportunity to work a few days a week in Portland,and to be able to spend an equal amount of in the Bangor area,” said Baldacci.

Baldacci is not a lawyer, and will be working with Pierce Atwood on government relations and economic development. Baldacci will primarily work out of Pierce Atwood’s Portland office, but will also work in its other New England and Washington, D.C. Offices. Baldacci said he was attracted to the firm because of the work it’s doing internationally in the area of economic development.

“The more you can help firms in Maine to be able to expand their reach, to do more business, it will have a tremendous ripple benefit to the citizens of this state,” said Baldacci. “I look at it as a continuation of the work in terms of economic development, and to be able to use some of my experience in that field to assist a great team of people here.”

In the past, clients would retain law firms for basic legal matters, said Gloria Pinza, the firm’s managing partner. But the world has gotten more complex, she said.

“In today’s world, there’s often intersections between government relations, law, policy – all of those things,” said Pinza. “I think what (Baldacci) does for us is he helps us to have that different perspective that we can bring to bear on complex issues.”

She noted that Baldacci has extensive years of experience in the public sector, and specialized expertise in certain industry areas including energy, healthcare and economic development. The firm represents some of the largest companies in Maine, she said, and in New England. At roughly 140 attorneys, the firm is on a growth trajectory, and hiring the former governor is part of that strategy, she said. Other former high-ranking officials at Pierce Atwood include Vincent McKusick and Daniel Wathen, two former Maine chief justices who are of counsel to the firm. William Kayatta Jr., an attorney with the firm, has been nominated to be a first circuit judge, Pinza noted.

Asked about future political plans, Baldacci, 57, said he’d like to work on the public discourse of issues in Maine, though he was not sure what form that might take.