U.S. Rep. Andrews Set to Join Phila.-Based Dilworth Paxson

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U.S. Rep Rob Andrews listens to a question Tuesday, in Haddon Heights, N.J., as he announces that he is resigning from Congress after 23 years.

U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., is leaving Congress later this month to join Philadelphia-based Dilworth Paxson in March, he announced Tuesday.

Andrews, who will join as of counsel, will lead Dilworth Paxson's government relations efforts out of the firm's Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Pennsylvania offices, according to a statement from the firm.

"We're committed to securing talent with the kind of deep, broad-based knowledge and problem-solving expertise demonstrated by Congressman Andrews that allows us to enhance and expand the critical services and solutions we provide to our clients," Dilworth Paxson CEO Ajay Raju said in a statement.

Raju himself just recently joined the firm from Reed Smith to serve as Dilworth Paxson's new CEO. He said at the time he joined that he would be looking to add top talent, including those attorneys who shared in the firm's civic commitment to the region.

Andrews was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1990, representing the 1st Congressional District of New Jersey, which includes parts of Camden, Gloucester and Burlington counties. He currently serves on the Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He is the former chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions and is presently its ranking Democrat.

Andrews is stepping down amid an ongoing U.S. House Ethics Committee investigation into his alleged spending of campaign funds on personal expenses, such as a family trip to Scotland.

In a press conference from his Haddon Heights, N.J., headquarters Tuesday morning, Andrews said in response to reporters' questions that his departure was not related in any way to the investigation. Andrews said the opportunity to join the firm came to him "very recently." In discussions he had this weekend with the firm, Andrews said at the press conference, it became clear that there was no one currently heading up the government affairs group and that this was an opportunity that would not be there a few months or a year from now. Andrews said joining Dilworth Paxson gave him the best opportunity to fulfill his family obligations to his wife and two daughters.

Andrews said he would be leaving Congress on Feb. 18 and would join Dilworth Paxson in March.

"I couldn't be more enthusiastic about joining Dilworth at this moment in its history," Andrews said in a statement. "I've enjoyed a long relationship with the firm and count many of its members among my dear friends."

According to the statement, Andrews, a Cornell Law School grad, has had longstanding relationships with Dilworth Paxson leadership Joseph Jacovini, Stephen Harmelin and Lawrence McMichael.

Andrews' wife, Camille, was a partner at the firm for several years. She currently is associate dean of enrollment and projects at Rutgers School of Law-Camden.

Raju said in an interview with The Legal that the firm has been looking to bolster its Washington, D.C., location and add "heft" to its government affairs practice. He said the firm considered the pending ethics investigation involving Andrews, "carefully vetted" it and ultimately decided the totality of Andrews' portfolio, reputation and record of public service made bringing him on board an easy decision.

Dilworth Paxson has a seven-lawyer government affairs practice currently co-chaired by of counsel John O. Bennett III in the firm's Red Bank, N.J., office. The group also includes special counsel Lanny J. Davis, the former special counsel to President Bill Clinton. Davis affiliated with Dilworth Paxson in March 2012.

Dilworth Paxson Chief Operating Officer James Hennessey said Bennett took of counsel status earlier this year and is winding down his practice. Firm Chairman McMichael said Dilworth Paxson had been looking to fill a leadership opening in the practice in Washington since last fall and word spread to Andrews. The deal was quickly discussed and inked this past weekend, he said.

While Davis provides a national component to the firm's government affairs practice as a special counsel to the firm, Hennessey said Andrews adds more depth and will lead the day-to-day efforts of the practice. McMichael said Andrews will be full-time with the firm and will immediately serve a "fairly constant demand" from clients looking for government-affairs help.

While Andrews is barred from lobbying his former colleagues in Congress for one year from when he leaves office, Hennessey said Andrews can lobby the executive branch and that branch's agencies right away. Hennessey said it hasn't been decided yet whether Andrews will register as a lobbyist. McMichael said one of Andrews' missions in leading the practice is to grow it.

While in Congress, Andrews became particularly familiar with issues related to health care, the workplace, education, the budget and national defense.

Gina Passarella can be contacted at 215-557-2494 or at gpassarella@alm.com. Follow her on Twitter @GPassarellaTLI.

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