Tales from the Trail

George Mitchell returns to law firm after 2 years as Mideast envoy

By Reuters Staff
June 13, 2011

George Mitchell says he doesn’t believe in retirement.

After two years focusing on Middle East peace for President Barack Obama, he returned Monday to the law firm DLA Piper as chairman emeritus.

In an interview with Leigh Jones of Reuters, Mitchell said Israelis and Palestinians have mutual interests. Palestinians won’t get statehood unless Israel gets security, and vice versa.

“If you can make sure the agreement has the central demand of each side, you can get an agreement,” he said.

Mitchell resigned from the Middle East special envoy post in March, having served the two years he had promised the president.  “I told him that I was interested and would serve, but that I could not do it for a whole presidential term. I had children late in life.” Mitchell, who is 77, said he did not want to spend too much time away from his family.

“My only objective was to serve the best I could to advance the objective that we all seek comprehensive peace in the Middle East, recognizing the enormous difficulty, complexity and long history of the conflict,” he said.

Mitchell returns to the 4,200-attorney DLA Piper as chairman emeritus, the same job he gave up when President Obama appointed him to the Middle East position. The last time he was at DLA Piper, he led an investigation in 2006 into steroid use within Major League Baseball.

Mitchell’s return to DLA Piper is just the latest turn of the revolving door between the federal government and the private legal sector, according to a study of data from the Center of Responsive Politics by Terry Baynes of Reuters. Since Obama took office in 2009, at least 10 lawyers in the administration have left their government posts for private practice.

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Segar (Mitchell at DLA Piper)

 

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