Insights & News

Government Affairs News, Winter 2017

January 14, 2017
Client Alert
One-on-One with Joshua D. Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General-Elect
People News

One-on-One with Joshua D. Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General-Elect

Joshua D. Shapiro

Josh Shapiro will be sworn in as Pennsylvania’s sixth elected Attorney General on Jan. 17. Government Affairs News sat down with Josh, former chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and Stradley Ronon Counsel, to discuss his plans for the Office of the Attorney General.

Government Affairs News: How has the transition gone? Can you tell me more about Setting the People’s Priorities and the forums you’ve hosted?

Josh Shapiro: The transition is going well. Setting the People’s Priorities is what we’re calling the listening sessions that we’re holding across Pennsylvania on an array of issues important to citizens in different communities. We’ve held forums in Allentown, Philadelphia, Scranton, Pittsburgh and Johnstown on a range of topics: from the heroin and opioid epidemic to gun violence to crimes against seniors to consumer protection and fraud. The idea is to get outside the halls of power and get to people where they live, and really listen. They’ve been substantive, eye-opening and useful.

GAN: During the campaign you spoke often about restoring integrity and a sense of fairness to the Office of the Attorney General and Pennsylvania’s law enforcement system. How do you plan to accomplish this?

JDS: First, I think you start with strong, ethical leadership; I know how to provide that from my time leading Montgomery County government and that’s why we announced the first Chief Integrity Officer for the Attorney General’s office. Next, you establish a clear set of rules, which will come in the form of a new Code of Conduct which I’ll release on my first day in office. The office has good people who are honest and want to do the right thing, these steps will support them. Then you move outward, because public trust is critical. It’s personally important to me that Pennsylvanians know that the Office of Attorney General has integrity and that it is doing good work for them and I’ll use my bully pulpit to make that happen. Lastly, you need to ensure that every Pennsylvanian’s voice is heard in the justice system, without that it’s very hard to increase people’s trust and that sense of fairness. It’s a big task and it won’t happen overnight, but I believe these are the steps to take and we’ll start on Tuesday.

GAN: Can you tell us about how your administration will look at the senior levels?

JDS: My administration is already shaping up, and it’s looking like Pennsylvania – just as I promised it would during my campaign. Our Personnel & Planning Task Force, led by a bipartisan group of experienced professionals and counseled by Bill Sasso, has been interviewing and recommending qualified candidates for positions to serve in the Office of Attorney General. We’ve already appointed Michelle Henry, the first woman in Pennsylvania history to be First Deputy Attorney General; Eric Fillman, an ethics expert, as the first Chief Integrity Officer ever; and we just made high-quality appointments to senior positions in the office this week to head our Criminal, Civil and Public Protection divisions and as senior agent in charge. Our leadership team is strong, diverse and impassioned to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare. We’ll continue filling out our senior team in the days and weeks to come.

GAN: The heroin and opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania was a focus of the campaign. What are your plans to address the crisis?

JDS: The heroin and opioid epidemic is one of the biggest problems facing Pennsylvania, and it’s our top challenge on day one of our administration. There is no simple answer to this epidemic; it’s going to take a comprehensive approach. Law enforcement needs to cooperate and coordinate better than it has to stop the flow of heroin across municipal lines. Drug dealers pay no attention to boundaries – neither can law enforcement. The medical community has to do a better job in how it prescribes opioid pain medications – far too often the gateway to heroin addiction. The pharmaceutical industry that markets these opioid medications is an important part of any solution – I have no intentions of letting them off the hook. Fundamentally, we need to understand that drug addiction is a disease, not a crime. We need compassion and more treatment for those addicted to drugs, and to be merciless with those who are selling drugs.

GAN: Tell us about your approach to regulating and scrutinizing business in Pennsylvania.

JDS: I believe when the state fails to provide proper enforcement, businesses and those that follow the rules suffer. Companies that spend valuable time and money complying with laws and regulations designed to protect the public, like safe drinking water, are at a major economic disadvantage when their competitors repeatedly violate the law without penalty. Letting bad actors off the hook encourages others to cut corners simply so they can keep up. Lax enforcement undermines the rule of law, erodes public trust, hurts long-term economic growth, and harms the vast majority of businesses large and small. As Attorney General, I promise to enforce our state laws to create a level playing field that supports economic growth and ensures the integrity of our justice system.

GAN: Do you have any closing thoughts about Stradley and your time here at the firm?

JDS: This month marks my 11-year anniversary as part of our Stradley family and will also mark the close of this chapter of my life as a Stradlian when I take office as Pennsylvania Attorney General on Jan. 17. I am so grateful to the tremendous staff and attorneys here. I am especially grateful to my mentor and dear friend, Bill Sasso, who took a chance on me after we bumped into one another in the courtyard on a cold January morning in 2006, and invited me to be a part of this family. Bill’s leadership of this firm and commitment to its future is extraordinary and inspiring.

I’ve learned so much during my time here at Stradley. I’ve learned that good legal work is not just about the memos we write or the motions we file, but how the work we do benefits our clients and the world around us. The civic commitment of Bill and the leadership team sets us apart from other firms.

I am deeply indebted to the leadership and partners at Stradley who have made me a better lawyer and supported me every step of the way as I pursue my passion for public service. I would not be at this crossroads but for the commitment of Stradley these past 11 years.

Thank you!

People News

Stradley Ronon Chairman William R. Sasso was named to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Power 76” list, a compilation of the “most influential people in greater Philadelphia.” Bill was deemed the “dean of Philadelphia’s law firm leaders” by the publication, which also noted that he “often serves as the legal adviser of choice for some of the region’s key business and political leaders.”
Partner Mark Chopko presented the webinar, “Involvement of Religious Charities in the Political Process: Dos and Don’ts,” hosted by Church Mutual Insurance Company. Mark discussed the differences between political advocacy and issue advocacy and between corporate action and personal involvement, as well the limits of the First Amendment regarding religious freedom.
Twenty-three Stradley Ronon attorneys, including Chairman William R. Sasso and government affairs group members Steve Davis and Andy Levine, were named to the recently released 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, regarded as a definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. 
Partner Andy Levine was named by Best Lawyers as 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” in Philadelphia in environmental litigation. Best Lawyers names a single lawyer in each specialty in each community as “Lawyer of the Year.” Those honored have received particularly outstanding ratings in the surveys by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism and integrity.
Andy spoke at the Appalachian Oil & Gas Conference on the topic, “NGL Pipelines, Terminals, and Shipping – Progress for the East Coast,” in Pittsburgh. He and fellow panelists discussed the progress on pipelines, status of terminal and downstream facility development, potential for Marcus Hook terminal and other Philadelphia-area locations to become an export and/or processing hub, and the potential economic benefit to the Philadelphia region from the natural gas liquids processing and export.
Partner Cathy Ward has been appointed to the board of directors of the Women’s Energy Network’s newly formed Philadelphia Chapter. Women’s Energy Network is an international organization of professional women who work to offer educational, networking and leadership opportunities to women professionals in the energy industry nationwide through luncheons, conferences, community initiatives, social events and mentoring programs. Cathy will also serve as Board Secretary. 
Insurance Financial and Regulatory Specialist Stephen Johnson spoke at the 2016 Fall Insurance Internal Audit Group Conference in Philadelphia. Steve presented “It All Starts with Great Corporate Governance,” which focused on the important role an internal audit department can play in an organization as it relates to its governance practices. Steve also co-presented with Stradley Ronon Counsel Jana Landon at the Association of Insurance Compliance Professionals’ Mid-Atlantic Chapter Education Day in Baltimore. Steve participated in the “View from the Top” commissioner panel alongside Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer and New Jersey Assistant Insurance Commissioner William Rader. Jana’s panel, “Cybersecurity Risks,” focused on the latest trends and statistics regarding cyber incidents and data breaches. 

Information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice or opinion or as a substitute for the advice of counsel. The articles by these authors may have first appeared in other publications. The content provided is for educational and informational purposes for the use of clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter. We recommend that readers seek specific advice from counsel about particular matters of interest. 

Copyright © 2017 Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP. All rights reserved.

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