Burr joins global law firm in first private sector move

Former U.S. Sen. Richard Burr didn’t need very long to transition into a new professional career, joining the global law firm of DLA Piper.

The firm said Tuesday that Burr, of Winston-Salem, will work with the firm’s Regulatory and Government Affairs practice group as a principal policy adviser.

The Republican retired from Congress in January after serving five terms in the U.S. House and three terms in the U.S. Senate.

Under congressional rules, Burr cannot lobby his former Senate colleagues for two years.

Burr spent much of his time in Congress preferring a lower profile even as he took leadership roles in key Senate public health, finance and foreign intelligence committees.

Burr will join the firm with a team of policy advisers that will supplement its legal, policy, economic, medical and technological attorneys and advisers in the health care and life sciences field.

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Among the advisers are Margaret Martin, the committee’s former senior adviser of health policy, and Michael Sorensen, Burr’s former director of operations.

“We are excited to join DLA Piper and help clients navigate the funding, regulation, policy and political landscape of the health care system, from drug development to patient care,” Burr said in a statement.

Burr said his team will provide “unparalleled insight and strategic advice at a time of regulatory and political uncertainty.”

“In addition to the draw of DLA Piper’s strong platform, its expansive global footprint is one of the reasons we chose the firm,” Burr said. “Life sciences is global by every nature, and this allows us to build a roadmap to advise clients no matter where they’re doing business.”

Burr’s duties will include being chairman of the firm’s Health Policy Strategic Consulting practice “to provide policy advice, strategic consulting and a wide range of related services to life sciences and health care clients.”

Political analysts say much of Burr’s accomplishment in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate were of the behind-the-scenes variety in terms of crafting and introducing legislation and building and maintaining bipartisan coalitions to get policies enacted.

Burr served as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Burr’s legislative accomplishments include the 1997 FDA Modernization Act, the Pandemic All Hazards Preparedness Act, which created the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Burr also served as chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and as a prominent member of the Senate Finance Committee.

“The addition of Senator Burr is yet another way the firm is further distinguishing and refining its service offerings and capabilities in the life sciences and health care sectors with the aim of keeping our clients advised of what’s around the corner,” said Frank Ryan, DLA Piper’s Americas chair, global co-chairman and global co-chief executive.

“Senator Burr and his team will offer strategic advice based on institutional knowledge, political intelligence, and a nuanced understanding of marketplace conditions in a complex global economy.”

Defining legacy?

Burr’s legacy in Congress is likely to be remembered for three high-profile developments over the past three years.

Burr was one of seven Republican senators who voted on Feb. 13, 2021, to convict Trump based on Trump’s actions and statements linked to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by thousands of Trump supporters.

Burr was subject to criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike following media reports on his actions after attending a joint Jan. 24, 2020, Senate Health and Foreign Relations committee briefing on COVID-19.

The briefing included the director of the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Burr told members of the well-connected the Tar Heel Circle, a nonpartisan group comprised of business leaders and entities, that the novel coronavirus would have dire effects on the U.S. economy and population, likening it to the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic that left millions dead, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR.

Burr’s comments carried significant weight in part because he is author of the federal Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006.

Burr has been the subject of multiple federal investigations into allegations of insider stock trading, of which the U.S. Justice Department ended in January 2021 by apparently declining to bring charges.

In May 2020, Burr resigned as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a ripple effect from the controversy.

In September 2022, a less-redacted version of a federal court filing showed Burr and his wife avoided a loss of at least $87,000 “as a result of well-timed stock sales” in February 2020 and profited by at least $164,000.

On Jan. 6, Burr said the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken no action against him involving an insider-trading investigation related to February 2020 stock trades and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am glad to have this matter in the rearview mirror as I begin my retirement from the Senate following nearly three decades of public service,” Burr said.

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