A week after stepping down as leader of the California Senate, Sen. Darrell Steinberg announced plans Thursday to join the Greenberg Traurig law and lobbying firm in Sacramento as an attorney chairing its California Government Law and Policy unit. His position begins Dec. 1.
Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, is forbidden by California law from lobbying the Legislature for a year after he leaves office at the end of next month. A statement from Greenberg Traurig said the firm’s California practice focuses on agriculture, biotechnology, education, entertainment, green energy, health care, technology and transportation.
“Senator Steinberg will focus his practice to provide strategic counsel in these and other key subject areas,” the firm’s statement says.
Greenberg Traurig’s lobbying clients in California include numerous corporations and industry associations. Among them: Walt Disney Company, MillerCoors, State Farm insurance, the American Chemistry Council, a theme-park association and a solar-energy association. Last year, the firm was the 10th-highest-earning lobbying firm in California, bringing in more than $2.8 million, according to filings with the secretary of state.
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Steinberg said he looks forward to developing a legal practice on behalf of businesses, foundations, public entities and associations, and hopes to offer a service that he called “a new concept of legislative mediation.” That would involve bringing together dueling outside entities to negotiate a compromise before the legislative process begins, he said.
“So much of what I experienced, and what we see, are these disputes coming down to the last week and the last couple of days of session. Oftentimes, given the stress of time, the solutions are not always as good as they could be with earlier intervention,” Steinberg said.
“That’s not going to be my exclusive practice, but it’s something I would like to develop as part of my practice.”
Steinberg will be full time with the law firm but will also pursue one of his passions, establishing an organization called the Steinberg Institute for Advancing Mental Health Policy to improve care in what has become his signature policy area. A decade ago, Steinberg championed a ballot measure to tax millionaires to fund mental health services. More recently, his 20-year-old daughter, Jordana, announced that she hopes to become a mental health advocate and shared the story of her struggles with a severe childhood mood disorder that required intensive psychiatric care.
“I am grateful to the firm for its support of the institute and excited to continue my work in this important area,” Steinberg said in a statement.