Kenneth W. Starr, the former independent counsel, appeals court judge, and U.S. solicitor general, is going to be practicing law again.
He’s joining the Houston trial firm, The Lanier Law Firm, which is involved in some of the country’s biggest civil disputes, including over hip replacements and talcum powder.
The move comes more than a year after Starr, 72, left his post as president and chancellor of Texas’s Baylor University.
Starr already has been working with the Lanier firm’s appellate litigation team on multi-million-dollar hip implant litigation against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics Inc.
“This was not a responsibility I was actively seeking, but is a natural outgrowth of our common interests and the good we believe we can do together,” Starr said in a statement.
W. Mark Lanier, who was Starr’s personal attorney, founded the firm in 1990. He and Starr have defended each other publicly when each has faced criticism—Lanier for his role in the DePuy case, and Starr over a sexual assault scandal mainly involving athletes at Baylor that ultimately resulted in his departure.
Starr stood up for Lanier after he won a $1.04 billion verdict against J&J and DePuy but saw it chopped in half by a federal judge in Dallas. Earlier this year, the $502 million award was tossed after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided that it was based on some of Lanier’s “unequivocally deceptive” conduct involving witnesses.
Starr, who is best known for his prosecutorial zeal in investigating President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewisnky affair, vouched for his longtime friend as having “vanquished, fair and square” his opponents.
He said the corporate sources made up allegations that Lanier hid payments to expert witnesses, according to a May 2017 article in the National Law Journal.
Lanier, in 2016, defended Starr after the Baylor Board of Regents let him go following the scandal involving allegations that it concealed reports of alleged sexual assault by football players.
Starr is a former federal judge who left the bench in 1989 to become George H.W. Bush’s solicitor general. He later joined Kirkland & Ellis as a partner in its Washington office in 1993.
The next year, he replaced the independent counsel overseeing the inquiry of the Clintons and the Whitewater land deal in Arkansas that later was expanded to cover the Lewinsky matter.
Clinton was impeached over Lewinsky in 1998 and Starr’s involvement in the investigation has received renewed attention because his deputy in the investigation was Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Starr returned to Kirkland after concluding the special counsel investigation before turning to academia. He became dean of Pepperdine University School of Law and then went to Baylor.
Lanier has been involved in a variety of disputes, including representing nearly two dozen women who sued Johnson & Johnson on grounds that using its talcum powder for daily hygiene resulted in ovarian cancer. A St. Louis jury awarded them a $4.7 billion verdict in July. J&J is appealing.
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