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OLYMPIA — After 17 years in public office, Rob McKenna has returned to the private sector.

The former Republican attorney general and gubernatorial hopeful announced Tuesday he has joined the global law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe as a partner focused on data-privacy issues.

He will work in Seattle and represent Microsoft, among other clients.

McKenna will also co-chair a policy team within the firm that “helps clients solve their most critical legal and competitive issues in the state legislatures and before state attorneys general,” according to a news release.

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“I’m not becoming a lobbyist,” McKenna explained in an interview. “I will be advising clients, and I will be advising lobbyists.”

McKenna said he will stay involved in politics by supporting individual candidates and helping lead a new nonprofit focused on increasing cooperation between Republican and like-minded political groups.

The 50-year-old reiterated a previous sentiment that he will probably not run for governor or any other office in 2016, but could at some point in the future.

“I’m not going to run for office in the next several years,” he said.

McKenna, who served as attorney general for eight years, lost to Democrat Jay Inslee for governor in November. Since then, he has mostly kept a low profile, although he moderated a panel on education policy at a state GOP conference last month.

McKenna said he chose Orrick in part because it has a strong presence in Seattle and works with Microsoft.

As co-chair of the Public Policy Group, McKenna said he will focus specifically on technology-regulatory issues.

Tech is a major focus for Orrick, which was founded in San Francisco in 1863. The firm also specializes in business transactions and regulations in the financial services and energy industries.

More than 1,000 attorneys work for the firm worldwide, which has been named among the world’s most prestigious and highest-paying.

The firm has not contributed to McKenna in the past but did give $1,000 each to the two candidates seeking to succeed him last year: Democrat Bob Ferguson, who won, and Republican Reagan Dunn.

In general, it has a liberal bent — the firm gave more money to Democrats than Republicans in 2012, and its outgoing chairman is considering running for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia as a Democrat.

McKenna said he’s not focused on politics now, although he did argue that the Republican Party is poised for success in the near future.

Saying the party bench is getting deeper, he pointed to several young state lawmakers as the party’s future: state senators Bruce Dammeier, Andy Hill and Steve Litzow, and state representatives Jan Angel and Cathy Dahlquist.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 360-236-8267 or

On Twitter @brianmrosenthal

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