Tom McDonald is no longer the U.S. ambassador for Zimbabwe. But his new job allows him to advocate on international issues affecting the African country.
Mr. McDonald, 48, recently joined the national law firm Baker & Hostetler LLP, overseeing clients in the Washington and Cleveland offices, and working on issues covering international trade, labor, and legislative and government affairs.
It’s his second stint after serving as U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe from 1997 to 2001. Mr. McDonald said he has brought over the majority of his clients to Baker & Hostetler from serving as a partner in the Cleveland and Washington offices of national law firm Arter & Hadden LLP.
“Most of the clients I’m representing both here and in Ohio are clients I’ve had for 10 to 15 years,” Mr. McDonald said. “More and more, companies are picking lawyers and not the law firms as attorneys become a more trusted confidante, like a CPA or physician.”
The District resident said he took the position of partner for both offices because of the larger resource base at his disposal in addition to an opportunity to work with Baker’s New York office.
“D.C. is where you work on the government and legislative practices, and New York is the city for international issues,” he said. “I knew I was coming to a point in my life where I wanted to broaden that international exposure.”
Mr. McDonald focuses his employment and labor practice in the Cleveland office for clients such as Koyo-Seiko Corp., a Japanese manufacturer of bearings with U.S. operations in Westlake, Ohio.
“These companies need someone with the knowledge in our labor laws, as well as experience in dealing with international corporations, so it’s a nice fit,” Mr. McDonald said.
On the government affairs front, Mr. McDonald acts as a lobbyist to large banks and corporations on international trade issues and environmental rules in the workplace.
In his spare time, Mr. McDonald said, he advocates on issues he heavily promoted while ambassador to Zimbabwe, such as improved economic development in South Africa and fighting the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
“When I was ambassador, we tried to promote [southern] Africa as a destination for tourists and establish clinics to provide AIDS testing, and I want to continue with that work even though I’m no longer there,” he said.
William Schweitzer, managing partner of Baker & Hostetler’s Washington office, said the law firm hopes to use Mr. McDonald’s diverse list of contacts from his days an ambassador.
“Tom has worked closely with European and African governments and economic councils, and we want to use his legal expertise and contacts to help our clients with international needs,” Mr. Schweitzer said.