First director of Pa. Office of Open Records, public affairs firm co …
A new law firm in Harrisburg will focus on transparency law and First Amendment law. Terry Mutchler, the first director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, and Charlie Lyons, a former state director for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey have opened MutchlerLyons. MutchlerLyons helps agencies, corporations and the media navigate open records, freedom of information, and right to know laws.
“There’s a great need for transparency law,” Mutchler said.
The firm represents media companies, defense contractors, pharmaceuticals, colleges and universities, healthcare providers, hedge funds and government agencies. Mutchler says that the key part of the firm’s practice is education, but, not educating clients that public information is available but, educating clients on how to obtain information, and the ways of which it can be done. When Mutchler served as a public access counselor in Illinois, she said that many right-to-know requests were rejected based on the way the request was written. She said based on their professional backgrounds, the firm will take a journalistic approach combined with government insight to understand what is needed when it comes to obtaining information.
Mutchler said that creating a new law firm is like creating the Office of Open Records where she was the agency’s first director. The office grew into a $2.1 Million operation with 15 staff members. MutchlerLyons has an office at 219 State St. in Harrisburg and shares office space with ShellyLyons Public Affairs and Communications where she will assist with crisis communication for that firm. Lyons, the co-founder and vice president at ShellyLyons Public Affairs and Communications, will also continue in his current role at ShellyLyons in addition to his work at the law firm. Previously, Mutchler was a journalist for the Associated Press in Harrisburg as well as Springfield, Ill., where she was the first woman to serve as bureau chief. Mutchler served as Illinois’ first public access counselor in the Office of Attorney General, and was appointed as Pennsylvania’s first executive director of the Office of Open Records in 2008. She resigned from that position in 2015 and worked for the Pepper Hamilton law firm where she practiced transparency law until the end of last year.
In addition to his employment for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Lyons also served as a senior aide to Gov. Robert P. Casey. Lyons also was an attorney in private practice and with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington. In addition to the office in Harrisburg, the firm also has an office in Montgomery County. The firm opened this week. Mutchler says right now the firm has two attorneys but, the goal is to expand.
“We have a mix of clients already and the goal is to grow this [firm] and to strategically add attorneys and continue to build,” she said.