Lobbying firms are busy – no matter who is in power. Whether you deem their work as manipulation, oligarchical or “good business,” the fact remains that lobbying firms do not simply represent campaigns or clients in one business or legal context – they actually view the legal landscape of the community as a malleable thing, as a material good that is simply means to any paying clientele’s end.
In some cases (e.g. Holland and Knight), a firm actually creates new literary milieus by holding essay competitions for minorities, and thereby alters the linguistic landscape of the nation. That being said, not all lobbying firms are evil. In fact, many do pro bono work for humanitarian causes like ending torture, systemic hegemonies in foreign countries that treat some of its people like second-class citizens, or animals, or worse. In the end, these firms are run by real people, so just like any person you could meet, their political, economic and moral allegiances and positions will vary drastically.
The top lobbying firms in Washington went through a major reordering in the third quarter of 2015. Many reported stagnating or declining revenue from July through September.
Capitol Counsel, Podesta Group, Squire Patton Boggs, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, and K&L Gates reduced their fees by slight amounts compared to the third quarter of 2014, so it’s possible some favored lobbying firms didn’t make the cut this quarter.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Akin Gump is a law firm spread worldwide, with their largest office located in Washington, D.C. They have over 900 attorneys and advisers in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Founded in Dallas, Texas in 1945 by Robert Strauss and Richard Gump, Akin Gump adopted a “single tier” partnership structure, guaranteeing equity to all partners and rejecting the popular “two tier” structure, wherein many partners have no equity interest.
Akin Gump is recognized by leading legal media and rating publications. The firm was selected for The American Lawyer’s A-List in 2014, which ranks the country’s top 20 law firms annually. Essentially, Akin Gump has a cornucopia of accolades second to none, including a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates employers’ treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, customers and investors.
Squire Patton Boggs
Squire Patton Boggs (SQB) has 44 offices spanning 21 countries. Formed in 2014 by the merger of the law firm Squire Sanders with Patton Boggs, it’s one of the top 30 largest law firms in the world (by headcount and gross revenue).
Although Patton Boggs was the largest lobbying firm by revenue in 2013, partner defections following the merger with Squire Sanders have reduced the new synthesis to second-largest in the US. The lobbying section of the firm was previously managed by Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr., but is now managed by the former United States Senators John Breaux and Trent Lott.
Among the firm’s representations are the Takata Corporation before the United States Congress, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and United States Department of Transportation on issues regarding air bag safety. SQB also represents the Palestinian Authority when it needs to procure aid from the US.
Among a few reported negative associations include SQB’s work for the mid-1990’s Guatemalan dictatorship. In their services, SQB argued that Sister Dianna Ortiz, a torture victim who was raped by members of a death squad, was actually “victim to an out-of-control, sadomasochistic lover.”
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP
This is a national law and lobbying firm headquartered in Denver, Colorado, with 250 attorneys and policy consultants in offices spanning the western US and Washington, D.C. Founded in 1968, the firm’s major practices include real estate, natural resources, public policy, and corporate and litigation.
BHFS earned $23.2 million in lobbying revenues in 2010, which secured its place among the top five lobbying firms for the first time. According to the Denver Post, the firm also represents health care, financial services, and energy interests. They claim these oddly humanitarian financial projects are part of the budget because they have been key issues post Obama’s 2008 election.
This public affairs and lobbying firm is based in Washington, D.C., and was founded in 1988 by brothers John Podesta and Tony Podesta. Formerly known as Podesta Associates, podesta.com, and Podesta Mattoon. Podesta Group represents US corporations, nonprofits, governments, and various associations. It fosters close ties to the Democratic Party and the Obama administration.
Podesta Group reported earning $27.4 million in lobbying fees in 2011, and its chairman, Tony Podesta, was ranked as the third most influential lobbyist in Washington by his peers.
A few of Podesta Group’s clients include Wal-Mart, BP, Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, Cherokee Nation (casinos), Egypt, General Dynamics, Michelin, Nestle, Heineken, Republic of Albania, Republic of Georgia, et al.
Worthy of note is Podesta Group’s $900,000 revenue throughout the last two years from the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which is an organization sympathetic to Yanukovich and his political party based in Brussels.
Van Scoyoc Associates
Last and by shear affluence not least is this lobbyist and government affairs firm, founded in 1990 by H. Stewart ‘Stu’ Van Scoyoc. The founder is presently the President and Chief Executive Officer. A subdivision of The Van Scoyoc Companies, the firm is cousin to The Implementation Group, Inc., Capitol Decisions, Inc., and is ally to Van Scoyoc Kelly PLLC.
VSC represents 20 of the largest 200 domestic corporations, in addition to over 50 universities (and medical centers), nonprofits, trade associations, foreign governments, and is one of the two biggest lobbying firms in Washington, D.C.
Notable contracts include a $55,000 per month deal with Pakistan. Since the nation is both an essential non-NATO ally of the US’ “war on terror,” and host to a massive population of Islamic extremists, VSA is in an increasingly intricate and delicate relationship with Congress and the White House.
Holland & Knight
Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, this international law firm has over 1,100 lawyers in 22 U.S. offices. Around the globe, Holland & Knight also have offices in Bogota, Colombia and Mexico City, Mexico. The law firm primarily represents issues related to litigation, real estate, government law and business.
This firm is the product of a 1968 synthesis between Knight firm, founded in Tampa’s early days of industry and commerce, and Holland firm, originally established in Polk County, Florida when the area was a locus of citrus production and phosphate mining.
Holland & Knight is reputed to represent those whose legal issues would otherwise have been abjected from the legal system. A few pro bono clientele to note follow:
i) Haitian victims of torture, arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killing, and crimes against humanity for whom the firm obtained a $4.3 million federal jury verdict.
ii) Wilbert Rideau, a man who spent 44 years as a prisoner in jail until freed by jury verdict.
iii) Prisoners with HIV/AIDS facing life-threatening conditions and treatment in Alabama saw justice.
iv) Mohammed Al Rehaief, a man considered to be an American hero for banding his family together to help save POW Jessica Lynch in Iraq.
v) Death row inmates who experience deplorable conditions of confinement in the state of Mississippi.
Lobbying firms will always have business – as long as there is government.