The end state for lobbying is when the law firm’s clients see legislation and policies that favor their particular business and position. The emphasis should be on “business,” as that is where lobbyists help shape the pie, its size, and labels the pieces.
K Street refers to the neighborhood between the White House and Capitol where lawyers act as go between on behalf of business and organizations. Essentially, for every government expenditure there is law affixing funding for the procurement of corresponding services and products.
Decisions are made in the formulation of law that affect how the contracting community aligns with the opportunity. The closer contractors are to the shaping of decisions, the greater their knowledge about the opportunities and the higher probability they have of participating.
Decisions are made about how much opportunity goes to large contractors and various small contractors as set-asides for special classes of “small businesses.”
When most people outside the “Beltway” think of small business, they might think of the local dry cleaner, auto repair shop, beauty shop, or print shop, for instance. Those are the legitimate businesses operated by entrepreneurs serving commercial customers.
In Washington and the government contracting community, small businesses are those owned by entrepreneurs, sometimes by minorities of various types and including veterans and disabled veterans and other persons with disabilities as well as women. Laws reflect decisions made about how much opportunity is allocated to these various categories of “small business.” Bear in mind that many of these small businesses are owned and operated by people who left government and who are now uniquely qualified by their prior experience to sell their services back to the government.
That is a part of the revolving door story in Washington. Small businesses earn a profit for selling services and sometimes products to government where it might be argued that there is little value added from the small enterprise except from financing the operation and managing with a degree of risk for acceptable performance.
Politicians employ their influence over opportunity creation and distribution as political favor and leverage with their constituents, especially businesses.
Anyway, government is spending, though not at the usual rate. Smaller government means less contracting and less set asides and fewer resources around which lobbyists have influence and control. In the end, that means there is less lobby work to perform.
There are many types of legal lobby work, but in the end, it all generalizes into controlling and influence the vast revenue that flows through the federal government.
The Republican House hasn’t been good business for lobbyists. The lack of bipartisanship hasn’t been good for business.
Yet, there are many Republican congressmen and their senior staff making the migration from government to lobby firms as they don’t anticipate being reelected, and many believe it is time for them to make some serious money on K Street by joining the firms. If they can bring home the bacon to K Street, they will be welcome there.
There is much more about how sausage is made in Washington. Stay tuned here to watch the process.
"Lobbyists predict rebound in 2013
By Kevin Bogardus and Ben Goad - 03/05/13 05:00 AM ET
K Street firms are predicting a strong rebound in 2013.
Even Patton Boggs, the perennial earnings champion that axed 65 jobs last week, expects an upturn in business after a frustrating election year that brought congressional activity to a near standstill. That optimism is being echoed around K Street.
“Ever since the election, I think things have gotten better,” said Smitty Davis, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which is second only to Patton Boggs in lobbying revenue. “Things have been picking up since the election. Congress is beginning to address things.”
During last year’s lobbying slowdown, many on K Street predicted that the arrival of a new Congress in 2013 would snap the industry’s two-year losing streak.
The news last week of layoffs at Patton Boggs seemed to undermine that prediction, stirring anxiety at a time when Washington is already set to suffer a sudden blow from the arrival of spending cuts from sequestration.
Patton Boggs attributed its cutbacks to broader trends in the legal industry, however, and said the outlook for 2013 remains bright.
“The stars of the firm remain there. The people who have driven business for the last couple of decades are still there and we are still recruiting new talent,” said Kevin O’Neill, deputy chairman of Patton Boggs’s public policy department. “The potential to have a very good year is there.”
The firm saw its lobbying revenue drop by more than $2 million to $46 million last year. On Thursday, the global law firm laid off 65 people, 23 of whom were based in the firm’s Washington office.
But only three of the roughly 150 employees in the firm’s public policy department — essentially Patton Boggs’s lobbying team — were let go. Ed Newberry, the firm’s managing partner, said the cutbacks didn’t stem from the fall in lobbying revenue.
“It’s more of a reaction overall to the economics of the legal industry and, in particular for us, the wind-up of several major cases,” said Newberry, who also expressed confidence about the firm’s prospects for 2013.
Newberry noted that Patton Boggs recorded $317.4 million in revenue overall for last year — making the $2 million decline a mere drop in the bucket.”