The lobbying industry kept a firm hand on the tiller last year as it navigated through health care and financial reform, reporting a steady rise in revenue in 2010. The National Law Journal‘s annual survey of the lobbying industry, the Influence 50, showed that the 50 highest-grossing lobbying practices brought in a collective $1.1 billion in 2010, an increase of 4.6% from the year before.

 

OVERVIEW

In 2010, most lobby shops increased revenue
Top lobby shops, honing in on health care, grew 4.6% in 2010. 

THE CHARTS
To qualify for the Influence 50, firms must have reported at least $2 million in Lobbying Disclosure Act fees and had at least $7 million in overall lobbying revenue in 2010.

THE INFLUENCE 50
Lobby shops and law firms with the highest revenues from lobbying work in 2010.

TOP LAW FIRMS
Lobbying practices at Washington-area law offices that earned the most in 2010.

TOP LOBBYING FIRMS
Lobbying activites at non-law firms that earned at least $7 million in 2010.
 

READER’S GUIDE TO THE INFLUENCE REVENUE REPORT

Defining Lobbying: There are several legal definitions of lobbying. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA) limits it to activities directed at Congress and certain members of the executive branch. The Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 encompasses certain “political activities” and public relations efforts. The Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 defines lobbying as anything that could be classified as “influencing legislation” at either the federal or state level.

In putting together the Influence 50, we recognize that none of those laws or definitions captures the full scope of lobbying as it is practiced today. Accordingly, for the purposes of the survey, we defined lobbying in its broadest sense: all activities intended to shape laws or regulations on behalf of a client. This includes, but is not limited to, lobbying of federal agencies and state, local and foreign governments, as well as work done on related advertising, grassroots and public relations campaigns. It includes legal work and advice on how to comply with existing laws and regulations.

Deciding Who Makes It: To focus the survey on the largest legislative practices, we included only those firms that reported at least $2 million in LDA fees last year. In addition, our published rankings list only those firms for which total lobbying revenue was at least $7 million last year. For firms that are new this year to the Influence 50 list, the gross revenue for 2009 is not noted.

Calculating Revenue: In preparing this year’s report, we surveyed more than 100 lobbying and law firms, limiting them to 2010 revenue generated by federal and state lobbying activities in Washington-area offices. International lobbying handled by foreign offices was not included in the survey numbers, nor was revenue generated by subsidiaries, affiliates or parent companies. In some cases, 2009 revenue numbers have been adjusted for accuracy. Most firms cooperated in our reporting of their revenue; some did not. But even among firms that cooperated, we reviewed the firms’ calculations and, in some cases, requested revisions or additional supporting documentation. Although we strove for accuracy, all figures in the survey should be viewed as informed estimates of the firm’s 2010 revenues, rounded to the nearest $100,000 increment.