Spencer Abraham.
Spencer Abraham. (Courtesy photo)

The fall of Dickstein Shapiro has given lots of boosts to Blank Rome—first, through the firm’s acquisition of more than 100 Dickstein lawyers; now, by helping to close a deal with a former U.S. Energy secretary and U.S. senator.

Spencer Abraham, the former senator from Michigan and member of President George W. Bush’s cabinet, told The National Law Journal that the firm’s acquisition of Dickstein Shapiro lawyers factored positively into his decision to join Blank Rome this week as a principal. His long-time colleague Joseph McMonigle also joins the firm as a principal.

Abraham said he and McMonigle started speaking with Blank Rome three months before the Dickstein Shapiro transaction, which was this February.

“We think their commitment to bring in this large increase of lawyers is a demonstration of their commitment to expansion in Washington,” Abraham said Monday.

Abraham and McMonigle will be principals at Blank Rome Government Relations, a separately operated and wholly owned company of Blank Rome, the law firm. They will focus on supporting Blank Rome’s energy practice but will keep separate their own business consulting company, The Abraham Group.

Blank Rome, in its acquisition of Dickstein Shapiro practices this year, received a pared-down version of the historically large energy group that the Washington firm once had. Many of Dickstein Shapiro’s energy partners, over more than a decade, had left for various firms, including Crowell & Moring and Hogan Lovells.

Dickstein Shapiro’s lobbying practice, too, had nearly disappeared before the acquisition. Greenberg Traurig hired the bulk of it two years ago. Then former House Speaker Dennis Hastert resigned after he was indicted last year. Porter Goss, a Hastert colleague, former CIA director and congressman, did not move to Blank Rome this year.

Blank Rome Government Relations now will have about a dozen staff members. Abraham is the only former member of Congress, although 1960s-era Sen. Joseph Tydings is a senior counsel to the law firm.

C.J. Zane, managing principal of Blank Rome Government Relations, said the Abraham and Dickstein Shapiro additions coincide with the firm’s expansion of business.

The lobbying group especially will rely on Abraham and McMonigle’s industry contacts, connections to Congress and administration officials, Zane said. The relationship between the firm’s work and the consulting done by the Abraham Group could become less separated in the future, he said. “That’s certainly a possibility and it would even be a goal.”

Lobbying clients of Blank Rome Government Relations include a vaccine company called Emergent BioSolutions Inc. and several maritime companies. The Abraham Group has not had registered lobbying clients since 2012, when it represented Deepwater Wind Holdings.