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With a couple of surprises and several regular chart-toppers, D.C. law firms once again are cashing in on the world of lobbying. They continued to rack up lobbying work last year — the top law firms listed on this year’s Influence 50 raked in a total of more than $609 million from it. Some firms held their positions on the Influence 50 list, while others debuted, dropped down, or slipped off entirely. The surge of law firms on the Influence 50 seems to be a growing trend, too. The number of firms that outdid lobby shops in lobbying revenue for 2006 grew from seven to 10. Nicholas Allard, co-chairman of Patton Boggs’ public policy practice, which ranked No. 2 this year, says the trend reflects a desire not just for quality advocacy services but for quality legal services, too. “The need for Washington advocacy hasn’t diminished — it’s just that Congress has started to address more legal and investigative issues,” Allard says. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck (formerly Brownstein Hyatt & Farber), Arnold & Porter, Alston & Bird, and O’Connor & Hannan are newcomers on this year’s list. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association was one of Denver-based Brownstein’s monster clients, shelling out more than $500,000 to the firm to lobby on legislation such as the Communications, Consumer’s Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act and the Indecent and Gratuitous and Excessively Violent Programming Control Act. Other big-name clients that helped the firm soar to the highest spot among the newcomers, with $11.5 million in revenue, include AT&T, Terrestar Networks, and Mobile Satellite Ventures. Alfred Mottur, who has been managing partner at the firm since last summer, attributes Brownstein’s success to a growing rapport with clients and new hires. Two of those significant hires were Makan Delrahim, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and former staff director and chief counsel to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Kyle Simpson, a former Energy Department official in the Clinton administration. “It was really a combination of things that attributed to our growth,” Mottur says, adding that the firm is looking to grow its homeland security practice group. “Everyone here has pitched in phenomenally.” The two firms that made it onto the list last year — McKenna Long & Aldridge and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney — remain in the top ranks. The two firms moved up from No. 17 to No. 12 and from No. 22 to No. 16, respectively. Two other firms, however, weren’t as lucky. Ranked No. 5 last year with $31.9 million in lobbying earnings, Hunton & Williams ended 2006 with only $6 million in lobbying fees, according to Senate lobbying-disclosure records. Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw also didn’t make it onto this year’s list. Hunton & Williams did not respond to several phone calls. What doesn’t come as a surprise is that firms like Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Patton Boggs, Hogan & Hartson, and DLA Piper, all of which have served as leaders of the pack for the past several years, are once again in the top spots. Akin Gump bumped Patton Boggs out of the No. 1 slot this year with a nearly $6 million lead. DLA Piper has rested comfortably in its No. 4 spot for three years. With the new Democratic Congress, DLA Piper expects to see a surge in its lobbying practice in 2007, says former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard, a partner at the firm and chairman of its government affairs practice group. “We expect continuous growth,” says Blanchard, a Democrat who also served in the House of Representatives. “This Congress is already dramatically more active than others. The new Democratic majority is much more active in oversight investigations and legislative initiatives. This will be positive for us and other law firms because lots of people will become really concerned with political complexities and ethics rules.” And some firms, like Greenberg Traurig, Bracewell & Giuliani, Buchanan Ingersoll, and Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis, all of which climbed up several spots from last year, are hoping their expertise in not only lobbying but also law will give them a bigger boost this year. The new K&L Gates, the result of a Jan. 1 merger of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham and Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, attributes its 62 percent increase in lobbying revenue to its growing clientele and what it calls “serious teamwork” at the firm. K&L Gates earned $37.3 million in 2006, up from $23 million (as Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds) the previous year. “We’ve had five years of very good, consistent growth,” says Mark Ruge, co-chairman of the firm’s public policy and law practice, a subpractice of its public policy and regulatory group. Ruge says the merger played a major role in the firm’s gains last year. “The merger was a perfect fit,” he says, adding that two of the firm’s biggest clients, Delta Air Lines and longtime client Pitney Bowes, contributed to a boost in the firm’s success in 2006. And although you don’t have to have a law degree to become a lobbyist, it sure helps, says Bruce Helman, co-chairman of K&L Gates’ policy and regulatory practice: “It’s important that we can represent our clients, whether it’s on the Hill or in front of regulatory agencies.”
Osita Iroegbu can be contacted at [email protected].

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