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SACRAMENTO � The number of lawyers serving in the state Legislature may be dwindling, but that’s not the case in Sacramento’s lobbying sector. Clients from Miller Brewing Co. to AT&T to 7-Eleven Inc. are paying firms with lawyer-lobbyists millions of dollars to influence state legislators and regulators. The state agencies that oversee California’s estimated 1,200 registered lobbyists don’t track how many are lawyers. But lobbyists themselves say the Third House is chock full of State Bar members. “There are plenty of them out there,” said Thomas Hiltachk, the managing partner of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk in Sacramento, who is also a registered lobbyist. Some lobbyists have law degrees but don’t practice. Others litigate as well as lobby. And some larger firms employ separate classes of lawyers, lobbyists and dual practitioners. That co-mingling of professions raises practical questions about potential conflicts. What happens when client-confidentiality rules governing lawyers clash with state laws requiring lobbyist disclosures? Enter Raymond LeBov. The former long-time chief lobbyist for the Judicial Council is launching two new classes next week called Lobbying for Lawyers. Patterned after his popular general-purpose Lobbying 101 and 201 courses, the legal seminars will explore the basics of influencing politicians and agencies while complying with state and professional rules. “What we’re going to look at is basically the relationship between the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Political Reform Act,” LeBov said. In addition to teaching his private seminars, LeBov still does some lobbying for a few clients, including the California Appellate Defense Counsel. Still putting together the two two-hour long courses during a recent interview, LeBov said he was pondering the answers to a number of conflict questions lawyer-lobbyists might face: To what extent do the Rules of Professional Conduct apply if you’re a lobbyist who happens to be a lawyer who doesn’t provide any other legal services? Do lawyers’ anti-solicitation rules apply to lobbyists actively seeking clients in Sacramento’s competitive advocacy market? If you own a law firm that has non-lawyer lobbyists, how do the rules against profit-sharing with nonlawyers apply? While the Fair Political Practices Commission offers lobbyists an 85-page manual ( .pdf) of do’s and don’ts, it doesn’t address the unique situation of lawyer-lobbyists. “From what I’ve been able to glean, there are ethics opinions from the State Bar on some of these issues, but there doesn’t seem to be a place where they’re comprehensively gathered,” LeBov said. Lobbyists’ value to lawmakers has increased in recent years as term limits have eliminated the institutional memory of the Legislature’s two houses. That’s especially true for lawyer-lobbyists who know not only the history of specific legislation but how it works legally. Gene Livingston, who merged his lobbying law firm with Greenberg Traurig in 2005, is one of two members of the Sacramento office who both lobby and actively practice law. “We’ve actually resolved litigation with legislation,” Livingston said. “It’s nice to be able to provide a full range of tools to our clients.” His office’s dual role requires extra vigilance for potential conflicts with the national firm’s many other clients, Livingston said. “Because we’re a very large firm it sometimes represents more challenges than it did when we were a smaller firm,” he said. “As a lawyer, it doesn’t matter if you’re a lobbyist or not, you’re bound by the conflict rules.” LeBov’s Lobbying 101 classes usually attract wannabe lobbyists, fledgling employees of lobby firms, non-lobbyists looking to expand their company’s services and non-politicos who just want to understand better how their government really works. LeBov provides them with a thick packet of documents explaining the Legislature’s many operating rules plus a list of ethically challenging questions that don’t always have simple answers. He also includes the phone number for the FPPC’s advice hotline. Lobbying for Lawyers will cover much of the same ground, he said, while offering an added bonus: 3.75 hours of MCLE credit for taking both the 101 and 201 classes in Sacramento. “The idea for this [course] really came from a number of lawyers who said they were interested in taking the course but added that they’d be really, really interested if there was MCLE credit for it,” he said.

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