The web of connections across Washington, D.C., is so interconnected, it’s downright swampy.
These are the players and firms in the legal industry who will be guiding clients through the bog of the new Trump administration. Most have ties to both the Democratic and Republican parties, and a couple have even pushed back against the new administration, but in this new era, conservative bona fides are the ones to emphasize.
Of course, the scene is changing faster than a 24-hour news cycle can handle, let alone a monthly magazine, so this list, which we present in no particular order, is far from conclusive and subject to change.
In a Washington where lawyers are scrambling for stature, Jones Day has already collected the most Trump cards. A dozen lawyers have taken top jobs in the administration: Donald McGahn as White House counsel. Noel Francisco as principal deputy solicitor general. William McGinley as deputy assistant to the president and cabinet secretary. Gregory Katsas as deputy counsel to the president. And the list goes on.
The firm is also involved in the dispute over President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, filing an amicus brief on behalf of a group of unnamed constitutional law professors who oppose it. That caused Francisco and Chad Readler, another former Jones Day partner now at the U.S. Department of Justice, to refrain from signing the government’s reply in the case.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius
This firm’s tax practice may have done the most high-profile work in the field in decades. Partners Sheri Dillon and Fred Fielding, a former White House counsel, advised Trump and his companies on a plan to avoid conflicts of interest once Trump assumed the presidency. Then Dillon outlined the legal details of the plan during a nationally televised press conference in January.
King & Spalding
Look no further than partner Bobby Burchfield to understand this firm’s stature in Trump-era Washington. The long-time trial litigator and campaign finance lawyer to Republicans will be outside ethics counsel for the Trump Organization trust under the conflicts plan. Burchfield says that he’ll have veto power over deals and that his primary job will be to avoid conflicts of interest between the Trump family business and the president. The firm also has a well-known lobbying group at work on Capitol Hill and advocating before federal agencies.A
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
Expect the largest lobbying practice in town—at a law firm or otherwise—to be involved in many of the major policy initiatives that come from the Republican-held government in the next four years. The firm has strong historical ties to the Democratic Party, starting with late name partner Robert Strauss, but is already investing more in its Republican bench. A former chief of staff to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and another GOP lobbyist joined Akin Gump in January.
Rudy, Rudy, Rudy. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, holds a long list of titles at the firm, as chair of the cybersecurity practice and senior adviser to Greenberg’s executive chairman. He also brings some big headaches. The former mayor took a leave of absence from the firm during the election after his campaign work for Trump raised eyebrows, then the firm’s leadership distanced itself from his work on Trump’s executive order on immigration. Despite the ruckus, the firm’s lobbying group is one of the perennial players in the city.
Don’t let the resume of global firm chairman Joe Andrew, a former Democratic Party leader, fool you. The firm keeps former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on staff. Gingrich threw his support behind Trump during the election, and the firm scheduled Gingrich to meet with clients in Washington during the week of the inauguration. In addition, Dentons just lost its political law chair, Stefan Passantino, to the White House counsel’s office.
Squire Patton Boggs
The former king of lobbying has its own former Speaker of the House available to clients: John Boehner acts as a senior strategic adviser at the firm. And Jack Kingston, a firm principal and former congressman, regularly defends Trump in public appearances. Not to be forgotten is the firm’s lobbying dynamic duo, two masters of the Senate, Trent Lott and John Breaux, who lead the lobbying group.
Balch & Bingham
The Alabama law firm’s presence in Washington may be tiny, with only seven partners and lobbyists there. But its ties to the energy industry and knowledge of the state where the new U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, built his political and legal career could pay off. For instance, Jeffrey Wood, a partner and lobbyist focused on environmental issues and lobbying for power companies, worked in Sessions’ office before joining the firm, and has advised Trump on energy policy.
Baker & Hostetler
This firm has marketed its expertise with the “Trump Whisperer,” former congressman Michael Ferguson, a New Jersey Republican. Ferguson leads the firm’s federal policy group, which recently hired James Murphy, who was Trump’s national political director during the campaign.
Holland & Knight
This firm already boasts a well-oiled lobbying group. Last month, it landed Scott Mason, the Trump campaign’s liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives, as senior policy adviser. Mason also worked on the transition team, as have two of the firm’s top government contracts partners.
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
Though many of the firm’s biggest names are card-carrying Democrats from previous administrations, its large Washington office has already made inroads with the new president. Two partners advised on the Trump transition, regarding the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and national intelligence. And the firm’s regulatory chair, Clinton administration Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, gave Trump son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner legal advice when he moved to an office at the White House. Wilmer reinvigorated its D.C. office with traditional lobbyists about three years ago—so expect to see the firm’s reach in all branches of government.
Sullivan & Cromwell
Partner Walter “Jay” Clayton got the nod from Trump to be the next Securities and Exchange Commission chair. Of note: Clayton and the firm have represented many of the Wall Street institutions with new Cabinet-level inroads into Washington, including The Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Partner Robert Lighthizer, who has long represented the steel industry, received Trump’s nomination to become U.S. trade representative. The Cabinet-level position is the country’s chief trade negotiator and is bound to be a focal point in a presidency won on Rust Belt support and opposition to trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman
During the campaign, when Trump threatened to sue The New York Times for publishing articles on two women who said Trump sexually assaulted them, the then-candidate turned to firm founder Marc Kasowitz, who’d acted as Trump’s legal muscle before on disputes over published material. Another Kasowitz partner, David Friedman, has been nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Hughes Hubbard & Reed
You can thank this law firm for the ubiquity of the red and white caps. Over the years, Trump has tapped New York-based Hughes Hubbard for his intellectual property work, including defending the Trump brand in trademark litigation. Partner Patrice Jean is counsel of record on Trump’s trademark registration for both the “Make America Great Again” slogan and “Keep America Great,” which Trump has already said he intends to use for his re-election campaign.
Kirkland & Ellis
Kirkland has a gaggle of major veterans of past Republican administrations, especially from the Department of Justice. Two partners and an associate helped advise the Trump transition regarding the DOJ. The firm further upped its talent array last year when it acquired the appellate boutique Bancroft, adding Paul Clement, solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration—and easily one of the most high-profile conservative lawyers in private practice—and Viet Dinh, who was Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy under Bush.
This is another firm with strong historical Republican ties. Two of its partners worked on the Trump transition advising the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Justice department. The firm also operates a lobbying subsidiary called McGuireWoods Consulting.
The telecommunications and regulatory firm used to carry the name “Fielding” on its shingle. That’s the same Fred Fielding who now advises Trump on tax at Morgan Lewis. Still, Wiley Rein has its own well-known Republicans, including firm founders Richard Wiley and Bert Rein, two Republican party and presidential campaign general counsel (Michael Toner and Jan Baran) and a lobbyist who volunteered for the transition team for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd,
Evans & Figel
For the sake of keeping this list a readable length, we haven’t included the connections of Trump players to law firms from earlier in their careers, since every successful lawyer comes from somewhere. Here’s the exception: federal appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch is a former Kellogg Huber partner. After leaving the firm in 2005, he enjoyed an ample payday of more than $2.5 million because of delayed rewards from four contingency cases he worked on, according to the Associated Press. The cases included the successful representation of Columbia Women’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., against an insurance company.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Like other perennial Washington players, such as Hogan Lovells; Latham; and Williams & Connolly, this firm is hard to place in the coming administration because of its range of top litigators from both parties. Eugene Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court justice, is a Gibson Dunn partner, but so is Theodore Boutrous Jr., whose frequently anti-Trump Twitter feed includes a standing offer to represent pro bono anyone Trump sues over public speech. And keep an eye on Ted Olson, the Supreme Court litigator and former solicitor general who has old ties to Republican administrations but more recently crossed the aisle to defend gay marriage.
Covington & Burling
Somebody had to draw a line in the sand with the administration early, so why wouldn’t it be Washington, D.C.’s largest law firm? Its partnership has a bigger-than-typical share of leaders of the Obama administration’s Justice Department, including former Attorney General Eric Holder. Covington and Holder have already signed on to advise the California Legislature on actions against the Trump administration. The representation could cost California $75,000 for three months, with attorneys’ hours capped at 40 per month.
This firm was among the first to challenge Trump’s executive action restricting immigration, obtaining a stay hours after the ban went into effect. Partners involved were Andrew Pincus and Paul Hughes, from the firm’s appellate group. Several other firms have had lawyers engaged in similar litigation, either filing cases of their own or writing amicus briefs. Attorneys from Keker Van Nest & Peters and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, for instance, are also representing challengers of the administration.
Add this trans-Atlantic firm to the list of prominent opponents of Trump’s immigration order. Partner Neal Katyal, an acting U.S. Solicitor General during the Obama administration, has used Twitter to defend judges, immigrants and Democrats under attack. He’s also representing the state of Hawaii in its court action to oppose the immigration order. In addition to its massive regulatory and litigation bench, Hogan Lovells has a well-known federal lobbying presence and recently added a nonlawyer corporate public relations practice in Washington.
Update, 3/6/17: This week the revolving door between law firms and the government started to swing faster. The outgoing Environmental Protection Agency general counsel picked Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as his new home, while Munger, Tolles & Olson and Linklaters looked to the Justice Department to build out appellate and white collar practices, respectively.
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