Perkins Coie is one of the first beneficiaries of new legal business flowing from the midterm elections as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson fights for a recount against Gov. Rick Scott, his Republican re-election challenger.
Marc Elias, chair of the firm’s political law group, is representing the incumbent Florida senator as the Sunshine State’s only statewide-elected Democrat fights for his political life against Scott.
Elias, who has argued several gerrymandering cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, has become a go-to lawyer for Democrats in election showdowns and redistricting fights. He shared news of his representation on Twitter.
The election began creating new legal business for Washington lawyers long before the votes were finalized nationwide. Control of the U.S. House changed hands to Democrats, Republicans expanded their majority in the U.S. Senate, and lawyers moved quickly to capitalize on the nation’s new divided legislative branch before the counting was done.
Tim Hutchinson, a former Arkansas senator and lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig, said the election results made his Grand Old Party even more closely aligned with President Donald Trump’s insurgent administration.
“America remains very, very divided,” Hutchinson said in his takeaways during a webinar hosted by his firm. The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation “was decisive in a lot of these Senate races; it changed the momentum.”
Albert Wynn, a former Democratic congressman from Maryland and Greenberg Traurig senior director, said he thinks U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s grip on her party will be tighter than people expect if she becomes the next House speaker. Wynn said during Wednesday’s webinar that he anticipated Pelosi would win the top spot and govern her fellow Democrats with an “iron fist inside a velvet glove.”
Taken together, Greenberg Traurig’s government law and policy group seemed to think some legislative action could occur on infrastructure and trade issues, and new investigations would certainly be mounted from a Democratic-controlled House.
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Reginald Brown, who heads his firm’s congressional investigations practice, said he didn’t think Democrats would necessarily be hyper-aggressive on the investigations front.
“I think the suggestion that this [new Congress] is going to change everything and that there will be investigations from dawn to dusk is not right,” he said. “There’ll be some changes, but they’ll be modest changes.”
Wilmer; Covington & Burling; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher together stand to earn the lion’s share of work on congressional investigations, in Brown’s view, but a new regulatory enforcement climate and differing Democratic priorities could yield other opportunities for legal business.
Brown said he thinks Democrats will focus on consumer-protection-related issues, the Environmental Protection Agency’s activity, climate-change and safety issues on emerging technologies in driverless cars and drones.
Democratic priorities could have a collateral impact on litigation, but much is yet to be determined — including who will serve as the next attorney general.