GrayRobinson is expanding outside Florida for the first time next month by acquiring the Washington-based boutique lobbying firm Eris Group.
The Orlando-based law firm is enhancing its federal lobbying capabilities and giving it a presence in the U.S. capital. Eris Group is led by co-founder Doyle Bartlett, chief of staff to former Republican U.S. Rep. and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson’s government affairs practice chairman and a former state House speaker, said he has known Bartlett for 15 years and previously partnered with Eris Group on matters involving financial regulated markets and local government issues. In the last couple of years, Cannon said GrayRobinson has looked at expanding with a federal lobbying practice in D.C. to meet its clients’ needs. The firm found a “perfect partner” in Eris Group, he said.
With the acquisition, GrayRobinson will have a nine-member team on Capitol Hill, including five lobbyists, two administrative workers and two research professionals. Alongside Bartlett, the other lobbyists include Brad Cheney, Travis Johnson, Chris McCannell and Greg Mesack. The team brings experience from the House, Senate and across the executive branch, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Cannon said the hires represent a “seasoned group” of lobbyists who can meet the federal needs of the firm’s clients. The lobbying boutique’s “great relationships and friends on both sides of the aisle” will benefit clients navigating the newly divided government immediately, Cannon said.
Given the changing regulatory environment and differing balance of power in Congress in 2019, federal lobbying practices could find themselves with new work as gridlock is expected to grip the Hill and push governance to the regulators in the executive branch.
The Eris Group team boasts a client roster that includes PayPal, Nike, Lyft, Capital One, E-Trade, Etihad Airways, the second-largest airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Western Union, among others. The firm’s 2018 lobbying income was nearly $2.4 million, according to OpenSecrets, which showed most of the firm’s work was focused on banking, finance and taxation.
Its highest-paying client in 2018 appears to have been the Consumer Financial Services Association, which spent nearly $300,000 with the Eris Group to influence public policy.
GrayRobinson has nearly 300 lawyers spread across 15 offices in Florida and took in more than $156 million in revenue last year. It ranks 161st on the Am Law 200 list of the nation’s largest law firms by attorney headcount.
When the firm’s leadership formally changed hands in 2016, the new president and managing director, Mayanne Downs, expressed an openness to geographic expansion, marking a change for the firm. The former Florida Bar president, the third head of the law firm in its history, worked in real estate law before becoming a litigator.