GrayRobinson said Tuesday that it would expand to Washington, D.C., next month, in the Orlando-based firm’s first move outside the Sunshine State.
Its acquisition of the D.C.-based boutique lobbying firm Eris Group will take effect Feb. 1, enhancing the Florida firm’s federal lobbying capabilities and giving it a presence in the capital. Eris Group is led by co-founder Doyle Bartlett, a former chief of staff to Rep. Bill McCollum, R-Florida.
Dean Cannon, GrayRobinson’s government affairs practice chairman and a former Florida House speaker, said he has known Bartlett for 15 years and has 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-person team on Capitol Hill that includes 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 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Cannon said the hires represent a “seasoned group” of lobbyists that 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 total lobbying income in 2018 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 be the Consumer Financial Services Association, which spent nearly $300,000 on 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. When the firm’s leadership formally changed hands in 2016, Mayanne Downs expressed an openness to geographical expansion that marked a change for the firm. Downs, the third head of the law firm in its history, worked in real estate law before becoming a litigator.