Former Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

Former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, is joining Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, starting as a partner in the firm’s public law and policy group April 1.

Working from the firm’s Washington, D.C., office, Donnelly will focus his practice on the financial services, defense and health care industries.

“Akin Gump maintains a reputation of hosting a preeminent public policy practice and is home to a fantastic and deep bipartisan team, and joining the firm was an easy decision for me,” Donnelly said in a statement. “I look forward to working with my many new colleagues and putting my legislative skills to work on behalf of Akin Gump’s clients.”

Before losing re-election in November after one term in the U.S. Senate, Donnelly served for six years in the U.S. House of Representatives. At Akin Gump, he will join several former congressional colleagues, including recent House alums Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, and Lamar Smith, R-Texas.

Donnelly’s path from the Senate to Big Law isn’t new to Hoosier Democrats. After former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, lost his 2016 Senate race, he moved to Cozen O’Connor in D.C. from McGuireWoods. Akin Gump public law and policy practice co-chair Brian Pomper said Donnelly’s experience on the Hill will help clients navigating divided government, both because of his policymaking expertise and because he is “tremendously well liked and well regarded by his former colleagues in the Senate and the House.” 

The team Donnelly is joining at Akin Gump is second to none, as measured by federal lobbying revenue. Akin Gump has ranked as the top federal lobbying firm in terms of revenue since surpassing Squire Patton Boggs in 2014. The firm’s 2018 federal lobbying revenue dipped below its 2017 year-end results, according to lobbying disclosures and data provided by the firm, but the firm still bested its 2016 numbers and stayed more than $6 million ahead of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, currently the second-ranked federal lobbyist group by revenue.

“We have long been known as a go-to firm in the public policy space thanks to our deep bench of bipartisan talent with significant Capitol Hill experience, and Sen. Donnelly continues that tradition,” said Kim Koopersmith, Akin Gump’s chair, in a statement. “Joe is the latest in a long line of distinguished former members of Congress who have chosen to continue their careers at Akin Gump, and I couldn’t be happier that he is joining us.”

Akin Gump is also moving offices this year, and is utilizing satellite space on the Hill for its lobbyists, away from its D.C. base in the DuPont Circle neighborhood.


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