Ohio politics are part of the DNA of Bricker & Eckler, whose founding partner the late John Bricker served as a three-term Ohio governor, two-term U.S. senator and Republican 1944 vice presidential candidate.
Now, 68 years later, that legacy lives on at the 137-lawyer firm, known for its lobbying prowess and representation of Ohio cities, school districts, hospitals and trade groups.
Of late, Bricker has used its legislative work as a launch pad for its energy practice, and has adopted business development strategies that include enthusiastic use of social media, close client contact and strategic specialization. "Our singular focus is on understanding the industries and businesses we serve," said managing partner Kurtis Tunnell, who personally visits the firm’s 50 biggest clients every year to solicit feedback and talk about their businesses.
The firm, which has offices in Columbus, Cleveland and West Chester, serving Cincinnati and Dayton, considers itself full-service, but in a landscape that includes local behemoths Jones Day and Squire Sanders, Bricker looks for niches — areas where it can "achieve areas of strategic dominance," Tunnell said.
One of them is energy. The firm’s toehold began when its lobbyists were tapped by the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association to help pass a 2008 Ohio law that set standards for use of electricity from alternative sources.
At the time, Tunnell said, "we didn’t have a profile in that space." But the lobbying work allowed the firm’s lawyers to "learn the business and the people, and how they financed their projects." Bricker went on to found the Ohio Manufacturers Association Energy Group and serves as its counsel.
From there, it expanded to shale, recently representing the Southeastern Ohio Landowners Association in nine deals with six oil-and-gas companies. "Our goal is to be Ohio’s energy firm," Tunnell said.
Social media are part of that effort. Bricker lawyers maintain seven blogs and four Twitter feeds. Firm lawyers have written nearly 6,000 tweets.
Health care is another dominant practice area. Last year, the firm represented the Ohio Hospital Association and 170 member hospitals in hammering out an agreement with Medicaid-managed care organizations to implement a $324 million aggregate payment.
"We’ve been thrilled with their work," said Dan Paoletti, chief executive officer of the Ohio Health Information Partnership. "Our success is their success. It’s really been a good partnership."