As law firms invest in building up affiliated businesses and consultancies, lawyers are finding new ways to optimize their own roles, as one Husch Blackwell attorney’s latest move illustrates.
To build the lobbying and consulting side of his practice, Austin lawyer J. Christopher Hughes has changed his status at Husch Blackwell from partner to senior counsel and joined Husch Blackwell Strategies as a principal in Austin.
“It made sense to move part of my practice over to the consulting side and leave half of it on the legal side,” said Hughes, who has been a partner for the last 14 years at Husch Blackwell and before that at Brown McCarroll, the Austin-based firm that merged with Husch Blackwell in 2013.
Hughes said moving his consulting and lobbying work to Husch Blackwell Strategies will allow him to concentrate more on growing that part of his practice.
Kansas City, Missouri-based Husch Blackwell founded Husch Blackwell Strategies in January 2018 to provide federal and state legislative government affairs consulting and lobbying. Hughes said it’s a great fit for his work.
“My legal practice has been pretty consistent over the years in the energy business, primarily the electric business in Texas. My legislative work has been a bit broader,” he said. His legislative clients are in the energy, natural resources, financial service, education, healthcare and real estate sectors.
His legal practices focuses on helping clients in the development, sale and acquisition of energy assets and projects as well as regulatory and legislative work in Texas.
Andy Blunt, the chairman and chief operating officer of Husch Blackwell Strategies, said in a press release that Hughes brings more than 30 years of legislative and legal experience to the consulting company.
“He knows Texas, understands how to navigate tough issues and specializes in solutions,” Blunt said.
Hughes said Mark Vane, a Husch Blackwell counsel in Austin who joined the firm nearly a year ago from Gardere Wynne Sewell, has a similar arrangement of splitting his practice between the firm and the consulting and lobbying operation.
Hughes said his work for client Oncor Electric Delivery has a legal and a consulting component, Another one is Texas A&M University, he said. He said some of his clients engage him for broad strategic counseling.
Hughes said Husch Blackwell is one of a few firms that puts resources on the consulting side, and it’s a good fit for his practice because “some years 80 percent of my revenue could be lobbying and other years 80 percent is my practice.”