“It’s been a hell of a week,” Josh Zive, a lobbyist and senior principal in the Washington, D.C., office of Bracewell, told his podcast audience last week.
Zive, who performs stand-up comedy in his spare time, knows the podcasts reach a limited audience at this point. But he takes pride in his new series and claims it distinguishes him as perhaps the sole big-firm lawyer to host a podcast for his employer.
His aim: to use the podcasts to elevate in the public debate his firm’s and its clients’ advocacy. Launched in earnest last month, the weekly series is known as The Lobby Shop.
The idea of talking casually and openly about lobbying strategies makes many of his professional peers uncomfortable, Zive said.
“At a lot of firms it’s ingrained in their cultures to not talk very publicly,” he said.
But Bracewell has embraced his podcast series, he said, and other partners regularly join Zive as guests in the recordings.
On iTunes, where listeners can download the podcast, Zive describes the series as “a rare opportunity to listen to conversations between advocates who are directly involved in the big issues of our day.”
During the May 19 episode, a few days after President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, Zive told Bracewell partner Paul Nathanson that it was “pretty crazy” time for the FBI Agents Association.”
Bracewell lobbies for the group, which advocates for retired and current FBI agents’ interests and is now backing one of the names on Trump’s shortlist for Comey’s replacement, former Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman and and FBI agent Mike Rogers.
Although Big Law podcasters are few and far between, there are other lawyers experimenting with the medium as a marketing vehicle. The American Bar Association has even posted an article outlining guidelines for solos who want to podcast. Among them: “Don’t use podcasts for everything. Podcasts are great for conveying passion, personality and a limited amount of content. On the other hand, if you have a lot of material to cover, the written word may be better.”
Zive attempts to follow that dictum. “We have lawyers who can talk the technical jargon but who can also boil down to an elevator speech,” he said.
With his comic timing, Zive hopes to both entertain and persuade listeners about issues key to Bracewell’s clientele—including energy regulation. But he also hopes to avoid the cable news trope of sniping heads.
“I have three separate audiences in mind for the podcast,” he said: those seeking information about Washington policy, including prospective clients; lawyers at his own firm “who are spread across the world”; and existing clients.
In order to draw consistent attention from any of those audiences, however, he has to create a product “that is interesting to listen to,” Zive said.
He hasn’t drawn big numbers of listeners yet—iTunes doesn’t have enough ratings yet to display an average for the podcast—but Zive said he isn’t worrying too much about that. Partly, that’s because he’s simply enjoying himself.
“I’m a Spalding Gray character living the life of a corporate lawyer,” Zive said.
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