Lobby shops have enjoyed a banner year in 2010 – but the boom didn’t last in 2011.
Six of the region’s 10 most lucrative lobbying firms saw year-over-year declines in lobbying revenue, according to fourth quarter Lobbying Disclosure Act reports due to the Senate on Friday. That’s slightly better than the prognosis after the third quarter, when all but one of those 10 firms were reporting year-over-year losses in revenue.
Podesta Group, Brownstein Hyatt, K&L Gates and Holland & Knight all saw revenue dip by single-digit percentage points between 2010 and 2011:
• Podesta dropped 7 percent from $29.3 million to $27.4 million
• Brownstein Hyatt was down nearly 10 percent from $24.4 million to $22.1 million
• K&L Gates dropped 1 percent from $18.9 million to $18.7 million
• Holland & Knight was down almost 10 percent from $21.1 million to $19 million
Van Scoyoc Associates and Cassidy & Associates both saw revenue drop by double-digit percentage points between 2010 and 2011:
• Van Scoyoc was down 14 percent from $29.4 million to $25.3 million
• Cassidy was down 18 percent from $24.7 million to $20.2 million
Firm leaders attribute the dropoff to a lingering weak economy and a major slowdown in traditional legislative activity. Some firms said they made up the difference by boosting regulatory work, a transition much of the industry has seen this year as major reform bills moved on to the implementation stage.
“Our LDA [Lobbying Disclosure Act work] is down 10 percent, our non-LDA is up 10, which is mostly regulatory,” said Rich Gold, head of Holland & Knight’s public policy group. “Our overall revenue year-to-year is flat. That’s made up on the regulatory side because financial services reform and healthcare reform has gone over to non-LDA work, but the revenue stayed at the firm.”
“There really wasn’t a lot of movement in Congress on the legislative front,” said Podesta’s Missi Tessier, who said the firm anticipated the slowdown at the beginning of 2011 and made moves to make up for it by expanding its international and public relations work.
There were a few bright spots. These four firms grew revenue between 2010 and 2011:
• Ogilvy Government Relations was up 14 percent from $17.5 million to $19.9 million
• Akin Gump was up 6 percent from $35.8 million to $38 million
• Williams and Jensen grew 3 percent from $17.5 million to $18 million
• Patton Boggs grew 7 percent from $45.2 million to $48.4 million, though that jump is partly attributed to the firm’s July 2010 merger with Breaux-Lott Leadership Group