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2013 Inauguration is chance for law firms to make a splash

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Inauguration party planning is “a little like planning your daughter’s wedding,” said Rich Gold, who leads the lobbying group at Holland & Knight.

Gold, senior policy adviser Eve O’Toole and the rest of the law firm’s public policy team began sketching out plans for inauguration receptions last September, lining up music, restaurant reservations, hors d’oeuvres and guest lists. This year, they planned some events to coincide with the U.S Mayors Conference — an annual meeting attended by hundreds of mayors, many of whom are Holland & Knight clients — which was held the week before inauguration.

Although turnout for this year’s inauguration is projected to be less than that of 2009, Holland & Knight still expects about 400 people at the firm’s downtown office today for a reception. The firm is also sponsoring a luncheon and fashion show for the California State Society and a brunch for the Virginia delegation.

“Each time, we seem to be doing more and more,” Gold said. “We seem to be getting more active in part because the Obama administration is moving to do a more modest series of events for the inaugural. This was an opportunity to ramp up what we’re doing for our clients who are interested in having an active time while they’re here for the conference of mayors and staying for the inaugural.”

One of the highlights this year was a technology and innovation reception at Local 16 on U Street last week, co-hosted by entertainer M.C. Hammer, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

San Francisco and Philadelphia are among the dozen cities that Holland & Knight does legal and policy work for, and the event was meant to encourage networking between government officials and representatives from technology companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp.

“This is getting our local government clients together with Washington folks and the private sector,” Gold said. “That’s where innovation happens. While a lot of this is social, a whole heck of a lot of good ideas come out of it.”

Lee, for example, helped spearhead a parking system in San Francisco that allows drivers to see where open parking spaces are by using an app on their cell phone. The technology is generating a lot of interest from other cities, Gold said.

Holland & Knight is among the bevy of law firms planning inauguration parties for staff and clients. Covington & Burling is hosting brunch and a parade viewing at their offices near the White House, K&L Gates is serving hors d’oeuvres all day at its office two blocks from the parade route, and Jones Day is having an open house on the rooftop terrace of its Capitol Hill office.

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