Patton Boggs leads pack with client terminations


Courtesy of Capital Metrics.
May 25, 2014

Patton Boggs lost more lobbying clients during the first quarter of 2014 than any other lobby firm, according to an analysis by lobbying analytics firm Capitol Metrics.

The analysis looked at the number of client termination reports filed during the first three months of 2014. Lobby firms must file termination reports with the Senate when they end their representation of a company, association, nonprofit or other client that they were retained to lobby for. Patton Boggs had 23 termination reports during the first quarter, which is about 12 percent of the firm’s clients, according to the analysis. The firm, however, signed eight new clients during that period.

The firm that lost the greatest percentage of its lobbying clients was Drinker Biddle & Reath, which had 22 terminations — about 40 percent of the firm’s clients that did some lobbying.

Termination reports do not necessarily mean that a firm has stopped working for that client. They are regularly filed if a client had planned all along to use the firm for a specific window of time — or for a particular matter, such as a piece of legislation or a pending merger that needs regulatory approval. Firms often file termination reports when one or more of their lobbyists jump to another firm and take their clients with them. Termination reports are also filed when a client moves its business to another firm for any other reason, such as cost.

The terminations at Drinker Biddle were largely because of the departure of the four-person tribal practice group to another firm, Powers Pyles. Twenty of the 22 terminations were because of that move, said Drinker Biddle’s lobbying compliance attorney Cindy Irani. The tribal practice group is separate from the group within Drinker Biddle that is specifically dedicated to lobbying, District Policy Group, which is growing. The tribal team did some lobbying, in addition to legal work, but that lobbying was handled by the tribal team, not by District Policy Group.

Kevin O’Neill, deputy chair of public policy at Patton Boggs, said that the terminations at his firm were because of a combination of factors: partners leaving for other firms with clients, some clients whose work came to a natural end and de-registering some clients who have stayed with the firm in another capacity. With some of the de-registered clients, the firm is still doing regulatory work and counseling that are not considered direct lobbying that must be reported under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

“LDA is the equivalent of reporting sales at a supermarket based on fruits and vegetables, not what everyone is shopping for in other aisles. Money is still being spent in the store, just not in the fruits and vegetables aisle,” O’Neill said.

» Capital Business and Capitol Metrics, a data analytics firm specializing in the advocacy sector, have partnered to provide a periodic snapshot of the lobby industry. Capitol Metrics can be found at www.capitolmetrics.com

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for the Capital Business section of The Washington Post. She previously worked at the LA Daily Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit Free Press, the Wichita Eagle and the San Mateo County Times.
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