Patton Boggs is no longer nation’s top-earning lobby firm

Patton Boggs, which since 2003 had been the largest lobbying firm in the country by revenue, has fallen behind rival law and lobby firm Akin Gump, according to quarterly lobbying reports filed by both firms this week.

During the second quarter of 2014, Akin Gump earned $8.6 million in lobbying fees, while Patton Boggs earned $8.36 million.

However, Patton Boggs — which combined with Squire Sanders to form Squire Patton Boggs as of June 1 — is still K Street’s top earner in year-to-date lobbying revenue, earning $17.76 million during the first half of 2014 compared with Akin’s $17.17 million, according to the lobbying reports.

The second quarter, during which the combination with Squire Sanders became official, was the second consecutive quarter of declining lobbying revenue for Patton Boggs.

The firm earned $9.6 million during the fourth quarter of 2013, followed by $9.4 million in the first quarter of 2014 and $8.36 during the second quarter of 2014.

Some of the lost business is tied to the dozens of Patton Boggs lawyers and lobbyists who left for other law firms in the months leading up to — and immediately after — the Squire Sanders deal.

In the weeks following the June 1 merger date, Patton Boggs encountered at least 34 departures to other law firms, with the largest numbers going to Akin Gump, Holland & Knight, and Jones Day. Many more left the firm before the May 23 merger announcement. Patton Boggs leadership has maintained that many of these exits were planned or expected.

A recent analysis by Washington lobbying analytics firm Capitol Metrics found that Patton Boggs lost more clients during the first quarter of the year than any other lobby shop, which the firm attributed to a combination of factors: partners leaving for other firms, some clients whose work came to a natural end, and some clients who stopped using the firm for lobbying but continued to use it in another capacity.

That analysis was based on the number of termination reports that lobby firms 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.

Ed Newberry, global managing partner at Squire Patton Boggs, said the firm is “already handling many significant matters” for clients that are not measured under the Lobbying Disclosure Act [LDA], the federal law that requires firms to report lobbying activity of more than $5,000.

Although LDA-reported work is just a portion of the advocacy activities that lobby firms do for clients, it is the only work for which firms must publicly disclose their fees.

“Looking ahead, our focus is taking full advantage of what we can achieve through our combination of two great firms,” Newberry said in a statement.

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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