Three top Republican lawyers leaving Patton Boggs to establish practice with Jones Day

Three leading Republican attorneys will leave lobbying and law firm Patton Boggs for Jones Day to establish a new political and election law practice.

Jones Day will announce Friday morning that Benjamin Ginsberg, Donald McGahn and William McGinley will join the firm’s government regulation practice as partners beginning Monday.

The three attorneys have been involved in Republican legal circles for decades. Ginsberg, who headed the Patton Boggs practice, served as national counsel to President George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004, and as counsel for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

McGahn, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission who joined Patton Boggs last year, worked as the top lawyer for the National Republican Congressional Committee for a decade before he was nominated to serve on the FEC in 2008.

McGinley served as general counsel at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and has represented several members of Congress who found themselves enmeshed in ethics scandals. McGinley has represented Reps. Michael G. Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in recent years.

“It’s a fortunate acquisition for Jones Day. They’re three very, very skilled lawyers, each in different ways,” said Brian Svoboda, a Democratic election lawyer at Perkins Coie. “Ben is one of the original leaders in this line of work. Don has deep and significant experience in the Federal Election Commission rules and in political law practice, and Bill is a major and knowledgeable attorney, particularly in the congressional ethics sphere.”

“Jones Day is already well known for its challenges to overreaching government regulation, including lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act, the President’s recess appointments power, and infringements on the free speech rights of individuals and companies,” Noel Francisco, head of Jones Day’s government regulation practice, says in a news release to be issued Friday morning. “The arrival of Ben, Don and Bill further cements our position as the ‘go to’ Firm for challenging government overreach and regulation, including in the areas of election and political law.”

Ginsberg, McGahn and McGinley are the latest high-profile partners to depart Patton Boggs. The firm itself will cease to exist over the weekend after announcing last week that it will merge with Squire Sanders, the global firm based in Cleveland; on Sunday, the merged firms will begin doing business as Squire Patton Boggs.

On Thursday, a group of six health-care attorneys in Washington — led by partner John Jonas, who founded the health practice at Patton Boggs — announced plans to join rival Akin Gump.

Ed Newberry, managing partner at Patton Boggs who will become global managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs, said the departures were expected and common for law firm mergers of this scope.

“There are no surprises here,” he said. “We are aware of all planned lateral moves, and these were anticipated and were factored into our financial models. . . . While we are disappointed that [Jonas] and some of his team are leaving, the combined firm will maintain one of the highest-ranked health-care practices among firms globally.”

In a conference call with reporters announcing the merger this week, Squire Sanders Chairman Jim Maiwurm said some attorneys would not be joining as a result of conflicts and overlap.

“A few people will be affected by conflicts and will not be able to join the combined firm. And there will be a few who don’t feel comfortable, for one reason or another,” Maiwurm said Tuesday.

Before the merger was announced, Patton Boggs saw lobbying receipts decline precipitously. The firm has laid off 40 partners and 70 staffers as revenue from lobbying and legal work has declined.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.
Catherine Ho covers lobbying at 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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