The Washington Post

Legal Briefs: McDermott starts to see payoff from lobbying subsidiary

Four months after starting a health-care lobbying and consulting subsidiary, law firm McDermott Will & Emery is starting to see the benefits of rebranding some of its services under a new name.

Earlier this year, McDermott, which has about 450 attorneys and staff in Washington, created a subsidiary called McDermott+Consulting, focused on health-care lobbying, data analytics and policy analysis.

The formation of the seven-person operation, led by health-care lobbyist Eric Zimmerman, marked a notable change in the firm’s business model because the consultants in the subsidiary no longer had to track their work in hourly intervals, as is customary in most law firms.

Since the change, the subsidiary — which is essentially a boutique health lobby and consulting shop within the law firm — has been able to capture new kinds of work that previously might have been a harder sell to clients.

The consultants are continuing to work for some of the same clients they brought over from the law firm, but are offering services that those clients may have previously sought elsewhere, Zimmerman said.

In April, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released data on how Medicare payments were dispersed to physicians, the consulting group offered clients a comprehensive breakdown of the data, producing both a generic analysis and custom research reports tailored to specific clients’ needs. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, wanted to track how their products and how their competitors’ products are being used by physicians, Zimmerman said.

“Our clients would’ve been dubious of a law firm being able to do deep data analysis,” he said. “It’s not the kind of thing you typically go to a law firm to provide. Sometimes you can more effectively market those services simply by branding yourself differently.”

The subsidiary model is also helping with the recruitment of non-attorney professionals. Law firms are set up to train and advance lawyers, not lobbyists or consultants who do not practice law, so having a consulting shop that operates somewhat separately from the parent firm offers more flexibility and advancement for non-attorneys. The shop is slated to add two senior-level consultants by the end of the year.

Boston law firm opens D.C. office with former Wiley Rein attorney

Brendon Pinkard, a telecommunications lawyer and former partner at D.C. law firm Wiley Rein, has joined Boston-based law firm Kerbey Harrington Pinkard, and will lead the expansion of the firm’s presence in Washington.

Pinkard is Kerbey Harrington’s first Washington-based attorney, and is an adviser to the firm’s government affairs consulting affiliate, Government Insight Group.

Pinkard specializes in negotiating cable television franchise agreements.

“Brendon Pinkard’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading telecommunications attorneys and impressive track record of leading successful licensing efforts in some of the United States’ largest cities ... will provide our clients with the highest level of strategic expertise,” John Harrington, the firm’s managing partner, said in a statement.

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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