The biggest players on K Street made a modest recovery in 2014 following three years of decline, with many of the nation’s largest lobby firms posting revenue growth in 2014 compared to 2013.
Seven of the nation’s 10 largest lobby firms by revenue reported growth in 2014 compared to the previous year, according to lobbying reports the firms filed to the Senate on Tuesday. Six of the seven firms saw single-digit growth, and one of them — Capitol Counsel, which specializes in tax and health lobbying — saw revenue grow nearly 22 percent to $18 million.
The most dramatic decline was at Squire Patton Boggs, which saw revenue fall 21 percent to $31.6 million — the lowest level since 2004, when the firm pulled in about $31 million in revenue, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a government watchdog that tracks money in politics. Renown lobby shop Patton Boggs was acquired by the larger law firm Squire Sanders in June of last year. A firm spokesman declined to comment.
The industry at large appears poised to continue on a turnaround that began last year when many of the largest firms saw revenue climb for the first time in several quarters.
The period between 2008 and 2010 was among the most profitable for the lobbying industry as major legislation on health care and financial reform prompted companies to hire contract lobbyists in droves. But many firms took a hit after 2010 and K Street as a whole had been in a slump for the past three years.
The momentum began to shift last year, particularly in the final three months, when Congress came under pressure to pass and reauthorize several pieces of legislation before time ran out — including the Terrorism Relief Insurance Act, which expired Dec. 31, a tax extenders bill and the “omnibus” spending bill.
“In a Congress that was lambasted for not doing much, there was a strong tailwind at the end of the year, propelled by [those bills],” said Marc Lampkin, head of lobbying at Brownstein Hyatt. “There was a lot of activity on bills you had to get across the finish line, and that created a lot of energy and interest in what Congress needed to do. That was part of our reason for success.”
Here’s how the top 10 firms fared in 2014:
• Akin Gump — up 5 percent, to $35.6 million from $33.8 million
• Squire Patton Boggs — down 21 percent, to $31.6 million from $40.2 million
• Podesta Group — down 8 percent, to $25.1 million from $27.3 million
• Brownstein Hyatt — up 7 percent, to $23.8 million from $22.2 million
• Van Scoyoc Associates — up 2 percent, to $21.9 million from $21.4 million
• Holland & Knight — up 9 percent, to $19.7 million from $18.1 million
• Capitol Counsel — up 22 percent, to $18.0 million from $14.7 million
• K&L Gates — up 7 percent, to $17.4 million from $16.3 million
• Williams & Jensen — down 5 percent, to $16.7 million from $17.5 million
• BGR Group — up 8 percent, to $15.8 million from $14.6 million
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