The Washington Post

PepsiCo exec to lead Covington practice

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that law firm's former co-chairs of public policy, Martin Gold and Rod DeArment, are retiring. Gold and DeArment are retiring from their leadership positions, but will remain at Covington as senior counsel and continue to work with clients.

Covington & Burling, Washington’s largest law firm, is tapping PepsiCo’s chief government affairs officer to ramp up the firm’s public policy practice.

Dan Bryant, former senior vice president of global public policy and government affairs at PepsiCo, will chair Covington’s 50-member public policy group, the firm plans to announce Monday.

Bryant, who joined PepsiCo in 2005, will replace the former co-leaders of Covington’s public policy practice, Martin Gold and Rod DeArment, who are retiring from their leadership positions but will remain at Covington as senior counsel. Bryant was previously assistant attorney general for legal policy and legislative affairs in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush. This is his first time at a law firm.

Covington Chairman Tim Hester said hiring Bryant is part of the firm’s push to take its public policy practice “to the next level,” and that Bryant’s experience inside a major corporation makes him suited to advise Covington clients, which include some of the biggest corporations in the world.

“He’s going to have a really strong set of insights into what are the most effective legislative and public affairs strategies for leading companies because he had that role internally,” Hester said. “He has seen strategies that work and strategies that don’t work for large companies.”

Hester said Bryant will help merge the firm’s international and domestic policy work, which in the past have been somewhat divided.

“To some extent there’s been a split,” Hester said. “For years, we’ve done important international public policy work for clients, and had a domestic practice as well. We think Dan can help meld those together.”

During his time at PepsiCo, Bryant managed government regulatory issues on an international scale as the U.S.-based beverage company expanded in international markets — a skill set he said will translate to his new role at Covington as the law firm’s clients increasingly look to grow in Asia and the Middle East, and will have to establish global standards and regulations.

“Covington has been developing a public policy group that’s working with clients who increasingly have similarities to PepsiCo,” Bryant said. “It’s less and less feasible for a company’s policy solutions to be unique to a particular location. They’re growing, often outside the U.S., and having to think through how to manage different regulatory regimes around the world, but do it as one company.”

PepsiCo is a longtime client of Covington’s. The law firm has represented the beverage maker on corporate tax reform issues and global policy work, including partnering with other food and beverage companies and the World Health Organization to form the International Food and Beverage Alliance. The association aims to increase transparency on beverage makers’ efforts to develop healthier products for consumers, and establish global standards for how to market products to children.

Hester added that Bryant’s experience building coalitions of companies, such as the food and beverage alliance, will benefit Covington clients.

“That experience could be highly relevant for major companies because often the most effective ways for them to get something done legislatively is through these coalitions, where he’s had lots of experience,” Hester said.

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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