Lobbying for Lawyers

     Apparently I haven’t thought of everything.
     I like to think of myself as having answers to any problem, but, I now have to admit, I haven’t come up with every good idea.
     I’ve long been an advocate of multi-service law firms. Synergy just makes sense.
     Just because you’re giving someone legal advice doesn’t mean you can’t cater the meeting. Why meet a lawyer in a restaurant when the law firm’s in-house chefs can whip up whatever the client wants at a table with a view in the lawyer’s office?
     If your firm restaurant gets four stars, you’ll attract four-star clients.
     Or if you have a client who is deeply disturbed – and, you must realize, many clients are – doesn’t it make sense to call in the firm’s psychiatrist? If you cure the neurotic clients, you’ll avoid future neurotic lawyers.
     Need to have a client look good in court?
     In-house make-up and clothing.
     I could go on and on. But there was one kind of law firm business acquisition that I hadn’t thought of: ex-politician lobbyists.
     I guess the idea is that if you don’t have much of a case in court under existing law, you can get the existing law changed.
     This is not far-fetched. At least one law firm (and, for all I know, many others) has done this. The firm Patton Boggs acquired a lobbying firm headed by two former U. S. Senators, Trent Lott and John Breaux. According to the Patton Boggs website, the Breaux-Lott Leadership Group was “one of the 20 largest government relations firms in Washington.”
     This is not news but I didn’t hear of it until Patton Boggs sued Chevron Corporation the other day in federal court in D.C. I won’t go into all the details but here’s the fun part: Patton Boggs wants a declaratory judgment as to whether it should be disqualified from the case “simply by virtue of its acquisition of the lobbying firm Breaux Lott Leadership Group that previously provided pure lobbying services, without more, to Chevron.”
     Why not?
     Well, said the suit, the “lobbying work is not governed by the conflicts provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct or any other applicable set of rules.”
     Makes sense: not many other rules seem to apply to lobbyists, so professional rules for lawyers shouldn’t apply either.
     If your in-house caterer once threw a party for the other side, you probably shouldn’t be disqualified (unless the litigation is about catering).
     I do have questions, though.
     What are “pure lobbying services?”
     How do they differ from the lobbying services provided for Patton Boggs? Are they impure?
     If your in-house lobbyist used to lobby for another law firm, do the legal professional rules apply?
     I think there’s going to be some lobbying in the near future over these rules.
     In the meantime, let’s all enjoy the irony of a former pro-business conservative Senator working for the firm battling the big corporation. Life is different when you don’t have to worry about votes.
     
     FLYING SHOULD BE FUN. My favorite press release of the week (and perhaps the decade) begins with this:
                “District Attorneys Must Monitor TSA Pat Downs for Sexual Abuse
                “NAPA, Calif., Nov. 24, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Let’s keep this Thanksgiving a traditional family event and not an excuse for the TSA to grope flyers.
     “We expect a number of travelers to opt-out of the scanners and today we call on California and national District Attorneys to send monitors to airports to ensure TSA behavior does not cross into sexual assault,” said Kate Hanni, Executive director of flyersrights.org.”
     Imagine teams of prosecutors intently watching your pre-flight molestation.
     Scanner opt-outs should be going up when word gets out.

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