Brownstein Hyatt, Akin Gump and Holland & Knight lead the biggest law firms in federal lobbying work in Washington this year, as the influence operations in the nation’s capital build on record results in 2021.
Driving the attention in Congress recently has been a China competitiveness bill and stalled negotiations relating to a major spending package aimed at tackling climate change. Brownstein’s clients included Apollo Management Holdings, Moderna Inc. and Tencent America.
“There’s a lot going on, even if there’s not always a lot of progress,” said Marc Lampkin, chair of Brownstein’s government relations department. “That’s a part of the reason why everyone in Washington is seeing an uptick in business.”
Law firms are trying to build on what was an all-time record of $1.92 billion in Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue in 2021, based on a Bloomberg Government report. Congress’ work on major pandemic relief and infrastructure packages drove last year’s results, as well as negotiations around the Build Back Better spending and tax bill.
Brownstein led revenue collections last year with $56.6 million. So far this year, the firm is on pace to surpass that total, with more than $30 million in revenue in the first six months of 2022, according to a lobbying disclosure report filed by the firm.
Brownstein reported about $15.2 million in the second quarter, the report shows. Akin Gump reported $12.8 million in the same period, while Holland & Knight saw revenue of $10.7 million.
Squire Patton Boggs, K&L Gates, and Covington & Burling, which are among the 20 biggest lobbying shops in Washington by revenue, recorded $6.8 million, $5.4 million and just over $4 million, respectively.
While lobbying activity traditionally slows down as mid-term elections draw close, this year has served as an exception, as Congress is working on multiple pieces of legislation, including appropriations and defense spending bills, and a patchwork of new regulations is going into effect.
Lobbying practices are also seeing business stemming from the $1 trillion infrastructure package signed into law last year, said Rich Gold, leader of Holland & Knight’s public policy and regulation group. The public policy group is on track to earn close to $100 million in total revenue this year, including from the business it pulls in on the regulatory and foreign policy fronts, something it has never achieved, he said.
The revenue figures from the second quarter “definitely surprised me,” he said. “We’re in this space where we are performing well beyond what anyone should be doing.”
Some of Holland & Knight’s most lucrative work in the second quarter came on behalf of entities including Smithfield Foods Inc. and the Alibaba Group.
Akin Gump reported lobbying work on behalf of energy company EQT Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and the NCAA’s Southeastern Conference.
Hogan Lovells reported $220,000 for work representing the cryptocurrency exchange Binance.US. The firm’s work, which comes amid an upheaval in the digital assets market, was focused on protecting investors and the public, according to its lobbying report.
Gold said a downturn of some sort is inevitable—it’s just unclear when that will be.
“Generally there is a lobbying business cycle,” he said. “We don’t think that has ended. Covid just put it on pause for the moment.”