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Government Relations

As decision-makers at corporations, industry associations and nonprofits know all too well, the influence of the federal government is far too profound to be ignored. Indeed, the far-reaching activities of the legislative, judicial and executive branches profoundly affect the daily operations—and future trajectories—of a wide array of organizations.

Clearly, proactive monitoring and engagement is the only sound approach to government relations. This is precisely the focus of LeClairRyan's large and multifaceted Government Relations practice team. Having spent years gaining solid bipartisan understanding of the written procedural processes and unwritten rules of Washington, D.C., our seasoned attorneys and professional staff have the experience and resources necessary to provide skilled representation in all branches of the federal government. No matter which party happens to control the White House or Congress, we are well positioned to benefit our clients by taking full advantage or our practical knowledge of the nation’s most powerful institutions.

Our Government Relations team enjoys well-established working relationships with influential cabinet members and many members of Congress, including high-ranking committee leaders. Through our contacts with and access to these key decision-makers, we accomplish on Capitol Hill what a litigator might accomplish in the courtroom: outcomes that advance our clients’ strategic plans. Thoroughly versed in the intricacies of policymaking, we partner with clients to foresee, influence and shape legislation and policies relevant to their business objectives.

Connections with Washington power brokers are only part of the equation. Our team also understands the critical importance of building strong relationships of trust with each and every client. Understanding our clients’ on-the-ground realities and needs is fundamental to this process, as is close coordination with other LeClairRyan attorneys who have deep experience in specific industries and practice areas. By huddling with colleagues focused on the likes of bankruptcy, corporate services, financial services, labor and employment, litigation, real estate or tort defense, our Government Relations team acts as a “one-stop shop” that gets results while saving our clients’ time and money.

Some cases require engagement at all levels of government. Along with its proficiency at the federal level, our team is adept at dealing with state and local agencies and officials as well. Indeed, we offer a broad range of services regardless of the governmental arena—from developing and managing a public relations campaign or crisis management plan to securing client funding or regulatory relief. 

Our Government Relations services include:

Our services include:

  • Analyzing and drafting legislation, legislative histories, and testimony
  • Analyzing legislative proposals
  • Preparing legislative testimony and witnesses for hearings
  • Testifying on behalf of clients before congressional committees
  • Organizing and coordinating coalitions or groups with shared interests
  • Monitoring the legislative and executive branches
  • Keeping clients apprised of legislative status, including anticipated initiatives
  • Strategic planning and coordination of overall legislative strategy, tactics, and advocacy
  • Representing clients before administrative agencies
  • Advocating with government decision-makers

Our Government Relations team has broad experience working in the following areas to assist clients:

  • Agriculture
  • Appropriations
  • Antitrust
  • Aviation
  • Banking/financial institutions/securities
  • Defense
  • E-commerce
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Entertainment
  • Environment
  • Federal stimulus funding
  • Food and drug
  • Foreign relations
  • Gaming
  • Government contracts
  • Healthcare
  • Health and safety law
  • Homeland Security
  • Housing
  • Immigration
  • Insurance
  • Labor
  • Information technology
  • Intellectual property
  • International law
  • Media/publishing
  • Native American affairs
  • Political law
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Sports/athletics
  • Tax
  • Telecommunications
  • Trade
  • Transportation and infrastructure
  • Wireless and satellite technology

Administrative Law

The Administrative Law attorneys on our Government Relations team are highly aware of the issues and priorities that are top-of-mind for specific businesses and industries. We closely monitor government rulings and legislation that have the potential to affect our clients’ operations, and maintain strong working relationships with key regulatory agencies and officials. In fact, our team includes many attorneys who have prior experience in government, either as agency officials or counsel, and therefore are deeply familiar with the decision-makers, statutory schemes and core issues involved in the legislative and regulatory processes. We know the law, in other words, precisely because we have played a role in shaping it.

Regulatory policy development, compliance and litigation are top concerns for many of our clients. The attorneys on our Government Relations team (several of whom are well acquainted with Virginia’s elected officials, in particular) have broad experience assisting clients with regulatory representation involving the adoption of rules and regulations, licensing issues, disciplinary actions and government contracts.

Our Government Relations team represents clients in administrative matters involving:

  • Healthcare
  • Land use
  • Environment
  • Energy
  • Telecommunications
  • Utilities
  • Gas
  • Cooperatives
  • Water
  • Telecommunications
  • Architecture
  • Alcoholic beverage regulation
  • Workers’ and unemployment compensation
  • Insurance
  • Securities
  • Automotive manufacturer and dealer

Our team is widely recognized for its ability to devise and advocate practical solutions for complex legal issues before regulatory and administrative agencies of the state and federal government, as well as in the highly charged political environment of the Virginia General Assembly. We routinely appear before and work closely with regulatory agencies, boards, and commissions in the development and implementation of public policy, including:

  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Federal Regulation and Oversight of Energy (FERC)
  • Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC)
  • Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
  • Board of Medicine
  • Air Pollution Control Board
  • State Water Control Board

Given our thorough understanding of regulatory processes and policies, we are adept at crafting proposals that enable clients too avoid lengthy and costly disputes on compliance issues while maintaining positive relationships with regulators. Many members of our Government Relations team have been chosen by their peers for leadership positions in local and state bar committees concerning administrative law, and have been selected for inclusion in Virginia Business magazine’s list of top lawyers. And while we strive to avoid the courtroom, we have successfully litigated cases in the trial and appellate courts and are fully prepared to do so again whenever it becomes necessary.

Election Law and Campaign Finance

In a very real sense, Democracy is a fully regulated industry. Indeed, virtually every step of engagement in the political process is open to some form of legal regulation or scrutiny. To ensure that all political activity is legal, corporations and political organizations would do well to include experienced counsel is an integral part of their teams. Our Government Relations attorneys have deep experience in election law and campaign finance and are wellpositioned to assist politically active citizens and organizations in complying with the tremendous number of laws and regulations restricting political activity in the United States. We advise corporations, trade associations, nonprofits, political action committees, candidates, public officials, issue advocacy groups (including “527 organizations”) and other political committees on compliance with:

  • The Federal Election Campaign Act, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA or “McCain-Feingold”), and Federal Election Commission regulations
  • Internal Revenue Service regulations related to lobbying, electioneering activity and political advocacy
  • Federal and state ethics and lobbying regulations
  • MSRB-37 Restrictions on Municipal Finance Broker-Dealers
  • The Virginia Campaign Finance Disclosure Act
  • Election recounts and contests

Our attorneys have litigated cases involving equal protection and voting rights, the Hatch Act and the First Amendment rights of political parties and corporations that have reached the U.S. Supreme Court. We have experience representing clients in state and federal courts, and have represented politically active clients before the Federal Election Commission, the Office of Public Integrity of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The media must also comply with regulations on political broadcasts. Our attorneys have advised members of the press on sensitive political broadcasting and programming decisions, the Federal Election Commission’s “media exemption” and the Federal Communications Commission’s “equal time” and sponsorship disclosure regulations. In addition, our attorneys also have experience advising Internet-based political clients on the legal limitations of evolving regulatory standards on this new communications medium.

Municipal Liability

As counsel to local governments, their agencies and contracted third-party public service providers, we have extensive experience serving the needs of municipalities, public agencies and quasi-public entities. Our experience in the law affecting municipalities and other governmental entities ranges from the drafting of contracts, ordinances, and legislation to the defense of claims alleging negligence or violations of civil rights, civil service and environmental requirements.

In representing governmental clients, our overriding goal is always to provide creative, practical and effective solutions. We have aggressively advanced this goal in connection with alleged Section 1983 violations, cases alleging excessive force, false arrest and false imprisonment, as well as alleged violations of state and federal constitutions, including violations of free speech and religious practices protections of the U.S. Constitution.

Our municipal liability practice also extends to zoning and land use claims, tort liability, regulatory takings, employment practices, failure to provide adequate police protection, malicious prosecution, and sexual harassment.

Our attorneys have served on a variety of public boards, commissions and legislative bodies related to the establishment and maintenance of roads and buildings, land use and zoning plans, hospitals, parks, golf courses, social services agencies, and police departments.

Representative experience:

  • Advised two presidential campaigns in the 2008 cycle: Jim Gilmore for President and Tom Tancredo for a Secure America
  • Advised the Republican Party of Virginia and the campaign of George Allen on the potential recount following the 2006 Senatorial election in Virginia
  • General Counsel to the successful campaign of Virginia Attorney General Robert McDonnell and successfully litigated the Attorney General’s 2005 statewide recount
  • On brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in First Amendment challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003)
  • Defended the First Amendment rights of the Colorado Republican Party to make independent expenditures in connection with a U.S. Senate campaign
  • Defended the National Republican Senatorial Committee in consumer fraud actions brought by the Attorney Generals of New Jersey and Illinois for fundraising solicitations
  • Advised the Republican Party of Virginia, candidates, non-profit organizations, political committees and donors on the compliance with state and federal campaign finance laws
  • Advised several media organizations on First Amendment freedom of the press to finance and exhibit election-related programs, and application of the “press exemption” under the Federal Election Campaign Act; defended media organizations against complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission alleging programming outside the bounds of the “press exemption”
  • Advised Internet companies and media organizations on the appropriate use of websites to post information and fundraising solicitations about federal candidates
  • Advised business corporations on establishment of “separate segregated funds” or “political action committees” and compliance with applicable federal and state election laws
  • Established several tax-exempt organizations [501(c)(4), 501(c)(6), 527] to engage in political and policy advocacy and advise them on compliance with the Internal Revenue Code, Lobbying Disclosure Act, Federal Election Campaign Act, and state campaign finance laws
  • Successfully represented voters in Northern Virginia in a “one-man, one-vote” Equal Protection challenge to Virginia’s implementation of a new redistricting plan, leading to resignation of a senior state senator, call of a special election, and passage of an amendment to the Virginia Constitution (Haddow v. Warner, U.S. District Court, E.D. Virginia)
  • Represented federal employees through the investigation and litigation stages of Hatch Act enforcement matters