Further down the list, the law firms Holland & Knight and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck both enjoyed considerable boosts in their bottom lines. Newly invigorated debates on energy and climate change helped Holland & Knight post a 19 percent gain, according to Rich Gold, who runs the firm’s lobbying practice. Al Mottur, at Brownstein Hyatt, said the firm mustered 22 percent growth this year — on top of 60 percent growth last year, according to Roll Call figures — by expanding across a range of practice areas, including energy and water, health care, financial services, and homeland security.
This filing period marked the first under a newly streamlined system designed to comply with the lobbying reforms, and K Streeters praised its efficiency. Previously, lobbyists had to buy a “digital signature” from an outside vendor to meet a House requirement that they file disclosures electronically. They then had to submit hard copies to the Senate.
The new system scraps the digital signature, and allows lobbyists to electronically file to both the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate at once with the click of a button.
“It’s a happy development for all of us who have to deal with these things,” DLA Piper lobbying expert William Minor said.
Amid mostly good news last year, some firms had a bumpier ride. Williams & Jensen, for example, saw its reported revenue slide nearly 5 percent. “I don’t think our corporate clients feel threatened with Bush in office,” firm partner Steve Hart said. “It will be a different story if Sen. [Hillary Rodham] Clinton [D-N.Y.] or Sen. [Barack] Obama [D-Ill.] are in the White House. Senate Republican lobbying will triple, or quadruple.”
The year proved an especially mixed bag for firms that focus on appropriations. With Democrats pledging to chop the special projects in half, some of the largest shops saw growth stumble.
In addition to Van Scoyoc and Cassidy, both of which saw less than 1 percent climbs, The PMA Group witnessed a 1 percent dip.
Cassidy invented earmark lobbying and relied on the model to grow into what was once the largest firm on K Street. Last year, amid tougher times for the practice, the firm cut its appropriations work to just under half of its total LDA revenue. But Gregg Hartley, the firm’s chief operating officer, said it will continue to be an important part of the business.
“2006 was the worst time. With so much controversy, a lot of people were backing off the playing field,” he said. “Now we see where the rules are going. This has been a good year, and we would anticipate that appropriations will always be a good, strong, healthy part of our business.”