Measured by numbers of full time lobbyists and persons involved, the top law firms with public policy capabilities in Brussels are (in alphabetical order): Alber & Geiger, Covington, DLA Piper, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Norton Rose Fullbright and Squire Patton Boggs. Other prominent law firms with lobbying capabilities include: Bird & Bird, Fieldfisher, Gide, K&L Gates, Keller and Heckman, Linklaters, Mayer Brown, Latham & Watkins and Steptoe.
Interestingly some of the largest US law firms in Brussels (e.g. Cleary Gottlieb with 90 lawyers here) lack any dedicated lobbyists. As discussed elsewhere, a number of law firms are not on the transparency register despite having lobbying capabilities, including prominent firms Sidley Austin and White & Case.
Law firms offer a different approach and staff compared with most public affairs consultancies. Squire Patton Boggs’ European Public Policy Practice develops strategies to make sure clients are heard at the right time, by the right people. Their team has the ability not only to monitor legislative and administrative developments, but to design realistic and effective advocacy strategies.
“Lawyers are inherently trained to spot risks and manage them prudently, such as for instance how to conduct public policy and communication strategies in line with stringent GDPR and other rules. This helps clients avoid reputational and other risks, which can undo in days what takes years to build up in terms of connections and goodwill. Working with public policy lawyers can therefore provide clients with additional ease of mind when operating in the fast-moving and high-stakes world of Brussels policy making.” Wolfgang Maschek, Partner & Chair of the European Public Policy Practice at Squire Patton Boggs LLP.
Covington helps clients worldwide achieve critical business objectives by combining legal, political, and policy expertise to provide strategic advice and advocacy. Covington highlights the connections and experience of its senior staff.
“Described as ‘well connected with both the regulators and thought-leaders,’ by Chambers and Partners, Covington’s USP is the sheer number of former senior diplomats in our midst, on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as in Asia and Africa. What clients value most is the combination of law and policy that we are able to offer. Having a team that can analyse a regulatory issue from a legal as well as a policy perspective and then draft and propose amendments in a compelling way is seen as a real benefit.” Sebastian Vos, co-chair of Covington’s public policy practice.
Norton Rose Fullbright underlines its grounding in technical knowledge to lobbying. Their government relations and public policy (GRPP) practice helps clients promote policy change, shape draft legislation and manage regulatory risk.
“Having both deep expertise in the law and regulation and an insider’s understanding of politics and policy-making enables us to synthesise solutions that work commercially, legally and politically. That is a rare combination which we believe adds real value to our clients.” Ana Carrier, Senior Government and Regulatory Affairs Advisor, Norton Rose Fulbright.
DLA Piper’s International Government Affairs team provides advice at all stages of the regulatory process. Advising on regulatory law, they focus on areas such as international trade, antitrust and competition, global governance and more.
“DLA Piper takes a cross-disciplinary approach in our engagements, because the path to success frequently is not linear, but one that requires carefully coordinated efforts in different forums. Accordingly, our lawyers and policy professionals often work across borders and practice groups in interdisciplinary teams, ensuring the most efficient and effective results for our clients.” Richard Sterneberg, Partner, Head of Global Government Relations, DLA Piper.
Freshfields offers clients strategic policy advice to help them shape legislation and administrative decisions. They cover a broad range of sectors, including financial services, technology, energy, environment, telecoms, tax, trade, transport and retail.
“Our Regulatory and Public Affairs teams, based in Brussels and Berlin, work closely with legal teams across our network to provide clients with unrivalled access to legal and sector-specific industry knowledge and help them manage their regulatory environments. We have exactly what they need: advisers who focus on the interface between law, politics and business. Being able to develop a quick understanding of clients’ businesses and the environments in which they operate means we can add value right from the start.” Christiaan Smits, Head of EU Regulatory & Public Affairs at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.