Measured by numbers of full time lobbyists and persons involved, the four largest lobbying law firms in Brussels are Squire Patton Boggs, Alber & Geiger, Covington & Burling and Norton Rose Fullbright. Just behind these four are a number of top players with well-developed practices and expertise including Steptoe & Johnson. Other prominent law firms with lobbying capabilities include: Linklaters, Becker Büttner, DLA Piper, Gide, Bird & Bird, Keller and Heckman, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Mayer Brown, and Latham & Watkins.
Interestingly some of the largest US law firms in Brussels (e.g. Cleary Gottlieb with 85 lawyers and Jones Day with 54 lawyers) lack any dedicated lobbyists. As discussed elsewhere, a number of law firms are not on the tansparency register despite having lobbying capabilities, including prominent firms White & Case, Sidley Austin and Fieldfisher (which has an outstanding trade practice).
Law firms offer a different approach and staff compared with most public affairs consultancies. As Wolfgang Maschek, Partner, Head of the European Public Policy, Squire Patton Boggs writes in an article for BestinBrussels: “Lawyers are trained to work very diligently and precisely, and to support their client’s positions with strong analysis and well-reasoned arguments. This can make the decisive difference in situations where decision makers are confronted with a sea of differing views while searching for solid ground.”
Squire Patton Boggs also highlights the seniority of its team blended with legal insight: “Our team hails from public and private sectors, as well as the international community. The combination of our comprehensive knowledge of political climates and regulatory landscapes, together with our grasp of the intersection of business, law and government, has led to our reputation for cutting-edge advocacy work.”
Norton Rose Fullbright underlines its grounding in technical knowledge to lobbying: “We use lawyers to lobby, and we typically lobby in the same substantive areas in which our lawyers are handling transactions. This gives us an edge in competing for the attention of busy government officials because we bring a thorough technical knowledge of the issues to the table. It also gives us the ability to react quickly when legislation is being drafted or an administrative rule is being written.”
Covington highlights the connections and experience of its senior staff: “In an increasingly regulated world, Covington helps clients seize opportunities, navigate complex problems, and resolve difficult disputes. Described as “well connected with both the regulators and thought-leaders,” by Chambers and Partners, we have more than 120 former regulatory and enforcement officials among our ranks. With strength in litigation, investigations, and corporate work and deep knowledge of policy and policymakers, we turn regulatory insight into practical advice for doing business anywhere in the world.”
Alber & Geiger describes itself as a “political lobbying powerhouse” stating “We represent our clients’ interests on the highest EU levels. Our firm combines former top EU officials, leading EU politicians and high profile EU attorneys. We combine legal expertise with lobbying knowledge. This is what sets us apart.” Unlike most other law firms Alber & Geiger also offers clients communications services including media relations and digital in support of its lobbying activities.
Headquartered in Washington DC with a Government Affairs & Public Policy practice in Brussels Steptoe emphasises “The three core hallmarks of our government affairs practice which set us apart from any other firm: substantive depth, strong relationships, and an integrated approach.”