Chadbourne has compiled an outstanding record in lobbying Congress and the executive branch on behalf of clients. In the past two decades, the Firm has won 38 of 39 matters before Congress and has had a similar success ratio on matters before federal agencies. The Legal Times called our lobbying efforts in 1986 in connection with the Tax Reform Act a “spectacular success story.”
Part of the reason for the Firm’s unusual track record is that Chadbourne is selective about matters it will agree to take on. The Firm lobbies on only two or three issues each year.
Based in New York, Chadbourne opened a branch office in Washington, DC in 1937, making it one of the oldest branch offices of any out-of-town firm in Washington. The office now has approximately 60 lawyers, including Keith Martin, a former aide to Senators Henry M. Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Chadbourne approach to lobbying differs from that of many other firms.
No Wasted Motion
Some lobbyists seem to spend more time in meetings with other lobbyists and coalitions downtown than on Capitol Hill. Chadbourne follows a “surgical strike” approach to lobbying: it stays focused on the result, identifies the decision-makers early, and zeroes in. In the same time that others might spend in meetings downtown, we can bring back the result.
Chadbourne does well for its clients because it is steeped in substantive law and has good arguments on the merits of a position, not because of campaign contributions or fundraising for key members.
We use lawyers to lobby, not fulltime lobbyists. The Firm tends to lobby in the same substantive areas in which its lawyers are handling transactions or are engaged in litigation. 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 bargaining table. It also gives us the ability to react quickly when legislation is being redrafted or an administrative rule is crafted at the last moment, as often happens. Our lawyers who lobby may be the same ones who must give a legal opinion when the transaction closes.
No Losing Propositions
The Firm does not waste a client’s money by pursuing unwinnable goals. It is not dependent on lobbying for its income. It does not like to lose. It will not hesitate to turn down an assignment when a client is wasting his money.
A Useful Tool
Lobbying is not merely an end in itself but an additional tool for dealing with complex legal problems.
Many lawyers take a narrow view of their options when something goes wrong for a client. For example, when the Internal Revenue Service challenges a taxpayer on audit, the most common reaction is to appeal within the IRS and then go to court. There are usually other options.
Case in point: Many trucking companies have been denied tax deductions on audit for environmental cleanup costs, which can run into millions of dollars a year due to spilled diesel fuel and leaking underground tanks at truck terminals. Chadbourne worked with Treasury officials and members of Congress starting in August 1993 to get the trucking industry issues addressed in a revenue ruling. A ruling was issued in June 1994 conceding almost all issues in the trucking industry cases. The industry got the result it wanted in a much shorter time and at considerably less expense than it would have gotten by pursuing standard appeals and litigation.
Case in point: A corporation retained Chadbourne to litigate over whether it owed several million dollars in back taxes. The corporation had poor facts. The law was unclear and possibly even unfavorable to the taxpayer. Chadbourne persuaded Congress to clarify the law by adopting a test under which the client would not have owed any tax, and then litigated. Although the clarification applied only prospectively, it helped persuade the courts to decide the case in favor of the client.
It helps to understand the “electrical circuitry” of government, not only because this is key to being able to affect decisions, but also because it can suggest other options.
A good lawyer not only advises clients about what the law requires currently, but also alerts them to changes that are being contemplated so that they have an opportunity to have input into the process. We scan a large number of publications that report on congressional and federal agency deliberations and communicate regularly with government officials; in these ways, we stay informed about developments that may affect transactions or lines of business in which clients are involved.
Chadbourne is less expensive than many lobbying firms because it bills by the hour. That means that if it takes only a phone call to get a result, the client is charged for just the phone call. Many lobbyists expect a large retainer for taking on an assignment.
Representation of former lobbyist in connection with congressional and federal investigations.