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The firms ranked in the government contracts section represent all major government contractors, but often they also act for smaller businesses, which are supported by preferential programs. Due to an increase in abuse of such programs, determinations and investigations of small business are on the rise. Competition over contracts remains high, as procurement budgets are in decline and major procurements are limited. Advice on goods and services contracts with governmental bodies spans the whole lifecycle of a contract, from pre-award and performance to termination. More complex is representing contractors in bid protests and other disputes - which often arise from cost and contract performance issues - and False Claims Act matters, including qui tam actions. Increased monitoring and enforcement actions results in a higher demand for compliance advice. The legal market saw significant changes in 2015 and early 2016: Dentons’ takeover of McKenna Long & Aldridge in July 2015 triggered some lawyer moves, notably to Covington & Burling LLP and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; and Blank Rome LLP has emerged as a relevant actor in the area after taking over most of Dickstein Shapiro’s lawyers, including its entire government contracts practice, in February 2016.

In the government relations area, firms continuously inform decision makers, raising the understanding of particular policies and industries. Hot topics are unmanned aerial vehicles and internet-related matters such as cyber security, bitcoin and online gambling regulation. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP remains number one in terms of lobbying revenue, with nearly $40m earned in 2015. Squire Patton Boggs is still rebuilding from its 2014 merger and the subsequent loss of its market-leading position in the government relations space due to loss of groups of lawyers to Arnold & Porter LLP, Dentons and Steptoe & Johnson LLP in 2015.

Government contracts

Index of tables

  1. Government contracts
  2. Leading lawyers

Leading lawyers

  1. 1

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP’s Washington DC-based group acts across all relevant industry sectors, and integrates ‘its government contracts expertise and its government contracts regulatory practice with transactional support’. Recent highlights include acting for Harris in its $4.75bn acquisition of Exelis, and for Science Applications International Corporation in its $790m acquisition of intelligence community consulting firm Scitor. In other recent work, the group acted for FedBid in responding to a notice of proposed debarment by the suspension and debarment official for the Air Force, negotiating a precedent-setting administrative agreement. Raytheon is a long-term client, which the firm recently advised in relation to a bid protest concerning the Army’s award of an electronic warfare contract to Sotera Defense Solutions, accomplishing the reversal of the award decision and upholding this decision in further protests filed by Sotera; this matter was led by ‘experienced litigator’, ‘excellent bid protest lawyer’ and practice head Mark Colley. Also highly experienced in bid protests and contract disputes is Kara Daniels, who was recently promoted to the partnership. Paul Pompeo is praised for his ‘expertise in government cost accounting and compliance matters paired with his ability to communicate actionable advice about such a highly complex area’. Steven Diamond, Craig Holman, Charles Blanchard and the ‘excellentRonald Lee are also recommended.

Crowell & Moring LLP continues to act regularly for long-time aerospace and defense clients Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and United Technologies, while increasingly expanding into other industry sectors. Experience spans claims, bid protests, False Claims Act (FCA) litigation, suspension and debarment proceedings, investigations, and transactions involving government contractors. Recent work includes assisting DRS Technical Services defend a task order award for remotely piloted aircraft support services in a bid protest filed by Booz Allen Hamilton. David Bodenheimer represented United Technologies in a $299m defective pricing action and a $675m FCA suit arising from a fighter engine provision contract; Bodenheimer and Thomas Humphrey are renowned bid protest lawyers. Newly-added Lorraine Campos, who co-chaired Reed Smith LLP’s practice until her departure in May 2015, is an ‘astute counselor’. She is recommended along with senior counsel Terry Albertson - who stands out for his cost and pricing expertise - and Peter Eyre. Co-practice heads are Angela Styles and Daniel Forman. All named are based in Washington DC.

Jenner & Block LLP stands out for its expertise in the corporate transactions of government contractors, particularly in the private equity space. An example of this was assisting A-T Solutions during its sale by private equity firms CI Capital Partners and CoVant to PAE, including all government contract and national security matters. Next to transactional work, contentious matters constitute a significant element of the practice, and recently an important appellate victory was achieved for MorphoTrust in a bid protest concerning a contract to produce drivers’ licenses for the Washington DC’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The appeals court ruled that the Contract Appeals Board had, improperly, regularly deferred to agency judgments instead of independently reviewing decisions. In another successful bid protest, the firm represented Collection Technology in a challenge to the client’s elimination from a student debt collection and resolution contract award process by the Office of Federal Student Aid. Kevin Mullen, Kevin Dwyer, Damien Specht, David Churchill and Jay DeVecchio parted ways with the firm and joined the Washington DC and Northern Virginia offices of Morrison & Foerster LLP. On the incoming side, new practice chair D. Joe Smith rejoined the firm from Smith Pachter McWhorter, Mark Nackman joined from General Dynamics, and Matthew Haws and Gregory Petkoff arrived from WilmerHale.

An undisputed leader in the area, Wiley Rein LLP covers the gamut of government contracts work, and delivers an ‘outstanding level of service’. In bid protests, it represented Citrix Systems in challenging a proposed $1.6bn enterprise software license agreement between the Defense Information Services Agency and VMware, which, for the duration of the contract, would have made VMware the DOD’s sole provider of cloud services. A contract claim highlight was defending subcontractor DynCorp in a lawsuit filed by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Technical Services, which was instructed to support the Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office mission in Afghanistan; after obtaining a dismissal, the team filed a $40m counterclaim for monies owed for specialized aviation support and other services. Other work includes acting for many of the largest contractors as well as small businesses in FCA litigation, suspension and debarment proceedings, and government contractor transactions. Clients can draw on numerous lawyers with security clearances who are active in the defense and intelligence sectors, such as Jon Burd, who is credited with making ‘a tough topic understandable’. Rand Allen, who can ‘quickly position any issue for efficient disposition’, heads the team, which has ‘several tall trees of talent’ among its 20-plus partners in Washington DC. Highlighted are Scott McCaleb, Philip Davis, Paul Khoury and the ‘smart, energetic and very organized’ Nicole Owren-Wiest. John Prairie and Tracye Howard were promoted to the partnership in January 2015.

Covington & Burling LLP added 20 lawyers from McKenna Long & Aldridge (now Dentons), including Raymond Biagini, Jason Carey and Frederic Levy. The latter co-leads the expanded team along with Jennifer Plitsch and Alan Pemberton. The additions have strengthened the practice’s profile for bid protests and investigations as well as for in-demand cybersecurity work. Life sciences, healthcare and biodefense contracting remains a significant area of work, with recent work on behalf of Merck and Novartis. Biagini’s experience in tort liability came in handy when representing KBR in a lawsuit concerning the recovery of $30m of legal fees incurred in the defense of tort cases. On the M&A side, Robert Nichols and Scott Freling led government contracts-related advice to Pacific Architects and Engineers in several acquisitions, such as the takeover of security-based information and service solutions provider USIS and of A-T Solutions, which elevated the client to a top 30 contractor. Another name to note is Susan Cassidy. All named lawyers are based in Washington DC.

The 21-strong team at litigation firm Rogers Joseph O’Donnell regularly handles complex claims, and has a well-established practice across a range of industries. It recently represented CGI Federal in a bid protest against the Navy’s award of a $2.5bn IDIQ contract for the inter-ship CANES consolidated communication systems. Other bid protest work included the representation of DRS Technologies in challenging the award of an Army technical services contract to Lockheed Martin. Cyber and supply chain security expert Robert Metzger leads the government contracts-focused Washington DC office, in which Jeffery Chiow was promoted to partner. In November 2015, it was strengthened by the addition of former managing director of Navigant Consulting Brian Miller, who handles sensitive compliance and enforcement issues. Simultaneously, ending a 16-month stint at the firm, Sharon Larkin moved to Steptoe & Johnson LLP. In San Francisco, Patricia Meagher and Mark Linderman are standout names, and firm head Neil O’Donnell ‘has a world of experience, excellent judgment, an even temperament, and is terrific in collaborating fully with others on complex matters’.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s Washington DC-based team focuses on government contracts litigation, but also handles contract compliance work and government contractor transactions. Practice head Karen Manos stands out for her costs, pricing and accounting expertise, and is regularly retained by some of the largest government contractors. A recent example was defending Raytheon against a government appeal of the trial court’s decision regarding the failure to pay over $80m of the deficits relating to the pension plans of several businesses that Raytheon had divested in. Other Cost Accounting Standards cases were handled for aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky. Additionally, the team scored numerous victories in FCA cases in the defense, education and transportation sectors. A favorable settlement was reached for HP in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) settlement with the DOJ and SEC, which concluded that criminal allegations existed only against foreign subsidiaries and not against the parent company. Other recommended partners include Joseph West, John Chesley and Timothy Hatch.

Hogan Lovells US LLP’s sector-focused approach helps it deliver ‘highly specialized’ advice. The co-head of the education industry group, Michael Vernick, for example, advises numerous leading universities on federal research matters, and has recently represented some of these clients regarding allegations of the misuse of federal funds. Michael Mason, who heads the aerospace and defense group, was lead partner in defending United Launch Services in a bid protest filed by SpaceX concerning the award of a government space launch contract, with a settlement reached in January 2015. Lisa Ellman, who came from McKenna Long & Aldridge (now Dentons) in June 2015, is shaping the firm’s reputation in unmanned aircraft systems policy advice. Another name to note is Michael McGill, who was lead partner in protesting a $5bn strategic sourcing program that was limited to Microsoft branded products and services, resulting in the cancellation of the procurement. The healthcare sector is another sweet spot, with Joy Sturm leading the way. Practice heads are Thomas McGovern and Agnes Dover.

Rated as ‘excellent in all aspects’, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has a broad practice that has recently handled cost accounting disputes, FCA cases and contract disputes. In a bid protest, Anne Perry and the ‘experiencedJonathan Aronie represented the US Investigations Services Professional Services Division against the award of an FBI services contract to a competitor, alleging that the awardee’s proposed labor categories did not match the requirements; the Government Accountability Office (GAO) subsequently recommended the task order be terminated. A qui tam action was handled by a team led by the ‘thorough and practicalJohn Chierichella, who successfully defended Northrop Grumman in a case concerning damages of over $600m per year relating to alleged fraudulent acts regarding the performance of a contract for postal service sorting machines. All three are based in Washington DC, while Los Angeles-based Bryan Daly heads the group.

Blank Rome LLP is a new name in the government contracts space since taking over Dickstein Shapiro’s entire 20-strong practice as part of the merger in February 2016. Still at the former firm, the team acted on some of 2015’s largest cases in the government contracts space. Particularly notable was defending Oshkosh Defense against Lockheed Martin’s bid protest concerning the award of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract to its client, which was re-filed in court before the GAO reached a decision. A team under the lead of Richard Conway won a bid protest for HP Enterprise Services concerning the Air Force’s $6.9bn Network-Centric Solutions II procurement, resulting in a new selection in which the client was awarded a substantial contract. The group is best known for its litigation experience, but also covers the gamut of advisory work. David Nadler (‘proactive and zealous advocate of, but also practical adviser on, the clients’ positions’) continues to lead the practice. Also recommended are administrative head Justin Chiarodo and Scott Arnold.

Dentons took over McKenna Long & Aldridge in July 2015, making an immediate splash in the government contracts space. The ‘knowledgeable, productive and always available’ Jessica Abrahams leads the team from Washington DC, which is ‘not only professional, but gives precise guidance to assist in closing off issues quickly’. One of the recommended partners is ‘stellar litigator’ Thomas Lemmer, who ‘consistently brings home the best result possible’. Steven Masiello, also in Denver, delivers ‘superior quality work’, and defended Exelis against a $17m claim filed by the government concerning alleged non-compliance with two Cost Accounting Standards. After the award of a $250m contract for the supply of office products, Washington DC-based John Horan successfully defended Office Depot against a bid protest filed by Staples. As part of the merger, former McKenna Long team leader Frederic Levy, Jason Carey, a further partner and two of counsel went to Covington & Burling LLP, while Los Angeles-based James Gallagher and three other partners went to Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP regularly acts on M&A transactions involving government contractors and is increasingly advising foreign private equity groups. The group represented cybersecurity solutions provider TASC as prime contractor for a defense and intelligence program in a dispute with software vendor Autonomy and HP Financial Services concerning the client’s alleged misrepresentation as an agent of the government. In other work, it represented Greenland Contractors in protests before the GAO and the Court of Federal Claims concerning an Air Force contract for base management and operations services at a Greenland air base, which was restricted to Danish or Greenlandic enterprises but was awarded to Exelis Services, a subsidiary of a US company. Practice head James McCulloughzeroes in on the primary issues, provides outstanding and timely advice, and understands his clients’ business needs’. Jerald Howe is ‘very bright and knowledgeable’.

Alongside exceptional transactional experience, Latham & Watkins LLP provides strong expertise in FCA cases. A particularly noteworthy appellate victory was defending United Technologies against a $657m post-trial damages award entered under the False Claims Act concerning false pricing statements made in a 1983 contract bid, with the ‘excellent’ Edward Shapiro taking the lead. In another FCA case, the group successfully represented advertising firm and Air Force contractor GSD&M in claims alleging the provision of inflated cost estimates. Under the lead of David Hazelton, the Washington DC-based group provides ‘top-notch lawyering coupled with practical advice and terrific client service’. Roger Goldman is another name to note.

Mayer Brown’s Washington DC-based group is particularly strong in the aerospace, defense and IT sectors. Practice head Marcia Madsen led the representation of Lockheed Martin in a bid protest, and, together with Cameron Hamrick, successfully represented General Motors in claiming the recovery of a pension cost adjustment in a long-running dispute. Another success was scored with the representation of FlightSafety International in challenging the Army’s award of flight training contract to a competitor despite the client having excelled in its performance of a previous contract. David Dowd also comes recommended. All mentioned attorneys are based in Washington DC; the Chicago and Los Angeles offices have a great reputation for acting in state and local government contract-related matters.

Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP picked up four additional government contracts partners as a result of the dissolution of McKenna Long & Aldridge and the takeover of much of its operations by Dentons in July 2015. While the group is mainly based in Los Angeles, it acts nationwide, and attracts praise for its international capabilities. For example, it recently scored successes after filing bid protests on behalf of Raymond Express International challenging the terms of a Defense Commissary Agency solicitation for fresh fruit and vegetables for commissary stores in South Korea, Japan and Guam. In other recent work, it defended Lockheed Martin against a lawsuit filed by Caltex Plastics concerning the alleged failure to purchase protective packaging from the only government-approved manufacturer during the performance of thousands of contracts. Notable practitioners are James Gallagher and practice head John Jensen.

Working in close collaboration with the firm’s healthcare department, the team at Reed Smith LLP achieved several successes in healthcare-related FCA cases, and was retained for the defense of healthcare fraud allegations. In other work, the ‘excellent’ Lawrence Block led the representation of DynCorp International in a lawsuit filed against Airlift Group, which alleged that ex-employees had shared protected trade secrets to gain an unfair advantage in the bid for a flight operations contract for the anti-drug-trafficking program Worldwide Aviation Support Services. Block took over the practice lead from Lorraine Campos, who left for Crowell & Moring LLP in May 2015. Lawrence Sher, also based in Washington DC, is highly rated for bid protests.

Venable LLP acts for a range of government contractors on intellectual property, suspension and debarment, and mergers and acquisitions matters, and frequently handles litigation in the area. It is particularly recognized for its cybersecurity experience, and highly rated for bid protests. Recent work includes achieving a corrective action through filing a bid protest and successfully defending the client against a motion to dismiss the protest, and, in a separate matter, investigating a subcontractor’s performance. Co-practice heads of the 22-partner team are Washington DC-based Paul Debolt and the ‘business-oriented’, Tysons Corner-based, Scott Hommer. Robert Burton comes recommended and James Boland was promoted to partnership in January 2016.

Vinson & Elkins LLP has a broad practice handling subcontractor / prime contractor disputes, suspension and debarment proceedings, FCA suits, and FCPA investigations. A highlight victory was achieved for KBR in a qui tam suit filed by former subcontract administrator Barko, which alleged that KBR and its subcontractor suppressed competition for the performance of subcontracts and submitted false claims to the government; the team was granted a writ of mandamus to protect from the disclosure of attorney-client privileged materials created during an internal investigation. David Johnson provides ‘excellent support’ and co-heads the team together with the ‘smart, responsive and pragmaticMichael Charness. ‘Excellent white-collar attorneyCraig Margolis and Kathleen Little are also recommended. Daniel Graham joined from Wiley Rein LLP in August 2015, adding substantial healthcare knowledge to the firm’s existing expertise in aerospace and defense, and engineering; another area of expertise for Graham is accounting.

In 2015, litigation firm Williams & Connolly LLP acted in a high number of qui tam FCA suits as well as criminal and civil investigations. The 11-partner team also handles contract disputes and suspension and debarment cases. Bid protest work includes successfully defending Booz Allen Hamilton against two protests concerning an Army intelligence, security and information operations support contract with a potential value of over $5bn. It also filed a bid protest for SMS Data Products Group concerning the Army’s denial of information management communication services contracts, which resulted in a contract award after voluntary corrective action. Kevin Hodges and Edward Reddington are the names to note.

Government relations

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s 23-partner public law and policy practice, which is headed by Donald Pongrace, covers the full range of government relations work. Particularly notable are the California law and unmanned aerial vehicles practices, as well as the renowned health policy practice, with John Jonas leading the way. Senior partner Joel Jankowsky is recommended in the entertainment, telecoms and technology areas, while Jeffrey McMillen has an excellent reputation for tax policy work. International policy head Scott Parven’s newly-launched Cuba policy practice has quickly gained a strong reputation and attracted new clients; Parven is also acting for the Embassy of Japan in the United States, advocating for Japan’s inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) free trade agreement, and is assisting UPS with brand positioning and political outreach. On Native American matters, the group is advising the Gila River Indian Community on the protection of the Arizona gaming compact for all tribes from an effort by one tribe to create an off-reservation gaming project in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Team changes include the addition of David Turetsky, former chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at the FCC, in December 2014; and the promotion of election law and compliance specialist Melissa Laurenza to partner in January 2015. All lawyers named are based in Washington DC.

Holland & Knight LLP has a great reputation for healthcare-related work, but it also covers host of other sectors, including environment and security, and has niche expertise in alcoholic beverage regulation and social media advocacy. The group recently assisted the American Chemistry Council in negotiations with Congress regarding amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act, and helped secure language authorizing safety research into and development of lightweight plastic and composite automotive parts for fuel-efficient vehicles. It continues to act for the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine as it advocates for federal policies to promote research and commercialization of regenerative medicine products. Another element of the practice is helping secure federal appropriations and grants. A recent example was securing a federal contribution of $900m for the funding of a rail line linking Washington Dulles International Airport to the metro system; a team led by David Whitestone acted for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority on this matter. Gerry Sikorski leads the government group, while Rich Gold heads the public policy and regulation practice. All partners so far named are based in Washington DC. The name to note in the Atlanta office is Robert Highsmith.

At K&L Gates, clients can ‘rely on a rapid, professional response across the public policy spectrum at any time, day or night’. The longstanding and renowned public policy practice shows particular strength in the transportation, healthcare and financial services sectors. As an example, the group is representing private mortgage insurance company Radian in relation to proposed reforms to the housing finance system, advocating for the protection and preservation of the use of private mortgage insurance for low down payment loans. In other work, it assisted WASH Advocates with promoting access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, helping pass the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act; and helped secure bipartisan passage through the Senate and House of Representatives of a pro-industry overhaul of commercial spaceflight laws, acting for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Emanuel Rouvelas leads the representation of the Transportation Institute in international trade, defense and industry promotion matters. Mark Ruge, Bart Gordon, the ‘smart, strategic and adaptive’ Paul Stimers and the ‘seasoned’ Daniel Ritter are other standout practitioners. Michael Scanlon recently joined Bruce Heiman and Darrell Conner in leading the practice.

Squire Patton Boggs undertakes public policy due diligence, regulatory advice and lobbying on a state and federal level. The firm’s client roster includes top names such as Airbus, Gazprombank, Goldman Sachs and SpaceX. A recent highlight was representing Takata concerning air bag safety issues before Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation. In late 2015, the group was retained by the Government of Turkey to improve the diplomatic relationship between the Turkey and the US, including through conveying Turkey’s stance on military affairs and its attacks against Kurdish fighters. Changes to the group since last year include the departures of Nicholas Allard and Micah Green, who went to Dentons and Steptoe & Johnson LLP respectively, and the departures of Kevin O’Neill and Eugenia Pierson, who went to Arnold & Porter LLP. Jeffrey Turner is a practice leader and one of the key names.

Covington & Burling LLP’s Washington DC-based public policy and government affairs practice has global capabilities and excels in regulatory work. Both came in handy when advising Abbott Laboratories on Medicare/Medicaid coverage and reimbursement matters, FDA approval of drugs and devices, nutritional assistance and food labeling, and tax policy matters. The growing client roster also includes Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Merck and the American Automotive Policy Council. The group provides regular assistance to Microsoft in public policy and government affairs issues, including matters relating to privacy, national security, immigration, tax and telecoms, and to the Motion Picture Association of America in copyright, telecoms and trade issues. Holly Fechner is highly recommended. John Veroneau, formerly co-chair of the international trade group, has taken over as head of the practice from Dan Bryant, who departed for Walmart in November 2015. Of counsel Muftiah McCartin and senior of counsel Daniel Spiegel remain vice-chairs. Recent additions include special counsel Layth Elhassani, who was formerly special assistant to President Obama in the Office of Legislative Affairs; of counsel Gary Heimberg, formerly director of federal government relations at GlaxoSmithKline; and of counsel Margaret Richardson, formerly chief of staff and counselor to attorney general Eric Holder.

Clients value Hogan Lovells US LLP’s global reach as well as its specialist energy and pharmaceutical sector knowledge. Another area of expertise is tax legislative and regulatory work, showcased by recent advocacy of policy positions before Congress, the Department of the Treasury and the IRS, and advice to multiple clients, including 21st Century Fox, the American Gaming Association and Nissan, on the impact of various tax reform proposals. Working with partners from international trade, aviation and litigation teams, the team is defending the Emirates Group against a coalition of US airlines that are seeking to jettison the Open Skies Agreement due to the alleged receipt of $45bn in unlawful trade subsidies by the firm’s client and others. Prominent new client gains include Airbus DS Communications, Cherokee Nation Healthcare Services, Entergy Nuclear and Facebook. Michael House leads the Washington DC-based team, which also houses the recommended Norm Coleman (of counsel) and Aaron Cutler. Lisa Ellman is credited with widening the scope of the practice since her arrival from McKenna Long & Aldridge in June 2015, having helped establish an unmanned aircraft systems group.

Dentons’ public policy and regulation department expanded to over 130 practitioners following the merger with McKenna Long & Aldridge in July 2015 and the addition of three partners from other international law firms. A particularly notable addition was practice chair Gordon Giffin, who arrived as part of the merger. Michael Zolandz continues to act as co-leader of the practice, which in April 2015 saw the promotion to partner of litigator Anthony Jannotta. The team assisted a leading producer of shale gas with state and federal policy, and legislative and rulemaking matters, and it continues to advise the Tohono O’odham Nation on the implementation of its land claim settlement and is defending it in litigation. In a major success, it obtained an exemption for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association from commercial driver license requirements, and successfully added a provision to the House and Senate highway bills exempting recreation vehicles from new electronic logging requirements.

The government advocacy and public policy practice at King & Spalding LLP, under the lead of Thomas Spulak, is particularly rated for its congressional investigations expertise. Lisa Dwyer joined from the FDA’s Office of Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis in September 2015, and is now undertaking government fraud or FDA investigations in the healthcare sector. Healthcare is a significant strength of the practice, with a recent example being successfully enacting two provisions to the Medicare and Medicaid secondary payer programs. Another area of focus is political law, a practice that was recently extended by the addition of litigators Bobby Burchfield and Matthew Leland. The array of former public service officials includes former ambassador Lloyd Hand (senior counsel), and former congressmen Robert Ehrlich (senior counsel) and Michael Andrews (counsel). Since October 2015, former Wisconsin attorney general J.B. Van Hollen has had a strategic alliance with the firm.

Mayer Brown advised Google on state and federal regulatory issues concerning its driverless car project, helping obtain first-of-its-kind legislation for vehicles to be tested and operated in Nevada, Florida and California, and assisting with presenting the technology to the Department of Transportation. The firm’s global reach enables it to work on international matters, such as assisting the government of Morocco with a range of topics to be presented to members of Congress, the Department of State and other agencies. Areas of particular expertise include the telecoms and transportation, as well as advising Native American tribes on gaming and online gambling regulation. Land use matters are handled by Edgar Khalatian, while Timothy Keeler and Duane Layton are particularly rated for their international trade experience; all three are based in Washington DC. The group is also strong on a state and local level, with Philip Recht and counsel John Van de Kamp in Los Angeles, and John Janicik in Chicago.

Miller & Chevalier Chartered has a strong Washington DC-based tax policy practice, which is ‘very familiar with the relevant government agencies’. Practice head Marc Gerson ‘understands the workings of Congress as well as of multinational corporations’, and his team achieved a milestone for Alaska Native settlement trusts, obtaining exception provisions in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. In other work, the team is representing numerous companies and trade associations in efforts to reform the Internal Revenue Code, presenting reform proposals to government officials. Other clients include McDonald’s, HP, Shee Atiká and Garmin. Next to tax, another mainstay is the firm’s expertise in trade policy.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP advises a wide variety of trade associations, including the National Association of Convenience Stores, the Foreign Exchange Professionals Association and the Wholesale Markets Brokers’ Association Americas, on matters such as financial services reform legislation and employer-related Affordable Care Act rulemaking. James Barnette led the representation of FanDuel in all oversight and legislative matters, after the firm’s quick rise in popularity attracted congressional interest. Darryl Nirenberg led assistance to Las Vegas Sands concerning its legislative efforts relating to online gambling. Lisa Zarlenga and of counsel Cameron Arterton joined from the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy in March 2015 and September 2015 respectively; Micah Green, Matthew Kulkin and Carolyn Walsh arrived from Squire Patton Boggs in June 2015, bringing significant financial services expertise to the team. Green now co-leads the Washington DC-based practice with Scott Sinder.

A firm focused on energy, environmental, natural resources and transportation law, Van Ness Feldman LLP provides ‘in-depth knowledge’ to clients such as Kinder Morgan, McKesson, Shell and PacifiCorp. On behalf of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, the group proposed new federal legislation concerning the definition of critical habitat, drafted testimony regarding a rule redefining ‘waters of the US’, and assisted with drafting comments on newly proposed regulations that will govern offshore oil and gas exploratory activities in the Arctic Ocean. The firm establishes and coordinates coalitions in support of a range of policy issues, such as the Coal Utilization Research Council, the Large Public Power Council, and the National Endangered Species Act Reform Coalition. Robert Szabo leads the Washington DC-based government relations and policy practice, which also includes Tom Roberts and ‘team player’ Alan Mintz, who ‘checks his ego at the door’.

WilmerHale’s regulatory and government affairs group is chaired by well-regarded litigator Jamie Gorelick, who also co-chairs the strategic response group with former ambassador Robert Kimmitt. Both continue to advise Google on public policy rights and the responsibilities of a search engine. Combining dispute resolution and public policy experience, Jonathan Yarowsky led the representation of the San Luis Rey Indian Water Authority in an 80-year water dispute between five Native American bands and local governments in Southern California, reaching a private resolution which is now moving through Congress. Other work included advice on several high-level investigations, as well as on cybersecurity matters. In 2015, the team grew with the addition of six partners, including former US attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen and privacy and cybersecurity expert Reed Freeman. All lawyers named so far are based in Washington DC; in the Denver office, Thomas Strickland and Ken Salazar are recommended.

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