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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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