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Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s ‘very client-oriented, knowledgeable and responsive’ public law and policy lawyers are ‘beyond excellent’. The group, under the lead of Donald Pongrace, has established expert practices in specialty areas such as Cuba law and policy, complex or controversial projects, and emerging technology. Scott Parven leads the Cuba team, which advised TripAdvisor on obtaining an Office of Foreign Assets Control license to promote educational and cultural engagement between travelers and the Cuban people and ease commercial travel restrictions. Other international trade and immigration-related work was carried out on behalf of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea and the Embassy of Japan. National trade policy was shaped on behalf of Boeing, Monsanto and the US Chamber of Commerce, which were supported in the passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act, providing a civil cause of action in federal court for misappropriation of trade secrets. With strong experience in Native American matters, a team led by Pongrace advised the Crow Tribe on fulfilling the enforceability requirements under the Crow Tribe Water Rights Settlement Act, which provides water rights and over $460m in federal benefits. Tax policy expert Jeffrey McMillen is ‘brilliant, insightful, and a good adviser and wise counselor’; he comes recommended along with Joel Jankowsky and health policy specialist John Jonas. G Hunter Bates, formerly legal counsel and chief of staff to current Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, joined in November 2016, while Anurag Varma left for an in-house position.

Covington & Burling LLP’s public policy and government affairs group has outstanding international reach, particularly due to its close cooperation with Brussels-based practitioners. On the US level, the group advised the Protect Trade Secrets Coalition on drafting legislative language and winning over Congress regarding the creation of a federal cause of action for companies to protect their trade secrets, and the provision of remedies for companies whose trade secrets are misappropriated. On behalf of Microsoft, the team regularly handles a multitude of subjects, including data storage, cybersecurity, immigration and tax. Roger Zakheim, who stands out for aerospace and defense work, led advocacy for BAE Systems’ ground vehicle priorities in defense authorization and appropriation bills. Of counsel Brian Smith is highly rated for congressional investigations, while Holly Fechner, John Veroneau, Eric Holder, of counsel Muftiah McCartin and senior of counsel Daniel Spiegel are also recommended. Margaret Richardson left to work in-house.

Hogan Lovells US LLP specializes in healthcare, tax and financial services matters, and frequently represents foreign governments. It stands out for combining legislative and regulatory support, both at state and federal level. In 2016, much of the work pertained to advocating policy positions in the tax reform debate, particularly on behalf of multinational companies such as Nissan and 21st Century Fox. In a large international trade subsidy dispute, the group is representing Emirates against a group of airlines seeking to jettison the open skies agreements due to the alleged receipt of trade subsidies. Sanctions law expert Robert Kyle led advice to Intrepid Potash concerning the Belarusian state-owned potash company’s reorganization, which the client considered an attempt to avoid US sanctions. Julie Brill, who joined in March 2016 from the Federal Trade Commission, adds privacy and data security expertise to W Michael House’s government relations and policy advocacy practice. Other names to note are Aaron Cutler, Lisa Ellman and of counsel Norman Coleman.

One of the largest bipartisan public policy and regulation practices in the market, Holland & Knight LLP is particularly known for its lobbying efforts in the healthcare sector. Acting for the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, it advocates for federal policies to promote research and commercialization of regenerative medicine products. On behalf of the American Chemistry Council, it negotiated with congress the reauthorization of the Toxic Substances Control Act. The group can draw on other practice groups to assemble multi-disciplinary teams and regularly utilizes social media to convey a client’s message. Gerry Sikorski, Rich Gold and Atlanta-based Robert Highsmith are held in high regard. Nicole Elliott, formerly senior director of operations for the Affordable Care Act with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), joined in March 2016.

The ‘reliable’ public policy and law group at K&L Gates regularly acts for longstanding clients Pitney Bowes, the International Council of Containership Operators and the Transportation Institute. On behalf of Charles Schwab, the group advocated for the inclusion of a funding limitation in an appropriations bill to block an adverse Department of Labor-proposed rule. In other work, it is advising technology corporation DJI on securing language in the House and Senate bills concerning small consumer drones. It was also retained by private mortgage insurance company Radian to advocate for the protection and expansion of private mortgage insurance for low-down-payment loans, as proposals to reform the housing finance system are considered by policymakers; Bruce Heiman led this matter. Paul Stimers is ‘smart, strategic and adaptive’ and Daniel Ritter is a ‘seasoned lawyer’. Michael Scanlon and Emanuel Rouvelas are also recommended. In 2016, Stacy Ettinger - formerly counsel to Senator Charles Schumer - joined the group, while Karishma Shah Page was promoted to partner.

Alongside lobbying and regulatory advocacy, Squire Patton Boggs undertakes public policy due diligence into proposed legislation and regulations with the potential to affect business deals. Clients include major corporations from a variety of sectors, such as Amazon, California Steel Industries, Gazprombank, Mars, SpaceX and Wake Forest University. Jeffrey Turner heads the public policy practice, in which Erin McGrain was promoted to partner in March 2016.

Dentons has expanded its national reach through the opening of a Sacramento office, which is active in California state policy work and has specialist expertise in environmental matters. The group now has a public policy and advocacy network across 50 states and is also active at federal level. The attorney general practice keeps gaining traction and was particularly useful when representing DeVry Education Group in multiple claims and investigations concerning marketing materials and statements made to prospective students regarding graduation rates and job placement rates. Acting for Manitoba Hydro, the group helped secure the recognition of Canadian hydropower as a greenhouse gas reduction option for US states under the EPA’s CO2 emissions standards for existing power plants. The ‘thoughtful’ Jeffrey Bleich joined the San Francisco office from Munger, Tolles & Olson and former founding partner of Goodman McGuffey LLPEdward Lindsey joined the Atlanta office. In Washington DC, Gordon Giffin and Michael Zolandz are highly recommended.

King & Spalding LLP is expanding its international capabilities and was retained by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia concerning its interest in the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. The group often handles regulatory work for foreign corporations with US subsidiaries as well as congressional investigations and political law matters. A pronounced sector focus is the healthcare area, where the team advised multiple pharmaceutical clients on congressional inquiries concerning the pricing of drugs. Acting for a coalition of health systems, representing over 200 hospitals, the group was part of a bipartisan legislative process, led by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, to consider reforms to the Stark Law. In the defense sector, it is helping Decision Sciences secure funding for operational testing of technology designed to detect nuclear and radiological materials entering the US. Thomas Spulak leads the practice, which saw the additions of automotive sector specialist Jacqueline Glassman and healthcare specialist C’Reda Weeden in 2016.

Mayer Brown handles government affairs matters across the international, federal, state and local level. Outstanding on the state and local level are the teams in Chicago, in which John Janicik is recommended, and Los Angeles, where Philip Recht and land use expert Edgar Khalatian are held in high regard. Recht frequently acts on the rollout of emerging technologies, such as Google’s driverless car project, and is one of the lead partners advising the California High-Speed Rail Authority on the development of the high-speed rail network, currently the largest public works project in the US. Alongside Khalatian, Recht also advised Airbnb on a proposed City of Los Angeles ordinance regulating home-sharing services. On the international level, the group acts for the government of Puerto Rico concerning the development of a new US-Puerto Rico tax policy relationship. In Washington DC, Michael Kantor, Timothy Keeler and Duane Layton are recommended.

Scott Sinder and Micah Green lead Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s government affairs and public policy practice, which is highly rated for financial services sector advocacy. For example, the group advised Assured Guaranty, the single largest creditor exposed to bonds issued by Puerto Rico and its agencies, on conveying its interests during the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act legislative process in light of the Commonwealth’s fiscal crisis. Acting for two trade associations, it is advocating for new legislation concerning the labeling of calorie counts on menus. Another legislative effort - on behalf of the Las Vegas Sands - concerned the restoration of the recently overturned interpretation of the Wire Act, which bans all forms of internet gaming. Darryl Nirenberg and James Barnette are also recommended.

The government relations and policy practice at Van Ness Feldman LLP, like the firm itself, is focused on energy, environmental, natural resources and transportation matters. Its advocacy work spans legislative and federal agency discussions on issues such as climate change, clean energy standards, pipeline safety and access to Alaska’s vast natural resources. Highlights included assisting Clean Line Energy with lobbying efforts in support of the wind energy transmission line project Plains & Eastern Clean Line and the Department of Energy’s decision to participate by means of a public private partnership. Another area of expertise is helping clients secure federal financial support, for example when advising the Conservation Royalty Investment Coalition on developing and promoting legislation to establish a trust fund in the federal government for a broad range of conservation programs. Robert Szabo, Tom Roberts and Alan Mintz work together with former senior government officials to achieve advocacy goals. In the Washington DC-based team, Andrew VanderJack was promoted to the partnership in October 2016.

The public policy and legislative affairs group at WilmerHale excels at developing advocacy strategies that span multiple branches of government. It is advising T-Mobile on the review by state attorneys general of disclosures to consumers in the client’s move to eliminate long-term contracts and early termination fees. Other clients include the Beer Institute, Cigna, Google and Microsoft; the latter retained the firm for advocacy in various areas, including tax and data protection. Handling the political side of mergers, such as congressional investigations, is another key area of focus. A recent example was acting for Monsanto during merger discussions with Bayer. The ‘highly competent’ Jamie Gorelick ‘provides unique insights into the inner workings of the capital’, and is recommended along with Jonathan Yarowsky and Thomas Strickland. The name to note in Denver is Ken Salazar.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP is particularly recommended for advocacy in the insurance, healthcare and education sectors. For example, it regularly assists the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism, a group of major trade and professional associations, with the regulatory reauthorization process of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. On behalf of Samsung Electronics, the group provided strategic advice to members of congress during its consideration of comprehensive patent litigation reform. In December 2015, Kevin O’Neill and other legislative professionals joined from Squire Patton Boggs. O’Neill and Charles Landgraf jointly head the practice.

Focusing on tax policy, Miller & Chevalier Chartered’s team includes many former senior government officials, making it ‘very well connected with government agencies’. It frequently analyses tax reform proposals and develops and distributes legislative positions to government officials. A recent highlight was advising the Una Chapman Cox Foundation on communications with the IRS and Department of the Treasury concerning the client’s continued provision of support to the US Foreign Service. Large multinational corporations, such as HP, McDonald’s and T-Mobile, and trade associations are also clients. Marc Gerson is the name to note.

Elizabeth Moeller’s public policy team at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP is involved in a lot of international work, such as advising the government of Georgia on deepening diplomatic and trade relationships with the US. The group also advised Fellowes on interactions with congressional and executive branch leaders, who intervened in a dispute with the client’s joint venture partner in China. Brian Finch’s cybersecurity expertise was put to use when advising FireEye on legislative defense authorization and related appropriations, and when assisting Edison Electric Institute and other clients with legislative efforts to help reduce liability for companies exposed to cyber attacks.

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