In an article for the National Law Journal, McCormick Group Principal Ivan Adler discusses former Secretary of the U.S. Army John McHugh’s move to K&L Gates.
By Katelyn Polantz | June 9, 2016
K&L Gates has faced a number of partner departures in the last year, but its lobbying arm is in a growth spurt. The national law firm added a fourth former member of Congress to its public policy practice.
John McHugh, the nine-term Republican congressman from New York who served as secretary of the U.S. Army until late last year, and his long-time adviser Anne LeMay, will join the firm next week.
No matter the lack of momentum in Congress right now: McHugh becomes K&L Gates’ fourth former member of Congress on staff, giving them three Republicans and one Democrat.
“You’re focused very short term. That’s the equivalent of focusing on a business’ next quarter,” said Bruce Heiman, leader of K&L Gates’ policy and regulatory practice, when asked about the current political climate’s need for lobbyists. “We’re always taking a long view. Washington is not going anywhere.”
Heiman said several of K&L Gates’ members had already known McHugh. He overlapped with former Reps. Jim Walsh and Bart Gordon in Congress, and who are both now with K&L Gates. The fourth former member the firm has on staff is former Sen. Slade Gorton.
K&L Gates’ public policy practice hasn’t suffered in the same way that other groups at the firm have in recent months as it has declined in head count. The Washington office has faced two significant losses in a 15-partner financial services regulatory practice that moved to Mayer Brown in March, and the confirmation of rainmaker Michael Missal as inspector general for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in April. Just this week, a freshly hired litigation department co-head and management committee member left the firm.
“On the policy side, we’ve been growing,” Heiman said. “We continue to grow and do financial services policy. We have all the clients that we had before.” Indeed, the firm’s top 10 highest paying clients in the first three months of 2015 still hired the firm to lobby in the first quarter of 2016, according to federal disclosures. The total lobbying haul for the firm so far this year was $4.33 million, only $340,000 less than the same period last year.
For K&L Gates and its competitors, McHugh was a sought-after candidate.
“His experience in the Army definitely was advantageous for him in his transition to K Street,” said Ivan Adler, a lobbying headhunter who works with former members of Congress moving to private practice, though Adler did not work with McHugh. On K&L Gates, “This shows they’re still very relevant in the Washington market,” Adler added