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American Bar Association

ABA Section of Business Law


Business Law Today

Our mini-theme: The Business of Lobbying

In 2009 it is clearer than ever that government action can deeply impact a business or organization, making government affairs an increasingly crucial element of business. Effective government affairs—when closely aligned with a business strategy—can be the catalyst for change that gives an organization a competitive advantage. Regardless of whether that organization is a company, trade association, or even a government agency, the practice of government affairs can be highly rewarding for both the attorney and the client.

While it is certainly true that scandals and cries for lobbying reform still frequently make front-page news, it is almost indisputable that the lobbying profession has undergone a profound evolution. Significant changes to ethics laws, term limits, and ever-more complicated policy issues in the practice of lobbying and government affairs have transformed the profession in a substantial—if not storied—way.

In an era of term limits, lobbyists are a critical source of institutional knowledge. Today, lobbyists are frequently relied upon to add strategic thinking, issue expertise, and experience in policy discussions. As a business lawyer, it is likely that your expertise has been tapped to assist with a policy effort—even if this is not an integral part of your practice. In fact, realizing the important role that lawyers play in the practice of government affairs, the ABA Section of Business Law is forming a Government Affairs Practice Committee. The purpose of this Committee is to provide resources and tools for information sharing to those of us who practice government affairs.

To help kick off the new Government Affairs Practice Committee, we present a mini-theme on Lobbying in this issue of Business Law Today. You will find several articles designed to help you advance your client's interest while maintaining perspective about the myriad federal and state laws governing your activity.

The first article, "You Must Be Present to Win: What Business Lawyers Need to Know About Legislative Advocacy" by James Daughton, provides perspective on the strategy behind effective lobbying for your organization. It also offers thoughts on how to fit lobbying and government affairs within the overall goals of an organization.

Two additional articles outline the laws and regulations that govern lobbying and political contributions. Tony Driessen's article, "Rules? In a Lobbying Fight? The Ethics of State and Local Lobbying," outlines the regulation of lobbying and provides best practices for lobbyists who have learned to avoid ethical pitfalls. The next article, "Campaign Finance Compliance: Ten Tips for Lobbyists" by Jan Witold Baran, provides us with an overview on guiding your client or organization through the thicket of restrictions on political contributions. Finally, Nayantara Mehta explains how and when nonprofits can lobby in her article "Nonprofits and Lobbying: Yes, They Can!"

We hope that you find these features informative, thought provoking, and entertaining. Please visit the Section Web site at www.ababusinesslaw.org to sign up for information about the new Government Affairs Practice Committee.

--Mark Anderson
Washington, D.C.



You must be present to win
What business lawyers need to know about legislative advocacy
By James R. "Jim" Daughton, Jr.

Rules? In a lobbying fight?
The ethics of state and local lobbying
By Tony Driessen

Campaign finance compliance
Ten tips for lobbyists
By Jan Witold Baran

Nonprofits and lobbying
Yes, they can!
By Nayantara Mehta



ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

Credit rating agencies in the spotlight
A new casualty of the mortgage meltdown
By Larry P. Ellsworth and Keith V. Porapaiboon

Trends in the private equity secondary market
A response to today's financial markets
By Thomas A. Beaudoin, Jennifer C. Berrent, Stephanie C. Evans, and Sarah Rothermel

Limited liability company membership interests
What a lender needs to do with LLC collateral on default
By Michael VanNiel and James W. May

Drafting arbitration provisions for LLC agreements
The devil is in the details
By Dominick T. Gattuso

Social networking and the law
Virtual social communities are creating real legal issues
By Perry Viscounty, Jennifer Archie, Farnaz Alemi, and Jenny Allen

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