Lobbyists Have Ball at Inauguration

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Onlookers wait for President Barack Obama along the parade route during the inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013.

For some of Washington’s lawyer-lobbying firms, a presidential inauguration offers a once-in-four-years opportunity to open their doors to clients and others in Washington.

Holland & Knight LLP, which paid almost $13.4 million to lobby during the first nine months of 2012, used the inaugural events to showcase its new offices with a floor-length view of the end of the parade just a block away on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Guests could dine on paninis and mini-hot dogs, or fill paper bags with popcorn, as they looked out the window or viewed the festivities on the myriad of television sets in every meeting room. Even the main conference room offered a TV set at every seat.

“It’s good to get everybody together,” said Rich Gold, head of the public policy and regulation practice group at Holland & Knight.

Eight hundred RSVPd for the reception, up from 450 four years ago.

A few blocks away, K&L Gates LLP, which did a little more than $13.4 million in lobbying from January to September, saw its crowds shrink.

They ate chili or snacked on vegetables as they could watch the festivities at long white tables decorated with red, white and blue stars, or read trivia questions about elections, inaugurations and even first ladies from poster-sized signs. (One question: Which was the only presidential election decided by a special commission? Answer: Rutherford Hayes versus Samuel Tilden in 1876. Hayes was declared the winner.)

“Second marriages tend to have less pomp and circumstance,” said partner Manny Rouvelas as he stood near a full-size cutout of the president, suitable for pictures.

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