GrayRobinson Boasts Legal Powerhouse on Top of Lobbying Success
Around the State
With a team of 20 lobbyists and 11 offices from Tallahassee to Key West, GrayRobinson ranks at No. 7 on Sunshine State News’ list of Top Lobbyists in the Sunshine State.
A unique aspect of GrayRobinson is that the lobbying practice is coupled with a law firm of more than 270 attorneys, making it a legal powerhouse representing individuals, companies and governmental entities throughout Florida.
Yet, even though GrayRobinson boasts lobbying success, shareholder Fred Leonhardt says the firm doesn't focus so much on the numbers as on fostering good relationships with its clients.
“We don’t particularly ever look at those numbers,” he said. “We just tend to be focused on working for the clients that have engaged us to be involved in the legislative process, and the numbers wind up being whatever the numbers are going to be.”
Leonhardt has lots of experience in state and local government. He served as chair of both the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Floridians for Better Transportation, and he also worked as senior vice president and general counsel for Florida Water Services, at one point the state’s largest private water and wastewater utility. He is currently a member of the board of directors for Florida’s economic development organization, Enterprise Florida.
He’s not the only one on board with firsthand experience in the government. GrayRobinson’s government affairs director Chris Hansen learned the ropes of Florida politics through his time as a legislative analyst in the Florida House of Representatives.
GrayRobinson has seen incredible growth over the last few years. What started as a small office of attorneys has increased rapidly in size, adding both attorneys and lobbyists. It is now the largest law firm with all offices located in Florida.
GrayRobinson represents a good deal of clients in the health care industry. The firm’s largest lobbying client was research-based clinical diagnostic company Millennium Laboratories, but it also received generous compensation from such other clients as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Florida Petroleum Marketers and Associated Builders & Contractors of Florida. The firm had 100 clients in 2012 with an average annual retainer of $38,000 per client.
President and managing director Biff Marshall told Sunshine State News that if GrayRobinson wants to hire new team members, they have to fit with their client base.
“Lobbying firms that lobby at our level volume-wise, that have the same kind of dollars ... the thing that they miss, that I think makes us unique, is that legal side,” said Marshall, who explained that having a ready team of legal experts on hand helps a great deal in fostering a successful lobbying practice.
“In the middle of writing legislation, we can bring in expertise. ... [Lobbyists at Gray Robinson] can call on some of the better lawyers in the state that are not lobbyists,” he said.
Fred Leonhardt echoed Marshall’s statement that GrayRobinson’s large legal team -- as well as the ethics of a law firm -- separate GrayRobinson from other lobbying firms in Florida.
“We work very hard; we are also very attentive to the rules and ethics of a law firm, which means we are not going to be taking clients with inconsistent representation requirements,” he told SSN. “We make sure we have a compatible client base with each other because we are complying with all the Florida Bar rules of ethics. We try really hard to be active in the state and responsive to client needs.”
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.