Through Commitment to Clients, Corcoran & Johnston Reaps Success
Around the State
Corcoran & Johnston’s practice spanned three cities, 59 clients and $2.4 million in legislative fees in 2013, ranking them No. 9 on Sunshine State News’ Top Lobbying Firms in Florida.
Mike Corcoran isn’t a stranger to the game of Florida politics. He got his start working as a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida under Daniel Webster. During his time at the RPOF, Corcoran honed strategic skills that would ultimately prove useful in his lobbying practice.
Corcoran and Jeff Johnston share an uncommon bond between lobbyists -- they’ve known each other since they were children, and the childhood friendship became the stepping stone for a business relationship later on in life.
Unlike Corcoran, Tampa native Jeff Johnston did not get his start in politics -- instead, he worked in the private insurance industry. Johnston focused on the property and casualty field during his work in the insurance industry, and to this day is still licensed as an all-lines claims adjuster in Florida.
The relationship between the two has proved lucrative. Beyond their legislative fees, Corcoran & Johnston’s clientele expands far and wide, from Florida Crystals to the University of South Florida Foundation to the Fountainebleu Hotel. All in all, the firm's 59 clients in 2013 brought in retainers of $41,000 per client.
With five lobbyists on board, the firm reels in $480,000 per lobbyist.
Corcoran told Sunshine State News that giving clients their all doesn’t stop when the handkerchief hits the ground at the end of session.
“In this process, when session is only two months out of the year and committee weeks are another two months, during that [time] we focus and dedicate our time and energy to providing proactive parts to our clients,” he said. “Whether it’s the political process ... the policy process, we’re always looking to provide value to our clients even when the Legislature’s not meeting.”
Beyond being on the ball for their clients, their work isn’t all easy. Corcoran told Sunshine State News that Florida’s size can prove to be very challenging for lobbyists, who have to meet with clients all across the state throughout the year.
“Florida is such a big, diverse state,” he said. “Being able to lobby members is a full-time job because you have members that are living 10 hours apart. You have to be able to have a team that’s willing to sacrifice a lot.”
Between committee weeks and the annual legislative session, lobbyists can spend a good deal of time away from their families, which can also be trying.
“It’s very difficult to be away from your family,” Corcoran explained. But the team at Corcoran & Johnston remains fully engaged in the process, which Corcoran said makes them successful.
“Those are the things you have to do to be successful in this process,” he said. “That’s the commitment you have to have ... There's always something to do and someplace to be in this process."
Clients appreciate that commitment. Tammy Meyerson, CEO and president of Preferred Medical Plan, says that although the firm has grown over the last 10 years Corcoran & Johnston has worked with them, the firm has stayed dedicated to providing their clients with quality service.
"I have not noticed a drop in that personal attention," she told Sunshine State News. "[The firm] offers me the same attention that I got day one when they were a lot smaller. ... Sometimes [firms] that grow can't give you the attention, but I still get to talk to the principal, so I'm very pleased about that."
Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.
Sunshine State News staff and researchers analyzed thousands of Florida’s legislative lobbying compensation reports filed within the databases and official records maintained by Online Sunshine and the Florida Lobbyist Registration Office in Tallahassee. In order to determine SSN’s rankings, we considered a combination of three factors: a firm’s total billings, a firm’s average client annual retainer and the sum of a firm’s total 2013 fees divided by the number of lobbyists it employed last year.