Another Revolving Door Problem

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Most of our focus here at Sunlight on the revolving door relates to former government officials and lawmakers who leave office and become lobbyists, or non-lobbyist lobbyists. There is another problem that I think skirts the boundaries of reasonable regulation, but still raises serious policy concerns. That is lawyers who work on a particular issue and then return to represent clients, in a strictly legal, non-lobbying, fashion afterwords.

Take for example this press release put out by Hogan Lovells yesterday:

Hogan Lovells US LLP announced today that Daniel S. Meade has rejoined the Corporate practice as a partner in Washington, D.C., having completed his work as Senior Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

As Senior Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, Meade served as an advisor to the Committee’s Chairman, and was a principal draftsperson of substantial portions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protections Act, and the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. He also actively drafted and analyzed legislation and coordinated oversight functions within the Committee’s jurisdiction, particularly with regard to bank, thrift and holding company safety and soundness, capital requirements, transactions with affiliates, industrial loan companies, deposit insurance, consumer protection, and the Community Reinvestment Act.

At Hogan Lovells, Meade will resume his practice representing financial services entities and other entities impacted by the regulation of those entities in connection with a broad range of regulatory and transactional matters, including issues related to the Dodd-Frank Act and all other financial regulatory matters, as well as mergers and acquisitions, anti-money laundering, financial privacy, and enforcement matters.

Here we have a lawyer who previously worked in the Hogan Lovells corporate practice go to work for the Financial Services Committee, help write the biggest rewrite of financial regulation in a decades, and then leave immediately to represent corporate clients and advise on those very regulations.

Regulation of the revolving door is designed to protect the legislative process from undue influence. Studies show that former staffers turned lobbyists have special influence while their former boss is still in office. What about using knowledge of a bill one helped to draft to help clients navigate the process?

I doubt that there is any behavior to regulate here, unless the former government employee uses their connections in a way that mimics lobbying. People should have the right to use their expertise to their career advantage, so long as they are not using their special access to influence the public realm. Are there any policy suggestions out there for lawyers revolving to firms when they don’t become lobbyists?

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