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K Street’s Largest Firms Saw Some Dips in 2011 Business

Some of K Street’s biggest players reported less revenue last year than they did in 2010. The economy, Congressional stalemates and more focus on executive branch agencies combined to hand many lobby shops little or no boost to their bottom lines.

“Flat is the new up,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks lobbying spending. “It is what we expected. We’re seeing some growth but not across the board. Of the top-tier firms, most dipped.”

K Street enjoyed mega-growth in the previous decade. But not so now, according to Lobbying Disclosure Act reports filed with Congress.

Rich Gold, who heads the lobbying practice at Holland & Knight, said, “2011 was basically about things that had been on the Hill two years before.” That activity on issues such as health care and financial reform has shifted to the executive branch, and much of it is not reportable under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Still, he said, it’s worth looking at the influence business in the context of the past several years. His firm, for example, reported huge growth, nearly 50 percent, in 2009. “The fact that I’m down 10 percent [in 2011], I’m still up from where I was a few years ago,” he said.

Patton Boggs’ Nick Allard said his firm is essentially even with the previous year. But because revenue from the Breaux Lott Leadership Group, which Patton Boggs acquired in 2010, is now integrated into the firm’s totals, it looked like a dip. As for the business of K Street this year: “All bets are off,” he said.

See the full chart.

Aaron Guerrero contributed to this report.

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