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Government & Regulatory Affairs Team Featured in Washington Post

November 21, 2012
Ilisa Halpern Paul, Julie Scott Allen and Erin Will Morton of the firm’s Government & Regulatory Affairs Practice Group were featured in two Washington Post articles.

The first article, “Drinker Biddle & Reath Cultivates the ‘Grass Tops’ Over Grass Roots,” pictures Erin and Julie and reports from a special advocacy campaign they designed for the National Independent Laboratory Association (NILA).

The campaign is centered on the idea that lawmakers may respond better to voters and their personal stories than they might to a paid lobbyist.
The article notes that the firm has long offered such training to clients but this targeted training with NILA is part of the firm’s push to fine-tune this approach by zeroing in on a subset of constituents from specific states and districts whose interests align with those of the lawmakers they’re meeting with.

Ilisa described the firm’s shift as a move toward “grass tops,” as opposed to grass roots.

“Grass roots is about the quantity — having as many bodies and voices as possible,” she said. “‘Grass tops’ is about a smaller group of people who are from those targeted areas developing close one-on-one relationships with officials.”

The idea is that successful lobbying takes sustained contact between Congress and constituents who need the right tools and training to effectively communicate their concerns to their representatives.

“Five or 10 years ago, it was more focused on traditional lobbying — us doing shoe-leather lobbying,” said Ilisa. “We still do those pieces, but now we’re adding these other service lines ... Rather than it being one-hit wonders, we’re working with clients to do this 360-degree work, to say, ‘Here’s what you as advocates can do ... There are lots of opportunities to use other advocacy tools with our clients to help them advance their issues.”

The second article shares the team’s tips for lobbying Congress. The feature explains how business owners can most effectively lobby members of Congress and their staff, with helpful advice such as “Learn the acronyms of congressional staffers you’ll be meeting with” and “Prepare a personal anecdote or two about your business or employees.” They also list what not to do, i.e. “Don’t bring sharp objects to Capitol Hill buildings” and “Don’t give staffers or lawmakers any informational packets right away” in case they cut the meeting short.

 To read the first article, click here.

 To read the second article, click here