Our Washington strategic government relations and counseling team leverages its intimate knowledge of US federal and state governments to develop strategies for navigating complex legal, regulatory, and legislative challenges. We help our clients anticipate and succeed amid the ever-evolving legislative and regulatory environment—especially during times of heightened congressional oversight that can put business objectives in doubt. We are well versed in managing competing goals and minimizing risk while working in the public spotlight. With experience grounded in government background and a command of the relevant legal disciplines at play, we offer actionable counsel that advances our clients’ diverse and ambitious objectives in the face of legislative, regulatory, or executive branch headwinds.
Our practice marries legal acumen with strategic planning and advocacy to cover the full spectrum of government relations issues our clients confront. Our interdisciplinary team includes lawyers who previously served in high-ranking positions in the US Congress, White House, and federal and state agencies, including the US Department of Justice, US Department of Labor, US Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Internal Revenue Service, and New York State Department of Financial Services.
Our multidisciplinary team offers services spanning antitrust, corporate and business transactions, securities, employee benefits, energy, environmental, food and drug, finance, agriculture, healthcare, immigration, insurance, intellectual property, investment management, labor and employment, litigation, tax, and telecommunications, media, and technology matters. This means we bring specialized knowledge to advocate for our clients in virtually any area. We advise on US government affairs and state law matters, guide clients through crisis management, and counsel corporate and individual clients on a wide array of legal and policy issues. In addition, we closely follow legislative and regulatory developments to help our clients identify emerging trends and anticipate government policies so they can craft timely and targeted advocacy responses to government decisionmakers.
We closely monitor agency activity for changes that could impact our clients, including proposed regulations, compliance, and enforcement initiatives. We are in regular contact with federal agencies and have deep relationships with key agency decisionmakers in Washington, DC. We also have longstanding working relationships with national trade associations and other groups that represent clients affected by current or proposed regulations or agency priorities. Our technical proficiency, experience with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and ability to strategically draw upon our network of stakeholder groups allows us to effectively advise on the regulatory notice-and-comment process, and to help prepare persuasive comments.
We understand that by the time a proposed rule is published for comment, the die may be cast. Our lawyers help clients keep their “antennae up” about forthcoming rules so that a case for or against a proposed change can be made before publication. While having formal APA comments taken to heart by an agency or the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) can have strong impact, it can be more advantageous to provide input on whether a change should be proposed in the first place, and if so, what format it should take.
We advise clients on avenues for advocating positions within agencies at each step of the administrative process, drawing on our inside-the-Beltway relationships and the team’s individual and collective government experience. We regularly advise clients on the following:
We advise clients on a diverse range of legislative matters, including in the areas of healthcare, immigration and immigration compliance, energy, environment, trade, taxes, financial services, labor and employment, employee benefits, and transportation. In addition to tracking legislative developments on these various issues, we assist clients to “see around the corner” for developments in cutting-edge technologies and initiatives such as fintech, the “gig economy,” robotics and autonomous vehicles, privacy and data protection, and global trade, among others. We counsel clients on congressional investigations and oversight, preparation of written testimony, and appropriate responses to legislative initiatives.
Our lawyers represent clients through all stages of agency administrative proceedings—from day one of a government investigation through the administrative appeals process. Our experience includes guiding clients through agency investigations of company practices to provide solutions and resolutions that avoid litigation. Sometimes litigation is unavoidable, but with highly regulated clients, pursuing administrative relief is often a necessary prerequisite to accessing the federal court system. Our team is proficient at navigating the breadth and depth of federal administrative proceedings, which can vary considerably from agency to agency—and even within an agency. We regularly litigate before administrative law judges, and members of our team with government experience give an insider’s perspective—and draw upon the substantive experience of lawyers throughout the firm—to smooth each client’s journey through this sometimes-opaque system.
Our team has experience litigating administrative decisions in federal court, both after exhaustion of administrative proceedings and in direct actions that challenge administrative decisions. We have challenged and successfully resolved agency rulemakings as well as agency final action as arbitrary and capricious under the APA, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Environmental Protection Act. We have government experience in writing rules and advising agency leaderships on the legal defensibility of positions taken in rulemaking, and have also worked with the US Department of Justice to defend rule challenges all the way to the US Supreme Court. We counsel on the strengths and weaknesses of final rules and the optimal strategies and legal arguments to get results. We have also successfully challenged agency guidance documents that impose substantive requirements for failing to follow the APA’s procedural requirements.
Our ability to help our clients does not stop at the Potomac River. Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have their own unique views, requirements, and goals, which they express in the work of their attorneys general, agencies, and legislatures. Members of our team have experience addressing these myriad requirements. Our lawyers include a former (1) state insurance regulator, (2) commissioner for a state commission against discrimination, (3) commissioner for a state fair employment and housing commission, (4) senior deputy in a state attorney general’s office, and (5) senior deputy legal affairs secretary to a governor. These lawyers have led our clients through numerous state approval processes for mergers and acquisitions, new product launches, and licensure, among others. We also have represented our clients in negotiating with state regulators and attorneys general in investigative, enforcement, and other contested matters. In addition, Morgan Lewis lawyers have written and shepherded through enactment a broad range of legislation helping our clients to achieve their goals and improving the laws for all.
Litigation Before Administrative Agencies and Federal Courts