Whether you are running a business or leading a community organization, you are likely to face reams of red tape at some point in your planning and operations. At the Fetterman Firm, we have first-hand experience with how complicated local, municipal, state, and federal regulations and policies can be, and with how difficult it can be to get your voice heard when it matters the most. The good news, however, is that by working with a government relations lawyer with the right know-how and contacts, you can rest assured that your best interests are being taken care of at every turn.
Keep reading to learn more about what a government relations attorney can do for you, why this area of law cannot be overlooked, and what our best advice is on finding a government relations law firm that works for you.
- What Does a Government Relations Attorney Do?
- What Kinds of Issues Do Government Relations Lawyers Handle?
- Why Is Government Relations Law Important?
- What to Look for In a Government Relations Law Firm
- Where to Find an Experienced Government Relations Lawyer
What Does a Government Relations Attorney Do?
Broadly speaking, the topic of government relations involves a public or private organization’s relationship with the local, state, or federal government. Government relations attorneys represent businesses, charities, schools, and other types of organizations in their dealings with official bodies.
Government relations attorneys are multidisciplinary in that they can tackle issues in many regulatory areas. Charitable donations, planning and permitting, economic development, environmental conservation, and data and technology are just a few of the specialist areas they cover.
- For businesses, a government relations attorney is instrumental in helping to deliver successful outcomes that depend on governmental oversight or review. Planning and zoning, employment and contracting, licensing and permitting, and regulatory compliance are just a few of the areas where being on the right or wrong side of regulations can significantly impact a business’s bottom line (and its long-term survival).
- For nonprofits, legal representation on government affairs is vital to navigating the intricacies of charity regulations and ensuring that an organization has the operational freedom to achieve its mission. Obtaining and maintaining nonprofit status, managing relationships with government agencies, complying with volunteer labor laws, and receiving sponsorships and donations – these are all vastly complex areas of the regulatory landscape where a government relations lawyer can make all the difference.
At the Fetterman Firm, we strive to achieve success for our clients in all areas of administrative law, public policy, legislative advocacy, and regulatory compliance. From advising on grassroots social movements to lobbying for industry-backed policy reform, we have dedicated attorneys on hand, poised to help you navigate the law and achieve the seemingly impossible.
What Kinds of Issues Do Government Relations Lawyers Handle?
Because the government has such extensive involvement in our day-to-day lives, the range of issues that government relations lawyers can handle is broad. That said, these are among the most pressing government relations concerns for businesses and nonprofits:
- Advertising standards
- Alcohol and drug licensing
- Charitable and other nonprofit activities
- Education and schools
- Energy production, including oil and natural gas
- Finance and investment
- Gaming and gambling
- Government contracting
- Housing, including affordable housing
- Leisure and entertainment
- Public records
- Privacy and security
- Retail and commerce
- Taxation, personal or corporate
- Television and other forms of digital media
- Travel and transportation
- Utilities, public or private
- Road safety
- Waste management
- Zoning and other planning issues
Why Is Government Relations Law Important?
Government relations law is important in two main respects. Firstly, compliance with government laws, regulations, and policies is mandatory for all types of organizations, and the legal consequences of not being aware of the rules that impact your operations can be severe. Secondly, and perhaps more encouragingly, government relations law facilitates public and industry discourse and advocacy, giving members of the general public, businesses, nonprofits, and other types of organizations the opportunity to shape public policy on important issues (including issues that directly impact their business or organization).
This is why we are such strong advocates of community- and industry-government dialogue at the Fetterman Firm. We passionately believe in the power of local voices and are committed to bringing all stakeholders to the table when it comes to public and government affairs. What is more, our attorneys are community players themselves, not only founding and serving on the boards of charitable organizations but also advising local businesses and industry groups in Palm Beach City and surrounding areas.
What to Look For In a Government Relations Law Firm
Numerous factors come into play in choosing a government relations law firm. Here are some of the most important:
- Personal experience. In choosing a government relations law firm, one of the most important things to look for is personal experience in government among the attorneys who work at the firm. Ideally, you want to work with an attorney who has held public office or worked very closely with government departments and agencies. This ensures both that you are working with someone that has the requisite background to understand the political landscape, and that you are working with an attorney that is intimately familiar with the ‘unspoken’ nuances of this niche field.
- Macro and micro thinking ability. Critically, you want to work with a firm that can zoom in and out on political and legal issues as difficult situations evolve. Why? Because government affairs can involve the tiniest of details through to the broadest of abstract concepts, so you must work with an attorney who can confidently handle the overlapping and intertwining layers of governance.
- Knowledge of current affairs. It perhaps goes without saying, but any government relations lawyer that you engage should have an intimate knowledge of current trends and political issues that affect not only your local community, but also your state (and indeed the country) as a whole. This is especially important for organizations that wish to lobby government actors to support a particular legislative position.
- Familiarity with comparative law practices. Finally, it certainly helps if the law firm that you engage has attorneys with experience working in different states. Much of the legislative and policy development that happens in the United States is done comparatively. In other words, governments look to each other to see how they should handle particular problems or challenges, and that means that any good government relations attorney will be able to anticipate any out-of-state influences in a similar vein.
Where to Find an Experienced Government Relations Lawyer
If looking at legislative drafts, local government policies, and departmental processes make your head spin, save yourself the aggravation and get the Fetterman Firm in your corner. As a former member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the Treasure Coast from 2008 to 2010, Adam Fetterman is one of the few lawyers to have experience on both sides of the field. Attorneys at the Fetterman Firm also have experience managing government relations cases across state borders and are licensed in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois. Small business, big business, for-profit, or nonprofit – the team at the Fetterman Firm has your back. To get started unraveling all that red tape and getting your perspectives in front of those who matter, call us today at 772-202-3261 or send us a message through our website.