Practice/Industry Group Overview
Mayer Brown's Government Relations practice has earned international recognition for using sophisticated political experience and leading-edge legal knowledge to help shape policy, legislation and regulations in the United States, Europe and key countries and regions around the world. The lawyers, lobbyists and other professionals in our group are strategic thinkers who help clients to build and leverage sound positions that advance their domestic and global public policy goals.
Although our team enjoys access to every level of government, we understand that access is not a strategy. Rather, access is opportunity: an opportunity to change the entire regulatory and legislative landscape in a rapidly changing global marketplace. Our group has extensive experience in the following areas:
- Communications and the Internet
- Energy and Climate Change
- Financial Services
- Global Trade
- Health Care
- Legal Reform
- Oversight and Investigations
- Product Standards and Regulation
- Public Finance
- State and Local – United States
- Transportation and Infrastructure
Our Government Relations practice draws upon the extraordinary resources of the firm's lawyers located in key business centers throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Where needed, we also rely on the talents and insights of other professionals, both inside and outside the firm, with experience in media relations, economics, public opinion polling, grassroots consultations and other disciplines. We know government, the law and political realities, and we effectively use that knowledge to advance our clients' interests.
Communications and the Internet
Mayer Brown is helping to shape technology and communications policy through our representation of clients before the US Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the US Trade Representative and various state public utility commissions. Internet, wireline and wireless service providers, manufacturers and trade associations rely on us to protect their interests with regard to Internet regulation, spectrum policy, the digital television transition, wireline competition, communications-related homeland security and privacy. Our professionals:
- Draft regulatory pleadings, comments, position papers and license applications;
- Appear personally before Members of Congress, Cabinet department officials, FCC Commissioners and their staffs to advance client interests;
- Help clients present their positions during FCC and legislative policy hearings; and
- Work with the firm’s litigation practice to help clients contest adverse rulings and legislation.
In Europe, where telecommunications policy authority is divided between the European Union and its Member States, our team helps clients navigate the complex interplay between EU and national regulation. We have long worked to reform the EU telecom and Internet regulatory framework by preparing policy statements, public consultation papers, EU review submissions and legislative amendment language.
Energy and Climate Change
While lawmakers and regulators worldwide wrestle with climate-change-related political and technological issues, we give clients a voice in the policy-making process and help them navigate the existing maze of legal requirements. Energy and climate-change issues have both global and local dimensions. Mayer Brown's government relations lawyers understand this and they bring this understanding to bear on a variety of matters, including renewable energy, technical solutions for zero-emissions carbon markets, energy-efficient technologies and practices, and "cap-and-trade" legislation. We also give clients practical help with project planning, permit approvals and compliance strategies.
Examples of the kind of practical, multidisciplinary service we offer to clients include:
- Guiding a major international bank on the acquisition of an energy marketer located in the United States, a process that included obtaining the necessary approvals and creating a compliance program.
- Counseling another major international bank on the acquisition of an interest in a portfolio of US power plants in which we secured necessary regulatory approvals, analyzed the acquisition’s effect on the bank’s other lines of business and advised on how potential US climate-change legislation could impact the operations and economics of the power plants.
- Advising independent natural gas producers on the regulatory and commercial implications of entering into long-term transportation contracts with proposed natural gas pipelines.
- Informing a major electricity industry group about global climate-change issues.
In Europe, we work with the European "cap-and-trade" rules by, for example, assisting a major European utility in its efforts before the EU DGs for transport/energy and environment to develop the legal and policy framework for Carbon Capture and Storage as part of Europe's emerging energy and climate package. Our Brussels office has also provided advice to large foreign energy companies, including major gas producers, on access to the EU gas and electricity markets. We help these clients to assess such issues as unbundling, interoperability, and foreign ownership as well as the interplay between EU rules and international liberalization initiatives of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Energy Charter Treaty.
In conjunction with the firm's Financial Service Regulatory and Enforcement (FSRE) Group, we advise clients on emerging legal trends, regulatory compliance, potential enforcement proceedings, legislative initiatives and other areas of strategic risk. We help large, globally active financial service firms as well as smaller, domestically focused companies, to anticipate and manage the ways that changing legal and regulatory standards affect their business opportunities, operational costs and risk exposure.
Because our lawyers regularly interact with the leading supervisory agencies in the United States, Europe and Asia, we have a global perspective on the shape and potential impact of legislative or regulatory initiatives. Indeed, many of our lawyers are former officials and employees of key regulatory agencies or have worked in the US Congress, thus affording us particular insight into the regulatory and legislative process.
Mayer Brown has been at the center of the most significant financial service governance initiatives in recent years. We have been involved in the development and implementation of the Basel Committee capital standards, the USA PATRIOT Act, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act and sanctions/embargo legislation. More recently, we have helped shape initiatives targeted to the regulation of private equity and hedge funds, the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the regulation of such international transactions as "cover" payments.
Our Government Relations practice is enhanced by Mayer Brown's well-regarded Global Trade Group, which offers strategic advice and representation to companies seeking to gain and maintain an advantage in the global marketplace. Using business and legal insight together with access to policymakers in capitals around the world, we help multinational companies to identify promising foreign markets and develop entry strategies that overcome market obstacles. We work closely with bilateral, regional and multilateral institutions to address unfair or illegal trade barriers, build international business coalitions and promote business-friendly trade practices.
With Mayer Brown's global network of offices and affiliated law firms, the lawyers and professionals in our group can help clients understand and apply trade policies to best capitalize on opportunities, and overcome market barriers, in practically every country.
Members of our practice have led or participated in the negotiation of many of the world's major trade agreements. We develop extensive knowledge of our clients' industries, products and trading patterns, and employ this knowledge to help them secure broader market access under such global trade pacts as:
- World Customs Organization
- General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
- North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC)
- DR-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement
- Single European Market
As medical technology innovations continue to advance, there is, inevitably, tension between the pressure to make quickly available cutting-edge health care diagnostics and treatments and the responsibility of regulators to assure safety, effectiveness and cost efficiency. We help our clients develop winning approaches, using public demand, scientific support and political strategy to shape the legal and regulatory landscape throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. In conjunction with Mayer Brown's Government Health Care Policy lawyers, the lawyers and professionals in our Government Relations practice have played an integral part in the debate on health care policy and have provided legal advice and legislative counsel on legislative, regulatory and policy initiatives. Our services include:
- Developing and implementing practical legislative strategies
- Drafting legislation
- Building consensus within organized coalitions
- Monitoring and analyzing legislative and regulatory proposals
- Advocating our clients’ positions before legislative and executive branch leaders and their staffs
In Europe, our team includes a strong multidisciplinary group of lawyers, scientists and other professionals based in Brussels and with strong links to the different EU institutions and Member States' governing bodies. We advise our clients on the formation, application and enforcement of EU and Member States health care policy. Our Government Relations practice stays current on the latest regulatory developments, while our Regulatory practice interprets and applies both EU and international law for current and future business advantage.
Mayer Brown has led successful legal reform movements involving securities litigation, Y2K liability relief and class action reform, and has pursued reform efforts in areas such as transportation, communications, labor, tax, international trade, natural resources and regulated industries. Our firm has the access to decision-makers needed for meaningful reform, thanks to team members who have past experience in such positions as former Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, member of the House of Representatives and former Chief Counsel to the senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But our real strength is coordinating the joint efforts of companies and associations. We are skilled at working with these partners to mobilize public information campaigns, coalition building, grassroots campaigns and political action committees. Through such efforts, as well as through the preparation of statutes and reports, the crafting of position papers and the development of testimony, we can have a major impact on legislative and executive branch policymakers and their staffs.
Oversight and Investigations
Our group has extensive experience representing clients facing US Congressional oversight and investigation, including in such high-profile areas as pharmaceutical pricing and energy policy. Our services in this regard include preparing witnesses, negotiating with Oversight Committee members and staff, coordinating responses to investigations, and working with leadership in both political parties to ensure that our clients' positions are fairly represented before Congress. We work aggressively to protect our clients' reputations and to minimize financial and litigation risks. In doing so, several of our partners draw upon their prior experiences as members of, and senior staff for, various Congressional Oversight Committees.
Product Standards and Regulation
Members of our team have been recognized for their knowledge of EU industry regulations and their ability to creatively blend scientific and regulatory insight. Members of our Brussels office have vast experience in the EU's main chemical regulation (REACH) and advise clients on compliance strategies and legal requirements for EU and Member States legislation affecting a whole range of regulated products:
- Chemicals, including nanotechnology, biocides and pesticides
- Consumer products and childcare articles such as toys
- Textiles and apparels
- Animal feeds
- Medicinal products and medical devices
- Machinery, and electrical and electronic equipments
In addition to general compliance counseling, we also handle product safety and liability issues. We have extensive experience with EU legislation, such as the Directives on General Product Safety and Product Liability, and their implementation at the national level, and their interaction with existing product regulations and standards. Through the firm's offices in the United States, Asia and Europe, our group is able to handle simultaneous product recalls, a key requirement to mitigate liabilities.
We have an active public finance practice and assist state and local governmental issuers in developing and implementing creative financing solutions to complex legal and public policy problems. In recent years, we have served as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel or issuer's counsel on bond financings with an average annual aggregate principal amount in excess of $5 billion. For example, we represented the State of Illinois as bond counsel in a $10 billion taxable pension obligation bond issue—the largest long-term municipal bond transaction ever undertaken and cited as The Bond Buyer's "Regional Deal of the Year." In addition, we serve as counsel on the proposed issuance of approximately $1.5 billion of "private activity bonds" for surface transportation inter-modal facilities authorized under the 2005 SAFETEA-LU surface transportation legislation. We are actively advising clients on issuance of Build America Bonds and other municipal finance incentives authorized under the recently enacted federal stimulus legislation. As an example, in April 2010, we acted as bond counsel to the State of Illinois in the issuance of $1 billion in Build America Bonds. We regularly represent banks as underwriters, tender agents and remarketing agents of municipal bonds and as providers of credit support, such as letters of credit and stand-by bond purchase agreements.
We are involved in secondary market offerings of portfolios of tax-exempt bonds, and have regularly represented both municipal issuers and financial institutions in connection with a variety of municipal "synthetic" and derivative transactions, including bond warrant and forward purchase agreements, forward-starting investment agreements and interest rate swaps having an aggregate notional amount of more than $2 billion, and we have counseled municipal issuers in connection with the development of swap policies and other related matters.
State and Local – United States
Many of our team members have held high-ranking elected, appointed and legal counsel positions in state and local government. This experience provides an insider's view to understanding the intricacies of state and local legislation and how these laws and regulations affect our clients' business activities and transactions. The range of matters that we advise on is comprehensive:
- Regulatory compliance and related filings
- Government contracting and procurement, from contract disclosures requirements for minority- and women-owned businesses and living or prevailing wages
- Government grants and economic development incentives
- Freedom of information and other open government laws
- Government ethics matters, lobbying regulations and political contribution limitations
- Financing transactions in regulated industries
- Merger and acquisition regulatory approval
- License transfers accompanying changes in corporate ownership and control
For these and other issues, the firm's Regulated Industries practice helps us to plan overall governmental compliance and advocacy strategies for our clients. We keep current on all new legislation and regulations, and our access to policymakers is invaluable at making our clients' needs heard in these developments. Clients with interests in multiple states and localities rely on our nationwide presence to create coordinated multistate compliance and advocacy strategies.
Many of the lawyers in Mayer Brown"s internationally lauded tax practice have substantial government experience, including several who held senior positions at the US Treasury Department, the IRS and the US Department of Justice. In addition, members of this group include a former International Tax Counsel at the Treasury Department, a former Deputy Associate Chief Counsel (International) and Special Assistant to the IRS Chief Counsel, and a former IRS Associate Chief Counsel (Technical) in charge of all domestic IRS regulations, rulings and other published guidance.
Working together with this group, our government relations lawyers help companies and coalitions to develop comprehensive strategies to achieve their tax policy goals. We advise on the potential impact of proposed tax law changes and how to mitigate their effects. We also participate at the drafting and commenting stages with the members and staffs of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, the Joint Committee on Taxation and others legislative taxing authorities.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Mayer Brown"s environmental and government relations professionals can help clients deal with the complex interaction of environmental, maritime, military and transportation regulators on port, maritime and intermodal transport projects.
We help secure the necessary federal, state and local permits and approvals for projects, ensuring their compatibility with local land use and historic preservation laws as well as the National Environmental Policy Act. If needed in controversial projects, we can develop effective government and public relations strategies and advocate for changes in state or federal law.