The Government Affairs Practice Group at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP was the busiest law firm lobbying group during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session and was also the highest-grossing according to Texas Lawyer's 2013 Lobbying Scorecard.
To compile the scorecard, Texas Lawyer's editors reviewed the legislative results for 15 of the state's busiest law firm lobby shops. During the regular session, which began on Jan. 8 and ended on May 27, the Gardere team represented a total of 60 clients. This is an increase from the 47 clients the Firm represented during the 2011 session, and well beyond the number of clients represented by any other firm included in the lobbying scorecard.
Among Gardere's most notable legislative client successes was the passage of a bill that allows for the formation of captive insurers in Texas. The Firm's Government Affairs Practice Group, chaired by Partner Kimberly A. Yelkin, led the team in the drafting of the bill and negotiations with the Texas Department of Insurance. Texas Lawyer categorized this piece of legislation as a "HIT."
Additional "HITs" by the Firm's government affairs group included obtaining an amendment to the Texas Margin Tax that lowers the tax rate for rent-to-own retailers. The Firm also secured a separate amendment to the margin tax law that will allow large retailers to enter the retail energy business without doubling their tax rates.
Other notable pieces of legislation handled by the Firm include Partner Val Perkins' assistance with the adoption of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, amendments to the Business Organizations Code and amendments to the Uniform Condominium Act.
Earlier this year, the Gardere group was named the second most powerful legal lobbying team by Capitol Inside in its 10th Annual Texas Lobby Power Rankings. In addition to the Firm's overall ranking, Partner Mark Vane made the "Hired Guns" list, which identifies the top lobbyists in the state. Capitol Inside described Mr. Vane as "the most highly visible lobbyist at the statehouse for [the] Gardere team."
"We couldn't be more pleased about our government affairs team's successes during this legislative session," says Gardere Chair Holland N. O'Neil. "Representing our clients' interests is our paramount responsibility and those interests were well served by our Austin-based team of lawyers before the state's lawmakers. There is no question that we have one of the best, most experienced and most influential law firm lobbying groups in the state."
In addition to Ms. Yelkin, Mr. Perkins and Mr. Vane, the government affairs group includes Nanette K. Beaird,Dewey A. Brackin, Leslie Ritchie Robnett and Catherine J. Webking.
"Over the years, we have worked carefully to assemble a team with a breadth of competence so that our clients can be certain that their attorneys are effective no matter what issue arises," explains Ms. Yelkin. "Our results from this session illustrate that this diverse experience is exactly the type of team you want representing you before the legislature. We could not be happier that our clients have benefited from this strategic assembly of amazing lawyers."
The complete Texas Lawyer 2013 Lobbying Scorecard can be found here.