While total New Jersey lobbying expenditures were down in 2022, the nearly 1% drop still translated to $95.1 million and the fourth-largest figure in state history.
In its 2022 annual lobbying report, released earlier this year, NJ ELEC Executive Director Jeff Brindle said that the dip could be a sign that spending is reverting to a more normal condition after the pandemic and the plethora of emergency legislation undertaken to address it.
While spending marked a drop, demand for lobbying services set a record for the fourth consecutive year in 2022, with the total number of clients increasing by 2.6% over the year prior to 2,343. And in another sign that the political and policy landscapes are perhaps settling into former routines following COVID-19, “benefit passing” spending – that is, gifts like meals, trips or other things of value distributed by lobbyists – rose 72% in 2022 to $2,349 after falling for the three prior years.
Receipts paid to lobbyists were up by 5% in 2022 to $70 million, according to ELEC. Multiclient firms reported the bulk of that – 65% – for a total $45.7 million.
Among the top 10 multiclient firms were two law firms: Gibbons PC (No. 6) and McCarter & English LLP (No. 9, up one spot from the year prior).
For Newark-based Gibbons, the distinction as the highest-ranked law firm by revenue on the list continues a winning streak that hit 15 straight years with the release of the 2022 figures.
To achieve that milestone, Gibbons said its Government & Regulatory Affairs Group, chaired by David Pascrell, increased revenues as well as its reported clients from the year prior. Indeed, receipts were up for Gibbons – from $3.18 million in 2021 to $3.60 million in 2022. Meanwhile, expenditures were down for the firm, dropping from $1.54 million in 2021 to $1.40 million in 2022.
Looking back further, upon the release of this year’s data, the firm said it has been actively working to make its mark when it comes to advocating for clients in this capacity.
Gibbon’s Government & Regulatory Affairs Group launched in 2002, as did the firm’s Trenton office, serving the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Executive Chairman Patrick Dunican Jr., whom the firm credited with helping to boost the Government & Regulatory Affairs team over the past 20 years, described the more-than-a-decade long streak as the state’s top lawyer-lobbying firm as an extraordinary accomplishment.
Added Pascrell: “I am so pleased that our clients continue to seek out our government and regulatory affairs expertise. Fifteen years at the top of any list among law firms in New Jersey is a wonderful milestone.”
The group he leads offers a range of services in state legislative affairs, regulatory affairs and departmental actions, administrative law, business incentives, government procurement and contracting, and political and campaign finance compliance. Beyond Trenton, Gibbons’ Washington, D.C., office also offers a base for the firm’s lawyer-lobbyists.
According to data from ELEC, entities represented by Gibbons in 2022 include: the City of Trenton; Clorox Co.; Cooper Health System; Hackensack Meridian Health; Quest Diagnostics; Kessler Foundation Inc.; Montclair State University; NJ Alliance for Children, Youth and Families; PepsiCo Inc.; Sephora USA Inc.; South Jersey Industries Inc; and Visa Inc., among others.
The Government & Regulatory Affairs Group has earned recognition elsewhere, too, for both the practice and many of its members, in U.S. News – Best Lawyers Best Law Firms and Woodward/White Best Lawyers for the past several years.
“Fifteen years is indeed noteworthy,” Managing Director Peter Torcicollo said in a statement. “Our talented lawyer-lobbyists remain focused on helping clients achieve their business goals, maintaining excellent working relationships in both the executive and legislative branches, in both parties and in both Trenton and Washington.”
McCarter & English ranked second among lawyer-lobbyist firms, marking its third-straight year in the top 10. The Newark-based firm’s Government Affairs practice launched in 2019, headed by Guillermo Artiles, a former associate counsel to Gov. Phil Murphy.
According to McCarter & English, members of the group focus on legislative and regulatory issues affecting clients’ businesses as well as provide strategic counsel to help achieve business and regulatory objectives.
Like Gibbons, the firm also saw an increase in spending from 2021 to 2022 – even more impressive given that it doubled its lobbying revenue in 2021 after entering the top 10 for the first time in 2020.
“Our New Jersey lobbying team is enjoying a strong run” Artiles said in a statement when the data was released. “We’re attracting dynamic new lobbyists to the team and delivering results for clients in traditional and emerging sectors of the state’s economy. Our clients not only trust us with their most critical issues but also recommend us to others in recognition of our knowledge and experience, the results we achieve, and the diverse team we have built.”
That team includes Michael Maitland, a former chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross; Republican National Committeeman for New Jersey Bill Palatucci; partner Grace Power, a former chief of staff at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; and government affairs adviser Catherine Tung, a former associate executive director of the New Jersey Assembly Office, who joined the firm in January 2023.
In a statement, Palatucci remarked on the importance diversity plays in building a successful unit.
“We know that a diversity of perspectives results in the best outcomes for clients,” he said. “I’m proud of the team we’re building, which is not only diverse in party affiliation but also in who we are.”
In 2022, McCarter & English reported $2.20 million in receipts, up from 2021’s $2.01 million. Expenses increased significantly over that period, jumping from $386,560 in 2021 to $1.32 million in 2022.
Recent developments in the legal business around the state:
The firm represented 26 entities in more than a dozen industries in 2022, including Alkermes Inc., Avalonbay Communities, Biogen Inc., Boraie Development LLC, HNTB Corp., Panasonic Corp. Of North America, Solar Landscape, Terracycle Inc, and Tomasello Winery, among others.
Missing the top 10 overall – but rounding out the three highest-ranked law firms for 2022 – Archer & Greiner PC of Voorhees posted $1.67 million in receipts in 2022, up from $1.50 million in 2021. Expenditures were up slightly, by about $87,000 to $474,371 for last year.
At Archer, William Caruso chairs the Government Affairs group. Before joining the firm, he served as executive director of the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office in Trenton.
“I think what we’ve seen … is an explosion in what I’ll call complicated government,” Caruso told NJBIZ, remarking on the growth from 2021 to 2022. Part of the firm’s work involves helping businesses navigate that process and the layers that cross from local, municipal and state levels to commissions and other governing bodies.
“And our job is to try streamline that effort and really provision advice to a client on how best to interact with those multiple levels of government,” he said.
In 2022, Archer’s clients, through the firm and its subsidiary, Archer Public Affairs LLC, included Soil Safe Inc; the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, Inspira Health Network, Prudential Financial, VNA Health Group Inc., and others.
“So there’s a value added by coming in and saying, ‘We’re your one-stop shop. We can handle all that,’” Caruso said. “And we found a lot of growth opportunities and really helping them move along, whether it’s a project or a complex issue that involves multi-layer governments.”
“And we have a lot of repeat customers,” he added, pointing to Archer’s tenure in the space and the diversity of the clients it serves. “That’s the other benefit of being in this now for about a decade.”
For a closer look at all of New Jersey’s top multiclient lobbying firms, check out this week’s list on page 17 of this issue.