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Washington, D.C. Practice
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Jones Walker has established a comprehensive and influential government relations practice in Washington, D.C. Our attorneys address the many legislative and regulatory issues of regional, national, and international scope that affect our clients, using our experience and insiders' perspectives to focus on effective advocacy and counseling where the worlds of business and public policy intersect.

The strengths of our Washington presence include:

  • A team that includes partners, special counsel, and government relations specialists who have many decades of experience in representing the needs of maritime industry, local government, and many other clients before the leaders of the legislative and executive branches of government. We also offer clients exceptional regulatory, transactional, and dispute resolution capabilities in issues as diverse as securities law compliance, international trade and transportation issues, and food and drug law enforcement.
  • Strategic alliances with some of the most effective lobbying and public relations presences in Washington, including organizations headed by the former Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the former U.S. Maritime Administrator.
  • A bipartisan approach that reflects effective working relationships on both sides of the aisle in Congress and throughout the regulatory and administrative establishment.
  • Experienced professionals with varied and distinguished backgrounds who all share a depth of understanding of how government works and a dynamic commitment to ensure that our clients achieve optimal outcomes for their public policy concerns.

Wide-Ranging Capabilities

Members of the office work closely with colleagues throughout the firm to meet the requirements of clients subject to federal regulation, taxation, or litigation. We also advise clients who have interests in legislation before the Congress or in rules, regulations, or administrative orders issued by federal departments, agencies, and commissions. The members of our Washington office offer a tapestry of complementary skills that are extraordinary for such an efficiently-sized practice, and work closely together to provide clients with:

  • Experience in Congressional procedures and legislative matters dealing with energy and commerce, banking and securities, defense, the environment, maritime industry issues, health, trade, and taxation
  • Guidance on how their transactions are affected by the full range of the regulatory structure in such areas as bilateral trade agreements, securities law compliance, and food and drug inspection, labeling, and enforcement
  • Representation of local governments and nonprofit organizations and educational institutions in securing federal support for essential programs and emergency needs (particularly those focusing on recovery from the hurricanes of 2005)
  • Complete participation in the development of public policy, such as monitoring federal legislative and regulatory activities, participating in agency administrative proceedings, and acting to support or oppose legislative initiatives
  • Dispute resolution before the U.S. District courts of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Strategic Alliances

We leverage the strengths of our Washington professionals through strategic alliances with some of the most effective public policy advocacy groups and specialists in the Capitol and surrounding area.

The Livingston Group

In 1999, Jones Walker formed a strategic alliance with The Livingston Group LLC, headed by Bob Livingston, former Louisiana congressman and Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Together, we represent more than 80 national and multinational client interests, many with U.S. and global shipping and transportation interests. Recognized as one of the fastest growing government relations firms in Washington, D.C., The Livingston Group has an extensive network of more than 40 principals, consultants, and international associates—including Republican and Democratic former Members of Congress, staff, Administration officials, staff of Governors, other state and local representatives, and corporate executives. Together, the principals of the group have more than ten decades of experience on Capitol Hill, and Congressman Livingston is the only former chairman of the Appropriations Committee who is engaged in government relations.

Jones Walker and The Livingston Group are located in the same Capitol Hill office, so we cooperate without the interference of physical or institutional barriers. Our mutual alliance and seamless operations position us to represent our clients' interests in Washington and beyond, particularly in the complex federal appropriations process. Together we combine and leverage resources to bring together the best advocacy strategies and contacts within the highest levels of government to solve problems and create opportunities for our clients.

Norma Jane Sabiston

Jones Walker and Norma Jane Sabiston, President of Sabiston Consulting, began a strategic alliance on January 1, 2009. The alliance enhances both firms' government relations abilities and effectiveness in Louisiana and other Gulf South states, as well as in Washington, D.C.

Norma Jane Sabiston is an experienced government relations professional who has served both Senators Breaux and Landrieu as well as Congressman Billy Tauzin. She has a deep understanding of the U.S. Senate and the workings of Congress and serves clients as a very experienced counselor on government relations issues. As a result of her years serving Senator Landrieu as her Chief of Staff, Norma Jane knows the State of Louisiana and Washington in a way few can equal.

Norma Jane Sabiston opened Sabiston Consulting after serving for 10 years as Chief of Staff for Senator Mary Landrieu's office, and prior to that, in numerous Congressional staff and advisory positions to Presidential, Senatorial and state campaigns.

Government Relations Advocacy

Jones Walker's Capitol Hill office was established in 1990 to offer comprehensive government relations advocacy to a broad array of clients in areas such as defense, transportation, maritime, energy, water project development, education, and telecommunications. Our government relations professionals work closely with clients to address the many legislative and regulatory issues of regional, national, and international scope affecting them. We work to make certain our clients understand their best possible options—what works in Washington, what doesn't, and why. We monitor federal legislative and executive activities, participate in regulatory agency administrative proceedings, and prepare supporting or opposing legislative initiatives on behalf of our clients. In particular, we actively assist our clients in the appropriations process to obtain federal funds for programs and projects. To accomplish this, we meet regularly with the most active policymakers in the White House, on Capitol Hill, and throughout the federal government.

Making the Advocacy Process Work

Our representation of clients in Washington is not a single event, but rather, a continuous process. Client communication is our top concern, as we keep clients fully apprised on relevant legislative and administrative developments and continually assess clients' changing priorities and perspectives. We begin each engagement with considerable research to establish reliable knowledge of clients' priorities. Designated members of our team assume leadership with respect to particular issues and priorities, with one team member charged with overall coordination. We prepare materials for policymakers on Capitol Hill that clearly and concisely present the case for our clients' objectives. We work cooperatively with members and staffs of organizations, such as the Congressional Black Caucus, to provide them with the resources they need to interact effectively with other congressional committees and administrative agencies. We develop flexible lobbying strategies that are constantly re-evaluated and modified as circumstances warrant.

Each government relations plan that we create is designed to educate key decision-makers in Congress and the Administration about the need for appropriate legislation and policies to strengthen the competitive position of our clients. Our professionals work in close collaboration with client executives and staff to:

  • Raise the organization's profile by building relationships with decision-makers who have jurisdiction and responsibility over matters affecting our clients' interests
  • Identify acceptable outcomes in federal legislative and regulatory matters and continually access progress and prospects for success
  • Monitor ongoing federal legislative and regulatory initiatives and contract opportunities

Coalition-Building

An important element in the success of our public policy advocacy is Jones Walker's ability to build and guide industry coalitions. For example, we have advised a coalition of Atlantic, Gulf, and Great Lakes port authorities, as well as shippers and other stakeholders, on strategies to advocate with key federal decision-makers for spending the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund monies appropriately for the purposes intended for the Harbor Maintenance Tax: channel maintenance, dredging, and other improvements to the deep-water ports and waterways infrastructure. Our advocacy focuses on both the executive branch (the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of the Interior, and other relevant agencies) and Congress (the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, for example), as we craft arguments and amass research supporting the use of the surplus to fund needed improvements. We have also engaged in a public relations effort with media outlets "inside the beltway" and around the country to highlight the economic and environmental benefits of improving the inland waterways system.

Targeted Advocacy

The success of coalition building often depends on our effectiveness at outreach to targeted groups within government. A good example is Jones Walker's interaction with the influential Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). We work with a number of clients to present their concerns before CBC members through such tactics as:

  • Presentations before weekly CBC luncheons, where industry groups are invited to discuss their impact on the national economy and CBC congressional districts.
  • Encouraging CBC leadership outreach to coalition and industry stakeholders within CBC districts
  • Arranging for office visits, fact sheets on CBC district impacts, and member and staff orientation trips to client business sites

Governmental Entity Representation

Local government entities are part of a complex administrative and financial environment in which they frequently need help to obtain federal funding for airports, highways, mass transit, law enforcement programs, and other municipal needs. Our Washington team has the requisite understanding of federal political and administrative processes to secure the maximum grants and funding assistance available from the appropriate Congressional committees and government agencies. Such success reflects the tremendous advantage created by our strategic alliance with The Livingston Group, headed by the former Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

A prime example of our work is our representation of the City of New Orleans and its Sewerage and Water Board. We worked successfully to obtain federal funding and support for numerous projects in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including post-Katrina supplemental and emergency appropriations bills totaling more than $20 billion. Our lawyers were instrumental in pursuing a wide range of federal activities to help the city recover, including billions of dollars in flood control and levee repair spending, infrastructure programs for the Port of New Orleans, Gulf Opportunity Zone (GO Zone) tax legislation, expansion of federal government work at the National Finance Center and at various military centers, and tens of millions of dollars in public safety, crime control, education, and human services programs.

Such work is typical of our other governmental entity representation, in which our team:

  • Helped a major port modernize a critical link in the nation's waterways transportation infrastructure
  • Worked on behalf of an airport authority to secure federal support for runway expansion and other critical improvements
  • Enabled both port and airport authorities to secure funding for essential security enhancements and noise mitigation
  • Protected the operation of economically crucial military installations under the Base Realignment and Closure initiative

Other Appropriations Activity

In addition to governmental clients, our team and The Livingston Group have worked together to develop and provide appropriations-focused services for numerous private sector clients. These include multinational corporations in the defense and technology industries, as well as organizations as diverse as vehicular products manufacturers and major universities. We use our capabilities to help these clients secure appropriations in virtually all areas, as we match business fiscal needs with the current and potential political goals of legislators, their committees, and their staff. By combining grassroots communication to Congress with strategies for coalition building and media advocacy, we can "close the deal" at critical moments of the appropriations process.

International Strengths

Clients as diverse as the Republic of Turkey and an eight-state association of seafood product producers have sought our help with international trade disputes and other regulatory concerns. Our attorneys are familiar with foreign laws, regional free trade agreements, and bilateral investment treaties. We have advised clients on international trade issues pertaining to air and ocean commerce and related treaties, such as the Hague Convention, and before international governments in countries such as Indonesia and China. Clients have also sought our help regarding compliance and liability issues under a variety of international conventions and protocols. Given our traditionally strong maritime practice, Jones Walker also helps draft international transportation and multimodal carriage of goods contracts including charter party agreements.

Team Capabilities

At the heart of Jones Walker's Washington practice is an unusually effective and diverse team of colleagues. Together, our team members approach every client effort with collaboration in spirit and capabilities. We have built an interlocking fabric of experience and relationships to provide clients with exceptional service and effective results.