The Firms

August 25, 2008 7:13 PM

ELECTION 2008: Law Firms Gear Up for JoeBama Rama

Posted by Brian Baxter

With the Democratic National Convention set to debut tonight before a national television audience, firms are flocking to Denver to market themselves and their practice groups.

"We're just cranking here right now, literally hopping from event to event," says Scott Martinez, an associate at Denver-based Holland & Hart and a former interim executive director of the Colorado Democratic Party.

Martinez has just left an event attended by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) on renewable energy. "It was packed, wall-to-wall," the second-year associate says. "But it was a great place to get to know people on a social level. Five minutes from now, I'm headed to another meeting with some wind energy executives and most of the western [state] governors."

Firms like Holland & Hart use politically connected employees like Martinez--who is working in tandem with Holland & Hart government and regulatory investment partner Michael Carrigan--to press the flesh and solicit business.

"We want to make sure our firm has a strong presence at the convention and we're pretty much blocked from 7:30 in the morning to 1:30 in the morning," Martinez says. "People are pretty excited about showcasing our city, and our job here at the firm is to let others know that our footprint looks just like the Rocky Mountains and the Sierras."

Most of the events for the August 25-28 convention will take place at the 20,000-seat Pepsi Center in downtown Denver; the action moves to 76,000-seat Invesco Field at Mile High on Thursday for the grand finale. Martinez says he plans to attend as many of those events as possible. For these few days, he's not thinking about clocking billables.

"This is a great chance to let people know what we're about," Martinez says. "The business comes after that."

For several other law firms, the convention means extra business, a chance to honor longtime Democratic leaders and lawyers, and even some swag bag branding opportunities. Here's a quick rundown:

-Washington, D.C.'s Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which boasted more than $18.1 million in lobbying fees during the first half of this year, will honor longtime adviser to former President Bill Clinton and current firm senior counsel Vernon Jordan, Jr., with a brunch at the Ritz-Carlton in Denver on Tuesday.

-Brownstein Hyatt Farber & Schreck, a 150-lawyer Denver-based firm, hosted a welcoming party on Sunday night at the Denver Art Museum. A founding partner of the firm, Steven Farber, is a chief fundraiser for the DNC host committee. The Denver Business Journal reports that over 2,000 people joined Farber at the event, one of whom was current Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.

-Ritter, a former Denver district attorney, is also a former partner at 1,038-lawyer Hogan & Hartson. The national firm is taking a very practical approach to the convention by handing out Hogan-branded hand sanitizer to help everyone stay germ-free through all the handshaking and backslapping. (The sanitizer is apparently quite, ahem, handy, as one can clip it to their belt if they are so inclined.)

-Isaacson Rosenbaum, a 45-lawyer Denver boutique, is serving as local counsel to the DNC. Michael Feeley, a former Democratic minority leader while a member of the Colorado State Senate, is a partner in the firm's public policy group.

As for Sidley Austin--the 1,651-lawyer national firm is where Barack Obama, then a young summer associate, met his future wife, Michelle, a former Sidley associate--a spokesperson for the firm says no events are planned for the conventions.

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