Former senator Tom Daschle forms new lobbying group

Source: By Catherine Ho, Washington Post • Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tom Daschle, the former U.S. Senator from South Dakota, has left the law firm DLA Piper to form a new lobbying subsidiary at law firm Baker Donelson.

The subsidiary, The Daschle Group, will partner with the existing lobbying practice at Baker Donelson yet operate somewhat independently from the firm and have its own management team, Daschle said.

Daschle anticipates between six and 10 of his former colleagues from DLA Piper will be joining him in the new venture.

Baker Donelson, a full-service law firm with roots in Tennessee, has about 650 attorneys and policy advisors in 21 offices, 20 of which are in the United States. Its lobbying practice earns between $5 and $6 million annually, according to lobbying records. In 2013, the group reported $5.5 million in lobbying revenue, and its biggest client was Toshiba Corp., which paid the firm $1.2 million in lobbying fees last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The firm also lobbies for WR Grace, Edison International and the University of Kentucky.

Several law firms including Bracewell & Guiliani and McDermott have been moving toward the subsidiary model for its lobbying and consulting services in part because it allows lobbyists more flexibility in billing and career advancement. Attorneys at most corporate law firms bill by the hour — a key metric that typically factors into their path toward partnership — whereas lobbyists often do not measure their productivity that way.

 “I’ve always wanted the opportunity to start my own organization,” Daschle said. “What I see with [Baker] is an opportunity to do it in a much more independent way and with greater managerial autonomy.”

Daschle is not a registered lobbyist but since leaving the Senate in 2005 has been a policy adviser at large law firms, first at Alston & Bird and most recently at DLA Piper, advising businesses primarily on health care issues.

Baker Donelson chairman Ben Adams said in a statement that the firm’s partnership with The Daschle Group is a “powerful combination.”

“We expect that Baker Donelson’s partnership with The Daschle Group will make us the firm for bipartisan problem solving as we serve as high impact advocates for our clients,” he said.