Public policy and government relations practitioners represent private companies, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, and any entities and individuals with issues relating to federal and state laws, regulations and policies. They give clients a voice in Congress and before federal, state, and local administrative agencies when they seek legislative or policy change that aligns with their business strategy. Client needs in this area vary greatly, given the complex, costly, and regularly changing nature of laws, regulations, and policies. A practitioner may work with a Fortune 500 company to address its specific concerns with a piece of legislation or a government regulation, or the lawyer may work with a local or state government and a government agency to address issues with an agency’s proposed rule.
The primary roles of the public policy and government relations practitioner are education and advocacy. Unlike more traditional lawyer roles, the advocacy of the public policy and government relations practitioner spans many congressional offices and various executive branch agencies, and/or their state counterparts. Public policy and government relations practitioners air issues before members of Congress and their staffs, as well as other legislative bodies and executive agencies that may have an interest in a particular piece of legislation or regulation. They ensure their clients’ grievances are heard and advocate on their clients’ behalf to modify or stop laws or regulations that adversely affect them.
Given the differing interests of the two houses of Congress, as well as those found in other lawmaking bodies in the federal, state and local levels, finding common ground that addresses all of the various issues raised is one of the biggest challenges. The successful practitioner is able to work with clients to express to the relevant governing bodies the consequences of a particular course of action in clear, concise and understandable terms. This is often accomplished by educating the applicable branch of government, either through meetings, the submission of written comments or some combination of these efforts.