Comeback for Abramoff’s old firm?

The Washington law firm that became infamous during the Jack Abramoff scandal appears to be making a comeback.


Greenberg Traurig on Wednesday announced it has hired a team of 13 lobbyists from rival firm Dickstein Shapiro, including some former members of Congress.

The splashy defections could indicate the firm is making a move to relive its K Street glory days, when it ranked among the most powerful — and highest-earning — lobbying practices in town.

In the firm’s announcement on Wednesday, Greenberg Traurig CEO Richard Rosenbaum boasted that the firm has added 40 lawyers and lobbyists to its Washington office in the last 12 months. 

“Our clients want further support in Washington, D.C. and we have made careful selections to build on our base of excellence,” Rosenbaum said. “These are patient choices to increase our strategic momentum in this critical market, not big mergers or vereins that would challenge our culture and finances.”

The new additions include Andrew Zausner, who had been the leader of Dickstein Shapiro’s public policy and law practice. Joining him at Greenberg are former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) and former Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Albert Wynn (D-Md.).

Zausner will become the chair of Greenberg’s Washington, D.C., government law and policy practice.

All 13 of the new additions will start work next week, according to a spokesman, but not all of the names were announced. The firm and Zausner declined through a spokesman to comment further.

In a statement, Dickstein Shapiro wished the best to its former colleagues and touted stars on its roster such as former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), former Federal Election Commission Chairman Scott Thomas and former Sen. Joseph Tydings (D-Md.).

“Coupled with the strongest State Attorneys General practice in the country, Dickstein Shapiro remains committed to providing the highest-caliber strategic advice and legislative counsel for our clients,” the firm said.

Greenberg took in almost $3.9 million last year in lobbying revenue, according to reports compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, which is in line with a successful boutique firm. 

But the financial fortunes at the firm, which is best known for its international law bench, were dramatically different in the early 2000s.

Abramoff worked at the firm from 2001-2004, bringing in hefty lobbying contracts that ultimately contributed to his fall from grace on corruption charges.

Greenberg’s lobbying revenue topped out at $25.5 million in 2003, at the peak of Abramoff’s influence and power.

The firm has experienced other upticks in lobbying dollars since the Abramoff era, bringing in more than $8 million in fees in both 2008 and 2011, but those figures have dropped off.

Greenberg could be on the upswing now, with an influx of talent and new clients. It has signed nine new lobbying clients so far this year, according to federal disclosure records, including the Poker Players Alliance and the National Retail Federation.

Its existing clients include the Business Roundtable, DirecTV and concert-promotion company Live Nation Entertainment. 

"When it comes to the governmental arena, our strength is not just in Washington, but as a top-tier player in what many of our clients consider the four key state capitals: California, Florida, New York, and Texas,” Zausner said. The firm has a combined 140 lawyers and lobbyists in the Washington D.C. region, which includes northern Virginia." 

“The world has changed,” Zausner said in a written statement. “Clients want the kind of broad yet unified and efficient presence that Greenberg Traurig can uniquely deliver. We were also drawn to the opportunity to build upon the fine platform here at a time when disciplined management, independent thinking, and real value are increasingly hard to find."

Some of the other hires by Greenberg in recent months include former Patton Boggs partners Robert Brams and Michael Schaengold, former Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.) and Loretta A. Tuell, who served as a Democratic staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Indian Affairs Committee until joining the firm.

According to the National Law Journal, Dickstein Shapiro has seen its attorney roster and law revenue decline to the lowest level in 10 years.

Dickstein lost 20 percent of its employees last year, ending 2013 with 254 full-time lawyers, the publication reports. Further, the firm's gross revenue also fell 20 percent to $207.5 million. 

Dickstein earned $7.9 million in lobbying revenue last year, according to disclosure reports, and signed nine new clients of its own.

— This story was updated at 7:09 p.m.