Nick Allard Named as Legal Visionary

Allard Calls for the Lobbying Profession to do More Pro Bono Word
Carrie Levine
The National Law Journal


In tough times, these attorneys found ways to build their law firms. In complex legal clashes, they pushed for wise solutions. And in public posts, they demanded better policies.


Nicholas Allard is lobbying these days for what may be the most unpopular cause he's ever advanced — the worth of his own profession. With lobbyists under attack by politicians of all stripes and the Obama administration trying to curb their influence, Allard has become the most outspoken defender of their honor, giving dozens of speeches on the subject and publishing articles in Newsweek and the Stanford Law & Policy Review. David Frederick of Washington's Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, who has known him for 20 years, said Allard's leadership has filled a void "in a very scholarly and practical way." Allard, a partner and until recently co-chairman of the public policy practice at Washington's Patton Boggs, said he seeks to fill in gaps in people's understanding of how government policy is made. He starts by calling lobbying an honorable profession. Usually half his audience laughs, he said, while the other half groans. He tells them money doesn't buy results, that lobbyists have to make a persuasive public policy case. By the end, he said, they start coming around. And sometimes he provides a little incentive to listen. Recently, he began a presentation to American University professor James Thurber's class by writing 10 concepts and names — pluralism, Jack Abramoff, etc. — on the blackboard. The first to yell "bingo" after hearing them all would get lunch at The Palm, a lunch spot for Washington power brokers. When 10 students yelled "bingo" at the same time, Allard treated them all, Thurber said. Allard also serves on an American Bar Association task force considering improvements to lobbying regulation. He's full of ideas, such as encouraging lobbyists to do more pro bono work. "I'm not making any excuses," Allard said, referring to his profession's unsavory reputation. "It starts with the lobbying profession [needing] to clean up its act and be better than it ever has before." — Carrie Levine

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