Regulatory: Do You Need a Consultant or a Lobbyist?

By: Thomas R. McMorrow
– InsideCounsel 

As the interactions between business and government become more complex and fall under a wider and wider net, the need to hire government affairs specialists has increased proportionally. The influence of government is not just on politics, it is on policy and specifically, the policies that impact your clients' bottom line. As client needs grow in this space, how do you ensure that you are represented before government as effectively as possible? Practically speaking, this begs the question: Who can you call to help?

Two choices immediately come to mind: consultants and lobbyists. Professionals in these two areas are sometimes thought of interchangeably, but in fact, there are important differences. How they approach a solution, how they are regulated and the power that they hold are key distinctions. Broadly speaking, a consultant is a professional who provides expert advice in a subject area, but normally lacks the authority to implement change. On the other hand, a lobbyist not only provides advice but then actively seeks to influence external decisions, often with significant impacts to their client's bottom line. The ability to influence change has become a key aspect of success in today's business worlds.

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