McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli

When individuals, or a small group of folks, decide to start their own lobbying firm they are likely to face many of the same issues faced by many other small businesses and owners starting a business in California as well as some issues specific to the lobbying industry.

There are several questions to think about when starting a lobbying firm, including, but not limited to:

  • What will the name of the firm be? Will you use the last names of the owners, or will you come up with a creative name that fits with the lobbying profession?
  • What corporate form will the firm take? C corporation? S corporation? LLC?
  • Where will your office be located? How close to the Building do you plan on being?
  • Is there an opportunity for you to have your own office space, or will you sublet?
  • Will you have employees?
    • My recommendation is that even sole practitioners need a legislative assistant – someone to answer the phone, handle correspondence, manage the office, file paperwork, schedule appointments, etc.
  • What sort of services will you contract out or take care of in house?
  • Will you rent a furnished office? Or will you need to purchase or long-term lease office equipment and supplies?
  • Where will you park? Does your building include parking, or is there parking only a short walk away?

As for lobbying industry-specific questions, one that you will need to carefully consider is if you are going to do your own FFPC compliance, or if you will contract that out. FPPC compliance needs to be carefully considered to ensure that you’ll have proper compliance with the laws and regulations for you as a lobbyist and for your lobbying firm. You’ll also need to ensure that your clients are in compliance with all applicable political and election laws.

I would recommend a firm that specializes in campaign or political law. It is a must to ensure proper compliance with the Political Reform Act. The last thing you want as a lobbyist is for your name to appear on the FPPC press releases for a violation of the PRA and a possible fine for that violation.