McGuireWoods Consulting has added four top Washington technology lobbyists to boost the already formidable capabilities it shares with the McGuireWoods law firm on emerging technology issues at the intersection of law, regulation and business.
Senior advisor Michael Drobac, a leading advocate for laws and policies to promote growth in technology and particularly the unmanned aerial vehicle industry, will lead McGuireWoods Consulting’s new Emerging Technologies Team. Joining him as senior advisor and a partner in the law firm is former associate deputy attorney general Gregory Walden, a widely respected authority on aviation law and government ethics who served as chief counsel with the Federal Aviation Administration; senior vice president Amanda Armistead; and assistant vice president Casey Duggan. The group joins McGuireWoods from the Washington office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
McGuireWoods Consulting and McGuireWoods LLP have aggressively built a highly acclaimed team of consultants and lawyers to handle fast-growing client needs in areas such as technology that supports banking and financial services, unmanned delivery systems and cybersecurity. According to Drobac, that makes McGuireWoods the ideal platform for the development of the Emerging Technologies Team.
“McGuireWoods Consulting has market-leading federal and state government relations practices that excel in guiding clients through the complex legislative and regulatory challenges associated with emerging technologies,” Drobac said. “The seamless collaboration with the McGuireWoods law firm makes this the perfect home for us and a powerhouse platform for helping clients achieve their business objectives.”
In addition to a Federal Government Relations Practice ranked among the top 15 in The National Law Journal’s “Influence 50,” McGuireWoods Consulting has a widely heralded State Government Relations Practice with offices in seven state capitals and a National Multistate Practice with 50-state reach.
“Michael, Greg, Amanda and Casey are at the vanguard of the regulatory and policy issues confronting next-generation technologies, particularly concerning unmanned aerial vehicles,” said MWC President and CEO L.F. Payne, Jr., a former five-term congressman from Virginia. “Their industry leadership, deep experience and relationships with policymakers augment our already considerable strengths in this area and provide tremendous advantages to our clients.”
Drobac assists clients in the telecommunications and technology sectors and advocates for their policy objectives before Congress and federal agencies. He is a sought-after source for journalists covering legislative and regulatory developments in the drone industry, and his advocacy prowess earned him a place on The Hill’s 2016 Top Lobbyists list.
Drobac previously led government affairs for Netflix and the Online Publishers Association and had a senior role with Barry Diller’s IAC/Interactive Corp. At Netflix, he established the company’s Washington office and advocated before Congress and federal agencies on issues such as net neutrality, interconnection access, privacy, accessibility issues and taxation. Before entering the private sector, he served for a decade in the offices of U.S. Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Norm Coleman of Minnesota.
Walden, who has a distinguished background in government service, represents aviation industry clients in matters before the U.S. Department of Transportation, the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Transportation Security Administration, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He served as the FAA’s top lawyer, associate counsel to President George H.W. Bush, and ethics counsel for the transition team of President George W. Bush. He also has served on the Interstate Commerce Commission and advises presidential appointees, members of Congress, companies and individuals on government ethics issues.
Armistead represents clients before Congress and federal agencies to advance legislative and regulatory policies that reflect the impact of rapidly developing emerging technologies and a changing economy. Before she joined the team, she played a critical role in the successful campaign to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank while she worked for a Washington firm led by former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt. She also worked on a Democratic presidential campaign.
Duggan previously served in the office of House Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry of North Carolina where she managed constituent relations. She also completed a fellowship with former Rep. Renee Ellmers, focusing on media and communications.
“McGuireWoods Consulting has been a key player in promoting a state-level legal and regulatory framework for commercial drones and autonomous vehicles, and now we are extending that leadership to the federal level,” said Jim Hodges, a former South Carolina governor who becomes president and CEO of MWC in January.
“Michael, Greg, Amanda and Casey have unmatched experience as policy advisors and advocates for clients known for extending the boundaries of innovation. They add an important dimension to our federal practice,” said Frank Donatelli, leader of the practice and former Reagan administration director of political and intergovernmental affairs.
McGuireWoods also has been active in supporting an array of players in the unmanned aviation sector. The firm’s lawyers provide legal and business guidance to companies that design and manufacture drones, including helping them obtain FAA exemptions allowing the use of drones in commercial operations.
Founded in 1998, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC is a full-service public affairs firm offering government relations, strategic communications and grassroots advocacy, and infrastructure and economic development services. MWC is a subsidiary of McGuireWoods LLP, a leading international law firm with more than 1,000 lawyers in 23 offices worldwide, including technology hubs such as San Francisco, Charlotte and Raleigh. BTI Consulting recently named McGuireWoods one of the nation’s best law firms in cybersecurity. Besides Washington, McGuireWoods Consulting has offices in Richmond and McLean in Virginia; Atlanta; Chicago; Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; Springfield, Illinois; Austin, Texas; and Bucharest, Romania. For more information, visit McGuireWoods Consulting’s website at www.mcguirewoodsconsulting.com.