The New York Times calls him a King of K Street. Throughout Washington, D.C., pundits describe him as one of the most talented lawyers, strategic thinkers, and tacticians on The Hill. His reputation is that of a legal virtuoso, who has established an immutable foothold in the upper echelon of lobbyists and policy makers. This is Edward Newberry.
Ed’s official title is global managing partner for policy, regulatory, compliance and investigations, but in simpler terms, he is the powerhouse who effects public policy for the global law firm, Squire Patton Boggs – and this is no proletarian practice. Squire Patton Boggs has over 1,500 lawyers in 45 offices throughout 20 countries and their client register includes national and sovereign governments, corporations listed on the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, and Fortune 100 honorees. While prominence in a legal environment of this influence and magnitude is not easily attainable, Ed has distinguished himself as one of the nation’s preeminent lobbyists with a reputation for successfully ushering high-profile clients through the maze of complexities and challenges inherent to their statures.
He has worked with congressmen, held an appointment by the governor of Virginia, served on influential committees and boards, and acted in several executive level positions. It is exactly the type and level of experience that is needed for undertakings such as assisting global leaders with U.S. bilateral relations, or helping one of the world’s largest technology companies in Korea form American alliances, or securing mining rights for the largest known copper reserve in world history. No – Ed is no ordinary lawyer and his story is no conventional narrative.
We spoke with Ed about his illustrious career history, his current undertakings, and the progress he has generated in policy and law.
Ed, you have developed industry-leading public policy and lobbying practices. What compelled you to focus specifically in these areas?
My first job after college was working for a congressman and I was immediately enamored with policy-making. I was made an associate staff member on the House Appropriations Committee, which is where I witnessed just how powerful the process can be and how critical it is to a functioning economy and sound legal system.
What, specifically, does your work entail?
Typically, when an individual, organization, company, or country has a problem with the U.S. government, most lawyers will simply categorize the problem: “This is a litigation/regulatory/business problem.” I take a different tack and through innovative and perhaps unexpected perspectives find effective policy solutions for the client’s specific needs. It is another tool in the toolbox to solve challenging, complex problems: Can we change a law, modify a regulation or create legislative history that might affect how a court would view a matter? Can we persuade legislators to design a new or different regulatory scheme? Then I develop and implement strategies to ordinate corresponding laws or regulations, while supporting the clients as those laws and regulations are interpreted and implemented. I essentially test and reframe the law to benefit the client.
Can you share a few examples of laws that you had a hand in changing?
In 2000, on behalf of the U.S. propane sector, I drafted, and ultimately guided into law, a bill to create a check-off program, which allows for a nominal surcharge on the price of a commodity, to be used as a pooled fund to advance industry interests. This was the first legislation of its kind, and it has raised hundreds of millions of dollars used to promote and build the $10 billion propane industry. Later, I led the effort to establish the same program for the heating oil industry. Both programs are in full operation today and have been sources of enormous advances for both the companies that make up these industries and the consumers that rely upon them.
Most client initiatives are not so far reaching and involve small, but vitally important, changes or actions. For example, over many years I was able to secure over $100 million in earmarked appropriations for my alma mater, George Mason University. These efforts jumpstarted the university’s federal research program and ultimately led to their ranking as a Tier 1 research institution.
You also played a key role in the restructure of Ferrellgas. Can you tell us a little about that?
Ferrellgas is one of the nation’s largest propane companies and owner of the renowned Blue Rhino brand. It began as a single-store, family-owned company and the founder, Jim Ferrell, grew it into a multi-billion dollar public company with operations in every state. The restructuring transaction we created and implemented preserved a true legacy and an American business success story. By reforming their management, equity value, and employee stock ownership program, we essentially positioned the company for significant growth going forward. The outcome was so novel and so effective that a U.S. bankruptcy court judge described it as “unheard of.” Again, we used unconventional strategies to produce a result almost no one thought achievable.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
I really enjoy the analytical and problem-solving aspects of policy-making – to fully immerse myself in a particular challenge, then ultimately resolve it, is very rewarding. I also value the relationships I’ve fostered with global leaders from almost every industry. I have the privilege of working with some very brilliant minds, and the fact that they turn to me for help is quite gratifying.
Ed obtained Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees with recognition from George Mason University - Fairfax, Virginia, and earned his Juris Doctor of Law degree from Georgetown University Law Center - Washington, D.C.
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