Lobbyist

Lobbyists present the interests of businesses or groups of people to legislators. These workers may have different titles, such as government affairs coordinators. Organizations of all types—from large corporations to small civic groups—depend on lobbyists to promote their agenda. Speaking to legislators and their staffs, they explain to their clients what the effects of a particular bill or law would be.

Lobbying requires solid research and communicating the results of that research to influence legislators’ support of or opposition to pending legislation. The type of organization, or client, lobbyists work for often affects the specific tasks that they do. Many of the job duties are similar in every setting, however.

Research

To be effective, lobbyists need to stay current on the issues coming before the legislature. They also must pay attention to news and current events by watching television and other media and by reading newspapers, Internet Web logs (“blogs”), and trade journals.  Lobbyists must be aware of which bills are appearing before committees and, in some cases, may have to attend committee meetings and hearings. In addition, they need to research how proposed legislation, if passed, would affect the company, organization, or group that they represent.

Communication

Much of lobbyists’ work requires that they be persistent and persuasive when communicating with others. For ex- ample, lobbyists often must contact legislators and their staffs via e-mail or telephone and convincingly present research for or against a bill. Some lobbyists set up meetings for their clients with legislators and their staffs, in which case they might first write background papers to prepare the clients for these meetings.  Building rapport through frequent communication is essential for lobbyists to gain credibility, which in turn helps them to influence legislators’ decisions.

Clients

Lobbyists work to influence lawmakers at all levels of government, but many concentrate on the U.S. Congress. At every level, lobbyists’ jobs have both similarities and differences.  Some lobbyists work for corporations and businesses, advocating for their employer. They must be well informed about their business’ specific needs, products, and practices. These lobbyists might need to work with others in the business to discuss how proposed legislation or regulations would affect it.

Lobbyists also work in law firms or lobbying firms that handle government affairs. They may have a variety of clients, ranging from private businesses and nonprofit organizations to local and State governments. These lobbyists need to familiarize themselves with each client’s needs and the legislation that affects it. As a result, lobbyists in this setting often need to learn about a broad range of issues.

Agencies within the executive branch often have staff members who are called congressional liaison specialists. These workers follow legislation, advocate specific bills, and understand how their agency works, as well as how a bill, if passed, could affect their agency’s day-to-day operations. In addition, when Congress allocates the Federal Government’s annual budget, these specialists might lobby Members of Congress to provide their agency with as much funding as possible.

Finally, some lobbyists work for trade associations, advocating on behalf of the industry or occupation that their association represents. They study issues relevant to the association’s occupation or industry and analyze how legislation affects it so that they can lobby legislators on behalf of the association.

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Quarterly