DosandDonts

Do's & Don'ts of Lobbying
 

DO

1. Fully know and understand the issues. If you are discussing specific legislation, be sure you know the correct Bill Numbers and Printer Numbers. One bill may have several different printer numbers reflecting different versions of the same bill.

2. Be scrupulously honest.

3. Be courteous. Don’t “attack” an office. Stop at the secretary’s desk and ask permission to see the legislator. Make an appointment in advance.

4. Try to see your own legislator. As a constituent and voter, you can establish an instant rapport if you can demonstrate a common interest.

5. Define the issue in terms relevant to that particular legislator and his/her district.

6. Give a legislator “real life” examples of how the legislation will impact on individuals.  If possible, refer to a case of a former or current client.

7. Be sure you know and understand the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association’s position on the legislation and every proposed amendment.  Every controversial issue will create a gray area of confusion. In that area, most legislators will seek a compromise so they can avoid making a decision. Communicating an uninformed or unauthorized position may cause PaTLA to lose a critical vote.

8. Intently listen and try to understand what commitment the legislator may be making. Every legislator relies on code words whenever they are undecided how they plan to vote. Unless a legislator “raises his right hand and vows to vote your way” on all procedural motions, amendments and final passage, you can not count on his or her vote. When receiving a legislative commitment listen for the code words and try to remove the “wiggle room” a legislator may desire.

9. Leave when you have made the sale.

10. Whenever you lobby your legislator, it is important you contact the PaTLA Harrisburg office and relate the outcome of your meeting. Contact PaAJ's Legislative Office.

DON’T

1. Don’t flaunt your wealth. Avoid wearing excess jewelry, leaving in expensive cars or discussing a large award.

2. Don’t overstate or exaggerate our case.

3. Never make threats, direct or implied, such as “I’ll cut off future campaign contributions,” or “We’ll run someone against you in the next election.”

4. Don’t argue with the legislator. Some legislators can influence the votes of their colleagues on critical votes. A lobbyist loudly confronting a legislator may be jeopardizing several votes by arguing with one legislator.

5. Don’t “talk down” to the legislator. Lack of a law degree does not mean a lack of understanding the issue. Conversely, excessive use of legal terminology may confuse the legislator if he/she must ponder or analyze an unfamiliar word.

6. Never tell the legislator how much your firm will lose if the bill should become law.

7. Never mention past, present or future contributions.