Now Hiring: Regulatory Lawyers

Feb 13, 2012

While the economy sputters along, business is booming for law firms opening offices in Washington, D.C. to help clients wade through the regulatory ocean:

The firms range dramatically in size and scope, but many have one thing in common: they view Washington as a critical base to grow regulatory and international practices centered around Congress and Washington-based agencies....

Specifically The Washington Post reports that “Some of the firms locating here now are establishing practice teams around financial and health-care reforms.” I expect the administration to tout Dodd-Frank and the 2012 health care law as “job creators.”

These law firms see a growing business from more and more rules coming out of Washington. A partner for an executive search firm told the newspaper, "I think leadership of firms have a good idea of the economic trends that affect them."

The administration is obliging them by adding more regulations. The White House admits that its rules have so far cost $25 billion, which is much more than at the same point during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

While the growth of the regulatory state is good for specialized lawyers, it’s not good for businesses having to deal with the regulations. The Small Business Administration found that regulations cost small businesses $1.7 trillion, with a cost of $10,585 per employee for firms with less than 20 employees.

Resources spent on paperwork and re-jiggering business plans is less money going to business investment and job creation, but at least we know someone is benefiting from the regulatory pile-on.

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