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DC Lobbying: The Realities Behind the Headlines

Jun 3, 2024
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Ludmilla Kasulke, a seasoned lawyer-lobbyist based in Washington, D.C., amplifies the voices of her clients. Her world is one of competing interests, strategic relationships, legal intricacies, and raw politics. She aims to tip public policy in one direction (or another) through education, a nuanced understanding of political context, and strategies that can evolve on a dime. In the corridors of power, influence stems from access and information.  Ludmilla is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center.

Transcript

Kyle McEntee:

We're joined today by Milla Kasulke, a DC lobbyist and partner at Squire Patton Boggs, a global law firm with more than 1,500 lawyers in over 40 offices across four continents. You define your role as a lawyer-lobbyist. Why is that description meaningful?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

So the concept of a lawyer-lobbyist really came from Tom Boggs, the Boggs of Squire Patton Boggs. Tom Boggs really revolutionized this concept as far back as the 60s. It's an integration between access, education, advocacy, but also substance and legal concepts. In Washington, there are lots of people who have access. There are lots of people who worked in agencies and worked on the Hill, and there are so many great reasons why that's a really important thing to think about early in your career, or at any point in your career.

Separate from access, you have legal counsel: understanding of how the law works, how a proposal would impact the law, how to tackle a problem, not just one way, but through litigation, through regulatory action, through things like that. When you're a lawyer-lobbyist, you have the advantage of looking at a problem from all of those angles and bringing a comprehensive action plan to the table. I do think it also means when we're in those meetings, those advocacy meetings, we're using a lot of what we learn in law school about how to be persuasive, how to be concise in how you write, how to think about what your opposition is gonna be acting and thinking and what they're gonna be doing so that when you're in the room with a member of Congress, with a member of the administration, even with a trade association or someone else, you are in a sense, just like you're in front of a courtroom, you have to be able to comport yourself to be able to articulate your arguments succinctly and persuasively. And so for me in the career that I've made, learning those skills in law school have made me a better lobbyist, a better advocate and a better representative for my clients.

Kyle McEntee:

What I've always found funny is that on firm websites, whether a law firm or a non-lawyer firm, rarely do people self-describe as a lobbyist. Instead, they're in government relations or something similarly innocuous. What is that about?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

You know, I think there are so many examples over the last few decades of people that may have been bad actors. I think because of that it's become very easy to point at lobbyists as sort of the bad guys. But at the end of the day, what we're doing is we're educating, right? Lobbying is going in and talking to policymakers and lawmakers about why the decision, the proposal that they're advancing, is a good idea, is a bad idea, maybe has unintended consequences that they haven't thought through. The reality is lobbying in the United States is overseen by laws that ensure transparency. You can go onto a website and look at all the companies that I lobby for because that's what the law requires, the transparency.

But that doesn't change that there is a value. There are so many examples from the last six months, the last year, the last five years of Congress introducing something and passing it super quickly or introducing something that they've written in an office with the inputs of some constituents, but not necessarily all. So when you think about lobbying as going in and explaining, Congress Person X, you're proposing this, we represent this industry, you're gonna put them out of business. Would you be willing to consider these three changes? I always like to remind people too that, yes, big corporations have lobbyists, they have complex business operations, they have a lot of jobs in districts and these kinds of decisions impact jobs and things. Lots of small companies hire advocates, lobbyists, lawyers in Washington for the same reason. And those small businesses also get to have a voice. And so I think when we're talking about lobbying, what we're really talking about is helping to educate on the impacts of decisions that are being considered.

Kyle McEntee:

You're trying to educate the policymakers largely. Can you talk a little bit about who those policymakers are? Where are you finding them?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

I mean, the easiest example is obviously Capitol Hill, right? You're talking to the lawmakers themselves. Quite importantly, you're more often talking to staff. And in these cases, the staff are just, they're so critical because they're the ones that are thinking through a lot of these issues, concept proposals, to give their bosses advice. They're the ones that are managing the constituent interests. They're writing the speeches. So, not just developing the long-term relationships with the staff, but also making sure that your client has that relationship with their staff. Because if you're a manufacturer in the middle of Pennsylvania, you are very important to your member of Congress because you represent jobs, you represent manufacturing, you represent the U.S. economy, and so helping them develop that direct relationship as well. We're also obviously talking about the administration, the agencies, not just political appointees. There are so many tens of thousands of people across the government that are doing such important things.

And then a lot of the work now I think is also keeping good relationships with different trade associations. And trade associations can be sort of large ones that represent sort of business, but there are lots of groupings of trade associations that represent particular industries. And so particularly when you've got maybe some more technical legislative proposals, the trade association for that industry is gonna know the subject matter better than a lot of others in Washington. So they're gonna be an important voice too. Sometimes it means also going to them and talking to them, hey, how are you thinking through this? What is the impact on you gonna be?

Kyle McEntee:

And so you're not only lobbying the policymakers, but you're also lobbying other lobbyists in that case.

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Yeah, you’re sort of comparing notes. You're creating an echo chamber. You know, one company doesn't always have the biggest footprint, too. Your most successful campaigns are the ones where you're able to sort of formally or informally cooperate, collaborate, and work together.

Kyle McEntee:

Ultimately, it's about influence, right? And so there's lots of different ways to influence the decision makers. As you pointed out, creating that echo chamber, getting the support of others, peers of your clients. Are you also working with media and social media? How does that play into your role?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Some firms have public relations sort of integrated into their offerings. We as a firm do not. We will partner with a public relations firm. That doesn't mean that we don't advise on social media and media strategy. But that's also really important to keep in mind when it comes to lobbying disclosure obligations, making sure that even that work that you've accounted for it appropriately.

Kyle McEntee:

When you think about your work product, what does that end up looking like then?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Oh my gosh, that's a really great question. And when we have summer associates, it is the first thing they want to know. Cause you know, litigators write motions and briefs and transactional attorneys, review deals and all that. It may seem kind of silly, but one of the most important things I wrote today was an email because something happened and I needed to get it out to my client really fast. And when I send my client an update, I don't send it two lines or forward an article. Sometimes if it's something not that important, yeah, sure, I'll do that. But this was something big that happened. I worked with an associate. We wrote them three paragraphs. This is what happened. This is what's coming next. And this is why it matters. And we got it out to them really fast. Because then I'm not just telling my client, but my client's taking that email and they're forwarding it on internally to their company. We work faster, I think, than a lot of other groups because things are moving quickly and people have hired us to be watching what's happening.

Kyle McEntee:

Well, I think what's interesting here, like in terms of a distinction between government relations groups and other groups, is normally if you ask a litigator to do some work for you, you're specifying what they're going to do. In this case, you're being reactive to something you saw and they didn't tell you, “hey, write me an email on this.”

Ludmilla Kasulke:

No, in our group and I think in a lot of similar firms, you're actually on a retainer basis. I have for my clients, every client, lists of what are the issues that matter to them? And so this development from today, I just know that it's important to them. I know the outcome is gonna be important. And so, I can be very proactive. In this area of law, being proactive is really, really valued. It stinks when the client emails you and it's like, “hey, I heard this happen. “Why?” You know, “give me more information.” I want to be like, “hey, this is happening.” We know about it before anyone else does. Or this is happening and you didn't know about it, but now we're telling you why it's important. So there is a certain amount of sort of reliance on us to be proactive in that sense. But separate from that, a lot of our writing can also be writing one-pagers to take to the Hill. You have to be concise and persuasive. A lot of memoranda where we're talking about what happened, how does it apply to you, what is our strategy. That happens a lot when new legislation drops.

You know, some of these bills can be really complicated and they can revise existing law in ways that you really have to be really nuanced in how you review. For example, a lot of proposals and recent actions revising export controls laws. Export control, super complicated area of law. So when we're reviewing those bills, I'm not the only one reviewing that memo. I'm talking to our export controls trade lawyers who are also reviewing the bill. And so we can talk about not just, okay, well, this is how it looks like from a policy angle. We're telling our clients, okay, well, this is how this functionally works right now. And this is how the law would change that. And this is good or this is bad and this would impact you or not. So, you know, those are sort of the big buckets of writing. I would say concise client emails, persuasive leave behinds and then these longer, more analytical memoranda about how a bill or regulation. And then because we're a fully integrated law firm and because we work cross-practice, we also will work with other groups on things like regulatory filings, due diligence, research, things like that where so much of what we do is relevant to what they do, and so we're able to cross-sell that way.

Kyle McEntee:

So I want to go back to your use of retainer to draw a distinction for the listeners because, often when we use the word retainer on this show, it means that a client has paid the lawyer upfront and then they draw down against that on an hourly basis. But here it sounds like your base sounds more like a subscription fee.

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Yeah. So that's standard for, I think, a lot of firms, lobbying and law firms that have lobbying offerings. So it's basically a monthly standard fee. And there is, as probably any lawyer will tell you when it comes to setting fee structure, it is an art, not a science. You can't say this client, input some data and then, okay, it's definitely going to be X amount a month. It takes a little bit of thinking about what is our scope of work? What have we agreed to do? Who's going to be staffing? How are we going to staff this estimating? But it also is very important in those circumstances to have a clear scope of work because in this instance, when there is mission creep, it is you as the lawyer who is going to suffer where you're going to have to write off time or you're going to sort of overcharge or you're just going to be dedicating more resources than you've estimated. But when you're open and those things are sort of clear with the client, it's about good financial hygiene, as we say. It's good client management. The structure can actually work really well. And then sometimes for a lot of our policy clients, we'll end up getting legal work related to that policy work. And so those fees will be separate, just a different matter under the same client.

Kyle McEntee:

How much overlap is there in the work you do for one client versus another client? In other words, I can imagine that memorandum that you're writing that you're using to educate, say, a member of Congress or one of the House committees or something of that nature, that that could benefit a lot of different clients.

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Yes, there will be overlap, right? President So-And-So unveils a new tariff framework and the tariffs are going to be structured this way and they're going to be implemented against X industries and here's how you request exclusions, all that. That is definitely going to be something that once you prepare it, it's relevant to lots of clients and it's relevant to people outside of my own group. But then what you do with that, the next step, client specific. How you go and say, don't put tariffs on this, how you fill out the exclusion page. But it's a hundred percent true that you say, okay, X happened. I'm going to tell you that X happened, but that second half where I'm telling you why X matters to you, that's going to be where -- and that's sort of, again, the difference, but that's the value add. That first part, lots of people can write that. And we want to write it well. But where we want to be helping you is that second part where we're helping you figure out how you navigate it.

Kyle McEntee:

So when you write the memo that you provide to a member of Congress or some committee, who is signing that letter? Who is it from?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

When we're giving like a one pager or something to the Hill, that's from the client. I'll do meetings on the Hill or Teams calls or whatever we do these days. I'll do them on behalf of the client all the time because we've developed the relationship with the staffer or they understand that I'm representing, but it is way more compelling, especially when we're talking, you know, companies that are located in the district to have them sitting next to me. But always those one-pagers, even if we're helping them write it out and sort of articulate their issues in the most persuasive way. It's their information. It doesn't have our logo. I mean, it's their information that we've helped them sort of articulate. It's their leave-behind.

Kyle McEntee:

So how are you bringing yourself up to speed on this information you need to write those leave behinds?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Oh my gosh. So much reading. When I joined the firm, I was like, I'll do this for a couple of years. I'm sure I'll get bored. But because every day something new is happening and every day I'm learning something new and there's this complex problem. On the one hand, you have to know sort of the legal structure of the concept and sort of where it fits. It's a regulation and where is it in the rulemaking process or all that. But part of it also is you have to become a subject matter expert about that particular commodity or good or service. And so a lot of it is, you know, you do have to get up to speed on the front end. You know, a lot of learning about the business, the company themselves. But then also figuring out how to very efficiently read a lot of news in the morning. So there's a lot of great services in Washington that are very focused on what is happening here. But then there's sort of the national news, the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal. And I'd put Financial Times in there now because I think their reporting on what's happening in the United States is pretty awesome right now. But I think there's that like getting up to speed, getting your baseline up to speed, but then also every day being like, okay, now this happened and sort of fitting that into what you know already.

Kyle McEntee:

Okay. All right. so that's on the subject matter. What about on the subject, as in the person or agency you're trying to influence? How do you get up to speed on what they care about – what might make them think differently and in alignment with what your client's seeking?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

You always have to be thinking about the political dynamics, right? I mean, that is central to coming up with your persuasive arguments. So for administration officials, I mean, it is a lot about what are the administration's priorities? What are the big picture objectives that they're trying to achieve? On the Hill, it's a lot of the same things. What committees are they on? What are important economic interests for their district? What are all the different pieces and how can I put something together that is as persuasive as possible? When you're gonna go in to see a Democrat, you know you're not gonna say that point. But you might say a different point that also supports what you're trying to achieve, but you know is going to just be a little bit more palatable to a Democrat than a Republican. We've got folks here who just know a lot of these lawmakers and they'll be like, well, no, so-and-so's favorite hobby is X and so. They'll be really interested in hearing this about that. So that kind of insight is also really helpful. But you just sort of have to sit and surround yourself with the full circumstances. A

nd part of that too is opposition research. When you're talking about who's on your side, you also have to sit and think, well, who's going to be arguing the other side? Who was the one who came up with this idea that this lawmaker is now pushing forward? A lot of the times there's somebody, an interest group behind the scenes on the other side that's pushing for it. And so you really have to be thinking critically on all sides when you're coming up with sort of what's a solution that is acceptable. Sometimes the only acceptable solution is you can't pass this bill. But sometimes it's going in and saying, “hey, this bill's pretty bad. But if you just make this one change, like just tweak this one line, make this an or instead of an and, and make it doable.” And that's a win. That can be a win.

Kyle McEntee:

So if you are a litigator, you have opportunities to practice you have a mock trial. Or if you're an appellate litigator, you can do moot court and that helps you understand how your arguments are going to land. And you have jury consultants who can say here is who you should try to get on your jury. Do you have those kinds of tools or is a lot of this just more art than science and you're just kind of feeling your way through the world, doing your best?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

I think in one context, when you've got a client that's gonna be testifying on the hill or in front of an agency, we'll rehearse. We'll do what's called a murder board. So a murder board is basically practicing for an adversarial situation, or at least sort of like an exchange verbally. We set up a conference room downstairs, clients on one side, we're on the other, and we're asking all the questions that we think they're going to get.

When it comes to going to the Hill and having a meeting with a staffer or going to an agency meeting that isn't necessarily adversarial, sometimes that's just sort of practicing. Giving clients tips on how to talk a little bit about your company. When we go into these meetings, 9 times out of 10, I don't want to talk. I might guide the conversation a little bit if I think they've gone off a little bit, or sometimes the client will look to me because the person in the room will ask a technical question and I'll be sitting there and I can answer it. Some clients are just awesome at it, which is great and some it makes them a little bit more nervous. It's just a matter of, I think just the person like you're meeting someone you've never met before and you're giving a 90 second elevator speech about something that's really important to you.

Kyle McEntee:

I'm just imagining what the Hill must be like, just a bunch of lobbyists running around, a bunch of companies running around, all trying to get something done. And I don't mean that in any negative way. I think that's part of what actually makes for a healthy legislature and healthy agencies. But I would imagine that there's just a ton of competing interests. And with a firm that is your size, how do you avoid conflicts?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

I mean, that's…the importance of a robust conflict system within a firm. I mean, that's just a really important way of how you structure the engagements and structure the onboarding process. We may have been the first, but we're not the only ones who do it anymore.

Kyle McEntee:

Beyond competing interests, sometimes you're going to have clients who just come to you asking you to do something that you know cannot be done. How do you manage their expectations in those scenarios?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

I think understanding what success is and being on the same page about what is success is actually really important. It's important, not just because you want to do well, but because your client is often a person, one person, representing the bigger client and you want them to succeed. You want them to look good. And you make them look good and that's good for you long-term as well. So this is beyond the like legal and the business, like it's just good service. Remember, above all else, everyone, this is a service industry, right? This is a people job. I've been in countless situations where there have been limits on what is realistically possible to achieve. And in those situations, sometimes thatdisconnect has presented itself early on in the process and maybe we don't we don't proceed with an engagement. But if there's a path to achieve it, we generally really want to help you right? Like it's not a matter of like well, we think it can be done, but we can't do it. No, it's it's we are looking at the general large dynamic and there are just sometimes some things that just can't can't be done under certain dynamics. Sometimes winning is the bill doesn't get passed. Sometimes winning is the bill passed, but we were able to get a five-year delay in entry into force.

I think when the person within the company is savvy and understands Washington really well, it's really easy to get on that page because they understand the city too. It can be a little bit harder when your audience is outside of Washington and doesn't really understand why can't you do this. And I think part of that too is, again, client management and services and making sure that everybody has a common understanding.

Kyle McEntee:

So there's can and can't, but then there's also should and shouldn't. How do you wrestle with that?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

I feel like as part of my legal education, the idea that everybody is deserving of legal representation is something that sticks with me. And I think part of that too is sometimes ideas are just bad policy ideas. Even if they seem politically like really great soundbites on its face. Well, sometimes, you know, the exact proposal just isn't the right way to do it. And so when you're going in to sort of argue against it, you're not going in and saying, “you're totally wrong about this one issue.” You're saying, “you're right about this issue, but you might not be going about it the right way in responding to it. Can we help you come up with a solution that might work a little bit better?”

It happened on a call with a client recently where we were writing a persuasive letter to an agency and they really wanted to take out a whole section and we were disagreeing. We were like, “no, you need to put this in here. Like this is a really important context.” And they had their reasons why they didn't want to include it. But we, you know, we had to sort of at the end of the day, they're the client. And I hate to say it, I like to have in those circumstances, it's sort of documented that like we wanted to do this. We thought this was something that was really important, but your legal team did not want to include it. On the advocacy side, like the oral advocacy, I think there's a lot more alignment. You sort of go into the room knowing what you're arguing for and why. And so you haven't really gotten to that point. You don't really get to that point.

Kyle McEntee:

So was this always your plan, becoming a lobbyist?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

No, it was never, it was never my plan. I worked in government right out of college. And I thought, wow, like all these people around me have graduate degrees. And a lot of them were lawyers, but they're not in a courtroom. Like, this is so cool. Like you're in the government and you understand how laws work and you're helping to implement them and think about policies. And I thought I'm going to go to law school and then I'm definitely going to go back to the government.

And then I was in law school. I thought I'll do a summer at a law firm. And then I got the offer to come back. I'm like, okay, I'll do a couple years and then I'll definitely, definitely go back to government. Well, it's been 10 plus. I have found this to be so fun. I love the dynamics, always changing, evolving issues with the same client, new clients, the new issues. I always told myself, the day I felt like I stopped growing, I stopped gaining something out of this, then maybe it was time for me to think of leaving. And even as a partner, I don't feel like I'm done. I've got more senior partners to learn from. I have just things that happen that require us to learn new things and new ways of thinking and all that. And so I never thought, if you told me 20 years ago, this is where I would be, wouldn't believe you.

Kyle McEntee:

How much of that has to do with the pay?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

That is a totally valid question. And I think particularly for your podcast, I mean, I had debt coming out of law school and I thought that I would go to the government and I would join the forgiveness plans and all that. You will find over time that your life circumstances sort of change and what your goals and objectives are change. And at this point in my life, you know, my husband is in government. You know, it is nice to have one of us in private sector and one of us in government. I'm assuming not everybody listening to this podcast lives in Washington, DC, but you guys, it's really expensive here. Right? So yeah, part of it is just sort of like, I am 40 years old and I have a child and for our life plans, it sort of makes sense. But I just haven't really wanted to leave.

Kyle McEntee:

So I think we hear a lot about DC lobbyists in the news, failing to register as foreign agents. We also see a lot of shady things on TV shows or movies. Are those behaviors as widespread as it seems?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

I mean, I don't think so. When I read those stories, I mean, they shock me. I think the firms that have been doing this as long and as professionally as ours have internal structures to make sure all these reports are filed, that they're done timely. The foreign agent work, when I was talking about the transparency for lobbyists, when we're talking about representing foreign entities, foreign government entities, those transparency obligations are much stricter. And it is on every firm to train their attorneys and their lobbyists to understand what those obligations are. And then also for those firms to have the structures to make sure the reporting is done appropriately. Because ultimately, there are some obligations, like I have obligations under the Lobbying Disclosure Act to report my political contributions, but the firm has obligations to report who their lobbyists are and all that. Firms like ours, it is just central to what they're doing. My firm has trainings and I understand what my obligations are. I took a class in law school about those obligations because I thought it was really interesting. So just understanding those laws, the histories of those laws, also just because it's also my job, watching what bills get introduced to change those laws to make those reporting requirements stricter or to remove certain exceptions between the lobbying and the foreign agent laws. I researched those bills for fun because I'm like, this is interesting. This is, this is, this is democracy. This is transparency.

Kyle McEntee:

I'm going to enter pure speculation mode, but I suspect that some of what's reflected in pop culture is a discomfort with influence being concentrated with wealth, whether it's individually wealthy people or large corporations. And I think maybe some of that might be embodied in the way the stories are told.

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Yeah, I mean, but for me, I think about the wins I have for small businesses. And yes, I understand that they've hired me and they've paid fees and all that and all that. But, you know, I think it's just important to remember in those circumstances that sort of any company can engage in, and they don't even need to hire lobbyists to do it, right? Like any company that can call up their local congressman's office and make a case. What helps when you hire a lawyer-lobbyist or just a lobbyist is that they sort of know those processes and they know how to do it and they know the people. Maybe this isn't the best example, but it's like hiring a CPA to do your taxes. You know, like sometimes the situation is more complex. You've got more on the line. And so bringing someone in to help you is there. So when we're talking about regulating that access, you would also be disrupting the access of those people as well.

Kyle McEntee:

What would the alternative be if there weren't lobbyists?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

If there weren't lobbyists … I think that Congress and the administration would probably have to take more time in how they develop their proposals. And I think that, especially in Congress, there would have to be sort of much more integrated system for how bills are developed, commented on, prepared. I mean, if you follow regulatory developments, you know, the Federal Register, you could conceivably check it every day, comment on every single thing that you think is important. But the idea that this company in the middle of the country is watching every single bill that Congress drops, it's just not realistic. I mean, that's also why they have trade associations, right? The trade associations are also gonna be tracking all the bills on one issue. But then the idea that nobody's gonna be able to go in and have conversations. There's no process that exists otherwise to be able to comment on these laws. And sometimes laws move really fast. So that is an argument for why you have robust transparency requirements and you have these sort of regulations and restrictions that lobbyists and...you know, advocates follow, but you make sure that that process still exists because you should still get a voice.

You get a voice in who you send to Congress and you get a voice to who you send to the White House and all that, but sometimes you need a voice in what they're doing.

Kyle McEntee:

To some extent, this is up to public servants, the policymakers to make sure that they're listening to everyone and not just listening to people who have the ability to afford a lobbyist. And that requires us to think differently about our politicians, I think.

Ludmilla Kasulke:

But that also sort of goes back to the…It's not always the fault of being able to afford the lobbyists. Some of it is also just a resource issue for those companies. Some companies can't sit here and watch congress.gov and look at every bill and analyze every bill and decide whether it hurts them or not and then call their congressmen. So the reality is that anybody could, and effectively. To a certain extent.

Kyle McEntee:

But isn't it also true that people in Congress listen to certain people more than others?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

I have found, at least district offices especially, they are on the ground watching what's happening to their to their constituents, I think particularly in the house because they just have smaller districts 500 jobs, 200 jobs, that means something to them. I think that the strongest cases are always gonna be the ones when there's constituent interests that are involved.

Kyle McEntee:

So you've been at the firm since you were a summer associate. So you've stuck with it for quite a while and now you’re partner. From the firm's perspective, their investment really has paid off. What do you do to bring people along helping summer associates or young associates have that kind of positive experience so that way they can have their professional fulfillment and the firm can continue to be successful?

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Yeah, I think that is such an important point that you just made, that when the firm invests in their first years and their summers, they are investing in their future. That's what a partner on the recruiting committee told me back when I was a summer. I'm on the recruiting committee because I love that stuff. That part of the job is one of my favorite, the mentoring, the summer associate program, working with junior associates. I think part of that is always remembering what it was like to be a junior associate and treat them the way I was treated or maybe I wish I was treated. I never liked those stories of people that were like, well, I had it hard, so you gotta have it hard too. Like, no, that's not, you know, that's not…

Kyle McEntee:

Let's all just make the world a better place and like make it easier for people who come after us.

Ludmilla Kasulke:

Yeah, exactly. Let's make this a really great, look, and the reality is law firm retention is a really important priority. Because of exactly what you said. Once we've invested in you as a first, second, third year, we've trained you. We want you to stay here, not just because we need you to do the work, but because we want this place to feel like a family. And look, I was with Patton Boggs before the merger. And then this big merger happened almost exactly 10 years ago.

Why I have stayed at this firm. A lot of that has been the culture. And a lot of it is around what you said. A lot of it is around how do we build up and prioritize making this a place that people want to stay at. And for me, that means being actively involved in the summer associate program, not just on the recruiting committee, but engaging in the activities. Some of that is being a part of the informal social events and the formal social events, like, you know, maybe starting up an informal book club, things like that, that makes a firm feel more like a family, feel more like you feel more integrated into the community. So, I think that's a lot of what our culture is like here. And policy people, government relations lobbyists, we're people, we love people, we're people persons. We get along and we socialize and all that, but I think that doesn't change outside of the group either.

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