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Ahead of the Curve: Influencing Legislation in a Dynamic Political Landscape

Jul 8, 2024
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Jeremy Evans is a state lobbyist working out of a law firm in a rural state capital. He discusses the personal and professional angles of relationship development, an especially difficult task in a state that sees a lot of turnover among state legislators. Since the legislature is only in session for three months, it's a really intense time for him and his team. They spend it tracking bills from committee to the floor, keeping their own whip count, educating elected officials, and staying informed. Time out of session is spent on elections, relationship development, and preparing for the next session. Jeremy is a graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. 

Transcript

Kyle McEntee:

We’re joined today by Jeremy Pisca, partner at Risch Pisca. A law and policy firm in Boise, Idaho. In other words, you co-run a lobbying firm in a state capital. How do you describe your job to people when you meet socially?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, most people don't have a really good idea of what a lobbyist actually is. And as a profession, it's much maligned. But the way I generally describe what it is that I do to people is people hire a lobbyist in the same way that they would hire a lawyer. And that's essentially if they've got a problem with a law that they need to have changed in some way, or if there's a proposed bill going through the legislature that is detrimental to their business or to them personally, they hire me to have an effect on whatever's happening at the Idaho State Legislature.

Kyle McEntee:

So how are these clients finding you?

Jeremy Pisca:

You know, most of it I'm proud to say is by word of mouth and reputation. I don't really advertise. We have a website and that's the sum total of our outreach and advertising. But, I've been doing this for now almost 25 years. Most of my clients come to me through referrals by other lobbyists, either because they're conflicted out or they know a lobbyist in another state and they make a referral when they need somebody in the state of Idaho, my name comes up.

Kyle McEntee:

What's the balance of clients who are kind of local to Idaho versus national?

Jeremy Pisca:

I would say that's our portfolio is probably 50-50. But if you take one of my clients, for example, the Idaho Beer and Wine Distributors Association, that's a client that I not only serve as their lobbyist, but I serve as their executive director. I manage the association. There is a national association of wholesale beer executives. Most of those people are also lobbyists.

Other national clients that I represent like pharma, for example, all of these national type clients will have a national conference once a year to sort of explain what their policies and their priorities are, to explain what kind of challenges they'll be seeking as an organization, and try to educate all their lobbyists. So there's a built-in network in each.

Kyle McEntee:

Do you find that the work is different based on whether they're Idahoan or more national?

Jeremy Pisca:

Yes, I do. I have noticed over the years that the more local the client is, generally the more work they tend to be. Just because there are boots on the ground and they know some of the players and they want to be helpful. As opposed to national clients. You know, they're air dropping in with certain issues. They really just want somebody on the ground to manage their issues for them. So the local ones do end up being a little bit more work generally.

Kyle McEntee:

So you started with a career in politics before you went to law school and becoming a lobbyist. I think this means that you have a deeper understanding of how policy is made than someone who say just went to law school. In what ways do you see the impact of that path on the work you're doing?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, it has every impact on the work that I'm doing. I set out to be a lawyer. There's no question about that. Along the way, I sort of fell into politics. And then graduating from law school, I met an attorney who was also practicing lobbying at the same time. And it just seemed to be the perfect marriage of two professions. And so I've always practiced law as well as been a lobbyist.

But having that early introduction into politics. I did an internship in Washington, DC in a Senate office. I came back, I worked on a gubernatorial campaign. That candidate ended up winning. So I went on staff with him to do health, welfare, and education policy. And from there I left and went to law school. So understanding how laws were made, understanding the legislative process and the different personalities and the different branches of government was hugely beneficial going into law school and then obviously beneficial coming out.

Kyle McEntee:

Yeah, I'm reflecting back right now on my first week of law school and I barely had any idea how the government worked. I'm not sure I really have any much better understanding now. I really feel like you got to be in the weeds to really understand the relationships and how to leverage them to get what your clients are actually looking for.

Jeremy Pisca:

It's definitely a delicate balance, that's for sure. It's a lot of relationship building, and it's a lot of trust in your reputation and your ability to deliver good information.

Kyle McEntee:

I feel like relationship building is like a thing people say. I'm not saying it's not true, but I think people don't really dig beyond the surface. What exactly does that mean to develop a relationship with someone in this context?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, there are 105 legislators in the Idaho legislature. For me to be effective, they need to know who I am. They need to know who my clients are. They need to know what my reputation is and how much trust they can place in the information that I'm going to give them. And part of that is getting to know them. I don't know how many lobbyists there are registered in the state of Idaho, but it's probably well over 300. So you have to stand out in some way. The Idaho legislature meets between January and roughly the end of March. The rest of the year, I'm meeting with these folks one-on-one to get to know them better, for them to get to know me and my clients better.

Kyle McEntee:

Is it just in a work context, like you're setting up meetings or a lunch, or are you seeing them in social contexts as well?

Jeremy Pisca:

It's all of that, absolutely, social context as well. I think the best time to get to know somebody is when you're not asking them for anything and you're not trying to sell them anything. So it's better just to get to know people one-on-one, get to know who they are, what makes them tick. One of the wonderful things about this job is that I have so many friends that I've met throughout the years, whether they're in office or out of office. One of the downsides is that sometimes when these people leave office, I lose contact with them and that's a shame. But there are some genuinely good people that work in public policy. So it's very social.

Kyle McEntee:

You mentioned that you actually went to law school intending to practice law. What did you have in mind?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, frankly, when I was going through undergrad, I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. I had worked for a law firm as a runner the entire time I went to undergrad. So it was those lawyers that I worked around that really convinced me that I would be a good lawyer. And so they sort of pushed me to go to law school.

Along the way, I fell into politics and then I fell in love with the process and the people. So going into law school, I knew that if there was a way that I could successfully merge being a lobbyist and practicing law, that was going to be the direction that I wanted to head. And I ended up connecting with the most well -respected lobbyist in the state, in my opinion, who happened to both practice law and be a lobbyist. So it was my dream to sort of connect with his firm and that worked out.

Kyle McEntee:

And at what point did you start your own shop?

Jeremy Pisca:

I would say it was probably four or five years after I was in that law firm. There were a couple of opportunities that presented themselves and, four or five years after that, I started this firm with my law partner, Jason Risch.

Kyle McEntee:

How did you know when it was time to go out on your own? Four or five years seems pretty fast.

Jeremy Pisca:

Gee, trying to think if there's a delicate way to say this. Umm, money. You know, I had a generally good idea of how much I was bringing into the firm and how much they were paying out. And when those two things became incongruent, I thought, “well, this isn't a risk to leave.” It's unfortunate because I absolutely loved working with them.

Kyle McEntee:

So when you ultimately joined up with your current partner, he's not a lobbyist. How does that structurally work?

Jeremy Pisca:

So before either one of us were lawyers, we were friends. And then moving forward, his father, is a tremendous attorney in his own right. And my partner was really following in his dad's footsteps. His dad got elected to the United States Senate and their firm was coming apart because of that. The same time I was having my own dynamics with the firm I was at and Jason and I just got together and said, well, we've already we've always talked about doing this and if.

If the stars were ever in better alignment, I don't know when they would be. So that's when we got together. But it was always with the understanding that he never really wants, never wanted to be a lobbyist. And I always wanted to do both. But the further I got into the lobbying practice, the more impractical it was to actually be able to be a litigator and also a lobbyist. The two schedules just don't, they don't match up very well.

Kyle McEntee:

Well, yeah, I mean, you're in legislative session, you know, the first part of the year and judges are not going to look too kindly on you saying, “Hey, legislature's in session. Can we, can we do this trial another time?”

Jeremy Pisca:

That was the lightning bolt moment. When I requested my unavailable dates as January 7 – Match and the judge said, “who do you think you are? This trial is going to be scheduled for March 2nd so you better go figure it out.” That’s when I knew this was not gonna work out so hot.

Kyle McEntee:

How was that transition? Did you miss it, or did you immediately know you made the right move?

Jeremy Pisca:

I definitely made the right move. One of the things I really like about being a lobbyist is it's far less deadline driven than a litigation practice. There are so many different scheduling requirements. There are so many different deadlines for documents, for filings. There's far less of that. I know when the legislature is going to be in. I know when the legislature's target dates are to get bills introduced, to get bills passed and across one rotunda into the other. I understand how all of that works. I have a little bit more control over my time and, all attorneys by and large are procrastinators. They'll wait until the absolute last second and then jam and file something. It's a lot, different on the lobbying side.

Kyle McEntee:

Is that because so many of the rules are dictated by the law as opposed to the kindness of a judge or the opposing counsel?

Jeremy Pisca:

It's a session that's dictated by law, but really it's a session that's dictated by the individual legislators own time commitments. In other words, each committee chairman schedules the bills when they want to schedule them. You generally have a pretty good heads up, but sometimes you have less than 24 hours. So there is no time for procrastination. You're on when the legislature is in. You’re in the office, you are on 24 hours a day, seven days a week until they adjourn.

Kyle McEntee:

Do you have anyone on staff helping you?

Jeremy Pisca:

Yes, I have two other lobbyists that work with me, neither one of them are attorneys, but extremely gifted and have a very good grasp on how all of this works. One of them is a former legislator. The other lobbyist that we employ is really kind of a campaign strategist master. And then of course, I have my administrative assistant who handles all the scheduling. So it's a built out, established firm with layers of people going in different directions.

Kyle McEntee:

So with the rapid pace during the legislative session, what does the work product look like?

Jeremy Pisca:

It depends on what the situation is, right? If we're trying to kill a bill, it also depends on, you know, where that bill is in the process. If the bill is going to happen in front of the House Health and Welfare Committee, well, then it's a race to get to 50% plus one of those legislators and try to get them convinced that this is a bad idea. Or conversely, if you're trying to pass a bill, it's the same routine. If it gets out of a committee, now you're looking at 70 members of the House of Representatives and have to get a majority of them, then repeat the whole process again in the Senate.

Kyle McEntee:

Are you constantly having to do your own whip count or who can you rely on for that?

Jeremy Pisca:

I think a smart lobbyist doesn't rely on anybody else. I rely on my team because, you know, I trained them. We don't count anybody as a yes or no unless we're absolutely positive they are a yes or a no. I tend to not trust other lobbyists and their vote counts. This is a better practice. I know who I've spoken with directly and I know what they've said back to me.

Kyle McEntee:

Is that lack of trust because you think they might be providing misinformation on purpose or because they just haven't done the due diligence that you think's required?

Jeremy Pisca:

I think it could be all of that. The buck stops here. And so I don't want to rely on anybody else's word of mouth. I want to know for myself. So we're sticklers about that.

Kyle McEntee:

Again, since it's a really rapidly paced few months, there's a lot of issues floating around that you have different clients dealing with. What are the implications for that on how you make money?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, most of what I do, I mean, as an attorney, you're familiar with, you know, getting a retainer and then working against the retainer on an hourly basis. I don't do that anymore. We represent about 30 different clients. So at any given time, I could be doing work for all 30 of them or two. So everything is a flat fee-based retainer. It's an annual retainer. Sometimes I win on those on an hourly basis and sometimes I lose, but it's just too difficult to do anything on an hourly basis.

Kyle McEntee:

Can you say a little bit more about what you mean by when you're losing on that structure?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, everything is the time value of money. So when you bid a contract, you try to figure out how many hours it's going to take you. You times that by your hourly rate. And that's how you come up with your contract price. Every session I have a client where I think, well, this is going to be easy. And then it ends up turning into the biggest issue of the session. So had I been able to go back and do it over again, I would have bid that contract differently.

Kyle McEntee:

So when you're talking flat fee, are you talking just a singular amount that you agree to upfront, or is this more like a subscription, or is it just depend on the client?

Jeremy Pisca:

Nope, generally it's a one year annual fee that I break up into 12 installment payments.

Kyle McEntee:

Okay, that makes sense. So sometimes when you're making your calculation, you make mistakes. What happens at that point? If you're just putting way too much work in for what you agreed to upfront.

Jeremy Pisca:

Most of the time, I will just eat it. I will provide every bit of service that any client would come to expect, and I just eat it. Sometimes if the project becomes way larger than either one of us participated, I can go back and renegotiate something. But I would say 99.9% of the time, I just eat it. That's part of the business. There are other clients where they're paying the exact same type of retainer and I'm able to accomplish a result much sooner. So it all comes out in the wash.

Kyle McEntee:

You said earlier, so much of this is about relationships and this is really the same thing, right? If you agree to it, you're obligated to do it, but then on the flip side of it, if your client, they don't want to screw you either.

Jeremy Pisca:

Right. But like I said, it all evens out in the wash. We take a lot of pride in making sure that we under promise and over deliver.

Kyle McEntee:

Continuing on in that relationship theme, you've lived and worked in Idaho now for many years, which means that you've developed a lot of close relationships with legislators that are both professional and friendly. As someone who is just naturally drawn to people like you are and share things in common with so many of these individuals, how do you walk that ethical line between that and someone who is a lobbyist trying to influence legislation and politics?

Jeremy Pisca:

I don't think there's an ethical line. I don't feel like I've ever been put in a position where there was an ethical line. But part of that is for me and my team, we preach this constantly. As important as I may think I am, I was never elected to do anything. So even though these people may not agree with me, I give them the respect that they stuck their neck out. They ran a race, they were elected. All of the heat is on them all of the time. I just go into it knowing that no two people can agree 100 % of the time. And even these people who I consider very good friends, they're not going to be able to be with me on every single issue. And I just know that going in. I try to not take it personally. It's just part of the job.

Kyle McEntee:

A lot of what you're doing is educating on behalf of your clients and they could take it or leave it. And you know a lot about them. That's why you develop relationships with them. That's why you spend all the time you do, studying the people and circumstances around you. What are the steps though you're taking to continue to develop that knowledge? Because people are ever changing. Context is continuously changing.

Jeremy Pisca:

During the last redistricting and the last election cycle, I want to say that 40 % of the legislature turned over. We just had our primary elections here in Idaho, and there's another huge percentage of people, I think 15 incumbents, lost their primary elections. So you've got another huge turnover. Trying to get out and meet those people before they actually come into the legislature is a challenge. But we travel the state, we have clients in every pocket of the state, and so I try to get out. I try to meet with legislators where they live. I just try to pick up the phone and call them and say, “Hey, here's who I am. I'm going to be in your area. Would you have any interest in getting together for a cup of coffee?” And typically they are interested.

Kyle McEntee:

Why are they interested? I mean, is it because they, your reputation precedes you? You're someone who might be helpful to them in the future?

Jeremy Pisca:

I'd like to think that. But yeah, I mean, I think that new legislators coming in are awfully curious about the process. Everybody thinks they have an idea of what they're getting into. And then once they get into the legislature, they find, “Oh this is different than what I thought it was. Lobbyists are different than what I thought they were.” I love to hear legislators after their first session, and I ask them, “what did you think of the lobbying core?“ And they say, “I had no idea what I didn't know and how much I've come to depend on people with good, accurate information.”

Kyle McEntee:

I mean, I think there's a lot of misinformation out there about lawyers. They think they have some sense of what they do. That's part of why we have this show. Same thing for lobbyists. What do you think is the thing that most people get wrong about lobbyists?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, I think it's like all the lawyer jokes you hear. I mean, it's one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. So you tend to hear about the bad acts of lobbyists back in D.C. or somebody who's been stung. I mean, there are bad actors out there. I'm pretty blessed to be in the state of Idaho where we don't seem to have that as much. It's a tight knit community. So if you're into being a shyster, you're going to be found out pretty quick.

Kyle McEntee:

So one way to not be one of those bad actors is to actually observe the conflicts of interest that may arise. What does that process actually look like when you are trying to figure out if you can onboard a new client?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, that's a great question. So the very first thing I do when I talk to any potential client who contacts me is disclose to them a list of clients that I already represent. Just to make sure that before the conversation goes any further, this is where I'm currently engaged. If you have a problem, then I'm happy to refer you somewhere else. But if we survive that stage, I always put in my engagement letters a link to the Secretary of State's registration website. So you can go online and see in real time which clients I'm registered to represent. So that avoids a lot of conflicts there. We have a book of about 30 different clients that we work for in the legislative area. So conflicts are bound to arise. I try not to take clients that are going to have obvious conflicts, but they do happen from time to time.

Generally, we're able to successfully resolve that. I use the Rules of Professional Conduct that all attorneys are bound by. Even though I'm technically not practicing law, I treat it exactly as though I were practicing law. So if a situation comes up where two clients are going to be an obvious conflict, I give them both written consent. And I basically put the ball in their court to ask them how they want to resolve it.

I've had clients say, “well, represent them on this and not our position and make it clear to legislators that you're conflicted on this provision. You still represent us, just not on this particular issue.” I've had clients say, “you know what, don't share our secret information with them and don't share their secret information with us, but you know, just give us both a fair opportunity that, as you know, these issues arise that we both get information about it.” In 25 years, I've only had true conflicts that couldn't be resolved maybe three times. And in that case, I would just have to walk away from the client.

Kyle McEntee:

I think the Rules of Professional Conduct here for lawyers is pretty interesting because, in the one sense, it does restrict what you're able to do by observing them even when you don't need to. But it also kind of provides you an advantage in these conversations because it gives you something concrete to point to. Are you feeling like in general, these clients are appreciative of you bringing these things up even when you maybe don't really have to?

Jeremy Pisca:

I think they definitely appreciate it because, the legislature is only three, three and a half months long. They don't have a lot of time to pivot if there is a conflict and they need to find somebody else to do it. So I try to make sure everybody knows what's going on well in advance as early as I possibly can. That's also a reputational thing. I don't want that to be my reputation. I want to be honest and ethical at all times and I want that to be the marquee for our firm.

Kyle McEntee:

So I guess another problem you could run into is a client who is just asking you for something that is either not possible or not in their best long-term interests. How are you navigating those conversations?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, it's much like being a lawyer. You're an advocate, but you're also a counselor. And so I really feel like I'm not giving my client real value unless I'm being brutally honest with them. If they want to take a position that I think won't work or if I, if they want to take a position that's ethically, you know, questionable for me, I will just straight out tell them, “you're going to have a better chance if you try to do something along these lines.” And they appreciate that. I think in the entire 25 years I've been doing this, I've only had a client one time say, “we don't care. We want you to do it anyway.”

Kyle McEntee:

What happened?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, I ended up getting creamed. I told them the legislature wasn't going to go for that type of a position. It was a conservative legislature and prides itself on lack of government heavy handedness. And it was definitely a heavy-handed government type of bill. And as predicted, we just got walloped.

Kyle McEntee:

How do you move past that with a client like that who, you know, basically led you to the butcher?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, sometimes it's necessary. You know, I've had a couple clients where I told them flat out, we're going to move in this direction. And I understand why you're doing it, but you have to understand we're going to get killed. And then of course, we do get killed. Sometimes it's a principle thing. You know, one of the clients that I represent is the Newspapers Association. And a big part of what makes the Newspaper Association tick is keeping meetings open and records open and public. And when the legislature moves to close down a public record, they lose their minds. In this case, they were closing down a public record. And I knew the legislature was going to pass it because they were closing down their own records. So of course we went in and we did get killed. But I understand the principle of it. And I understand that sometimes you need to make a stand even if you're going to lose. You need to get those points out there.

Kyle McEntee:

So what are the tools you have in your toolbox to get those points out there?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, it's a lot of one-on-one conversations. Your first bite of the apple is to try and stop something or pass something in a committee. Then you move to the floor. Then you move to the other side of the rotunda and you do that whole process over again. I do think that, being a lawyer and being trained as a lawyer has helped me perform better before legislative committees. I testify. A lot of lobbyists won't, but to me it's a lot like appellate argument. you get your case out there, you get your facts out there and you know, you pick apart the other side.

Kyle McEntee:

So that first time you testified with the legislature, what was going through your head?

Jeremy Pisca:

That was a long time ago. But the first real vivid memory I have of testifying before a committee was I had written an entire scope of practice act for the practice of physical therapy in the State of Idaho. So since I had taken and created an entire chapter of code, I was really the only one that could speak to it, explain to the legislative committee what was going on in the bill, and then just respond to questions. I think that I would be lying to you if I didn't say it was nerve wracking every time you get up to testify. It's a very public event. And obviously you don't want to look foolish in whatever you do. These are legislative committees that have different levels of people and different levels of understanding. So sometimes you never really know where the question's going to come from. Sometimes it may not even really be relevant, but you have to think on your feet. And that's kind of the challenge.

Kyle McEntee:

I’m impressed you can remember. I testified to the Tennessee legislature, 10, 12 years ago, and I think I blacked out the entire time. I think I did all right, but I don't remember a minute of it.

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, that happens too. Then you go back to your chair and say, did that sound all right? Did I say that? I don't remember what I said.

Kyle McEntee:

That's funny.

Jeremy Pisca:

It's a lot of pressure. I understand it.

Kyle McEntee:

Yeah. Well, I would imagine one of the other tools you have is the media. Local media, I think they pride themselves on covering state and local politics. What is your relationship like with the press, especially since the association of newspapers is one of your clients?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, I have a good relationship with the press. Now, having said that, I've always thought a more effective lobbyist is one that is not out front in the media. I should not be the spokesman for whatever cause it is. There are times in which I have to be. We talked about the Beer and Wine Distributors Association and how I serve as the executive director for that organization. I'm the default spokesman for the organization.

But for other corporate type clients, they all have their internal public relations people. So I can help craft what I think the message ought to be. And then typically it's their internal people that deal directly with the media. From time to time, I get reporters that call me and I try to provide comments back to them or lead them in the right direction. But I very much try to stay out of getting my name in the paper.

Kyle McEntee:

Always better to be on background, I think as a lobbyist it sounds.

So when you're dealing with the corporate clients, they might be talking to the press, their PR teams might be managing those relationships, but how are you educating the PR teams to make sure that they're actually saying messages that advance their cause? Especially when it's a national client and you're on the ground in Idaho and actually understand the local politics in a way maybe they don't get from the outside.

Jeremy Pisca:

I'd have to say that I'm pretty fortunate in that the clients that I do have, they're generally long-term clients, so they know what they're getting when they sign on with us. And, I feel like they have a good degree of trust in what it is that I'm advising. The benefit of me having done this as long as I have, and, you know, having all these different clients and knowing all these different people that are involved in the political processes. I have a pretty good feel for what they want to hear, but also what's going to fly in the public. So really helping them message isn't really that difficult. Sometimes it becomes more difficult if it's a national client, because then they're not just speaking to Idaho legislators and to Idahoans, they're speaking to the nation, the world.

Kyle McEntee:

So I would imagine then you're trying to take that into account when you're helping them craft their messages. How do you get up to speed on other areas of the country or world when it's not the thing you're living and breathing every day?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, again, so with clients that are national in scope, most of the time, at least annually, they'll have all of their legislative representation come into town for a seminar and explain to us what's happening. So generally I have a pretty good idea of, of what my client's interests are, even if they're beyond the state of Idaho. they send us newsletters. I get at least one a week from probably every single one of them. Sometimes it's daily. So I keep on top of that pretty well. I consume a lot of news in this job. Like the first thing I do is read at least three newspapers. And it's probably realistically more like five sources of news.

Kyle McEntee:

Which are the five you're reading?

Jeremy Pisca:

Well, so I read two local papers, three local papers. One is one of these new online nonprofit type platforms. So it's like five stories. So I would consider that local Axios News for a national perspective. There's a periodical that I read called The Political Wire. So I get a sense of what's going on federally as well. But you know, that's at least a good hour every morning at least.

Kyle McEntee:

So it sounds like your January to March is just absolutely crazy. Are you talking like 80-hour work weeks or is it not that extreme?

Jeremy Pisca:

You know, every day is a little bit different. And I'm very fortunate to be in the position now where I have awfully good help with me. So but I would say a typical day for me generally starts around four or five a.m. That doesn't mean that I'm actually working that entire time, but that's generally when my day starts and it starts with news and it starts in trying to lay out what the day is going to be. Then a typical work day during the legislative session, is probably until at least eight, nine o 'clock at night. There are legislative events that happen , Again it’s more of that, you know, just getting out and getting to know people. Sometimes those go till 10, 10:30. So we cram a lot into a little bit of time.

Kyle McEntee:

And is it a lot different when the legislative session's out?

Jeremy Pisca:

Yes. I don't have to wear a tie. I love it.

Kyle McEntee:

I can't believe they'd make you wear a tie in Idaho anyway. I just think of everyone, you know, dress more casually like you are now.

Jeremy Pisca:

Yeah, not at the legislature. Everybody wears suits and ties and dress clothes. It's like going to court every day.

Kyle McEntee:

Oh, interesting. I guess some traditions just manage to persist somehow.

Jeremy Pisca:

Exactly. You wouldn't think of showing up in court without a tie.

Kyle McEntee:

So we talked earlier about all the benefits of your pre law school work in government and politics and how that helps you be a lobbyist. What about your experience as a lawyer? How is that helping you?

Jeremy Pisca:

First of all, just to restate, you do not have to have a law degree in order to be a lobbyist. And there are a ton of lobbyists that are not lawyers that are very good in their own right. But one thing I like to say to potential law students is, if you go to business school, you're going to learn a lot about business. But if you go to law school, you're going to learn a little bit about everything. But more importantly, you're going to learn how to teach yourself most everything. That's a skill that I think is probably underrated for lawyers that are practicing as lobbyists. Having a little bit of information about every single subject area really helps in preparation.

It also helps that as a practicing lawyer, I draft a lot of contracts. You draft a lot of communication. The entire job is communication, right? If people don't understand what it is you're trying to say, then you've wasted two people's time. And possibly more. So I take a lot of pride in drafting contracts. I take a lot of pride in drafting bills. I feel like I have a leg up on other lobbyists because I can draft a statute. I think that's probably one of my calling cards really is that I'm considered a pretty good bill drafter. I think that other lobbyists can do that. But when you have a legal training and you have a legal background and you understand what the consequences of having a bad law, what the consequences are, it makes you a better lobbyist on the front end.

Kyle McEntee:

And knowing that all that it takes to make a bad law is an erroneous word or an extra comma.

Jeremy Pisca:

Exactly. You look at everything through the lens of what is a court going to do with this if it gets challenged.

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