Grassroots Lobby Days
Attending a Lobby Day is one of the most effective ways to influence legislators and also build a relationship with your representatives in the General Assembly. While attending a Lobby Day, you will be able to see both the House and Senate in action, enjoy lunch with your lobbying team and legislators, in addition to attending a House or Senate Judiciary Committee meeting.
Grassroots Lobby Day Experiences
By Justin D. Franklin | CarterFranklin, LLP (Email to Grassroots Coordinator Zach Johnson)
I participated in the Lobby Day organized by the State Bar on March 20, 2013, and the organization and hospitality shown by the Bar’s staff and lobbyists was incredible. However, I was most impressed by the clear direction provided by the Bar’s leadership to the staff and lobbyists working in Atlanta, i.e., to grow the Bar’s political influence by fostering relationships between attorneys across Georgia and their Representatives and Senators serving in Atlanta. And while many lawyers already have long-established relationships and influence with their elected officials, nothing grabs the legislators’ attention like an “onsite” visit demonstrating commitment on specific issues, the seriousness with which you hold their service and votes, or your willingness to discuss the interpretation or potential impact of certain bills. I was able to meet with two Senators and one Representative from districts surrounding my practice. I also had a brief moment with the Speaker of the House and the Governor. I feel confident this effort will yield great things for the Bar in years to come if the effort is sustained. I would encourage any lawyer to participate in this cause.
By John D. Duncan | Prater Duncan & Craig LLC (Email to President Robin Frazer Clark)
I just want to drop you a line after taking part in a lobby day yesterday with Zach Johnson. Even though the session is nearly over, I had a great time at the Capitol learning the ropes with Zach and am excited to foster the connections I made. Zach got me in to take a photo with the Governor, sit in on a committee meeting, observe a house session, learn how to summon a senator or rep, and I got a tour of the grounds and the CLOB. With Zach's help, I was able to meet my senator and get a note to my representative. Now I feel comfortable enough to show up when needed.
I think the program you started here is fantastic, and I plan on telling the lawyers in my neck of the woods just that. I am also in the process of coordinating a time for Zach to meet with the Newnan-Coweta Bar Association so that our bar can be more involved in the process. It is good to know that the Bar's agenda was largely completed this year at the Capitol, and I hope to be of assistance in the future.
By Thomas J. Mew IV | Rogers & Hardin LLP (Email to Grassroots Coordinator Zach Johnson)
Thanks again for setting up the Lobby Day on March 4. It was a tremendously informative experience for me and one I would strongly recommend to other members of the Bar. I had a great time and really enjoyed meeting various members of the legislature as well as fellow members of the Bar. I especially appreciated the chance to learn more about the State Bar’s legislative agenda. I look forward to participating in future opportunities.
By Kelly O. Henderson | Attorney at Law (Email to Grassroots Coordinator Zach Johnson)
I want to express how pleased I am at participating in the State Bar's Lobby Day event. It is great to know the ease with which I can participate in and have influence on legislative proceedings. And while it was great to learn how to navigate the Capitol, gaining an understanding of the need for more lawyers to be involved in the legislative process was the more valuable lesson of the day. I want to thank everyone involved with Lobby Day for understanding where an important demand for our services exists and to proactively increase our awareness of it. I encourage as many members to attend as possible.
By Blake C. Sharpton | Peck Shaffer & Williams LLP(Email to President Robin Frazer Clark)
I just attended one of the State Bar's "lobbying days" and wanted you to know how beneficial I think the day was. The Sandy Springs Bar Association was well represented today, and I would suspect their coordinated participation would serve as a good model for other bar associations.
Zach did a great job herding all of us cats around and getting the group focused on simply talking to their legislators. It's amazing how far removed our lawyers appear to have become from basic politics and the process by which laws are passed.
At any rate, just wanted you to know that I think it's a very worthy endeavor and maybe the efforts will inspire more of our crowd to get (and stay) involved in the process.
By Barry Frankel | Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, LLP (Email to Grassroots Coordinator Zach Johnson)
On Thursday, February 21, Dylan Bess (Morgan & Morgan) and I had the honor of serving as the first “Grassroots Team members” for the State Bar of Georgia. That is, neither of us is a State Bar officer or committee chair, much less on the paid staff of the State Bar office. Rather, we were recruited by State Bar Grassroots Coordinator Zach Johnson to help the State Bar’s professional staff demonstrate the interest Georgia Bar members have in the workings and decisions of our elected officials to the members of the Georgia House and Georgia Senate, in a face-to-face manner.
Our morning at the Capitol began with attendance at meetings for the lobbying teams for GTLA and the State Bar. At those sessions, lobbying team members were given lists of proposed and pending legislation and they discussed the who and how of the day’s efforts to inform members of the House and Senate of the State Bar’s (and/or GTLA’s) thoughts on each piece that needed the attention of the legal community. There is some commonality of the two groups’ lobbying team members, so the back-to-back meetings proved to be very insightful.
From the lobbying team meetings, we headed for the hallways outside each chamber. Once there, Dylan and I sought out representatives and senators with whom we could chat for a few minutes. We literally had them “paged”; young pages entered the chambers and tracked down the individuals we wanted to see. Our respective conversations included letting our law makers know that we were representing the State Bar and offering ourselves as resources if they had questions or needed feedback about matters that might come their way. Those individuals with whom I visited, Senator Judson Hill and Representative Matt Dollar, expressed their gratitude for our interest in their work and expressed thanks for the Bar’s efforts to help in the legislative process.
Dylan and I then had the pleasure of joining the leadership class of the YLD at the 25th Annual Capitol Leadership Luncheon. The highlight of the event was a brief address by Governor Nathan Deal. It was clear from his remarks that the Governor understands the needs of the Bar and the judiciary; that being understandable given his legal background and years spent as a practicing attorney. Indeed, the comments we heard from Bar members and judges in attendance were overwhelmingly appreciative of the Governor’s positions on meeting the needs of the legal community and the people we serve.
The day was capped off with attendance at committee meetings. It seems more work gets done in those sessions, and in the hallways, than on the floors of the legislative bodies.
For someone who had not visited the Capitol in a long time, the day was both enlightening and encouraging. It suggested that you, as a member of the Bar, can make an impact by just letting your elected representative know where you stand on the issues he or she faces. However, the day was only a start. For me to make the day truly productive, I need to follow-up with Senator Hill and Representative Dollar, particularly on matters that impact the Bar. My personal concern is adequate funding for the judiciary. So, my senator and representative will hear from me on the budget provisions in that area.
I encourage each of you to take a day or two and work with Zach Johnson and the rest of our team at the Capitol. Your efforts will help you, your clients and our state.