Among The Modern Firm's particularly interesting clients are attorneys and small law firms who assist individuals and organizations to participate in the political process. At the federal level, we've worked with various Washington D.C. federal regulatory law and public policy attorneys who navigate the complex seas of United States law and regulations. These attorneys work with clients in the U.S. and abroad, including foreign NGOs and governments. Their job? To make sense of what, to some onlookers, seems an incomprehensible system of lawmaking rooted in complicated agency codes and byzantine legislation.
Public policy law can mean a lot of things. In our current context, it can overlap with political consulting and lobbying. We received some great insight into the work of attorneys who practice "public policy law" today from our newest law firm website design client, veteran Washington D.C. attorney Terry Campo. (If that name sounds familiar, you've probably read or heard about Mr. Campo in the news. He's been involved in political work for decades and has held various government positions.) We (half) joked with Mr. Campo that those of us on the outside of legislative or regulatory processes might have a conception of public policy work as at best involving lunches and golf—and, at worst, well-placed envelopes stuffed full of money. He helped us to understand what a good lawyer does for a client seeking to participate in the regulatory process, and why this sort of practice requires both a deep understanding of the law and the complex, problem-solving ability that every attorney is challenged to develop during law school.
In brief, the attorneys worth their salt who are in involved in legislative or regulatory law are playing a long game. They understand that convincing a legislator, regulator or committee to take up their client's cause or proffered legislation is only the first step in a long process. After legislation comes funding. And often, after a funding mandate, comes agency rule-making, which will govern the largely discretionary executive branch decisions that, ultimately, implement a given law. The lawyer must be engaged during each step of this process, understanding the legal processes, the detailed statutory and code or rule language, and the effects of each step well into the future.
What does all this have to do with law firm or political consultant website design? Namely, this: the complexities of political law are a reminder of what the best web designers face with any new design project. Particularly for those of us who do website design exclusively for attorneys and other law-related professions, we have to remember that many areas of law appear incredibly complicated, from the outside, to the very consumers who need legal services. While, these days, lawyers deserve a fair shout out for speaking more often in plain English, they still often need a helping hand to ensure that they're communicating the complex workings of their field effectively to the layperson. Legalese is not dead. And attorneys are so familiar with their own areas of practice that it can be difficult for them to imagine the mindset of their potential clients, many of whom may be looking for a lawyer for the first time in their lives.
That—we hope—is where The Modern Firm comes in. Having worked with 100s of small and medium-sized law firms—and 1,000s of lawyers—we make it our business to anticipate what information prospective clients searching the internet for attorney services need, as well as to guide our clients to offer that information in an accessible, clear way.
But enough about us. Welcome Terry Campo—we're excited to be designing your new website!