In many industries, a myriad of laws, regulations, rules, and administrative guidelines govern both small and large businesses alike. The position of a Government Affairs Counsel, more commonly known as regulatory lobbyists, entails representing for-profit and nonprofit business clients and advocating for their business’ goals and objectives in the regulatory arena. At the same time, government affairs counsel is responsible for ensuring that their clients comply with all laws, rules and regulations that regulate their business practices.
Often, government affairs counsel (“regulatory counsel”) provides both regulatory and legal advice to business clients. The number one objective of Regulatory Counsel is to further clients’ business objectives in the regulatory area. First, regulatory counsel must thoroughly understand the business needs of the client; then, counsel must work diligently to ensure that clients’ business objectives comply and align with federal and/or state regulations governing that business.
When necessary, regulatory counsel also works directly with legislators or government agencies advocating clients’ business concerns and interests. Sometimes this advocacy is done proactively while legislation or regulations are still being considered for adoption. At other times, such advocacy is done after-the-fact to change existing legislation and regulations. Alternatively, regulatory counsel may attempt to amend existing legislation and regulations to in order to create a less hostile regulatory environment for the client or for the industry that the client operates it business.
Regulatory counsel is responsible for being knowledgeable about a wide array of compliance issues that vary from industry to industry. For example, the legal and regulatory compliance issues governing the insurance industry are significantly different from the legal and regulatory compliance issues governing the pharmaceutical or healthcare industry. As such, regulatory counsel representing insurance companies must be well versed on the state-specific laws governing the insurance companies’ business in a particular state; on the other hand, regulatory counsel representing drug manufacturers must be knowledgeable about the federal and state laws and regulations governing the pharmaceutical industry. Depending on the type of business and on the particular industry a business operates in, it may be regulated by federal and/or state legislative and administrative governmental bodies.
Legislative and administrative regulations vary not only by industry, but also by each state, and even sometimes by county. As such, regulatory counsel to be effective must stay well-informed about each state’s relevant laws and regulations impacting clients’ business operations in order to stay any unnecessary interruptions to a client’s business operations due to regulatory compliance issues.
Government affairs counsel also advises clients on how to ensure that their business practices comply with applicable laws and regulations in order to avoid costly audits, regulatory violations and fines. To help clients stay ahead of the constantly changing regulatory landscape, counsel must maintain a very strong level of confidence, trust and communications with all stakeholders and decision-makers within an organization.
Jarvis Jones’ regulatory background is in two highly regulated industries: healthcare and insurance. As Senior Government Affairs Counsel for a Fortune 200 Company, Jones has significant legal and regulatory affairs experience in the insurance industry. In his capacity as senior government affairs counsel, Jones has successfully advised senior management on legal and regulatory compliance issues impacting his business clients’ ability to grow and sustain their businesses in many different markets and states across the country.
In Jones’ next blog, he will discuss in greater detail regulatory counsel’s role in addressing and successfully resolving “Regulatory Compliance” issues that adversely hamper a business’ ability to profitably grow and write business in the marketplace.