This article is reprinted with permission from the September 2002 edition of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel.

Forum shopping no longer merely pertains to the courts as more attorneys are now evaluating their clients' needs to determine whether a more appropriate resolution to a client's problem may be found through a legislative, administrative or regulatory solution. Equally important is the development of public-sector business opportunities, particularly in the area of information technology (IT) services and products.

In recent years, law firms have augmented their traditional legal services by developing sophisticated government affairs practices to better assist their existing clients as well as to expand their offering of services to potential new clients. Such practice groups forge a network of relationships within federal, state, and local governments that permits them to work with public sector entities in trying to craft unique solutions to the issues involved in today's corporate world.

One needs only to look at the headlines that consume today's newspapers, television news programs, business magazines and trade journals to realize how significantly government's actions impact the corporate, non-profit and general business environment. Whether it's enacting more stringent oversight of corporate finances, balancing substantial deficits in state budgets, providing economic development incentives, or purchasing technology services and products, all branches of government – not just the judicial system – are responsible for implementing various statutes, policies and regulations that can either help or hurt your client's business.