A Q&A Conversation With Paul Mueller
As a Business Unit Director for Clark Hill’s Government and Regulatory Affairs, Banking and Financial Services, and Bankruptcy business units, Paul Mueller has helped steer significant changes for each group since 2018.
To cap off 2022, he is leading another with the launch of Clark Hill Public Strategies. Those involved in Public Strategies will assist corporations, trade associations, and nonprofit organizations through the engagement of elected representatives and government agencies.
Mueller recently discussed the origins of Clark Hill Public Strategies, how the initiative will enhance client service, and his own career in law firm management.
What sparked the initiative to launch Public Strategies?
In order to continue to grow the firm’s government relations practice, we realized we needed a different structure to better accommodate our lobbyists and professionals who are not lawyers. By launching Clark Hill Public Strategies, we’ll be able to enhance our recruitment efforts and enable our lobbyists to pursue different clients.
How will Public Strategies be different from the traditional GRA group?
We’re separating our traditional GRA practice into two groups. The lobbying arm will go into the Public Strategies structure that will focus on consulting, lobbying, and regulatory work. There will also be a team of people inside the firm providing legal services with a focus on government contracts.
How will Public Strategies enhance what your team can offer to clients?
We’ve created a phenomenal bipartisan team. I think a lot of firms talk about being bipartisan, but we actually are. We have a solid mix of people on both sides of the aisle addressing a portfolio of issues, and we would like to expand that.
We have a unique portfolio of work from our clients in the science and commercial space industries, healthcare, higher education with research universities, and our clients in the energy sector.
We’d like to grow our financial services practice and continue building our regulatory practice. We address issues ranging from appropriations to regulation. Whether it’s from an Administration, Agency, or Congressional standpoint, we can address issues in all those spaces to help our clients.
Given the constantly changing nature of D.C. politics, how does that impact the work of the GRA attorneys or Public Strategies team members?
Believe it or not, a divided government is good for business. You get opportunities to pursue things in potentially different ways. You still rely on key contacts in places to help clients in terms of managing their relationship with the government, but it’s a good time to be doing this type of work.
Switching to your career, how did you start in law firm administration?
I got into law firm management about 20 years ago after 10 years in public accounting. In public accounting, I helped the partners run their business, and that’s essentially what I do now. Before I joined Clark Hill, I spent six years in Saudi Arabia as the chief of staff to the general counsel for Saudi Aramco, which is the state-owned oil company, launching its legal operations team. After deciding it was time to get back to the States, I joined Clark Hill.
How would you describe your day-to-day role of a Business Unit Director?
A lot of it is relationship building with our professionals and working with our business unit leaders. I work very closely with senior leadership and our attorneys and professionals focusing on the business side of their practices. It runs the gamut from engagement management and pricing, to making sure that they have the right resources available to help them, to recruiting individuals to join the team. We collaborate to determine where we want to go and what we want to do.
In GRA, we are constantly asking ourselves, who are we, where are we going, and how will we get there. Striving to answer those questions really drives us to where we want to be.
I think the working relationship the team has is fantastic. It’s a very closely-knit team and we’re very supportive of each other. We’re diverse and we’re working together to solve big problems for our clients.
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