WolfBlock And WolfBlock Public Strategies: The Sum Is Greater Than Its Parts

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 - 01:00
Robert B. Crowe

Editor: Mr. Crowe, would you tell our readers something about your
background and professional experience?

Crowe: I have been a member of the Bar since 1973, and I have always
maintained a Boston law practice. Twenty years ago I opened a consulting
practice, in the area of government relations public strategies, in Washington,
DC and Boston, and I have been commuting between the two cities for a very long
time. I have also been very involved in politics over the years. I served as
John Kerry's finance chair in his Senate races, and I have also served on Ted
Kennedy's finance committee, in addition to working for other Congressmen and
Senators throughout the country and over the years. Two years ago John Kerry
asked me to become the finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Editor: I think our readers would be particularly interested in your
experiences in that particular arena.

Crowe: I have always believed that politics are very important, and
most, although not all, of my pro bono contribution has been to help the
Democratic Party here in Massachusetts and elsewhere. It was a great honor to
work with the Democratic National Committee. I took a year off from my practice
to travel across the country, and during that year I met, and worked with, some
dedicated and absolutely splendid people, one of whom, Mark Alderman, is the
Managing Partner of WolfBlock. We were successful in raising, for the first time
in any Presidential race in history, more money than the Republican National
Committee, an astonishing achievement. Needless to say, it was a very rewarding

Editor: How did you come to WolfBlock? Would you share with us some of the
factors that went into your decision to bring your consulting enterprise into
the WolfBlock fold?

Crowe: Interestingly, the origin of the relationship goes back almost
20 years, when Chris Cushing, my Republican partner, and I were getting started
with The Commonwealth Group. Chris knew Charlie Kopp, the Managing Partner of
WolfBlock, from the 1988 Dole Presidential campaign, and he began to refer
business to our Washington office. After Charlie stepped down as chairman and
Mark Alderman assumed the leadership of the firm, he and I struck up a
relationship during the Clinton years. We became particularly close during the
2004 Presidential race. Mark was very active in Pennsylvania, although his
fundraising efforts and support of the National Committee extended far afield.
Mark was also interested in utilizing The Commonwealth Group to be WolfBlock's
Washington, DC office. We had discussed this over the years, but it was not
until after the 2004 election that Chris and I began to rethink our careers and
came to the conclusion that a merger with WolfBlock would not only establish a
bigger footprint for The Commonwealth Group but also open up some very
interesting opportunities for both parties to the merger.

Editor: It has been a year since we last spoke about the merger and
launching of WolfBlock Public Strategies, LLC. What has taken place?

Crowe: The merger has been a tremendous success. We have increased the
volume of business at the Washington office by 30 percent, and this includes
substantial new business on behalf of several major national companies from a
variety of sectors, including the beverage industry, manufacturing, banking and
defense. A considerable volume of cross-marketing has occurred, with WolfBlock
clients coming to us and vice versa. Prior to the merger, one of the very
significant areas of our practice was in the Homeland Security area. That has
increased dramatically - largely as a result of the clients WolfBlock already
had in the defense field, in addition to start-up and international companies
trying to enter this market - and we, in turn, have been able to send clients
who have come to us for specific government relations work to WolfBlock for
their legal needs. All of this has translated into great success for both
parties to the merger.

Editor: If I may ask you to switch hats, please tell us about your
responsibilities as head of WolfBlock's Boston office.

Crowe: When Mark and I discussed the merger, the possibility of an
office in Boston was on the table. I had had a substantial legal practice in
Boston for many years, and Chris Greeley had built a Massachusetts-oriented
public strategies business here that was expanding. Our established presence in
Boston was looked upon as a way of giving WolfBlock a jump-start in the market,
and I can say - in light of our growth from three to ten attorneys in just one
year - that we appear to have succeeded. We are a full-service law office, and
we are growing rapidly.

Editor: Would you tell us about the reasoning behind the firm's decision
to establish a Boston presence?

Crowe: WolfBlock has had an enviable reputation as an excellent
regional firm, with a particular Mid-Atlantic orientation, for some time. A
presence in Boston widens the footprint and establishes the firm as a player in
the entire Northeast Corridor, Washington, DC to Boston. In a very competititve
legal market such as today's, I think it is important for a firm with
WolfBlock's reputation and standing to be operating in a major legal market such
as Boston. We, Chris and I, enjoyed good reputations on the public strategies
and legal side here in Massachusetts, and our involvement meant, I think, that
the firm could take the step from being a Mid-Atlantic firm to being a Northeast
firm rather quickly. That, I think, is at least part of the reasoning.

Editor: Please tell us about the Boston office.

Crowe: We just moved into our new space. We had been in a temporary
office while we built up the staff, which is now at ten professionals. This
includes some very seasoned partners.

Editor: What disciplines and practice groups are represented?

Crowe: We have a few national clients, but most of the corporations we
represent are based in Boston. Our practice groups are corporate, real estate,
litigation and environmental. The latter area of expertise is our newest
addition to the office. Ken Reich, an environmental partner at my former firm,
came to me and expressed his desire to join WolfBlock because of the very
substantial reputation it enjoys in the environmental field. He knew Ken Warren,
who is in charge of the firm's environmental practice in Philadelphia, for
example. That practice represents a number of national clients, and with the
firm's known strength in this area it made sense to extend that expertise to the
Boston office by bringing in Ken Reich.

Editor: How does the Boston operation fit into the firm's overall

Crowe: As I say, the Boston operation is at the center of expanding
WolfBlock from a Mid-Atlantic focus to include a Northeast focus. We are
building a platform that draws upon the firm's known strengths, and we will
expand this office accordingly. At present, we are in discussions with a major
Boston-area real estate lawyer, and we are also looking at several litigation

Editor: Do you draw upon other offices to staff your projects? And are you
on call to support them in their undertakings?

Crowe: Absolutely. We are able to handle major transactions in Boston
only as a result of being able to call upon personnel from across all of the
firm's offices - WolfBlock has about 300 lawyers and 700 employees. Boston is,
after all, a small operation yet, and it is essential for it to be part of a
multi-office firm with strong synergies.

Editor: You have an established Boston pedigree. Would you tell us about
your civic and community commitments in Boston?

Crowe: Over the years I have been involved in many different things.
Several years ago I started a homeless shelter, utilizing the facilities of a
local hospital, with Governor Dukakis. The governing board of that organization
managed to raise a million dollars to bring that about. I have also spent many
years with the Charles River ARC, a marvelous organization that helps the
mentally disabled. The Boys and Girls Club of Boston has had a great deal of my
attention, and I have also been involved with the American Ireland Fund - I am
co-chairing an upcoming event in Palm Beach for this organization - for many
years. Of course, I have been most heavily involved with Democratic causes,
particularly Congressional and Senatorial campaigns.

Editor: How about your colleagues? What kind of pro bono involvement is
underway? Is WolfBlock on the way to establishing a community presence in

Crowe: All of our partners are involved with charities in Boston and
elsewhere. A high profile involvement for the firm concerns actively assisting
Project Rebirth, which is documenting the entire reconstruction of the World
Trade Center site and the experience of individuals directly affected by 9-11
and producing a feature length motion picture. We believe that it is important
for the firm to show its commitment to civic and charitable work. The community
- and, needless to say, our clients - are looking for us to assume a leadership
role in these endeavors. We are well on our way to establishing a WolfBlock
community presence in Boston, and the fact that Chris Greeley and I have good
Boston credentials means that the firm will be able to do this on an accelerated

Editor: Please tell us about your plans for the future of the Boston
operation. What do you anticipate by way of growth?

Crowe: We are in the process of talking with a number of professionals
who are attracted to the idea of joining a firm like WolfBlock, with its strong
platform and extensive resources, while being a part of an autonomous Boston
operation. In particular, there are many younger entrepreneurial attorneys who
seem to find what we have to offer very attractive. We are growing with good
people. We believe that if someone is in a position to add value, we must do
everything in our power to make a deal.

To this end, we are looking to increase our real estate and trusts and
estates groups. In addition, we are looking to add an intellectual property
feature to our operation. Boston is a strong IP market, and capability in that
area is something that no serious player here can afford to be without. The firm
recently enlarged that department in New York by acquiring a respected IP firm,
and that has encouraged us to reach out to some of the local IP lawyers.

Editor: Is there anything you would like to add?

Crowe: Overall, this merger has resulted in an organization that is
greater than the sum of its parts. In the past, we had a loose relationship with
WolfBlock that achieved some success, but nothing like what has been
accomplished with the merger. And the future looks very

Please email the interviewee at rcrowe@wolfblock.com with questions about this interview.