(October 21, 2019, Washington, DC) — Steptoe partners Jim Barnette and Darryl Nirenberg and associate Kate Jensen have been named to The National Law Journal's list of Trailblazers in Government Relations. The list of 13 lawyers is featured in a supplement in the October issue of the legal publication.
Spanning two decades, Barnette served four different chairmen as general counsel to the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, which exercises jurisdiction over half the legislation introduced in Congress every year. In this role, he helped enact more than 100 public laws, including the landmark Medicare Modernization Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and legislation in areas as diverse as bioterrorism preparedness, energy, telecommunications reform, and internet commerce. Barnette served as principal advocate for the committee’s position with the Senate, House leadership, House Parliamentarian, and other House committees. Barnette led numerous committee oversight and investigation efforts across its jurisdiction.
In private practice, Barnette is widely recognized as a "go-to" advocate for Energy and Commerce issues, focusing on energy, telecommunications, health care, and the environment. He represents household-name clients before Congress to advance and defend their interests on the Hill. His work on Facebook's behalf includes election-related matters, such as probes of "fake news," and heightened attention to Internet privacy and data security. Last year, Barnette's picture was featured in newspapers across the country when he was photographed sitting directly behind Mark Zuckerberg during the Facebook CEO's appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Barnette helped prepare Zuckerberg for his testimony and was featured in the New Yorker for his role.
Nirenberg has spent more two decades in private practice following a 14-year career on Capitol Hill in senior legislative positions in the Senate, including stints as counsel and deputy staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, professional staff of the Senate Agriculture Committee and as chief of staff to Sen. Jesse Helms.
Nirenberg's practice involves combining substantive knowledge, procedural expertise, and bi-partisan contacts among policy makers to produce tangible results for clients. He has been involved in numerous high-profile legislative matters, ranging from issues included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, to exemptions to the medical device tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act, to initiatives related to trade with China and Internet gaming.
For nearly 20 years, Nirenberg has represented Las Vegas Sands Corporation – the world's largest gaming company by market cap. Earlier this year, the company scored a landmark victory when the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel issued a new opinion on the legality of Internet gambling under the Wire Act. In an unusual move, the DOJ reversed the opinion it had issued in December 2011, and found that three of the four gambling prohibitions in the Wire Act make all forms of Internet gambling illegal – not just sports gambling as the DOJ had said in 2011. This reversal was the culmination of a six-year legal and lobbying effort led by Nirenberg on behalf of Las Vegas Sands, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling and the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Jensen, who worked on Capitol Hill in several roles after graduating from college, including in Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi's office, focuses on legislative and regulatory counseling in the financial services and energy efficiency sectors. She formed and is leading a coalition of more than 40 businesses and trade groups urging Congress to pass the Restoring Investment in Improvements Act – bipartisan, bicameral legislation to correct a drafting error in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (H.R. 1) that dramatically lengthened the cost recovery period for qualified improvement property (QIP). The error renders QIP (essentially, interior renovations to existing non-residential buildings) ineligible for bonus depreciation and subject to a 39-year cost recovery period—rather than 15-year property as scored and described in the Conference Report to H.R. 1 and as it was pre-tax reform under the bipartisan PATH Act of 2015.
The coalition includes businesses and trade organizations from a broad range of sectors, including: manufacturing, retailers, restaurants and franchisees, grocers, hotels, theatres, builders and contractors, building owners and operators, commercial real estate interests, and fire chiefs.
In more than 100 years of practice, Steptoe has earned an international reputation for vigorous representation of clients before governmental agencies, successful advocacy in litigation and arbitration, and creative and practical advice in structuring business transactions. Steptoe has more than 500 lawyers and other professional staff across offices in Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington. For more information, visit www.steptoe.com.