On November 16, the National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics (NILE) hosted its annual black-tie awards ceremony to recognize this year’s top lobbyists in the Kennedy Caucus room on Capitol Hill. For the first time ever, though, NILE added one more special award to this year’s agenda – a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Top Lobbyist on lobbying and ethics presented to the American Bar Association’s very own Tom Susman.
Tom Susman has been a leader and advocate for the American Bar Association (ABA) for over fifteen years. He started as the Associate Executive Director charged with overseeing the ABA’s governmental affairs team, guiding the association’s advocacy efforts at home and abroad, and ensuring its compliance with ethical and legal responsibilities involving our lobbying efforts.
In recent years, Tom transitioned from being a full-time lobbyist for the ABA to being a Strategic Advisor, first to the Governmental Affairs Office and now to the ABA’s Global Programs where he focuses on international rule of law and human rights opportunities. While Tom may have reduced his work hours, his passion for the association and its impact have never been stronger and leaders across the association routinely seek his support as important tasks or sensitive issues arise.
Tom’s journey to becoming a recognized and valued expert on diverse lobbying issues started on Capitol Hill in the 1970s when he worked on lobbying reform legislation. He spent 12 years working in the U.S. Senate, including as Chief Counsel to the Antitrust Subcommittee, General Counsel to the Judiciary Committee, and Legislative Director for Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He was involved in the development of the Lobbying Disclosure Act and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act and has remained engaged on behalf of the lobbying community in efforts to update these laws, as well as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, ever since.
Tom’s influence not only involves domestic lobbying issues, but also international ones. He has advised the Senate Ethics and Transparency Committee in Chile, Parliamentary leadership in the Czech Republic, and numerous other international groups visiting the United States to study our processes so they can learn more about how best to influence their government’s policymaking.
Tom recently returned from a trip to France where he participated in a workshop discussing lobbying the courts.
Tom has also researched, authored, and edited significant portions of the soon to be published sixth edition of The Lobbying Manual, the primary “must-have” reference on federal lobbying law and practice, just as he has every edition since the first one was published in 1992.
Tom’s impact on the lobbying profession over the last four decades made him the perfect choice to be the first ever recipient of this prestigious award. The ABA and Governmental Affairs Office extend their sincere congratulations to Tom for achieving this significant accomplishment.