Ray LeBov is a longtime Capitol Lobbyist who also teaches other people how to get into the business with his Capitol Seminars lobbying classes.
What prompted you to get into lobbying?
It was a natural progression for me. I served as counsel to various committees in the legislature for 17 years, the last 12 of which with the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Immediately thereafter, I was offered the opportunity to direct the California Judicial Council’s Office of Governmental Affairs. That was a perfect segue for me in that it provided the opportunity to advocate with the Legislature and governor on many of the same issues that I had been involved with previously and that I cared about deeply.
How long have you been lobbying?
A total of 19 years: 13 for the Judicial Council and another 6 after that for various clients through my own firm.
You are a teacher and mentor for lobbyists. In terms of job satisfaction, how does that differ from doing the lobbying yourself?
It is very satisfying to be able to pass on much of what I’ve learned in my 36 years in and around the capitol. The aspect of lobbying that I enjoy most is strategizing a game plan – I would say that is the dimension of actual lobbying that is irreplaceable in terms of satisfaction.
In your experience, what’s the most common inquiry from people who want to learn how to lobby?
There are a few that recur: how to best prepare for a career in lobbying, how to enter the profession, what skills and characteristics are needed to excel, how to “level the field” when you are up against a powerful interest, which legislator to ask to carry your bill.
What’s the most satisfying thing about lobbying?
Having a well-thought out and executed plan result in a legislative victory.
What’s the toughest thing about lobbying?
Maximizing the positive and minimizing the negative impacts that a client can have on a lobbying effort.
What are some common mistakes lobbyists make?
Not managing client expectations, confusing motion with action, ignoring minority party members and staff, not tempering persistence with patience, losing a potential major victory by stubborn pursuit of the unattainable, taking setbacks personally, and, believe it or not, not reading the bill they are lobbying for!
Can everyone succeed as a lobbyist?
A lucky 5 percent will immediately, almost instinctively “get it” and therefore succeed instantly. They are the “naturals.” Twenty-five percent will take some work but “get it” fairly easily. Fifty percent will struggle some, but, with some significant work, will “get it.” Twenty percent won’t ever “get it” to the point where they can be successful in any meaningful way. The interesting thing is that many if not most of this last group are quite intelligent and usually quite successful in another line of work. I guess they are just “wired differently.” Whether they actively resist or not, they are just not oriented to perceive things in ways that contribute to succeeding as a lobbyist.
More than 850 people have taken the Lobbying 101 class. Who are they?
Prospective lobbyists, new and relatively inexperienced lobbyists, veteran lobbyists, lobbyist employers, lobbyist support staff, and interested citizens who want to become better informed about how the legislature functions.