Political consulting is a multi-faceted concept that has fundamentally transformed the democratic landscape of the USA in less than a century to date.
The classic definition of political consultancy is the art / science of assisting a political campaign or movement. However, in twenty-first century USA, political consulting is more than just advice, mail shoots and strategy meetings in low-lit hotel conference rooms.
Political consultants now need to be (social) media and technology savvy to ensure that they can offer the best possible service to their clients. The recent meteoric surge in influence and impact of social media and digital platforms has further transformed American political consulting. Politicians and political campaigns now need to have a well-crafted, well-presented presence on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.
In addition, modern American political consultancy requires sharpened analytical skills for the likes opposition research and data harvesting and demographic breakdowns.
Political consultancy is not for peanuts either. In the Presidential election year of 2016, it was estimated that the industry had $6 billion dollars go to it or through it.
Washington DC is now a hive of political consultancy, with both individuals and firms competing for lucrative contracts and vital contacts in the power-house of American democracy.
However, the industry is not just limited to the highest echelons of American politics. Political consultancy permeates every strata of government, from federal, through state and down into city and local level. In a continental sized country, that allows for an awful lot of elections on an almost permanent basis.
Opportunities are therefore prevalent in the USA. While other countries have their own political consultancy market, the American model is by far and away the biggest and, as we have seen, most lucrative.
American democracy consists of a myriad of elements, and not just Democrats, Republicans or Independents all operating at federal, state or local level. Consider also the multitude of Super PACs, influence groups, committees and so on, and you have almost limitless opportunities for consultants to pursue.
Political consultancy in the USA is a relative new kid on the block per the American democratic model. However, rest assured, that kid is here for good.
The USA is not only a bastion of democracy, it is also prides itself on being “a nation of laws, not men.” Consequently, the American Constitutional model highlights the importance of the separation of powers between the executive, the legislature and, crucially, the judiciary.
All Americans are afforded due process under the law. In a country the size of a continent, with hundreds of millions of citizens, and a Constitutional commitment to the application and interpretation of the law, it should surprise no one that litigation is alive and well in twenty-first century America.
Unsurprisingly, traditional lawyers and law-firms are found in abundance across the USA. However, in the just the last decade alone, legal consultancy operations have begun to flourish across the USA and offer an alternative to orthodox, traditional law firms.
Legal consultants may be seen as “leaner” versions of qualified lawyers. While a lawyer may represent a client and make representations before a judge, a legal consultant offers similar expertise but without the right of audience and representation before the Court. But that may just be ideal for a paying client.
Or to put it another way, a legal consultant in the USA will ensure that their client is operating within the perimeters of legality, as does a regular lawyer, but with the lawyer being able to advocate before a judge. And the reality is, advocacy in the court-room is not always going to be a deal-breaker for some.
Legal consultants can offer a wide range of expertise and legal knowledge in any given field. Further, legal consultants can often-times offer a better deal financially for their clients. Lawyers come with hefty price-tags, whereas legal consultants, free of the sort of overheads that lawyers have to absorb and pass on, can streamline their services and therefore offer better prices.
On top of that, a stellar feature of the American legal consultancy model is the specific attention that their clients will receive. Classic law firms are often bogged down with a wide range of clients and turnaround times can suffer accordingly.
In contrast, with legal consultancy, the risk of slow turn-around time is dramatically reduced as consultants are much less bound by precedent and procedure and consequently offer a tailored, streamlined service for their paying clientele.
Legal consulting food for thought…