Updated 6:03 p.m.
Former Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has joined the lobby shop at Covington & Burling, the firm announced Wednesday.
Kyl, who retired in January as the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, joins as senior adviser in the public policy and government affairs practice. He will advise clients on the policy aspects of tax, health care, defense, national security and intellectual property. During the two-year lobbying ban on former senators, which does not extend to the executive branch, he said he'll primarily be advising clients on these issues.
"I practiced law for almost 20 years in Phoenix before my career in politics," Kyl said. "The skills that I acquired as the minority whip and other leadership positions convinced me that I can offer to clients a lot of judgment and wisdom that is difficult to come by otherwise."
Prior to joining Congress, Kyl spent his legal career with Arizona-based firm Jennings, Strouss & Salmon. During his tenure with the firm, he said he worked on a variety of matters related to everything from real estate to insurance defense to water law, as well as legislative lobbying.
When deciding to return to private practice, Kyl said he considered other law firms, but said "Covington was top on the list." He cited the firm's international footprint and public policy practice as influences in his decision. "Covington has a great group of clients that they have worked with for many, many years," he said.
First elected as a congressman in 1987, Kyl served Arizona's fourth district until 1995, when he became the junior senator for Arizona. During his three terms in the Senate, Kyl served on the Judiciary Committee and Finance Committee. He was the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.
Kyl, who had a reputation as a deal-maker in Congress, was also one of the 12 members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, dubbed the Supercommittee, which was charged with finding a bipartisan plan to cut $1.5 trillion from the budget over 10 years.
Kyl said that as a member of Congress, he was able to successfully halt the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He also cited his work on legislation like the Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Patent Reform Bill.
Covington partner Dan Bryant, chair of the firm's public policy and government affairs group, said that Kyl's leadership roles brought him significant travel opportunities which will help the firm's goal of further expanding its international presence. As a member of the House or Representatives, Kyl said he traveled to Nicaragua and El Salvador. As a Senator, he traveled to Germany to meet with defense officials of NATO countries. He also traveled a fair amount to the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"He has touched so many significant issues, that the business community cares about deeply," Bryant said. "The level of insight that he brings is hard to overstate."
While Bryant said that the firm does not shy away from adding members of Congress to its ranks, Kyl is now the only former member of Congress on Covington's roster, according to a firm spokeswoman, though it also employs several former Capitol Hill staffers. Other lobbying powerhouses, including Patton Boggs and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, each have more former members of Congress on their lobbying staffs than Covington.
"We view this as taking our model forward," Bryant said. "We don't view this as a new direction with a new model. Our model is strengthening our international problem-solving capability with great policy depth, great judgment and people who are workhorses. Whether they come from the executive branch or Congress or congressional staff, the question is can they add to our international problem-solving capability."
According to the latest Influence 50 survey, Covington’s lobbying practice hauled in gross revenues of $73.1 million in 2011, ranking fourth on the list behind Akin Gump, Patton Boggs and Hogan Lovells.