Dream realized: Jonathan Kilman opens his own influence firm

Jonathan Kilman

Veteran lobbyist Jonathan Kilman has finally realized a “long term dream of starting (his) own firm” with the creation of Converge Government Affairs, with offices in Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee.

Kilman, formerly with the Foley & Lardner law firm, announced the new concern this week in a LinkedIn post. (An earlier story is here.) The announcement, coming on social media rather than through a conventional press release, presages his focus on representing ‘market disruptors.’

“We felt that through announcing through social media first was indicative of the fact that we are aligning the model and the style of our firm in a way that resonates with our clients, who view themselves as innovative, truly modern in the way we do business,” he said in a phone interview.

Kilman is keeping his inaugural client list close to the vest, but a look at his past lobbying disclosures shows companies such as video game maker Electronic Arts, ride-hailing platform Lyft, and autonomous-truck developer Starsky Robotics.

“I think it’s fair to say that you’ll see many of the clients that we represented in the past will continue to be our clients in the new firm,” he said. “When we chose to open up our new firm, they decided to come with us. And a number of (other) clients will be joining us very shortly and we’re excited about that.”

Joining Kilman from Foley & Lardner as his other partner is Paul Lowell, another longtime lobbyist: “I share his passion to simply create, from the ground up, an entirely new organization that is focused on the interests and passions of our clients and so that when they celebrate their successes, their successes become our successes.”

Added Kilman: “One of the great things about starting a new firm was the flexibility and freedom of choice in the ability to make decisions about the character of the firm, the vision and the direction of the firm. We had no interest in taking any outside investors. We wanted to build something that we could totally control and build according to the vision that we laid out.”

Also on board is Carlos Carbonell in Orlando, and Khalid Alagel as lead on the firm’s Middle East Affairs desk.

Florida is going to be our home turf,” Kilman said. “While not ceding any ground in Florida, more and more our clients have been asking us to support them in other jurisdictions throughout the United States and beyond. We think that we’re well positioned by being headquartered in Miami, which is a global city, to represent clients, helping them manage their U.S. and international affairs. That’s going to be a part of what we do.”

In an election year, with a slew of legislative seats and all four statewide elected posts — governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, chief financial officer — up for grabs, Kilman said he’s well-positioned to work across the political spectrum.

“It’s well known that I have long been aligned with the Republican Party, but I think our firm will reflect not just our clients, but the state of Florida, which is diverse,” he said, mentioning Carbonell is also a Democrat. “I think it would be a mistake to think that we can grow a truly remarkable firm over time without evolving and having diversity of people. If you look at our website, you’ll see that we’ve begun to build a team that’s diverse in terms of their backgrounds and their viewpoints, and we’ll continue to do that as we grow.

“Our goal is the multidimensional lobbying firm that recognizes that influence goes beyond just having relationships with people in office,” Kilman said. “It’s a focus on strategy, of understanding how to deal with multiple stakeholders, (including) the media, and having a clear focus on what our clients view as a win. If we get those things right, I think we will find that the revenue will come in.”

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


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