Founding Advocate, Clear Advocacy LLC
Year Graduated: 1980
Fred Main, founding advocate with Clear Advocacy LLC, has more than 33 years of experience influencing public policy and directing legislative and regulatory advocacy. He has held leadership positions at trade associations and think tanks and has organized and directed coalitions. Prior to forming Clear Advocacy LLC, Mr. Main spent 25 years at the California Chamber of Commerce as the Senior Vice President and General Counsel, during which time he formed and led coalitions on tax policy, privacy, and litigation reform. Additionally, he was of Counsel to the national law firm of Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips, representing fortune 100 companies in financial services, technology, and health care. In addition to his experience in the legislature, he has drafted and organized campaigns on several statewide ballot campaigns on energy, taxation, and political reform. Mr. Main has served on the boards of a number of organizations including the California State Museum for Women, History, and the Arts; Volunteers of California; California International Marathon; and Civil Justice Association of California. In 2010, the Legal Aid Association of California recognized his work on passing legislation establishing California's first right to counsel in civil cases with an "Award of Merit." He also serves on the National Legal Commission of the American Youth Soccer Association. Mr. Main received a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from California State University, Fullerton and his law degree from Pacific McGeorge School of Law.
Fred Main, '80, watched Perry Mason re-runs on TV when he was in junior high and high school, and he was hooked on a career in law. In the 1960s, he saw lawyers at the forefront of creating social change.
Then he entered college during the 1970s.
"The Watergate hearings were taking place," he says. "Watching lawyers argue the Constitution was fascinating to me."
At Pacific McGeorge School of Law, Main knew he wanted to focus his career on public policy because he thought it would be a way to forge change. He fell into lobbying by happenstance.
A principal and co-founder of the Sacramento lobbying firm Clear Advocacy LLC, Main has had a varied career since graduating from McGeorge. He has spent most of his time as a lobbyist, but also has practiced traditional law.
Shortly after graduating from McGeorge, Main joined the California Chamber of Commerce and conducted legal research about legislation. Two years after joining, he was promoted to tax counsel. He became chief lobbyist, then general counsel and finally held the positions of general counsel and senior vice president at the same time for nearly 20 years.
As general counsel, Main performed the chamber's in-house legal work, including writing amicus briefs and ensuring it complied with state laws on matters such as labor law. As senior vice president, Main oversaw the chamber's lobbying and public policy activities, overseeing about 55 employees. After 25 years at the chamber, he left for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP, a national law firm with a Sacramento office.
"I thought it would be interesting to work for a traditional law firm for a while," he says. "New challenges."
At Manatt, Main practiced both lobbying and law, advising trade associations on compliance, lobbying in the financial and health care sectors and doing regulatory work. He represented technology companies such as Oracle and Intel, and trade association TechNet.
In January 2013, after nine years at Manatt, Main joined two longtime associates to open their own lobbying firm in Sacramento, Clear Advocacy LLC. Clear Advocacy focuses most of its lobbying efforts on the financial and health care industries. Main says he likes being able to make change that affects a large number of people.
"You can go to trial and have lots of great victories in court but it may not actually change the substance of the law," he says. "Working on legislation, if a bill is passed and you played a part in it, it can have a fairly significant change in the world."
Several years ago at Manatt, Main took on a pro bono case for Legal Services of Northern California, which had sponsored a bill that would have allowed for the first paid private right of counsel in civil trials in California. Main was able to lobby successfully for the bill. Before the legislation passed, there had been no right to paid counsel in civil cases. The law now allows for paid legal representation for some cases, typically in landlord-tenant disputes, with funding for attorneys coming from interest on lawyers' business checking accounts they hold for clients.
"That was a major groundbreaking bill that will change potentially how individuals have rights to representation in California," he says. "That's exciting."