McGeorge School of Law

Profile: Fred Main

Fred Main
Fred Main

Class of 1980

Founding Advocate, Clear Advocacy LLC

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 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."