Some people question whether large law firms do enough to make the world a better place. These people wonder: Are Biglaw partners letting Third World babies die, just so they can enjoy their Ferraris?
Or is the “Baby vs. Ferrari” choice a false dichotomy? Here’s another way of looking at it. Lawyers at large law firms, by providing top-notch legal services to large corporations — corporations owned not just by fat cats but also by ordinary Americans, through mutual funds and similar investment vehicles — create value that otherwise would not exist. Some of this surplus value makes its way into the pockets of partners (and their Ferrari dealers). But some of it makes its way to charitable causes (as well as federal and state government coffers, in the form of tax revenue).
Last week we commended the firms of Dewey & LeBoeuf and Heller Ehrman for their generous donations in support of China earthquake relief efforts. And it seems that supporting relief organizations, just like raising associate salaries, may be contagious within Biglaw.
Several other leading law firms have donated to support China earthquake relief efforts (and a number of these firms, including Orrick and Weil, acted within a few hours of last week’s ATL post). Here are some that we know of:
1. Allen & Overy: $80,000 contribution + matching donations.
2. Kirkland & Ellis: $100,000 contribution + matching donations.
3. McDermott Will & Emery: $10,000 contribution.
4. Morrison & Foerster
5. Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe: matching donations, up to $100,000.
6. Sullivan & Cromwell: $100,000 contribution.
7. Weil Gotshal & Manges: $50,000 contribution.
We commend the foregoing firms and their employees for their generosity. If your firm has taken action and isn’t mentioned above, feel free to post a shout-out in the comments.
For those of you who are curious — perhaps your firm would like to start a similar initiative, and you’d like to lift some language for the announcement — the Orrick and Weil memos appear after the jump.
WEIL GOTSHAL & MANGES — MEMORANDUM — FIRM RESPONSE TO HUMANITARIAN DISASTERS
The Firm has a long tradition of responding to humanitarian disasters by providing financial support to appropriate relief agencies. In connection with the recent tragic earthquake in China, the Firm has made a $50,000 contribution to the Chinese Red Cross. Consistent with how we have responded in other similar tragedies, if you would like to make your own personal contribution, please send it to [xxxx] in the New York office, and he will forward it to the Chinese Red Cross. Your check should be made out to the Chinese Red Cross.
We also are continuing to explore whether there is an appropriate charity to which we might be able to a make a contribution in connection with the cyclone which struck Myanmar. As many of you have read there is some difficulty in getting foreign aid into that country, so we have not been able to find an appropriate way to contribute. If the situation should change we will let you know.
ORRICK HERRINGTON & SUTCLIFFE — MEMORANDUM — CHINA EARTHQUAKE MATCHING CAMPAIGN
To: OHS ALL
Sent: Tue May 20 18:52:50 2008
Subject: China Earthquake Matching Campaign
From: The Community Responsibility Committee
Re: China Earthquake
On May 12, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the south western province of Sichuan China, home to 11 million people. Conservative reports indicate that as many 32,476 are dead and at least 10,000 others are still buried and presumed dead.
In light of this devastating disaster, our Community Responsibility Committee has approved a firm match for up to $100,000 for personal donations made to Red Cross Societies by Orrick lawyers and staff. Early monetary contributions are particularly important, so we ask that you make your contribution before May 30, 2008. To be matched, the donation must be made following the procedure below:
1. To ensure that your charitable donation is tax deductible to the extent permitted under your home country’s laws, we encourage you to consult your tax advisor and make checks payable to The Red Cross organized in your home country, e.g., The British Red Cross, The Russian Red Cross Society, The Italian Red Cross, etc. For the complete list of Red Cross Societies please go to http://www.ifrc.org/address/directory.asp. Be sure to indicate that funds should be directed to the China Earthquake. The firm will make a donation to The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies directed to China Earthquake relief in an amount matching the contributions to Red Cross Societies by Orrick lawyers and staff.
* For those in our Asian offices, please send your check to your local office manager.
* In London, please send to [xxxx]. For all other European offices, please send your check to your office manager.
* For contributions from our US offices, please send checks to US and Asia Executive Director, [xxxx].
2. If you choose to make a bank transfer or donate online, please inform the appropriate office contact named above so that we can include the amount in the firm match.
To learn what The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are doing in China go to http://www.ifrc.org/.
For questions about the firm match, please contact [xxxx].
We are pleased to support your concern and anticipated generosity. Thank you.
Earlier: Humanitarian Crises in Myanmar and China: What’s Your Firm Doing?