A partner at a top New York law firm — we have more partner readers (and tipsters) than you might think — sent us an email with this subject line: “Stimulus Money for Law Firms?” The email directed us to two links on Recovery.gov, the disturbingly expensive website devoted to tracking where the federal economic stimulus money is going.
Almost $900,000 in stimulus money — i.e., your taxpayer dollars hard at work — is going to two top law firms: Debevoise & Plimpton and Paul Weiss. Debevoise is getting $432,680 and Paul Weiss is getting $462,528, both from the U.S. Department of Energy. Links are here and here.
Needless to say, this got us hugely excited. Have things gotten so bad that law firms — even firms as prestigious and profitable as Debevoise & Paul Weiss — need government funds?
Economists sometimes talk about the hypothetical stimulus of the government paying people to dig ditches and then refill them. Is the federal government now trying to jump start the legal economy, by paying law firms to draft merger agreements or summary judgment motions, then send them through the shredder? Has the phenomenon of fake work spread beyond the summer associate class, into the ranks of associates and partners, to be paid for by U.S. taxpayer dollars?
Not quite (although that would have been a juicier story). Find out the somewhat boring reality, after the jump.
We reached out to both firms for comment. From a Debevoise spokesperson:
Debevoise is one of the firms representing the U.S. Department of Energy with regard to its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program.
To similar effect, from a Paul Weiss spokesperson:
I can confirm that Paul, Weiss represents the U.S. Department of Energy in connection with its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program. As a matter of professional obligation we do not otherwise discuss client matters.
We asked both firms for additional details about the engagements, including hours billed and billing rates, but they declined to provide them. Paul Weiss cited its policy of not discussing client matters; Debevoise referred us to a Department of Energy spokesperson.
In any event, congratulations to Debevoise and Paul Weiss for landing these excellent engagements. These matters may not generate seven-figure fees, but they are prestigious. And the federal government is a great client — you know your bill will always get paid.
(And if it doesn’t, then our TTT national economy has more serious problems.)
Contracts – Recipient Summary – Debevoise & Plimpton LLP [Recovery.org]
Contracts – Recipient Summary – Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP [Recovery.org]
Related: Government To Stimulate Economy By Tracking Stimulus