Biglaw, Politics

Which Law Firms Made the Most Campaign Contributions?

Some votes are more equal than others.

There’s an excellent story written by Amanda Becker in the Washington Post today which looks at the law firms who were serious about making campaign contributions this electoral season. Regardless of whether the Republicans take control of the House or the Democrats hang onto the Senate, a few law firms will be well protected either way.

The Post reports that the PACS linked to the ten most generous law firms contributed $5.5 million in political donations during this election cycle. That’s small potatoes compared to the $29 million generated by professional organizations, but it’ll buy a foot in the door.

Apparently, the money was split pretty evenly between Democratic and Republican candidates. So there’s no need for us to snipe at each other along partisan lines. The story is all about the money, and the law firms willing to pay to have their “voices” heard tomorrow…

We might have a “one person, one vote” system, but not every person can back up their vote with $777,000. Such influence is reserved for the best among us, like Peter Kalis, the chairman of K&L Gates. From the WaPo article:

Roughly half of K&L Gates’ U.S.-based partners contributed to a firm PAC that directed $777,974 to federal candidates and committees. As of mid-October, about 58 percent of its contributions favored Democratic causes, reflecting the firm’s bipartisan approach that money is best spent on candidates already in office. Recent contributions include $1,000 checks written to Republican Rep. Eric Cantor and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner in Virginia.

Of course, K&L Gates wasn’t the only big spending Biglaw firm:

The PACs at K&L Gates, DLA Piper and Holland & Knight collectively generated more than $2 million for federal candidates and other committees. Like their counterparts among the top 10, contributions were bipartisan and slightly benefited Democratic candidates, reflecting a tendency to favor the party in power while maintaining access to elected officials on both sides.

You wonder if this institutional largess will be expressed towards associates at K&L Gates, DLA Piper, and Holland & Knight come bonus time.

The article goes into a lot of detail about how the firms had to switch giving strategies once it started to look like Republicans might do very well in the mid-terms. So again, we’re not talking about political principles here, just your standard ass-covering that the best lawyers do instinctively.

When it comes to professional associations, then we start to see some ideological backbone:

The American Association for Justice and the National Beer Wholesalers Association collectively contributed more than $7 million from PACs, though neither reported any independent expenditures. Nearly all of the $3.5 million from the trial lawyers association went to Democratic candidates; the beer wholesalers association handed out nearly the same amount, with a 56-44 split in contributions to Democratic and Republican candidates “who understand the importance of state-based alcohol regulation,” said association Executive Vice President Mike Johnson.

It looks like the professional associations expect something for their money. That’s a big difference from the law firms. All they seem to be saying is “hey, remember us when the time comes.”

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow. Because the politicians you’re voting for care about you even if you weren’t able to contribute thousands of dollars to their campaign (if you believe that, we should also talk about this bridge I own in Brooklyn).

Law and lobbying firms pump millions of dollars into midterm campaigns [Washington Post]

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