Akin, DLA Top Law Firm Campaign Donors: Business of Law

While the electorate may be trending Republican in today’s mid-term elections, the nation’s largest law firms are decidedly Democratic in their political contributions.

Data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics found that of the 14 large corporate firms in the top 20, six -- Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP; DLA Piper LLP; Squire Patton Boggs LLP; Covington & Burling LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP -- gave more heavily to Democratic candidates.

Five firms appeared more bipartisan in their giving, suggesting, as Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School, explained that for those firms what’s most important “is to have doors open to them.”

The five giving more almost equally to Democratic and Republican candidates are Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP, a 250-person firm which gave close to $1 million in the 2013-2014 election cycle; Holland & Knight LLP; K&L Gates LLP; Greenberg Traurig LLP; Alston & Bird; and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Only two firms of the top 20 favored Republican candidates: Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

The firms that were among the 20 highest contributors all gave more than $500,000. Akin Gump, which tops the list, gave $1.67 million.

Typically, donations are made through political action committees that have been established by many firms, said Craig Engle, a partner at Arent Fox LLP. If the firm gave directly, its contributions would be attributed to individual partners, which could affect their own individual giving, but a majority of partners don’t give to their firms’ PACs, he said.

“Many of our partners are politically involved,” Ben Harris, an Akin Gump spokesman, said in an e-mail. “While we cannot speak to individual partner’s motivations for donating to a particular candidate, we can certainly confirm that Akin Gump partners have in the past supported, and continue to support, candidates across a broad political and ideological spectrum.”

The donations reflect the totals for the 2013-2014 federal election cycle released by the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 25. The data include money from PACs, soft-money donors and individuals giving $200 or more, the Center for Responsive Politics said on its website.

The blue-skewing giving of lawyers isn’t surprising, Briffault said.

“There is some evidence that people in the professions are, on average, more liberal than those who make comparable amounts of money in other ways,” he said.

There’s another factor at issue.

“The overall numbers show both PAC contributions and contributions by our individual lawyers,” William Minor, a partner at DLA Piper, said today in an interview. “Our lawyers are active in their communities and make contributions based on their own preferences. But for the firm, our PAC strives for bipartisanship, reflecting the work that we and our clients do with elected officials on both sides of the aisle.”

Deals

Deals Rebound and Four Firms Advise on LabCorp-Covance Merger

What a difference a day makes.

Although October was a rugged month in the markets, a scrum of deals kicked off November. Among those announced yesterday: Publicis Groupe SA agreed to pay $3.7 billion for Sapient Corp., and Diageo Plc agreed to sell Bushmills Irish whiskey to Jose Cuervo Overseas in exchange for the half of Tequila Don Julio that Diageo doesn’t already own and $408 million.

On the $6.1 billion deal in which Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings will buy Covance Inc., four law firms were involved. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Hogan Lovells LLP represented LabCorp, while Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Covington & Burling LLP advised Covance.

From Sullivan & Cromwell were partners Krishna Veeraraghavan, corporate; Matthew Friestedt, executive compensation and benefits; Davis Wang, tax; and Steven Holley, antitrust; along with J. Michael Snypes Jr., special counsel, executive compensation and benefits; and Spencer F. Simon, special counsel, intellectual property.

The Hogan Lovells team was led by partner Michael Silver, corporate, and also included partners William Intner, corporate, and Helen Trilling, health, along with banking counsel Edward Purdon.

From Cravath advising Covance were partners Richard Hall and Damien R. Zoubek, mergers and acquisitions; George Zobitz, finance; Eric Hilfers, executive compensation and benefits; and Michael Schler, tax.

Covington provided antitrust advice to Covance. From Covington were partners Thomas Barnett, Miranda Cole and Anne Lee.

Under the terms of the deal, Covance shareholders will receive cash and stock valued at $105.12 a share, the companies said in a statement yesterday.

For more on the deal, click here.

National CineMedia Theater Ad Merger Targeted in U.S. Suit

The U.S. yesterday sued to stop National CineMedia Inc.’s planned $375 million purchase of its closest competitor to prevent it from controlling advertising for nine of 10 movie screens in the U.S.

National CineMedia, the largest supplier of commercials in movie theaters, said in May it was merging with Screenvision Cinema Network LLC, pending regulators’ approval.

The U.S. Justice Department said in an antitrust complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Manhattan that CineMedia responded to an increase in Screenvision’s market share by buying its only real competitor.

The U.S. asked the court for an order blocking the deal and allowing companies that show films to rescind any contracts or contract extensions reached with CineMedia and Screenvision since the proposed transaction was announced.

The case is U.S. v. National CineMedia Inc., 14-cv-08732, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). Pillsbury Adds Policy, IP Partners in Washington and Virginia

Firm Moves

Public-policy lawyer Mercedes Tunstall is joining the Washington office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, and intellectual-property lawyer Kecia Reynolds is joining the firm’s office in Northern Virginia. Both join as partners.

Tunstall was previously the head of Ballard Spahr’s privacy and data-security practice group. She specializes in the consumer financial services industry, counseling on compliance with industry laws and regulations, as well as investigations and proceedings of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. She also focuses on technology issues, privacy and data-security issues across industries.

Reynolds specializes in patent law and has experience in International Trade Commission investigations.

She previously worked at Goodwin Procter LLP, where she specialized in IP litigation, representing clients in Section 337 evidentiary hearings before the ITC, as well as in Abbreviated New Drug Application and district court litigation and in appeals before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. She has patent experience in a variety of industries, including technology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

Jackson Lewis Adds Two Partners in Its San Francisco Office

Jackson Lewis PC has added three new attorneys in its San Francisco office. Lisa Sween and Natalja Fulton joined the firm as shareholders, and Stephanie Yang as an associate.  All three were formerly at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.

Sween represents employers in all aspects of employment law and litigation, including harassment, discrimination and wrongful-discharge disputes, and also counsels on preventive policies and practices.

Fulton represents employers in litigation involving discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, defamation and whistle-blower claims, as well as wage and hour class actions. Yang defends employers in administrative proceedings and in litigation.

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