Revealed: the lawyers who helped Obama win second term in White House

The legal industry backed the winner in yesterday’s US presidential election, with lawyers and law firms donating twice as much to Democrat Barack Obama’s successful campaign than to Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful one.


President Obama, Nigel Knowles
President Obama, Nigel Knowles

Incumbent Obama was declared the victor in the early hours of the morning UK time, winning a second term as US President. Florida’s 29 electoral votes were yet to be counted at the time of writing, but Obama won with 303 electoral votes to his Republican rival’s 206.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which collects data on political donations and is accurate up until 25 October 2012, law firms and lawyers were the election’s third largest donator industry, giving a total of $165,218,558 and leaning in favour of Democratic candidates 63 per cent to 28 per cent. According to the site, “percentages may not add up to 100 per cent as money can be given to third-party candidates or outside spending groups and PACs [political action committees] not affiliated with either party”.

In total, individual lawyers and law firms donated $25,130,021 to Obama’s campaign, compared with $12,267,294 to Romney’s. Two law firms also made it into the list of overall top donors to Obama’s campaign: DLA Piper was number 11 and Sidley Austin was number 12, with employees’ PACs at those firms donating $393,102 and $377,133, respectively.

Kirkland & Ellis, meanwhile, made it onto the list of top donors to Romney’s campaign, with employees and PACs giving $496,722. The firm’s office also hosted a call centre yesterday to help answer questions of law relating to the elections, according to reports.

Texas trial firm Mostyn gave the most of any law firm, at $3,679,341, most of which went on outside spending groups. The next firm down the list was Kirkland, which gave $2,198,434, more than half of which was to Republican causes. DLA Piper gave $1,656,895, with more than two-thirds of that going to Democratic candidates and causes.

During the previous presidential election campaign in 2008, DLA Piper’s joint CEO and managing partner Sir Nigel Knowles met the then presidential contender Obama at a cocktail party in Chicago – the location of DLA Piper’s US headquarters – after which Knowles described Obama as “charismatic and engaging” (20 October 2008).