The polls aren’t the only thing favoring Sen. Barack Obama: Washington, D.C.’s top law firms have given the Democratic presidential nominee more than triple the cash they’ve donated to Republican Sen. John McCain.
Big D.C. firms typically skew blue, but the divide is even wider than it was four years ago, when Sen. John Kerry and former Sen. John Edwards, a prominent former trial lawyer, made up the Democratic ticket. So far this election cycle, Washington, D.C.-area lawyers and staff from the D.C. 20 — Legal Times’ ranking of the District’s highest-grossing law offices — have given roughly $1.5 million to Obama and $450,000 to McCain.
The Obama contributions already dwarf the $936,000 given by D.C. 20 firms to the Kerry-Edwards ticket at this point in 2004. The 2004 Republican ticket — led by President George W. Bush — had collected $483,000 during the same period, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
D.C. 20 firms are giving to the parties as well. For instance, Hogan & Hartson is among the top 20 donors to the Democratic National Committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and has given $99,838 so far this election cycle. And Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is on the Republican National Committee’s top 20 list with $135,150 donated this cycle.
The amount of money from Big Law in the District is striking in a year when both candidates have railed against the Washington establishment. Obama is likely benefiting from his own legal background: He’s a former president of the Harvard Law Review, Sidley Austin summer associate, and professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. And it’s logical for lawyers to be drawn to the campaigns, since a number of issues appeal specifically to the legal-minded, says Kevin Wolf, a partner in Bryan Cave’s D.C. office.
For example, “Who’s on the next Supreme Court? As a lawyer, I think that’s a very important topic,” says Wolf, who, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, has bundled as much as $100,000 in contributions for the Obama campaign.