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Top Obama, Romney Donors Include Big, National Law Firms

By Andrew Chow, Esq. | Last updated on

A big bundle of lawyers are bankrolling both the Obama and Romney campaigns, as the 2012 presidential election is set to be the most expensive in U.S. history.

Together, lawyers and law firms are the No. 3 donors by industry to Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP candidate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Lawyers play an even bigger role in President Barack Obama's fundraising, coming in at No. 2.

So just how much have lawyers donated to these presidential campaigns -- the first in 16 years to feature two JDs vying for the White House?

As of June 21, lawyers and law firms had donated $12.4 million to President Obama's re-election efforts, the Center's analysis shows.

In fact, six of the incumbent's Top 20 donors by organization are law firms, according to The Washington Post. Including employee and PAC donations, the top firms that have given to Obama are:

  • DLA Piper, with $306,727 in donations;
  • Sidley Austin, $257,296;
  • Skadden, $169,753;
  • Morgan & Morgan, $135,145;
  • WilmerHale, $117,661; and
  • Kirkland & Ellis, $113,770.

As for former Gov. Mitt Romney, lawyers and law firms donated about $5.2 million, according to the Center's data. Only one law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, made Romney's Top 20 donors list, with $264,302 in contributions, The Post reports.

But many lawyers are doing even more: Once they've hit the individual-contribution limit ($2,500 to a federal candidate, $5,000 to a PAC), they're working as "bundlers" who collect contributions from their social and professional networks.

President Obama has 532 bundlers, at least one-fourth of whom are lawyers, The Post reports. Gov. Romney reports just 25 bundlers, and five are lawyers.

The sizable lawyer donations just so happen to coincide with the fact that the 2012 race is the first to feature lawyers at the top of both major-party tickets since 1996. That race pit Bill Clinton, JD (Yale, Class of 1973) against Bob Dole, JD (Washburn University, Class of 1952); this year it's Harvard Law grads Barack Obama, JD (Class of 1991) v. Mitt Romney, JD (Class of 1975).

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