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Where Would Your Firm Land on "The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers"

By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 12, 2019

In 2015, researchers published a seminal study that said most lawyers are liberal.

The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers was based primarily on data about lawyers and their political contributions to America's major political parties. It revealed what most political analysts knew already: lawyers lean slightly to the left.

But times, like parties in power, change. Perhaps it's time to take a look at your firm's contributions to politics.

Practical Politics

As a practical matter, the 2015 study looked only at law firms listed in Martindale-Hubbell. The researchers said it was the largest data set about lawyers at the time.

But everybody knows Martindale-Hubbell is not comprehensive, favors large law firms, and includes firms outside the United States. According to the American Bar Association, most American lawyers work alone or in small firms.

In any case, political observers have long known that attorneys generally support Democrats. For example, the 2015 study noted, personal injury firms in one election cycle gave "at least 99 percent of their contributions to Democrats."

"Many conservative commentators have made the point that lawyers -- particular trial lawyers -- appear more liberal than the rest of the population," the authors said.

According to their matrix, as reported by Above the Law, Wilmer Hale is the most liberal Biglaw firm.

Changing Politics

Of course, there are many ways to look at an elephant. It depends which side you are on, and when you look at it.

For example, another ranking placed Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan on the far left. At the other end of the spectrum, Jones Day came out most conservative.

But that was four years and one president ago. By 2020, everything could change.

Lawyers' politics could, too, if you judge them by their campaign contributions. What's in your firm's wallet?

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