If the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan were a person, it would very closely resemble presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, based on its ideological track record, new research suggests.
Jones Day? This elite global law firm’s political views would rank more along the lines of the Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin.
That’s according to “The Political Ideologies of American Lawyers,” a new academic paper by three assistant professors: Adam Bonica of Stanford University Department of Political Science, Adam Chilton of University of Chicago Law School and Maya Sen of Harvard University.
In a 66-page paper published on Aug. 26, the trio examined the political ideology of U.S. lawyers and law firms using campaign contribution records in Stanford University’s Database on Ideology, Money in Politics, and Elections (DIME). Among the authors findings: By and large, lawyers tend to be liberal, especially those from the largest and most prestigious law firms.
The study ranked law firms’ ideology using a two-point scale where negative two represents the most liberal perspective and positive two represents the most conservative perspective. Ideological leanings were based on the political stance of the politicians who received the donated funds, and also the size of the donations, according to Chilton, of University of Chicago Law School.
Of the top 20 most prestigious law firms ranked by Vault, Quinn Emanuel was scored the most liberal at -0.953, nearly as liberal as Hillary Clinton who scored -1.16 based on her own campaign funding history, according to the paper.
[caption id="attachment_4208" align="alignleft” width="275"][Image “Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg " (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/232595082-e1441055061731.jpg)]Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg[/caption]
“This perhaps comports with the popular perception of Quinn Emanuel — the firm is known for having a unique culture that embraces wearing flip flops and working remotely from around the world,” the authors wrote.
The authors contend that they have created “the most extensive analysis of political ideology of American lawyers ever conducted.” They did so, according to the paper, by looking at all the lawyers in the United States from Martindale-Hubbell’s Legal Directory, and attaching their identities to political ideology garnered through DIME’s records.
Nearly five percent of the U.S. population is captured in the DIME data. It included records of any individual who has made a campaign contribution from 1979 to 2012, representing some 51,572 candidates and 6,408 political committees as recipients and 13.7 million individuals and 1.3 million organizations as donors, according to the paper.
[caption id="attachment_4209" align="alignright” width="161"][Image “Courtesy of Quinn Emanuel” (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/John-Quinn-e1441055215539.jpg)]John Quinn, name partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Courtesy of Quinn Emanuel[/caption]
The resources provided the authors with a rich set of data to point out a number of ideologies among lawyers, who they say are important to keep tabs on because of the widespread political influence of attorneys. The paper noted that the American Bar Association spends about $1 million a year on lobbying .
Jones Day is the most conservative-leaning of Vault’s 20 most prestigious law firms, although it is still considered liberal with a score of -0.213. Jones Day, the paper said, only received a slightly liberal score and its views were more in line with Joe Manchin, who had a score of -0.13.
“The firm’s moderate ideology can perhaps be in part explained by the fact that Jones Day was founded in Cleveland, and the firm maintains a strong presence there, as well as having offices in many traditionally moderate and conservative states,” the authors said.
The paper also looked at the largest law firms, as ranked by Law360. By that measure, WilmerHale was the most liberal law firm, while Jones Day remained the most conservative.
In the paper’s list of the 20 most conservative law firms, there aren’t too many established big law firms. Among the few are Jackson Walker, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berowitz and Winstead.
Compared to other professions that require high education, such as banking, medical, accounting and technology, Chilton, the University of Chicago Law School professor said that “lawyers are right in the middle.”
Asked of the rationale behind the authors’ report on the legal profession, Maya Sen of Harvard said lawyers carry significant political influence.
“Over 50 percent of congressional representatives are lawyers... so understanding the political leanings of our lawyers are very important in how we think about modern politics,” she said.
(UPDATED: An earlier version of this story cited the report’s reference to the American Bar Association as one of the largest campaign contributors and lobbying groups. The ABA spends about $1 million a year on lobbying, but is not a campaign contributor, according to an ABA spokesman. This story has been corrected.)