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BigLaw Ideological Leanings Revealed in Supreme Court Amicus Briefs

published January 24, 2024

By Author - LawCrossing
Published By
( 3 votes, average: 3.8 out of 5)
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BigLaw Ideological Leanings Revealed in Supreme Court Amicus Briefs

A recent study by a law professor at the University of Notre Dame sheds light on the ideological inclinations of significant law firms through amicus briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. Published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, the study analyzes briefs submitted by the top 100 grossing law firms over four years, starting from the 2018-2019 term.
 

 Statistical Insights
 
Of 851 briefs filed for likely pro bono clients in merits cases, 64% supported liberal positions, revealing an apparent inclination towards progressive stances. In contrast, 31% supported conservative positions, and 5% remained neutral. The study found that the ideological divide is even more pronounced in high-salience cases, where 95% of BigLaw briefs supported liberal positions.
 
 Top Liberal and Conservative Firms
 
The study identified the most liberal and conservative firms based on the percentage of liberal positions taken in amicus briefs over the four years (for firms with at least ten briefs). The three most liberal firms were:
 
1. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison: 100% liberal (13 liberal briefs, 0 conservative briefs)
2. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe: 94% liberal (16 liberal briefs, 1 conservative brief)
3. O’Melveny & Myers: 89% liberal (24 liberal briefs, 3 conservative briefs)
 
On the conservative side, the three most conservative firms were:
 
1. Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders: 27% liberal (3 liberal briefs, 8 conservative briefs)
2. Baker Botts: 38% liberal (6 liberal briefs, 10 conservative briefs)
3. Mayer Brown: 44% liberal (14 liberal briefs, 18 conservative briefs)
 
 Noteworthy Insights on Jones Day
 
While many perceive Jones Day as a conservative firm due to its previous representation of former President Donald Trump, the study reveals that 52% of its briefs were liberal. Interestingly, this positioned Jones Day at the bottom of the list of firms with a more significant percentage of liberal than conservative briefs.
 
 Methodology
 
The study focused on pro bono cases, where large firms must approve choices to file them, reflecting the firms' priorities and the attorneys filing the briefs. The categorizing cases as liberal or conservative was based on a Supreme Court database at Washington University, and the amicus briefs were then analyzed to determine their ideological stance.
 
 Considerations and Conclusions
 
Acknowledging potential factors beyond ideology, such as conflict checks or committee decisions not reflecting the firm’s preferences overall, the study nonetheless provides valuable insights into the ideological landscape of significant law firms.

published January 24, 2024

By Author - LawCrossing
( 3 votes, average: 3.8 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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