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Who is the Obama of Law Firms?

  Practice Focuses  -   POSTED: 2008/02/07 13:22

The New York Observer has answered a burning political question that never occurred to us, at least until now: "If the major presidential candidates were top New York law firms, which ones would they be?"

Lawyers in New York - perhaps enjoying a bit more idle time than usual these days - energetically took up the question, offering all kinds of suggestions and nominations, David Lat wrote. Lawyers nationwide have showered Hillary Clinton with more campaign contributions than any other candidate, federal records show. In Mr. Lat's informal survey, though, when asked which firm most embodies Mrs. Clinton, the common answer from lawyers in her home state was "Not mine."

So how did the pairings shape up?

After some debate, Mr. Lat declared Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison the closest match for Mrs. Clinton. Why Paul Weiss? One anonymous lawyer at the firm suggested that, like the candidate, the firm had a reputation for being a bit, well, hard-driving. (The lawyer actually used a more colorful phrase.) "But those who know her - and us - know we are 'good people,'" the lawyer added.

Another lawyer nominated Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the boutique firm known for advising in big mergers and defending chief executives under siege, as a match for Mrs. Clinton, suggesting they both had a "thorough command of the issues." This caused a Wachtell associate to snort back, "Can you picture Wachtell crying?"

Many lawyers pitched their employers as the Barack Obama of law firms, but Mr. Lat gave that title to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, a relatively young business-litigation firm where, according to a recent article in The New York Times, "flip-flops are acceptable footwear."

"Both seem to be the young, upstart contenders, trying to do things a new way," was how one observer put it.

On the Republican side, John McCain got paired with Cravath, Swaine & Moore, but only after plenty of jokes about being old - and at least one reference to torture.

Finding a match for Mitt Romney was apparently a cinch: It was Sullivan & Cromwell, a law firm that consistently ranks near the top of the merger advisory league tables. A former associate at the firm offered these common traits: "Very picture-perfect. Always willing to go with the highest bidder."


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