Thich Nhat Hanh ()
Donald Trump’s stunning victory in the U.S. presidential election has left many speechless. But Big Law is finding its voice in the aftermath, albeit in different ways.
Law firm leaders in Asia, California, Georgia, London, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington, D.C., have offered their thoughts on what a Trump administration might mean for their practices, America and the world. On Friday, a pair of Am Law 100 firms sought out different ends in the spectrum of reaction to the abrupt change in the U.S. political climate.
White & Case chairman Hugh Verrier, in a memo sent Friday to employees at the nearly 2,000-lawyer firm, reiterated his “commitment to globalism, multiculturalism and diversity.” Verrier wrote that White & Case’s experience as a global giant had proven the benefits of having an inclusive workplace, one that has “respect for the views of others and fairness to all, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability or political beliefs.”
Verrier, re-elected leader of his firm last year, noted that political leaders are not the only individuals who can enact change in the world.
“White & Case has a proud history of public service, and all of us have opportunities to bring change through volunteer service in our communities,” he wrote. “As members of the legal community, we have a special ability to influence and impact society, through pro bono work and leadership in bar associations and other institutions that promote and uphold the rule of law.”
In such uncertain times, Verrier said, those at White & Case should come together and focus on what they do best: counsel clients, maintain an inclusive and positive workplace environment and make a “difference for those whose lives we touch.”
Verrier concluded with a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Zen master and spiritual healer:
Imagine a pine tree standing in the yard. If that pine tree were to ask us what it should do, what the maximum is a pine tree can do to help the world, our answer would be very clear: “You should be a beautiful, healthy pine tree. You help the world by being your best.” That is true for humans also. The basic thing we can do to help the world is to be healthy, solid, loving and gentle to ourselves. Then when people look at us, they will gain confidence. They will say, “If she can do that, I can do that too!”
Perhaps not surprisingly, lawyers and other employees at White & Case donated primarily to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle, according to data gathered by The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).
In contrast is Baker & Hostetler, a firm whose office in Washington, D.C., has hosted events for Trump’s transition team. The new presidential administration has provided Baker & Hostetler with an opportunity to pitch itself as a “go-to firm for businesses navigating [the] Trump presidency,” according to a press release.
The firm has recently touted its hire in June of former New Jersey Rep. Michael Ferguson, a nonlawyer senior adviser who now leads Baker & Hostetler’s federal policy team in Washington, D.C. Ferguson was labeled a “Trump whisperer” by Politico in July for his connections to House Speaker Paul Ryan, Vice President-elect and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, having once served as co-chair of the latter’s Garden State gubernatorial campaign.
Baker & Hostetler also has close ties to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a noted anti-Trump advocate in Republican circles. The firm was paid $329,609.52 within the past year by New Day For America, a Columbus, Ohio-based super political action committee backing Kasich. The Ohio governor’s ill-fated presidential campaign also paid at least $100,000 to the firm, according to our previous reports.
Money in politics, of course, is not just the realm of Republicans. Before Election Day, the ultimately unsuccessful Clinton presidential campaign released a list of individuals—called “Hillblazers”—that each raised more than $100,000 for her Democratic bid for the White House since it began on April 12, 2015. The fundraisers, known as bundlers, collect political contributions from family members, close friends and colleagues to deliver to a candidate in a single donation.
Lawyers from nearly 40 Am Law 200 firms appeared on the list provided by Clinton’s campaign, which was analyzed by The Center for Public Integrity and put into database form by the CRP’s OpenSecrets website. The Trump campaign did not disclose its list of bundlers.