Campaign contributions have poured into the 2012 election contests in record amounts, and lawyers and law firms nationwide have been among the top donors. They gave more than $147 million by October to candidates for everything from judgeships to the presidency, and supplied 264 lobbyists with $20 million in the past year to realize their legislative goals. Legal interests have also doused ballot initiative committees in California with money: Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, had pulled in more than $460,000 from attorneys nationwide by mid-September, and the ACLU single-handedly put up $577,000 for Prop. 34, which would end California's use of the death penalty.
The lion's share of donations from law firms - between 69 and 77 percent - have for at least two decades gone to Democratic candidates. The American Association of Justice, which advocates for plaintiffs trial lawyers, is a top contributor, spending at least $3 million on candidates during the 2011-12 election cycle. Massive donations from the financial sector to Republican candidates - to the tune of $249 million by October - may also motivate plaintiffs firms to give to Democrats, says Russ Choma of the Center for Responsive Politics