Law360's Guide To The Presidential Candidates' Legal Bills

Law360 (July 24, 2020, 12:05 PM EDT) -- First published February 24, 2020 Data is updated monthly. LAST UPDATE October 23, 2020 | As the 2020 presidential election approaches amidst a global pandemic, an army of lawyers is working behind the scenes to handle the candidates' legal needs. Here's the latest from Law360's monthly presidential campaign legal spending tracker.

Law360's ongoing analysis of Federal Election Commission filings shows that many contenders spent top dollar on lawyers this election season. The spending shows no sign of stopping now that only two candidates remain. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are prepping for an Election Day unlike any other, and calling on the assistance of top-tier legal counsel.

Presidential campaign spending on outside counsel was on the rise even before the coronavirus took hold, and it has spiked dramatically over the past two election seasons.

In 2016, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton headed into the November elections with legal bill tallies that dwarfed those paid out by the top two contenders for the White House in 2012 and 2008.  

This election cycle, the combined spending by the two top presidential candidates on legal needs has dramatically outpaced 2016's record levels. Much of the increase is linked to President Donald Trump, likely as a result of his ongoing legal turmoil.  

While Trump has tapped Jones Day for much of his campaign-related legal spend, Biden's campaign has been relying on Covington & Burling LLP.

Presidential campaigns are required to disclose their expenditures in regular filings with the FEC that list the amount, the service provider, and general nature of their expenses.

While the FEC filings aren't required to describe in detail exactly what "legal services" are being provided, national campaigns are massive enterprises with legal needs similar to those of a corporation, but one that springs up overnight and operates in the constant glare of the media spotlight.

In other words, a lot of legal questions come up. 

Here, Law360 tracks the candidates' legal bills and law firms they've tapped for trusted legal counsel this election season. This guide is updated monthly as candidates file their required disclosures with the FEC.

Click to view interactive version

--Editing by Pamela Wilkinson.

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