July 6, 2020 / 5:43 PM / a month ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-Elite Boies law firm approved for up to $10 mln in PPP aid

(Corrects month of original Reuters article on Boies)

By Caroline Spiezio

July 6 (Reuters) - An elite law firm founded by trial lawyer David Boies was approved for up to $10 million in federal aid under a loan program designed to help struggling businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released Monday by the Small Business Administration.

Boies Schiller Flexner, a top U.S. law firm where partners commonly earn seven-figure compensation, is known for representing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein against sexual-assault accusations, and companies ranging from Oracle to Theranos. The firm was approved to receive between $5 million to $10 million under the U.S. government's Paycheck Protection Program.

Boies Schiller managing partners Nicholas Gravante and Natasha Harrison did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Boies Schiller was among several law firms, including Wiley Rein, Thompson & Knight and Kasowitz Benson Torres, that were approved to receive PPP loans. Representatives for those firms did not immediately respond to request for comment. Law firms have been hard hit by the pandemic, which dried up deal and trial work as courts and businesses closed. The legal sector in April lost 68,000 jobs, according to Labor Department data.

Reuters reported in June that the managing partners asked shareholder partners to authorize the firm to seek up to $20 million in forgivable government loans, two sources familiar with said. That request had caused concern among some of the firm’s members, the two sources said.

Boies Schiller does not disclose its financial information, but last year its shareholder partners earned an average of more than $3 million, according to the American Lawyer.

Founded in 1997, Boies Schiller has about 245 lawyers in the United States and United Kingdom, according to the firm’s website. In 2019, the firm grossed $405 million, according to the American Lawyer. At least some of its partners bill more than $1,000 an hour, a source familiar with the firm said.

Boies, the firm’s chairman, is well-known for representing the U.S. government in antitrust litigation against Microsoft Corp and former Vice President Al Gore in the U.S. Supreme Court case over the 2000 presidential election recount. He more recently advised failed blood-testing startup Theranos and Weinstein, who was convicted of sexual assault and rape in a New York court in February.

Since January, more than 30 partners have left the firm, Reuters has reported. Leaders of the firm have said many of the departures are tied to an internal restructuring.

To apply for a loan, applicants must certify that they need the cash to cover basic needs such as salaries and rent and that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan necessary to support” ongoing operations. With some exceptions, companies have to have 500 or fewer employees to be eligible.

Reporting by Caroline Spiezio; Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan Editing by Noeleen Walder and Nick Zieminski

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