Some of America’s wealthiest law firms and accounting firms reaped millions of dollars in COVID-19 pandemic loan forgiveness from 2020 to 2022 despite posting record profits, according to a report from spending watchdog group Open The Books.
In the last two years, high-powered law firms bagged $809 million under the Paycheck Protection Program loans, while big money accounting shops had $635 million in loans forgiven.
The highest cash hauls nationally went to Boies Schiller Flexner LLP of Boca Raton, Florida, which landed $10.14 million. Prager Metis CPAs of New York, New York received $10.2 million.
To put that all this into perspective, 47,407 Maine businesses applied for PPP loans and received a total of $3.3 billion. The average amount of a PPP loan in the state was just $68,630.
The largest PPP loans in Maine went to health care providers. For example, $10 million went to InterMed, PA, a medical provider in southern Maine. Sweetser, a social service agencies that is heavily government funded in the first place, received more than $8.8 million in loans. Penobscot Community Health Center got $8.6 million, Spurwink Services got $8.3 million, and Spectrum Healthcare Partners received $8.2 million.
But some large white collar law firms and accounting firms in Maine did cash in big on the pandemic programs.
Berry Dunn McNeil & Parker Inc, a-Portland based accounting firm, raked in $8.13 million. Pierce Atwood, LLP, a major law firm also based in Portland, took down $5.7 million.
The original goal of the PPP loan program was to prevent businesses who suffered from the government-imposed lockdowns from having to layoff employees. Although described as loans, almost all of the debts have been forgiven, meaning the program really amounts to large grants.
As the report shows, however, many white collar firms who disclose annual revenues reaped huge profits despite the government lockdowns, so it’s unclear whether their employees were ever at risk of losing their jobs. This is especially so in white collar professions, which more easily transitioned to a work-from-home setting.
The watchdog’s report was first reported on by the Washington Examiner.