King & Spalding’s Self-Made Mess


Posted on April 25th, 2011 by Katherine Franke

Big day in Big Law and Gay Law – not only did King & Spalding end their firm representation of the “Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives” (BLAGHOR??) in defending the (indefensible) Defense of Marriage Act, BUT Paul Clement, the King & Spalding partner who dragged the firm into it, resigned as a partner in the firm only to immediately join the ultra-conservative DC Bancroft law firm.  Better fit, all in all.

Not to worry, if you’re a fan of DOMA, it will still have a good lawyer.  Clement has taken the case over to Bancroft.  Meanwhile King & Spalding has a public relations problem to deal with.  Purging Clement and the defense of DOMA from its docket does not solve its reputational problem.  Robert D. Hays, Jr., chairman of King & Spalding, said in a statement to Metro Weekly:

In reviewing this assignment further, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate.  Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created.

I’m sorry, but that’s a pretty sorry explanation for the big mistake they firm made in taking on this client – BLAGHOR.  Clement has had the better part of the argument here, framing the dispute as one of taking on an unpopular client/cause.  In his resignation letter he states: “a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters.”   He effectively makes the case that the rule of law and principled politics require the effective assistance of counsel no matter the unpopularity of the cause – “When it comes to the lawyers, the surest way to be on the wrong side of history is to abandon a client in the face of hostile criticism.” What left-cause touting person couldn’t agree with that?

In response to this all King & Spalding has to say is “the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate”?  Please.

So here’s my bottom line: the representation isn’t my core concern.  After all this is King & Spaldling, a corporate law firm not a public interest law non-profit.  Their clients include “more than 200 pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device manufacturers,” and “public companies … in … healthcare, telecommunications, real estate, energy, technology, financial services, manufacturing, retail and consumer products,” among other typical corporate, private interest, clients.

What should concern us is not the substance but the terms of the agreement to defend DOMA on behalf of the conservatives in Congress.  The firm, not just Clement, but the firm agreed to a representation agreement that included the language:

partners and employees … will not engage in lobbying or advocacy for or against any legislation … that would alter or amend in any way the Defense of Marriage Act and is pending before either the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate or any committee of either body during the term of the Agreement.

When you sign up to work at a firm such as King & Spalding of course the firm will take on clients and make arguments in their representations that you may not not agree with.  But taking on a client who insists, as a condition of the representation, that every employee of the firm sign up for the values of the client and not take positions contrary to the ideological viewpoint of the client – both in their work for the firm (which ethical rules may already require) and in their off the job advocacy work, is the problem.  This kind of gag clause is a problem, no matter the political slant of the client’s politics.

The lawyers, paralegals, secretaries, mail room or cleaning staff staff of a large law firm should not have to surrender their off the clock values and advocacy when the firm takes on a highly ideological client.

So bottom line: King & Spalding should be in the dog house not for Paul Clement choosing to defend DOMA on behalf of conservative members of the House of Representatives but for agreeing to terms of that defense that insist that everyone else in the firm sign up for that representation as well.

25 comments

  1. King & Spalding’s Self-Made Mess http://wp.me/ploC4-ZJ

  2. RT @GenderSexLaw: King & Spalding’s Self-Made Mess http://wp.me/ploC4-ZJ (firm rep'd the DOMA for congress)

  3. King & Spalding’s Self-Made Mess http://dlvr.it/PmYQl

  4. […] I mentioned in a previous post, the gag language in the agreement most likely violates local laws granting employees broad rights […]

  5. […] I mentioned in a previous post, the gag language in the agreement most likely violates local laws granting employees broad rights […]

  6. Hello just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

  7. This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want

  8. I just tried the microwave 1, and it worked! I have experimented with a bunch of homemade wax and none of it ever worked. I am so fired up proper now. Very well, I am likely to get back to waxing, waxing, waxing. Thank you!!!

  9. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this blog. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s tough to get that “perfect balance” between superb usability and visual appeal. I must say that you’ve done a superb job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very fast for me on Safari. Excellent Blog!

  10. any happening there isand this is perhaps all gratitude to this very awesome mobile phone spying device. Think about if you possibly could instantaneously get a grip of all personal information

  11. Web design, web apps, mobile apps, facebook apps, high-end WordPress Premium theme, SEO outsourcing and social media marketing (SMM) in the … http://bitboxed.com

  12. Pretty! This has been an particularly brilliant entry. A lot of gratitude for providing this information.

  13. Just would like to articulate your write-up is as beyond belief. The clarity with your send is simply enormous and i can affect you are an skilled proceeding this topic. In good health with your permission allow me to pick in the lead your Nourish to keep updated by helpful place of duty. Thankfulness a million and please continue in the satisfying perform.

  14. Nice study, I merely passed this onto a isolated who was doing a little research resting on that. And he emphatically bought me lunch because I set up it for him smile Consequently allow me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

  15. I can not figure out how achieve I subscribe representing your blog Ogrodzenia

  16. The iPhone was missing a significant video camera and its particular the processor is lower versus the additional cell phones, however ?t had been successful! Why does you consider iPad’s going to reduce? . -= sebin’s continue website… Crank up your own apple ipad tablet with the Apps! =-.

  17. Hi every one, here every person is sharing these kinds of know-how, therefore it’s pleasant to read this web site, and I used to go to see this weblog all the time.|

  18. I’ll immediately grasp your rss feed as I can not stumble on your e-mail subscription link before e-newsletter service. Achieve you’ve any? Please license me recognize in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  19. Awesome publish! I can save an on eye resting on the blog.

  20. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the net the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  21. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

  22. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently rapidly.

  23. This is really educating, This is an evidence that you are informed about this topic. I am still looking if I could find a way to subscribe to your email list or join your rss feed so that I can always get it fresh, I am sure I will find one, let me see. I look forward to reading more of your good information. Also, I’ll share your site in my timeline!

  24. I am not sure where you’re getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  25. Valuable info. Fortunate me I found your site accidentally, and I am shocked why this twist of fate didn’t happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

Add a comment


Comments are subject to moderation and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
Columbia Law School or Columbia University.

FEATURED POSTS

CATEGORY CLOUD

"Homeland" Security Abortion Rights Activism Adoption adultery Advocacy Affordable Care Act Alien Tort Claims Act Amicus Brief Asylum Bankruptcy BDS Bullying Census Politics Children Citizenship Civil Unions Clinic Columbia Law School Compulsory Marriage Condoms Contraception Contraception Mandate Cordoba House Criminal Law Cures for Homosexuality Defense of Marriage Act Disability Rights Discrimination Divorce Domestic Partnership Domestic Violence Domestic Workers Don't Ask Don't Tell Earth Day Economic Justice Education Egypt Elections Employment Discrimination ENDA Estate Planning Events Family Law Fellowships femininity Feminism Free Speech Gender and Technology Gender Identity Discrimination Gendering the Economy Gender Justice GSL Online Haiti Hate Crimes Health Care Hilary Clinton Hillary Clinton HIV HIV Discrimination Hobby Lobby Homelessness Homophobia Housing Human Rights Identity Politics Illegitimacy (sic) Immigration Reform In-ing Incest India International Law Intersectional Feminism Islamophobia Israel Jobs Justice Sotomayor King & Spalding Labor Trafficking Land Reform Law School Legal Profession Legal Scholarship Lesbian & Gay Parenting LGBT Parenting Marital Status Discrimination Marriage Marriage Equality Masculinity Medicaid Michelle Obama Migration Military National Security Obama Administration Obama Appointments Obergefell Outing OWS Palestine Parenting Pinkwashing Policing Politics of the Veil Polyamory Popular Culture Pornograpy Pregnancy Presidential Politics Prisons Privacy Products Liability Profanity Prop 8 Prosecutorial Discretion Publications Public Rights/Private Conscience Public Rights/Private Conscience Project Queer Theory Queer vs. Gay Rights Race and Racism Racial Stereotyping Rape Religion Religious Accommodation Religious Exemption Religious Exemptions Religious Freedom Restoration Act Religious Fundamentalism Reproductive Rights Reproductive Technology RFRA Romania Rwanda Sartorial Commentary Schools Sex Discrimination Sex Education Sex Stereotyping Sexting Sex Trafficking Sexual Assault Sexual Duplicity Sexual Harassment Sexual Health Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Sexual Orientation Discrimination Sex Work Silencing of voices SMUG Sodomy Law Reform Solidarity Sports Supreme Court Surrogacy Technology Title IX Trafficking Transgender Uganda Uncategorized Violence Women and Poverty Women of Color Work Zimbabwe

Academic Calendar  |  Resources for Employers  |  Campus Map & Directory  |  Columbia University  |  Jobs at Columbia  |  Contact Us

© Copyright 2009, Columbia Law School. For questions or comments, please contact the webmaster.