Monday, April 25, 2011

Law firm pulls out of DOMA defense (updated)

King and Spalding, the supposedly LGBT-friendly law firm that was hired to defend DOMA, has pulled out of the case. Attorney Paul Clement has quit and will still defend DOMA but with another firm. The Huff Po tells us,
"Today the firm filed a motion to withdraw from its engagement to represent the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives on the constitutional issues regarding Section III of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act," King & Spalding chairman Robert D. Hays, Jr. said in a statement. "Last week we worked diligently through the process required for withdrawal."

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

Shortly after the firm announced that it would no longer take the case Paul Clement, former solicitor general under President George W. Bush and the partner charged with leading the firm's defense, submitted his letter of resignation to Hays...
It could be that the agreement that muzzled everyone else in the firm on the subject of DOMA was too much. Also, for a firm that clearly prided itself on diversity, it was pointed out that attacking a community they purport to support was not going to go down well in the future.

In any case, DOMA will still have its defense, from an ace attorney who apparently can't wait to attack the rights of his fellow citizens. On your dime.

Update: Metroweekly points out the facts.
Here, the facts remain that Clement signed the initial contract on behalf of King & Spalding, questions were raised about the content of that contract, the ethics committee chairman moved to withdraw the firm from representation and Clement left the firm.
And over at the HuffPo, reports of conflict within the firm itself over its contract. Remember, this is a gay-friendly company with lots of gay employees.
A source at the firm described the “mayhem” that ensued after employees learned King & Spalding agreed to defend DOMA.

“Management was divided, people were threatening to quit,” the source said. In addition, it was unclear if members of the firm’s Diversity Committee had been consulted ahead of time about taking on the case.....

Particularly troublesome for companies, according to the source, was that many of them have contracts with King & Spalding that provide protections against non-discrimination for sexual orientation. The contract with the House General Counsel, however, did not include sexual orientation or gender identity protections.
While it's a convenient political cover to claim the big mean gays threatened the firm, waving their feather boas, there are reasonable interpretations that they didn't like the ethics of the muzzle clause,that their employees weren't happy with a firm that was advocating to make them 2nd class, and that the potential loss of business from the LGBT community and friends wasn't worth it.


Atlanta Roofing said...

I agree, lawyers should, and must, defend unpopular cases otherwise we all lose. If the law is beholden to pressure groups of any stripe then the law is useless, take a look at the Supreme Court Justices being removed in the Midwest. Regardless of what you feel about Clement, his position has merit.

IT said...

True enough, but K and S cannot claim to be a pro-diversity law firm and muzzle its employees from advocating against DOMA on their own time (which is what the federal contract would have obligated them to do).

Otherwise they would be base hypocrites.

There are plenty of discriminatory law firms out there. Apparently Clement has found one.

Paul (A.) said...

Paul Clement's position that unpopular causes deserve legal representation has merit. His position that he should be the person to provide that representation (at egregious compensation) is more-or-less neutral. That he should purport to bind his partners to such loathsome contract terms is despicable. They have acted accordingly.

IT said...

Thank you, Paul (A), for the reasoned lawyerly response. That seems exactly right.