DOMA | Law - Gay, LGBT | News

'King & Spalding' Law Firm to Face Backlash Over Defending DOMA

King & Spalding, the law firm which touts its policies against anti-LGBT discrimination but has placed a gag order on its employees following the hiring by GOP Republicans of firm partner Paul Clement to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, will likely face backlash from legal groups and colleges with regard to recruitment and other issues, the Huffington Post reports:

Kingspalding Administrators at some of Washington, D.C.'s top law schools said it is too early to tell whether King & Spalding's role in defending DOMA will sour students from potentially joining the firm; they also couldn't say whether anything could change with their university's recruitment practices. But they did say they take the concerns voiced by their student bodies very seriously.

Tedi Mason, the recruitment coordinator for American University’s Washington School of Law, said the school's gay and lesbian student group Lambda Law Society is “very active” on campus and if brought complaints, the administration "would certainly consider” what they had to say. She predicted protests and student groups “putting up a big to-do” if and when the firm comes to the campus to recruit students.

Lambda Legal legal director Jon Davidson says they won't be involved with the firm any longer: "As legal director, I would take the position that we should not use them as cooperating attorneys with us -- that is, people who work with us on a pro bono basis in cases. "I wouldn't want to team with them, so long as they're actively harming our community by defending DOMA."

DOMA Firm's Gag Order Revealed [tr]
DOMA Defense to Cost American Taxpayers $500K, Maybe More [tr]
House Files Motion to Intervene in DOMA Lawsuit [tr]
Former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement to Lead DOMA Defense [tr]
DOMA-Defending Attorney Paul Clement's Firm is Proud of its Pro-LGBT Policies [tr]

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. And cue Ratbastard rushing to the defense of King & Spalding...

    Posted by: nodnarb | Apr 22, 2011 2:02:28 PM

  2. Great. Just the way it should be. If you lay down with dogs, you catch flies.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 22, 2011 2:05:27 PM

  3. The law schools aren't going to bar a top firm from interviewing on campus, and law students will continue interviewing with them.

    Paul Clement is a former solicitor general. That is a MAJOR business generator for the firm.

    As long as King and Spaulding has LGBT friendly employment policies, they will still claim to be LGBT friendly.

    Having Lambda pull out isn't going to hurt them. And pissing off a few law school students won't hurt them either.

    I'm annoyed as anyone about this. But acting like the firm will pay for its involvement is just a waste of energy.

    Posted by: Miffy | Apr 22, 2011 2:34:56 PM

  4. I used to be an attorney at Sidley Austin, which represented Colorado on the wrong side of the Amendment 2 case. While they weren't barred from any campuses, they faced tough questions in interviews from students for years. And the representation caused internal angst at the firm for a long time, along with efforts by the firm to appear more pro-gay. I believed that we got domestic partner benefits earlier than we would have otherwise as a response to this.

    Posted by: Chicago | Apr 22, 2011 2:45:17 PM

  5. Say what you will, lawyers are always crucified for taking on (un)popular clients or causes. We're not whores. We make the justice system work. I hope their position fails miserably, sure, but don't dump on the porter who carries the luggage.

    Posted by: Bob | Apr 22, 2011 2:46:48 PM

  6. @BOB, I believe the proper term would be "LIFTS the luggage".

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Apr 22, 2011 3:13:22 PM

  7. At the very least, the firm should remove its non-discrimination statement from the website because it is meaningless.

    Posted by: milpert | Apr 22, 2011 3:13:34 PM

  8. Sorry BOb but if the nukes start falling the last people that will be let in the shelters, if at all, are the lawyers

    Don't get mad at reality just realize that you do not make society or any future society run as much as you and other lawyers might think

    Not to come off too mean, bankers and business CEos also will find it hard to get in the shelters

    The shelters will be full of doctors, nurses, vets, farmers, scientists, electricians, and soldiers

    Posted by: | Apr 22, 2011 3:15:37 PM

  9. "The law schools aren't going to bar a top firm from interviewing on campus, and law students will continue interviewing with them."

    Learn your history, dear. The ex-Sidley attorney understates what happened with them. One of the largest law firms in the world was turned into a pariah regarding college recruitment overnight and they paid the price in many ways for being anti-gay for years. And not just by the gays; every up and coming attorney had to question whether or not they wanted to put up with this at their first or new firm. And this was in the 90s. These bozos at King & Spalding are so screwed.

    I'm assuming you're very young. That's no excuse for getting your facts wrong while pretending to be an authority. In fact, don't do that even if you're not so young.

    Posted by: exsidleynycadmin | Apr 22, 2011 3:22:42 PM

  10. The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law

    The letter of the law versus the spirit of the law is an idiomatic antithesis. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the "letter") of the law, but not the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not adhering to the literal wording.

    "Law" originally referred to legislative statute, but in the idiom may refer to any kind of rule. Intentionally following the letter of the law but not the spirit may be accomplished through exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and ambiguous language. Following the letter of the law but not the spirit is also a tactic used by oppressive governments.

    Posted by: I'm Layla Miller I Know Stuff | Apr 22, 2011 3:25:26 PM

  11. "Paul Clement is a former solicitor general. That is a MAJOR business generator for the firm."

    Rex E. Lee was the atttorney who brought the Hate State Supreme Court case to Sidley. Who was he? Read it and weep:

    "Rex Edwin Lee (February 27, 1935—March 11, 1996) from St. Johns, Arizona was a Constitutional lawyer, a law clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White, and the United States Solicitor General under the Reagan administration. He argued 59 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. A Latter-day Saint (Mormon), Lee was an alumnus and the tenth president of Brigham Young University."

    His being a former Solicitor General didn't stop Sidley's anti-gay case from causing major damage to the firm's reputation. Did it destroy them as a business? No. But a firm is nothing without its reputation.

    King & Spalding will be spending at least the next several years having to rebuild theirs.

    Posted by: exsidleynycadmin | Apr 22, 2011 3:42:34 PM

  12. @Bob. Ok, but (while I haven't studied the gag order) it sure seems unconscionably broad. Like attorneys there with no connection to the case whatsoever, with no exposure to any information or anything, could be fired for, say, posting something pro-gay-equality on facebook. And not giving these guys maximum hell over this would encourage other firms to discriminate against gay people by accepting similar extreme gag orders from anti-gay clients.

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Apr 22, 2011 3:52:56 PM

  13. And the King & Spaulding attorneys even did their bigoted client a disservice here by agreeing to sign such an onerous gag clause. They should have known better; PR nightmare, duh.

    Or else they just don't like gay people. Always possible; their client hates gay people.

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Apr 22, 2011 3:55:28 PM

  14. High profile law firms in the '60s who professed to be forward thinking refused to represent segregationist causes in court. They didn't want the stigma of being associated with regressive political causes. King and Spaulding are tarnishing their company's name in a way that is irreversible by fighting the tide of justice that will inevitably consign bigoted laws like DOMA the trash heap of history. They are sellouts for what they have to know is an unworthy cause.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Apr 22, 2011 3:56:41 PM

  15. "Don't get mad at reality just realize that you do not make society or any future society run as much as you and other lawyers might think"

    Almost every action you take in a modern - or future - society is determined by layers of standards and practices. Rules that are absolutely essential, and rules which have to interact with other rules. Unless you plan to live as a hermit on a mountain, you're dependent on those rules, to give some predictability to your life, and occasionally recourse when something does not adhere to the rules.

    Posted by: Zach | Apr 22, 2011 4:51:02 PM

  16. zach

    lawyers are at the bottom of the list on survival


    Janitors rank far above lawyers in a survival situation

    someone needs to clean the toilets etc to prevent disease and infections. Groups can live quite a long time without lawyers

    Posted by: | Apr 22, 2011 5:14:38 PM

  17. PS

    I recomend people read ONE SECOND AFTER by William R. Forstechen

    A fictional account of a high atmospheric nuke attack on america that causes an emp pulse shorting out all technology within thousands of miles in every direction from the blast (in the story only 3 nukes necessary) per US millitary tests only 1 if properly built is necessary and detonated high in the atmosphere to trigger a nation wide emp pulse sending us back to the dark ages

    Lawyers, PR reps, bankers, etc are the loosers in the aftermath because they have no qualifications or abilities to even extend their own lives let alone anyone elses

    Doctor's , nurses, Vets, farmers, Soldiers, Scientists, Electricians will always be the premium /necessary bedrock to survival and societies

    Posted by: | Apr 22, 2011 5:20:06 PM

  18. Given our (ridiculously) adversarial system, you can defend them taking the case. Given the internal employment agreements and understandings in place and the way law firm employees generally conduct themselves anyway, there was no justification for the gag order.

    Ten to one, some gay staffer to some GOP Congressman (yes, -man) authored that little bit of fascism. Probably a GOProuder.

    Posted by: BobN | Apr 22, 2011 5:28:02 PM

  19. @MSTR, ur correct. But Zach is also correct. We can survive without a system of justice. But then, who really wants to live in that world. Based on the role of lawyers, it seems like they can be in a position to be leaders for a better world. Or, like the guy BobN theorizes about, they can show themselves to be empty technocrats. I guess each one has that choice, and it would seem to apply in other professions too.

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Apr 22, 2011 5:41:13 PM

  20. DC's "'top' law schools" (which, except for Georgetown, are actually pretty mediocre on a national scale) will not boycott a large firm from coming to OCI, and the legal market is so awful that law students will take a job anywhere they can get it-- especially from schools like American, GW, etc. which don't place well at larger firms regardless.

    This whole thing is overstated. No law student is going to turn down a job at King & Spalding because of one case. And they won't ask questions about it in an interview lest they not get offered. Ridiculous.

    Posted by: John | Apr 22, 2011 5:51:30 PM

  21. Oh, and King and Spaulding seems to have abdicated any possible higher mission for themselves as lawyers by signing that gag clause, I imagine effectively also indicating that the whole firm agrees to ONLY be empty yes-men / yes-women to their offensive client. So much for the legal profession, eh.

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Apr 22, 2011 5:52:41 PM

  22. True that, John. But will they stick around in five years when they have a better offer, even if for a little less pay?

    Representing clients with extreme views is one thing. but i swear that gag clause seems a whole different ball of wax. How commonly are gag clauses written that broadly??

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Apr 22, 2011 5:58:59 PM

  23. And, John, you'd hope some WISE law students WOULD turn down such offers, even if it hurt the wallet in the short term.

    I do think that to get to the place CANDIDEINC describes regarding marriage-equality would require leadership from firm leaders--and not solely because it's in the obvious interest of the firm.

    I also privately suspect Spaulding and King might be oblivious still to the whole situation. It's easy to THINK ur on a moral high road if u only listen to news from, say, Glen Beck or Pat Robertson. I've heard about law firms like that anyway.

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Apr 22, 2011 6:06:17 PM

  24. Would love to talk to former Sidley attorneys about what happened on the Amendment 2 case for a story I'm doing. I'm at Thanks!

    Posted by: Amanda Terkel | Apr 22, 2011 6:45:25 PM


    I have already contacted them twice regarding this, giving them a piece of my mind. But I would now like to contact their clients to let them also know I will not be doing business with them anymore. PR disasters dont just happen because people feel offended, we have to make this PR disaster happen, add as much fuel to the fire as possible.

    Posted by: Drew Murray | Apr 22, 2011 8:25:46 PM

  26. 1 2 »

Post a comment


« «Watch: Rep. Rush Holt Records Video Calling for Immigration Equality, End to Deportations of Binational Gay Couples« «