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'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]

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  1. "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."

    Yes, I am young. I'm a recent law school graduate. I am talking about the current recruiting environment. And, yes, I don think I'm more of an authority on that than experienced lawyers.

    The fact is that the legal market is abysmal for entry level attorney positions. 2nd year summer associateship availability is at a fraction of what it was just a few years ago. Meanwhile, tuition and enrollment have both skyrocketed, meaning there are a lot of jobless law grads with 100k+ debt burdens. Very few law students have the luxury these days of refusing interviews with top firms like King and Spaulding due to ideological disagreements.

    Read the article again. "Gihan Fernando, Assistant Dean for Career Services at Georgetown Law, said King & Spalding has been recruiting at the university for years and said he expects more recruiting in the future. But if students are upset about their presence and want to air complaints to the administration, he said the school is welcome to hear them." The translation: some students are going to be unhappy. The schools will listen to their complaints, but they're not going to change anything.

    Don't come in here and tell me I don't know my facts and then start lecturing me about something that happened over a decade ago as if it's still relevant. It's a different world.

    Posted by: Miffy | Apr 23, 2011 12:40:28 AM

  2. Here's K&S's "representative client list" from their web site.
    Note that Google is on it, among others.

    Arcapita Bank B.S.C.
    Bank of America
    Baxter International
    Boehringer Ingelheim
    Chevron USA
    ChoicePoint, Inc.
    CitiGroup – CitiBank
    The Coca-Cola Company
    Cooper Industries
    Credit Suisse Securities
    CVS Caremark Corporation
    Delta Airlines
    Duke Energy Corporation
    Eli Lilly
    Ernst & Young
    Eurx Properties SCA
    Exxon Mobil Corporation
    General Electric Company
    General Motors Corporation
    Georgia-Pacific Corporation
    Goldman Sachs
    HDG Mansur Investment Services Inc.
    Hoffman-LaRoche The Home Depot
    Honeywell International Inc.
    IVG Institutional Funds GmbH
    Johnson & Johnson
    Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Morgan Stanley
    Mubadala Development Corporation
    Nokia Corporation
    Prudential Capital Group
    Purdue Pharma L.P.
    Roark Capital Group
    RJ Reynolds
    Shell Oil Company
    Sprint Nextel Corporation
    SunTrust Banks, Inc.
    UCB, Inc.
    Wachovia / Wells Fargo
    WellCare Health Plans, Inc.

    Posted by: TruthSeeker_Too | Apr 23, 2011 2:46:56 AM

  3. The gag order is not enforceable and violates the laws of the state of New York and California (two states where the firm has offices). You'd think if you were a decent lawyer they might have figured that out BEFORE signing.

    How f*cked up it that the Republican Party insists that the 1st Amendment not apply to citizens of the U.S. working to defend the constitutionality of a law they passed?

    Here's what is in the contract according to reports:

    "Partners and employees who do not perform services pursuant to this Agreement 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."

    This contract provision if surely offensive, but it's illegal in several states where the firm has offices. NEW YORK law, for instance, states:
    Unless otherwise provided by law, it shall be unlawful for any employer or employment agency to refuse to hire, employ or license, or to discharge from employment or otherwise discriminate against an individual in compensation, promotion or terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of:
    an individual's political activities outside of working hours, off of the employer's premises and without use of the employer's equipment or other property, if such activities are legal...
    McKinney's Labor Law § 201-d (2)(a)

    Similarly, the CALIFORNIA labor code states:
    [N]o employer shall make, adopt, or enforce any rule, regulation, or policy... [f]orbidding or preventing employees from engaging or participating in politics...

    Posted by: TruthSeeker_Too | Apr 23, 2011 2:52:14 AM

  4. @bob bad comparison to lifting the luggage. does this make lawyers like reikers rent boy whores?

    Posted by: walter | Apr 23, 2011 11:20:42 AM

  5. The gag order is illegal as applied to California employees pursuant to Labor Code Sec. 1101 and since the gag is imposed based on a contract with the government, is impermissible prior-restraint under the First Amendment. And look at the retainer: There isn't a fixed amount of $500k, it's just that if the firm hits $500k, which it, discounted rates notwithstanding (and not that much of a discount, and since it's a blended rate, the lowliest associate will be charging almost double what that perosn's usual hourly rate would be), will hit with no problem. AND THEN the firm gets to pull out unless Congress ponies up some more money. It's a total ripoff on all sides by people that you'd think would know better.

    Posted by: BobC562 | Apr 23, 2011 4:45:55 PM

  6. Actually, finding out who their corporate clients are and making that information public is brilliant. I want to know if my company does business with these Republican water boys.

    Posted by: Joe in CT | Apr 23, 2011 7:25:15 PM

  7. EXSIDLEYNYCADMIN makes a good point about that it is not just GLBT people that will be upset. There are many straight folks in the legal profession who are on the side of equality for all, after all it is the LAW they follow.

    I totally believe this will be a DISASTROUS PR nightmare for the firm, especially because the changes of King Spalding LOSING are VERY high.

    Posted by: FunMe | Apr 24, 2011 1:54:35 AM

  8. I think it's perfectly fair to judge the corporate culture at this firm by the fact that they were even asked to handle this case (embarrassing enough). The fact that they are willing to throw themselves into it is still worse. I hope it shows what conservative bigots they are, and turns into a real nightmare for them.

    I'd like to see HRC pressure all of the clients listed above to take their business elsewhere. Lawyers are starving for work, so there must be a few ethical ones somewhere...

    Posted by: Rob | Apr 24, 2011 11:01:41 PM

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