Biglaw, Boutique Law Firms, Constitutional Law, Gay, Gay Marriage, King & Spalding, Paul Clement, Politics, Small Law Firms, Viet Dinh

Paul Clement Quits King & Spalding After K&S Moves to Drop DOMA Defense

Paul Clement (left) and John Boehner (right)

The leading law firm of King & Spalding, which came under fire from LGBT rights groups after its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became public last week, has moved to withdraw from the litigation. The firm cited problems with the vetting process applied to the engagement.

And Paul Clement, the former U.S. Solicitor General and King & Spalding partner who was going to spearhead the DOMA defense, is now a former K&S partner. He resigned from K&S this morning, in response to the firm’s withdrawal decision. Clement will continue his representation of the House of Representatives in DOMA litigation from his new home, Bancroft PLLC, the high-powered D.C. boutique founded by a fellow alum of the Bush Department of Justice, Georgetown law professor Viet Dinh.

UPDATE (12:20 PM): We reached out for comment to Professor Dinh, who said: “Paul wins the biggest cases and Bancroft solves the most complex problems. This is a no brainer. We will continue to do what Paul and I love doing most, which is to serve the best interests of our clients.”

Let’s take a look at King & Spalding’s stated justification for dropping the DOMA representation, and at Paul Clement’s resignation letter….

Here’s the statement from the King & Spalding chairman, Robert D. Hays Jr. (via Metro Weekly):

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. 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. Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created.

And here is Paul Clement’s resignation letter. He doesn’t reveal his views on the merits of DOMA as legislation, but instead emphasizes the importance of defending unpopular positions in our adversarial system:

Even if you disagree with Clement, his letter is quite eloquent. You can read the resignation letter in its entirety over here, and more discussion via the links collected below.

King and Spalding Files Motion to Withdraw From DOMA Defense, Prompting Clement’s Resignation [Poliglot / Metro Weekly]
DOMA Law Firm Ditches Case, Top Lawyer Paul Clement Resigns In Response [Huffington Post]
Clement quits firm over Defense of Marriage Act flap [Politico]
Clement firm drops DOMA case [Politico]
King & Spalding Asks to Withdraw from Marriage Litigation [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Clement Leaves King & Spalding to Continue Same-Sex Marriage Litigation [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Paul Clement, Former Solicitor General, Joins Bancroft PLLC [Bancroft PLLC (press release)]

Earlier: Paul Clement and King & Spalding Defend DOMA — at a Discount
Quote of the Day: Defending the Defense of the Defense of Marriage Act

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