Firm Parts With Lawyers Who Won Gun Case

Kirkland & Ellis would work with ex-partners 'in matters not involving the Second Amendment'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2022 3:30 PM CDT
Gun Victory Was Partners' Last for Law Firm
Attorney Paul Clement makes a statement outside the Supreme Court in Washington in December 2019 about a gun rights case.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The world's largest law firm made changes as soon as two of its partners won a major victory from the Supreme Court in a New York case expanding gun rights on Thursday, deciding that won't happen again. Paul Clement and Erin Murphy are out, Kirkland & Ellis announced. The two quickly said they're starting their own firm, the Wall Street Journal reports. Also, Kirkland will not take any more firearms cases. The firm described Clement and Murphy as "valued colleagues" and said it would be happy to work with Clement and Murphy again "in matters not involving the Second Amendment."

The two had no other option, Clement said. "Unfortunately, we were given a stark choice: either withdraw from ongoing representations or withdraw from the firm," Clement said, adding, "We could not abandon ongoing representations just because a client's position is unpopular in some circles." One of his clients is the National Rifle Association, and he represented a New York affiliate in the Supreme Court case. Murphy worked on the case with him. They described their startup firm in Washington as an "appellate boutique," per Bloomberg Law.

After the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Kirkland began hearing from major clients uneasy with the firm handling Second Amendment cases. Several partners agreed to stop offering such representation to clients, per the Journal. Clement once left another firm, King & Spalding, after taking a case from House Republicans opposing recognition of same-sex couples married under state law. He did not win that time; the Supreme Court eventually rejected the Defense of Marriage Act. "Defending unpopular decisions is what lawyers do," Clement wrote to the chairman of King & Spalding as he left in 2011. (More law firm stories.)

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