Paul Clement Laments Kirkland's Cancel Culture… Or 'Capitalism … – Above the Law

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Paul Clement (by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Poor Paul Clement.
The former Solicitor General just quit yet another firm after Kirkland & Ellis decided it was done putting its SIX BILLION DOLLARS OF ANNUAL REVENUE at risk so Paul Clement can bring in a couple million painting the firm’s name all over the papers as the firm that won’t rest until every Kindergartner is murdered in cold blood.
It’s a revelation the firm should have reached a long time ago, but as the old maxim goes, “let’s forget the fact that you’re coming a little late to the party and embrace the fact that you showed up at all.”
So, of course, Clement — and Erin Murphy who also quit Kirkland after the firm announced it was getting out of the death merchant business — ran to the Wall Street Journal to cry a river over cancel culture. Or as the rest of us call it “capitalism.”
This time around, we received a very different message from our law firm. Having just secured a landmark decision vindicating our clients’ constitutional Second Amendment rights in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, we were presented with a stark choice—withdraw from representing them or withdraw from the firm. There was only one choice: We couldn’t abandon our clients simply because their positions are unpopular in some circles.
Abandon them? Y’all won. To quote the Bard, “You’re still here?… it’s over… go home!” Technically they have other blood clients, but post-Bruen it’s hard to tell how anyone loses those.
To be clear, they weren’t fired. They were told to build their practices around literally anything less toxic for the firm. But they looked at their prospective client list and came up empty.
But martyrdom doesn’t brake for facts, and the new firm of Clement & Murphy isn’t keeping the lights on without engaging in the time-honored tradition of preaching to right-wing media about their personal struggles with cancel culture. Just remember to open your checkbooks!
Some may find this notion strange or quaint. Many businesses drop clients or change suppliers as convenience dictates. To others, the firm’s decision will seem like one more instance of acceding to the demands of the woke. But law firms aren’t supposed to operate like ordinary businesses. Lawyers owe a duty of loyalty to their clients.
They do! And the private equity firms that actually make the firm’s money would like a little bit of loyalty too.
Our adversarial system of justice depends on the representation of controversial clients, no matter which side has most of big law rooting for it. This is particularly true in constitutional cases. Many of our fundamental constitutional guarantees are designed to be countermajoritarian, and many have been vindicated by litigants who are deeply unpopular, but still have a right to march through Skokie, Ill., to confront witnesses against them—or to defend themselves from violence.
Oh, I say, good sir, harumph!
He’s not entitled to Kirkland’s resources and goodwill and he knows that. He knows that because he threw a tantrum when he left King & Spalding when THAT firm realized he was slapping their brand on discriminating against gay people.
Not for nothing, Clement whined about that too. This article is headlined “The Law Firm That Got Tired of Winning” which is just funny since the complaint echoes his huffing and puffing after leaving K&S over DOMA and… well, how’d that turn out?
Don’t worry, Paul… I assume the current Court will reverse that soon based on not a damn thing too.
But how stupid do Clement and Murphy think the public is?
First, the article devolves into vague recitations of attorney ethical obligations to clients as though THE MOST SUCCESSFUL LAW FIRM IN THE UNIVERSE is naively unaware of those obligations. As if KIRKLAND & ELLIS doesn’t understand the precise bounds of what is and is not ethical. Because let me assure you, K&E knows exactly where that line is or it would have told Clement and Murphy to drop this nightmare for the firm’s primary clients long before the Supreme Court ruling put the firm’s name in the headlines. The measure of K&E’s patience is defined by the ethical rules.
Second, how does anyone read this and think Clement and Murphy bring anything to the K&E table? This is a firm that embodies the Montgomery Burns line:
The firm is making billions and these tweebs are representing non-profits throwing convenient hooks for the current Court to throw its pre-determined nonsense hats upon. There aren’t enough terrible law schools left to represent. If you could collect Kirkland money and got told to just drop one class of client… you only leave when you know y’all got nothing in the tank.
Clement’s left scraping for the lowest common denominator of right-wing cause. And that’s still worth a few million a year. It’s just the world has moved on and in a world measured by billions no one has patience for a few million.
So, yeah, whine that the firm has gotten tired of winning. I’m sure it’ll cry all the way to the bank.
The Law Firm That Got Tired of Winning [WSJ]
Earlier: Gun Ruling Proves Supreme Court Just Coasting On Vibes At This Point
Paul Clement Quits King & Spalding After K&S Moves to Drop DOMA Defense
Who Needs Antitrust To Break Up Major Firms When You Have The Second Amendment?
HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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