Paul Clement, along with former Kirkland & Ellis partner Erin Murphy, recently announced in a statement that they “were leaving Kirkland and forming an appellate boutique able to represent all their diverse clients.”
Clement, a superstar lawyer who recently won a major Supreme Court gun rights case in which the court struck down a 1913 New York gun permit law, decided to leave Kirkland after the firm declared it would no longer represent clients in Second Amendment-related cases.
Clement and Murphy announced their decision to start their own boutique appellate firm the same day Clement won this latest case, which was the court’s first major Second Amendment ruling in over a decade and will allow many more people to carry guns on the streets of the country’s largest cities.
Murphy has often argued in front of the Supreme Court on high-profile matters representing conservative platforms—including partisan gerrymandering, campaign finance, and removing immigration protections for people covered under the DREAM Act.
For its part, Kirkland said in a statement that the firm will “no longer represent clients with respect to matters involving the interpretation of the Second Amendment.”
“Paul and Erin have been valued colleagues,” Chairman of Kirkland’s Executive Committee Jon A. Ballis said in the statement. “We wish them the best of luck in the future and we look forward to collaborating with them in the future in matters not involving the Second Amendment.”
This is not the first time Clement has left a firm over principles. In 2011, he left King & Spalding after that firm withdrew as counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives in its challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. That more liberal Supreme Court eventually struck down the act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman for all federal purposes.
“Unfortunately, we were given a stark choice: either withdraw from ongoing representations or withdraw from the firm,” Clement said in an emailed statement regarding his and Murphy’s decision to leave. “Anyone who knows us and our views regarding professional responsibility and client loyalty knows there was only one course open to us: We could not abandon ongoing representations just because a client’s position is unpopular in some circles.”
Clement was the U.S. Solicitor General during the George W. Bush administration and is one of just a few attorneys who have argued more than 100 cases at the Supreme Court. He argued four cases this term, the most of any attorney in private practice.