Through a firm spokesperson, Kirkland confirmed its decision but did not explain its rationale for dropping gun cases. A key attorney at Kirkland, Jon Ballis, said he hoped the firm could continue to work with Clement and Murphy on matters not related to guns.
“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,” Ballis said in a statement.
The announcements, which appeared coordinated, emerged on the same day that the Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, to strike down New York’s law limiting concealed-carry permits to those who can demonstrate a “proper purpose” to have such weapons outside the home. Clement argued the case before the justices in November, and Murphy’s name appeared immediately below Clement’s on the briefs.
Clement’s departure from Kirkland & Ellis echoes a similar episode about a decade ago when he left Atlanta-based King & Spalding after that firm moved to distance itself from Clement’s work to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law banning benefits for same-sex couples.
“I resign out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client’s legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do,” Clement said then. The Supreme Court ultimately rejected his position on DOMA in a 5-4 decision issued in 2013.
After the abrupt break-up with King & Spalding in 2011, Clement joined a small, Washington-based firm specializing in Supreme Court litigation, Bancroft PLLC. That firm’s attorneys joined Kirkland in 2016.
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