King & Spalding

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King & Spalding LLP
King & Spalding
Headquarters 1180 Peachtree
No. of offices 17
No. of attorneys 800
Major practice areas General practice
Revenue Increase$861.5 million USD (2013)
Date founded 1885 (Atlanta)
Company type LLP

King & Spalding LLP is an American law firm with 129 years of service. It was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1885 by Alexander C. King and Jack Spalding. The firm has expanded nationally, with offices in Austin, Charlotte, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Washington, D.C. The firm has a London-based international arm, King & Spalding International LLP, which opened in 2003, and office or affiliates in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris, Riyadh, Singapore and Moscow.

On June 16, 2003, Corporate Board Member magazine named King & Spalding Atlanta's best corporate law firm for the second consecutive year, and in 2008, ranked the company among the top 20 law firms in the United States preferred by corporate general counsel to represent their companies on national matters.

King & Spalding's senior partners include former United States Attorney General Griffin Bell (now deceased). Georgia's former US Senator Sam Nunn (now retired), Indiana US Senator Dan Coats, former Florida US Senator Connie Mack, and former Georgia governor George Busbee (now deceased) also joined the firm after their retirement from public office.

Notable representations include: Monsanto, The Coca-Cola Company, Chevron Corporation and General Motors Corporation.

Notable cases[edit]

  • Represented Verizon Wireless in false advertising litigation involving use of maps illustrating comparison of Verizon's 3G coverage map to AT&T Mobility's 3G coverage map. Successfully defended against AT&T's motion for temporary restraining order and have successfully resolved the dispute.
  • As national counsel for Purdue Pharma in the OxyContin litigation, King & Spalding defeated class certification 15 times and obtained 410 dismissals, including 30 summary judgment orders, without payment or settlement.
  • National and trial counsel for GlaxoSmithKline in connection with multiple coordinated litigations and individual claims involving its SSRI antidepressant Paxil.
  • Represented Sprint in its $35 billion merger with Nextel Corporation in 2004 and subsequently advised Sprint Nextel in a number of its key acquisitions including Clearwire’s WiMAX business for $4.2 billion in 2008, Virgin Mobile USA for $483 million in 2009 and wireless affiliate iPCS, Inc., for $831 million in 2009.
  • Advised Caremark Rx Inc. in its $27 billion merger with CVS Corporation in 2006.
  • Legal counsel to Novelis, a Canadian-based aluminum company in its purchase by Hindalco Industries Ltd., an Indian steel company for total consideration of $6 billion. The transaction closed in 2007.
  • Advised Suez Energy International and Mitsui & Co., Ltd., on the largest-ever power and water financing for the $3 billion Ras Laffan project in Qatar in a joint venture with Qatar Petroleum and Qatar Electricity and Water Co., in 2008.
  • Secured a $133 million arbitration award, the largest ever granted to individual claimants by the World Bank Group’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, against the government of Egypt in 2009, involving the expropriation of a 161-acre (0.65 km2) resort property on the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea.
  • Secured an arbitral award finding of $700 million in damages against the government of Ecuador on behalf of Chevron Corporation, in 2010, in a bilateral investment treaty dispute related to past oil operations by Chevron’s subsidiary, Texaco petroleum company.
  • Achieved a total trial victory for former Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier in 2010, as a federal court jury in New York City cleared him of allegations that he misled investors, in a securities class action case thought to be the largest ever tried to verdict. While Messier and another former Vivendi executive were found not liable, the jury found that Paris-based Vivendi SA misled investors 57 times by making upbeat statements about the company's financial condition in a supposed effort to conceal the company's liquidity risks.
  • Legal counsel as Guantanamo Bay attorneys for six Yemeni detainees, including Mohammed Al-Adahi.[1][2]

Current events[edit]

On January 21, 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers owners filed a malpractice claim against King & Spalding for $194.5 million.[3]

Defense of Marriage Act[edit]

In April 2011 the firm signed a $500,000 contract with the Republican-controlled United States House of Representatives to take on the case of defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage in federal law as the union between one man and one woman, in court for the House, with former Solicitor General Paul Clement, the firm's most prominent Washington, D.C. partner,[4] as its lead attorney.[5] After the contract was signed, the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign announced it would launch a publicity war to "shame" the firm and planned protest, ads in legal publications, and to try to influence students and potential clients dealings' with the firm.[4] Soon after signing, the firm asked to withdraw from the case after facing criticism from gay rights groups, citing an "inadequate" vetting process.[6] Clement immediately resigned from the firm, writing in a letter to King & Spalding Chairman Robert Hays, "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 decisions is what lawyers do...Efforts to delegitimize any representation for one side of a legal controversy are a profound threat to the rule of law."[7] He added, "If there were problems with the firm's vetting process, we should fix the vetting process, not drop the representation."[7] Clement immediately joined Bancroft PLLC, which took the case.[8] The National Law Journal wrote, "[the turn of events] leaves unanswered a myriad of questions about the status of Clement's other cases and clients, and the future of King & Spalding's D.C. appellate practice, which was built around Clement."[6]

The firm was widely criticized by those in the legal community on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue for the decision; Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder compared the situation to the criticism of lawyers tasked with defending Guantanamo Bay detainees, saying, "It was something we dealt with here in the Department of Justice...The people who criticized our people here at the Justice Department were wrong then as are people who criticized Paul Clement for the representation that he’s going to continue."[9] Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey said, "Although lawyers are not obligated in the first instance to take all comers, they are very much obligated not to quit in the face of criticism once they do take on a client. This is a bad message to send to lawyers and to clients."[9] The decision shocked those lawyers involved in Supreme Court cases.[6] Speaker of the House John Boehner issued a statement condemning the firm's "careless disregard for its responsibilities to the House in this constitutional matter."[10] Theodore Olson, Clement's predecessor as Solicitor General and a same-sex marriage supporter, said, "I don't know of anything comparable to this. You have to be willing to stand your ground."[4]

Talking Points Memo reported that Coca-Cola "directly intervened to press the firm to extricate itself from the case."[11]

After King & Spalding dropped the case, Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli terminated his office's relationship with the firm, writing in a letter to the firm that their "willingness to drop a client, the U.S. House of Representatives, in connection with the lawsuit challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was such an obsequious act of weakness that I feel compelled to end your legal association with Virginia so that there is no chance that one of my legal clients will be put in the embarrassing and difficult situation like the client you walked away from, the House of Representatives."[12] The National Rifle Association soon did the same.[13]


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