King & Spalding
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|No. of offices||17|
|No. of attorneys||800|
|Major practice areas||General practice|
|Revenue||$861.5 million USD (2013)|
|Date founded||1885 (Atlanta)|
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, Moscow, Paris, Riyadh, Singapore and Tokyo.
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. The firm's current chairman Robert Hays has held the position since 2005.
- Legal counsel as Guantanamo Bay attorneys for six Yemeni detainees, including Mohammed Al-Adahi.
Defense of Marriage Act
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, as its lead attorney. 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. Soon after signing, the firm asked to withdraw from the case after facing criticism from gay rights groups, citing an "inadequate" vetting process. 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." He added, "If there were problems with the firm's vetting process, we should fix the vetting process, not drop the representation." Clement immediately joined Bancroft PLLC, which took the case. 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."
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." 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." The decision shocked those lawyers involved in Supreme Court cases. 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." 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."
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." The National Rifle Association soon did the same.
- Meredith Hobbs (July 20, 2010). "D.C. Circuit Rules Against Guantanamo Detainee". Law.com. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
- "Pro Bono Matters". King & Spalding. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
- Huddleston Jr, Tom. "King & Spalding Hit with Malpractice Suit by Hawks, Thrashers Owners". The AM Law Daily. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- Law firm quits marriage act case, a win for gay-rights groups
- Lochhead, Carolyn (April 19, 2011). "GOP's big push to protect Defense of Marriage Act". SF Gate. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- David Ingram, Tony Mauro (April 25, 2011). "Clement departs King & Spalding after DOMA withdrawal". The National Law Journal. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
- Paul Clement resignation letter
- GOP pushes on with marriage act defense after law firm backs out
- Former and current AGs agree: King and Spalding messed up
- King & Spalding Drops DOMA Case
- Behind A Major Law Firm's Decision To Ditch Its Defense Of DOMA
- Virginia AG cancels King & Spalding work for state after "obsequious act of weakness" in DOMA case Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- King & Spalding Loses Another Client Over DOMA Decision