Paul Clement to start new litigation firm as Kirkland eschews gun cases

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Attorney Paul Clement addresses colleagues, competitors and others at a party in honor of Clement's 75th argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington October 15, 2014. ADVOCATES/ REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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  • Clement and fellow Kirkland & Ellis litigator Erin Murphy have left Kirkland to start their own appellate law firm
  • The departure was announced the same day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York's ban on carrying concealed guns in public

(Reuters) - Prominent litigators Paul Clement and Erin Murphy said in a statement Thursday they are leaving Kirkland & Ellis to start their own small litigation firm, shortly after Kirkland said it will no longer represent clients in Second Amendment matters.

The Washington, D.C.-based pair said they would leave as Kirkland's decision would affect their long-held client relationships.

"The representations in question were approved years ago, and withdrawing from them now would cost the clients years of institutional memory," Murphy said in the statement.

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Kirkland announced the new policy and the pair's departure hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York state's limits on carrying concealed handguns in public in a 6-3 ruling.

Clement, a former solicitor general, argued that case before the nation’s high court in November on behalf of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.

A spokesperson for Kirkland declined further comment on the partner exits. Neither Clement nor Murphy immediately responded to requests for comment beyond their statement.

It’s not the first time that Clement has exited a law firm over his representation of controversial clients.

He left King & Spalding in 2011 after the firm withdrew from litigation in which it was defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

At the time, the firm was facing criticism from gay rights groups. Clement published a letter criticizing that decision, writing that, “defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do.”

Clement then moved to small litigation firm Bancroft, which Kirkland & Ellis acquired in 2016. He has represented the National Rifle Association in a number of matters, including a successful 2010 challenge to Chicago’s gun ban.

Read more:

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U.S. Supreme Court expands gun rights, strikes down New York law

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Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools, and the business of law. Reach her at