Excerpted from David Lat’s Original Jurisdiction newsletter (which he also previously published in The Boston Globe), although the whole thing is worth reading:
On the morning of June 23, the US Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, holding that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to carry a gun for self-defense outside the home. You might have expected the lawyers who won the case, celebrity Supreme Court litigators Paul Clement and Erin Murphy, to be congratulated within their firm for such a big win.
Instead, they were given walking papers. That afternoon, Clement and Murphy announced in the Wall Street Journal that they were leaving Kirkland & Ellis, the nation’s highest-grossing law firm. Why? Because Kirkland gave them an ultimatum: withdraw from representing clients in Second Amendment cases, including existing clients in ongoing representations, or withdraw from the firm.
“We could not abandon our clients simply because their positions are unpopular in some quarters,” the lawyers wrote. So they left Kirkland to start their own litigation firm.
It’s not just representing unpopular clients; even articulating an unpopular opinion could be a punishable offense today in the world of big law firms (aka “Big Law”). Support the decision of the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationwhich overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the abortion back to the states. At least two anti-abortion partners claim—one in the Wall Street Journal and one in Original Jurisdiction, my legal profession newsletter—that their support for Dobbs played a major role in driving them out of their firms….
Of course, it is not a recent development that large law firms are decidedly liberal (as reflected in, for example, their unilateral contributions to political campaigns). What is different today is not only the party intensity, but also the possibility of losing your job because of the wrong views. Simply put, Big Law — the largest, most prestigious, most profitable law firms in the country, which in many ways set the standard for the rest of the legal profession — is currently gripped by ideological intolerance and groupthink. (There are some exceptions — most notably Jones Day, which has become famous for its work on behalf of Trump.) …