How Law Firms Are Turning on Trump, an ‘Untouchable Client’

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  • crowell & tomorrow, dla piper and more than a dozen other law firms called on vice president mike pence to remove president trump from office.
  • others are letting money do the talking. cozen o’connor has said he will not give politicians who contested election results certificates.
  • seyfarth shaw, who has represented the trump organization, will withdraw from several business lawsuits.
  • calls for trump’s impeachment and the steps to get rid of him as a client may be unprecedented. even richard nixon got help from top lawyers, before and after he resigned.
  • visit business insider’s home page for more stories.

For months, the lawyers and law firms representing President Donald Trump in an effort to overturn the outcome of the 2020 election have been subjected to an intense wave of scrutiny rare in a profession whose members so frequently turn to the customer who pays more instead of taking any position on the policy.

attorneys of jones day, porter wright and snell & Wilmer may not have been wearing maga hats, but they were still attacked online and by protesters on the street.

Reading: Trump untouchable client

now, following the storming of congress on january 6 by a mob of trump supporters, many law firms are taking public stands against the president and his allies. While lawyers at big law firms have historically been big donors to Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, they rarely take organized, public positions on such issues.

for richard kendall of kendall brill & headquartered in los angeles; Kelly, one of more than two dozen law firm leaders who signed a letter calling for Trump’s impeachment, was an easy decision.

“I believe that lawyers, who are trained to analyze the facts and shed light on lies and frivolous arguments, should speak up when they see outright falsehoods and manipulative propaganda presented as fact in the halls of Congress by unscrupulous lawyers and politicians who seek to delegitimize free and fair elections,” he said.

theodore boutrous, a gibson dunn litigator who has also spoken out against trump, told insider he hasn’t been politically outspoken throughout his career, but what he’s observed from his fellow lawyers in the last two months made him talk. .

“For a company to be associated with frivolous and bad faith attacks on the electoral process in our democracy, that simply cannot be tolerated,” Bourous said.

“Frivolous litigation is a terrible thing in any situation, but here, where it has been used to try to undermine the public’s faith in the electoral process, it is simply outrageous.”

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boutrous has represented cnn and jim acosta in litigation against the trump administration for revoking acosta’s press pass, and mary trump in her publication of “too much and never enough: how my family created the most dangerous man in the world world”.


Like most businesses, law firms try to keep their reputations clean. some companies refuse to take jobs for tobacco companies and others will not work for firearms manufacturers. While a top priority is a non-conflicting customer who can pay their bills, companies also often ask partners if a potential customer will tarnish the company’s image. (Whether the lawyers answer accurately is a different story).

for seyfarth shaw, trump’s efforts to nullify the election were apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back. Seyfarth, a full-service law firm whose attorneys have represented Trump’s business in several civil lawsuits, decided last week to drop the Trump Organization as a client. Martin Grego, a spokesman for the firm, said he was “working with the company to secure a new board…to ensure a smooth transition consistent with our ethical obligations.”

read more: here’s how the paths out of the big law, and a partner-sized paycheck, are shaping up right now for lawyers in the trump administration

Other firms that never represented Trump, and thus are not bound by ethical rules that prevent them from disparaging him, have taken a harder line. The letter Kendall signed called Trump a “threat to the Constitution” and urged Penny to remove him from office. It was also signed by leaders of 18 other companies, including Crowell & moring, known for its representation of government contractors, and dla piper, which has more than 3,000 attorneys worldwide.

“Law firms are becoming more like public companies,” said Deborah Farone, a marketing consultant who has worked at major firms like Cravath and Debevoise. “They are being watched. They need to have more transparency about what they represent.”

For example, over the past five years, corporate clients have increasingly demanded that their outside counsel reflect a more diverse team of attorneys, while law students have begun to protest certain law firm representations that they consider immoral.

law firms cut political donations to trump allies

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Some companies have said they will not support congressional representatives and senators who challenged the 2020 election results through their political action committees. Cozen O’Connor, who has historically favored Democrats with his PAC, has said he will not help representatives who tried to stop electoral vote counting. Squire Patton Boggs, whose contributions to the PAC have made headlines, has said he won’t give anything until he reviews his policies.

Trump is reportedly even having a hard time finding a lawyer to represent him in his second impeachment trial. Bloomberg reported this week that previous legal allies, including White House counsel Pat Cipillone, New York litigator Marc Kasowitz, his personal attorney Jay Sekulow, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and two attorneys who represented him in his first impeachment, pat philbin and eric herschmann have all refused to side with trump.

The last presidents to be impeached, bill clinton and richard nixon, had well-regarded legal counsel even in the depths of the controversy. clinton was represented by experienced allied attorneys at williams & Connolly & Covington & burling, both respected washington firms.

nixon, himself a former partner in the defunct mudge rose firm, was represented by james st. Clair, lead attorney at a predecessor firm of Wilmerhale, and after his resignation, by attorneys at Paul Weiss, according to a 1975 article in the New York Times.

read more: Government attorneys found it harder to land a comfortable partner role at a large law firm in 2020. Here are the 12 hires that caught our eye.

stephen gillers, a professor of legal ethics at new york university, said law firms have come under fire before, from both the left and the right. Pentagon official Charles Stimson criticized the law firms that represented Guantanamo Bay detainees, and student activists targeted Paul Weiss for his representation of Exxon. But he said the extent to which companies have distanced themselves from Trump is unusual.

“Trump is becoming an untouchable customer,” he said.

Reed Galen, a Republican consultant, said Trump’s actions after the election may have made it difficult for a lawyer to justify representing him.

“at what point does the psychological switch from being a conservative lawyer (you know, limited government, rule of law, vigorous foreign policy, conservative jurisprudence, whatever) change to ‘I’m going to advise the president of the united states That you should call a state official and demand that individual illegally actively change votes to show you a victory that didn’t happen?'” said Galen, one of the directors of the Lincoln Project. “That’s a pretty significant psychological leap for me.”

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