The head of the Washington office of the law firm that backed out of an agreement to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of House Republicans is offering new details on the firm’s high-profile reversal.
It was an “unfortunate misunderstanding” between King & Spalding’s J. Sedwick “Wick” Sollers and former Solicitor General Paul Clement that lead to the reversal, Sollers said in a statement to the Daily Report (sub. req.), the National Law Journal’s Atlanta affiliate.
The law journal reported that a five-member King & Spalding client vetting committee didn’t even find out about the contract until April 18 — the same day the news broke to the public.
As TPM previously reported, some of King & Spalding’s top clients, including Coca Cola, intervened to push the firm to remove itself from the case.
Clement resigned from King & Spalding over the mishap and signed up as a partner at a D.C. law firm started by Viet Dinh, the former Justice Department official primarily responsible for authoring the PATRIOT Act. His new contract with House Republicans offers the same terms as the previous contract when he was with King & Spalding.
Via the National Law Journal, here’s the full statement from Sollers:
Although our chairman Robert Hays has issued a short statement saying he assumed ultimate responsibility for any mistakes that were made, I want to make sure the record is clear that I was the member of firm management in primary contact with Paul Clement regarding this matter. As I have reflected on this, despite the fact that our standard client/matter review process was not followed, it was reasonable for him to believe that the firm would accept the matter. This was an unfortunate misunderstanding with a friend whom I personally recruited to the firm and strongly supported. I am deeply disappointed by Paul’s departure and regret the breakdown in communications.