Law Firms

How many BigLaw firms represent same-sex marriage opponents? Zero

BigLaw firms are eager to wade into gay-marriage litigation, but only on the side of those favoring the right to same-sex marriage.

At least 30 of the nation’s top 200 law firms are representing litigants or amici seeking to strike down bans on same-sex marriage, but none represents the other side, Reuters reports. “Virtually all” the BigLaw firms are working pro bono or at reduced rates.

The wire service drew its numbers from a review of more than 100 court filings in the last year. “Attorneys at major law firms are getting the message that if they want to litigate against gay marriage they should do so elsewhere,” the story says.

Private lawyers hired by governments or amici defending the marriage bans are from small law firms, or from conservative or religious groups such as such as the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Beckett Fund.

Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the group that defended California’s ban on same-sex marriage, told Reuters he considered asking large firms to help. At least once, he said, a big-firm lawyer was interested but his partners would not allow him to take the work.

“I personally know many good lawyers in large firms who … are terrified of speaking out even within their own firms,” Pugno told the wire service.

Reuters noted partner Gene Schaerr’s departure from Winston Strawn earlier this year become lead outside counsel for Utah’s defense of its gay-marriage ban as well as former solicitor general Paul Clement’s departure from King & Spalding in 2011 after the firm dropped its representation of the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives in its defense of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Updated at 1:08 p.m. to include information about and links to prior coverage.

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