Did Clement and K&S Just Have a Big Misunderstanding?

The BLT Blog notes a story in The Daily Report (for subscribers only) that suggests the flap over King & Spalding’s on-and-off representation of the House of Representatives in DOMA litigation was due to a misunderstanding about the firm’s internal vetting process. The story quotes a statement from K&S partner J. Sedwick “Wick” Sellers, who heads the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. The statement is as follows:

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.

According to the story, Clement signed the agreement with the House of Representatives under the apparently mistaken assumption that the firm would approve of the representation, but before it had been formally vetted and approved.

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