Miranda Litwak,

Molly Coleman,

New BigLaw Revolving Door Report Series Will Examine Corporate Law Firm Influence In Executive Branch And Regulatory Law

Today the Revolving Door Project (RDP) and People’s Parity Project (PPP) launched the BigLaw Revolving Door report series to investigate the outsized influence of corporate law firms and their clients on the executive branch and regulatory law spaces. As activists and legal experts continue to urge the Biden Administration to lock BigLaw attorneys, particularly those with large corporate clients, out of the leadership of his Department of Justice, RDP and PPP recognize the importance of exposing the horrific track record of these firms. Through this series, RDP and PPP plan to examine these corporate law firms and their clients more closely and educate the public about this often overlooked system of influence peddling.

The first installment in the series features Kirkland & Ellis, a BigLaw firm with extensive ties to the Republican party that helped turn the Department of Justice into Trump’s personal legal team during his administration. Kirkland’s right-wing associations have not prevented the firm’s lawyers from being considered for leadership posts in the Biden Administration. Progressives were alarmed when Kirkland partner Susan Davies came under consideration to lead the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, considering her history of representing Big Tech and other corporate clients regulated by the Antitrust Division. More recently, Ellisen Turner, a Kirkland partner who used intellectual property law to help pharmaceutical companies root out competitors offering cheaper versions of life saving drugs,  is reportedly in contention to lead the US Patent Office.

“The Justice Department needs to be an institution unquestionably focused on achieving `equal justice under law,’ rather than BigLaw’s vision of justice proportional to the ability to purchase billable hours,” said Revolving Door Project Executive Director Jeff Hauser. “But Kirkland & Ellis is not just a generically troubling BigLaw firm. For decades we have seen what happens when alumni from Bill Barr, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ken Starr’s law firm wield power in government. Enough is enough!”

“For too long, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have turned to Kirkland & Ellis and other corporate law firms to fill the highest ranks of the executive branch,” said People’s Parity Project Executive Director Molly Coleman. “We’ve seen the consequences — how past administrations have adopted pro-corporate, rather than pro-people, approaches to governing. With the launch of today’s report, we intend to show the harm Kirkland has had on the fight for progress across issue areas, and make clear there is no room for Kirkland’s attorneys in the Biden administration.”

“Lawyers who defend polluters, Big Tech, and finance giants should not be allowed to revolve into the very agencies that regulate these industries, and then back out again to peddle their government influence. The conflict of interest is clear. There are swaths of public interest attorneys and civil servants who could fill these roles, and public officials at this level of government should be held to the highest ethical standards,” said Revolving Door Project intern Ella Fanger, who authored the report.

To read the BigLaw Revolving Door Report: Kirkland & Ellis, click here.