Shirley Sherrod v. Breitbart Update: Big Law Fuels the Left

No Tea Party groups abused by the IRS need apply for pro bono representation at Kirkland. None of the scores of conservative figures who are routinely defamed enjoy Kirkland lawyers representing them pro bono. (Note to Michelle Malkin, give Thomas Yannucci a call to see if all defamation cases are treated equally.)

Kirkland’s website says: “Kirkland lawyers can pursue pro bono matters dealing with a variety of issues such as immigration, homelessness, poverty, constitutional rights, election protection and family law.” It sounds nice, and to some it provides fresh air and credit for billable time, without bills.

This lifeline to sanity provides young lawyers an escape from what my attorney Robert Driscoll called Big Law’s typical “soul-deadening document review[s] for a brief, pro bono, taste of the adversarial process.” And for the lawyers, there is no professional downside to helping the left. From Kirkland’s website:

By treating pro bono work equivalently with billable client work in performance reviews and for compensation purposes, by insisting that our pro bono clients receive the same quality legal representation that our other clients enjoy, and by providing substantial financial support, Kirkland devotes considerable resources to supporting its attorneys’ pro bono efforts.

What this means is Kirkland uses fees from paying clients to subsidize (more often than not) the outside-the-mainstream institutional left. Here is a list of some of those fee paying Kirkland clients.  These outside the mainstream efforts include:

Pro bono attacks on North Carolina’s election integrity laws, including voter ID. Thomas Yannucci, the same lawyer heading the complaint against Andrew Breitbart and now Andrew’s widow, is also on the march against North Carolina voter ID.  Never mind that a vast majority of Americans support voter ID, including a majority of blacks and Democrats.

• Helping illegal aliens stay in the United States.

• Sending 120 salaried lawyers to help left-wing groups monitor polls on Election Day 2012. Kirkland coordinated election day activities with this far-left group. The same left-wing group, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, hassled Tea Party organizations on the eve of the election, ironically threatening them for similar plans to monitor the polls on election day. How far out of the mainstream is the organization? It actually asked the United Nations to monitor American elections.

• Support for a hodgepodge of leftist groups like Centro Legal de La Raza, Public Advocates, Inc., the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU Foundation, and the Nature Conservancy.

la raza

Kirkland also publishes a pro bono “Corporate Social Responsibility” publication that approaches farce and leaves no doubt that pro bono includes lawfare for left-wing organizations and causes. In addition to heavy doses of “sustainability” and race “diversity” jargon, the document notes Kirkland aided an expansive front of left-of-center causes:

• Aiding Darby v. Orr, gay marriage litigation in Illinois.

• Donating 103,758 pro bono hours, which by the most conservative estimates means donating over $36,000,000 in firm salaries (which had to come from paying clients somewhere, didn't they?).

• Aiding the radical pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights that seeks to criminalize free speech by members of the Catholic Church through United Nations-sponsored treaty intervention. There's no mention of Kirkland support of any pro-life organizations, or even health care services to women who seek to preserve life (like Tepeyac Family Center or the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center).  When it comes to the life vs. abortion debate, Kirkland money seems to have taken one side.

• Providing financial support to racialist groups like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a group regularly on the side of opposing election integrity and making it easier for voter fraud to occur.

• Giving financial support to the Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a group working to impose gun control in Washington D.C.

• Aiding the anti-GOP and open borders group OneJustice. Kirkland lawyers have been working closely with OneJustice to help illegal aliens stay in the United States.


There are hundreds of conservative organizations who would appreciate pro bono legal assistance in litigation. There are hundreds more who would benefit from the largess of the Kirkland and Ellis Foundation. It seems Kirkland either doesn’t support these conservative causes, or is too embarrassed to market their support to the public.

In Kansas, election integrity champion Secretary of State Kris Kobach is facing a swarm of left-wing groups in litigation. What is the issue that has so much Big Law time devoted to Kansas? The simple fact that Kansas law requires those registering to vote to demonstrate they are actually United States citizens. Just peruse this eighteen page document listing all of the lawyers swarming against Kobach’s election integrity efforts passed by Democrats and Republicans in the Kansas legislature. This is what big law firms helping causes far from the mainstream look like. No lawfare for a far-left cause would be complete without a squad of Kirkland and Ellis lawyers. And naturally six separate lawyers at Kirkland have stepped up to represent the highly partisan League of Women Voters against Kobach: Susan Davies, Rachel Funk, Jonathan Janow, Bonnie Jarrett, Adam Teitcher and Michael Keats (who “regularly represents” the far-left Brennan Center for Justice).

But ideological orthodoxy in the pro bono practices of many law firms is nothing new.

Over at Eric Holder’s old firm, Covington and Burling, the proudest pro bono representation includes a gang of terrorists housed at GITMO. Once some of these lawyers wrapped up their representation of Al-Qaeda terrorists, they actually went to work at the Department of Justice, including one in the unit that handles GITMO detainees!

Next week, I will be appearing pursuant to a subpoena from Kirkland and Ellis to testify at a deposition in Shirley Sherrod’s lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart’s widow. My lawyer Robert Driscoll wrote a letter to a Kirkland lawyer that is worth a second (and third and fourth) read. I’ll be covering the deposition as well as the litigation throughout at PJ Media. Sherrod’s case, in my view, is an effort to chill free speech by the increasingly powerful conservative media. Here at PJ Media, it won’t work.