The appellate world got a jolt in September when Kirkland & Ellis and the boutique firm Bancroft announced they would join forces in October.
Two months later, when asked how the new arrangement is going, Bancroft founder Viet Dinh answered: "One plus one equals three!" He added, "We came together very amicably and efficiently. We're doing the same thing, only more of it."
A symbol of the continuity came when Bancroft superstar Paul Clement argued two redistricting cases back to back on Dec. 5, and two days later Kirkland's head of appellate litigation, Chris Landau, argued a bankruptcy case.
Landau has embraced Bancroft's arrival, too. "Law practice is all about human capital, and Bancroft brought a fantastic group of lawyers to Kirkland. They've greatly strengthened the breadth and depth of our practice."
Both firms already had full appellate dockets and some wins under their belts before they joined forces. Last term at the Supreme Court, Clement argued six cases and won four, including Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, an energy law pre-emption case, and Franchise Tax Board v. Hyatt, a state taxation dispute, both issued in April. Erin Murphy also argued two cases at the high court last term.
Landau's latest high court win came in 2015 in DirecTV v. Imburgia, an arbitration case. He and Murphy have been mentioned as possible candidates for U.S. solicitor general in the Trump administration.
The DirecTV win, Landau said, "represents the first time the Supreme Court has ever rejected a state court's interpretation of an arbitration agreement as a violation of the Federal Arbitration Act."
Other key cases in lower courts included Clement's representation of the National Football League in the Tom Brady "Deflategate" case. Kirkland scored wins for energy clients in 2016 at the Second and Third circuits.
In a recent talk before students at George Washington University, Clement reflected on Big Firm life. At Kirkland, he said, there is never any concern about "making the phone ring."
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