Don't hire a national firm on a controversial national issue, at least sometimes...?
There is a controversy over the national law firm King & Spalding deciding to withdraw its representation after agreeing to take the side of defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
I believe former Solicitor General Paul Clement's act in resigning from the firm is reasonable and honorable. However, the firm should have completed negotiations over the fine print of the retainer agreement before stepping into the case because now it has to formally withdraw, a spectacle that could have been avoided in such a high-profile case.
The retainer agreement which the House Republicans wanted the firm to sign was and is overbroad in demanding all employees be "loyal" to the "cause." See here for the sections of the retainer agreement that require anyone working for the firm (meaning those who are not even working on the case!) to give up his or her First Amendment rights to lobby on the subject while the case was pending.
King & Spalding is a national firm, which has more than 800 lawyers, plus hundreds of staff members--not to mention national and international clients. More than enough of these people (and clients!) are likely to sympathetic to gay and lesbian rights as a general proposition--and may want to sign a petition against the DOMA or one that disputes its constitutionality, both of which would constitute "lobbying" or "advocacy."
In my not so humble view, the House Republicans are better off retaining a small boutique firm which specializes in constitutional law appeals, where the Republicans can still demand the retainer language because, in a small firm, most would be working on the case such that the "loyalty" provision might have more particular enforceability from a First Amendment and employment law perspective.
The libertarian-conservative law and politics blog, Volokh Conspiracy, is all over this issue, and should be consulted starting here. As with a few of the Volokh bloggers, I concluded this is similar to a firm defending prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Lawyers are told over and over again to take on the hard case clients, whether Communists, terrorists, homophobes, racists, whatever. God bless those lawyers, is what I say, and God bless Paul Clement for taking this on, whether I agree with him or not on the issue. Still, I don't blame the firm for blanching at the retainer agreement because I would not want to see associates and staff muzzled in their personal, non-firm advocacy because the firm happens to be representing one side in the controversy.