In March 2021, major international law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP rescinded offers of summer internships to several Harvard Law School Students who had written a letter criticizing the firm for its representation of the government of Israel. The students had written the letter as part of a larger campaign demanding that the law firm drop its representation of Israel in two lawsuit against the Palestine liberation organization. In response, the firm initially release a statement saying that it was “disappointed” by the letter and that it does not “tolerate disrespect toward individual lawyers or staff” regardless of their political views and that “allegations of affiliation with any political position or viewpoint have no place” in the law firm. Despite this, the law firm ultimately rescinded the offers of employment to several students who had more heavily participated in the campaign.
This decision was heavily criticized, with some calling it illegal retaliation under labor law, and there was a quick public backlash against the firm’s decision. Supporters of the students involved in the letter campaign argued that the law firm had violated their right to free speech and was retaliating against them for expressing political views that conflicted with the views of the firm. The firm has since walked back its decisions and declared that it supports open dialogue and respect among those in the legal profession.