US President Donald Trump’s personal law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius has joined the ranks of law firms providing support to those affected by his executive immigration order last Friday (27 January).
Morgan Lewis has confirmed that it has taken on around a dozen cases on a pro-bono basis for those affected by the 90-day immigration freeze, banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
The firm joins the likes of Paul Weiss, Hogan Lovells and Kirkland & Ellis, which all deployed teams of lawyers from its New York and DC offices to JFK and Dulles airports to assist people who were being detained, or who had been threatened that they would be sent back to their home country.
Morgan Lewis immigration partner Eric Bord told The Lawyer: “I think it’s critical for the legal community to provide a voice and advocacy for people who might lack that voice. The courts make the decision as to what the appropriate outcome should be. People deserve representation, they deserve to know their rights.
“I don’t think that there is a conflict in representing clients that are adverse to a position taken by the government. Morgan Lewis’s representation of Mr Trump is not of him in his official capacity but it is of him in his individual capacity as a businessman.”
Morgan Lewis was instructed by Trump to detangle his potential conflicts of interest relating to his business interests and his new role in public office.
The firm has advised companies and individuals to “stay vigilant” ahead of potential new executive orders affecting immigration.
Draft documents leaked to the Washington Post show that Trump was considering a plan to weed out would-be immigrants who are likely to require public assistance, as well as to deport, when possible, immigrants already living in the US who depend on taxpayer help.
“The content of these orders suggest a more far-reaching review of US policy,” Bord said. “There’s been a flurry of activity and with the leaked drafts of orders in circulation there may be additional action in the future.”
Companies and individuals affected by the order now should cancel international travel for 90 days; and companies should check their pending requests and ensure that their service providers are not affected by the ban.
“On a much larger scale, businesses need to figure out what is in their interests from a policy standpoint, and add their voices to the dialogue and debate and to ensure that their point of view is at least articulated.”
Clarke Willmott has become the first UK firm to advise its lawyers and staff not to comply with US border staff who request access to their social media accounts and phone contacts lists earlier this week.
Morgan Lewis has been Trump’s firm for a relatively short time, althoughpartner Sheri Dillon was Trump’s personal tax lawyer for years.
Dillon was a partner at McKee Nelson, which merged into Bingham McCutchen in 2009 as one of the latter firm’s many acquisitions. Following the Bingham McCutchen collapse, Dillon was among the lawyers were picked up by Morgan Lewis, bringing the relationship with her.