In the latest issue of the Legal Times, Nathan Carlile has a somewhat salacious story about Beveridge & Diamond. Perhaps you haven’t heard of this D.C.-based environmental law boutique — which might be mistaken for a livestock brokerage, thanks to the sheep photos on their website. But a livestock brokerage probably has fewer hijinks:
[A] sordid story… has ensnared partners at 95-lawyer Beveridge & Diamond in allegations that include adultery and forgery. The dispute stems from a bitter divorce battle between firm partner John Guttmann and his wife, Nancy Lasater, a nonpracticing attorney who was previously co-chairwoman of the Law Practice Management Section of the D.C. Bar and a solo practitioner who often represented firms on ethics issues.
Some highlights and commentary, after the jump.
The article begins with the exciting account of how name partner Albert Beveridge III tried to escape being served with a subpoena. Two surprises: that a 72-year-old can drive so well, and that he has a silver Acura. (We’d expect something more flashy and European.)
So what about these forgery allegations?
The couple’s real-life “War of the Roses” has pulled a litany of well-known Washington lawyers into the fray, including the elusive Beveridge, who is now senior counsel at the firm and was subpoenaed to testify about his role as a former trustee of the firm’s 401(k) program.
It was Lasater, acting pro se, who persuaded Maryland state Judge Durke Thompson to issue the subpoena to Beveridge, based on her allegation that Guttmann forged her signature while taking out a loan from the firm’s 401(k) plan in 1993. That loan is one of three Lasater is investigating.
The firm argued against subpoenaing Beveridge because of his age and the fact that nearly 14 years have passed since the disputed loan was executed. But that argument didn’t get far with Thompson.
Can’t be subpoeaned because you’re 72 years old? Dubious. At 72, Beveridge is younger than many members of the federal judiciary.
The allegations about Beveridge’s loans from the 401(k) program are complex and convoluted; we won’t bore you with them. Here’s the juicy stuff:
For Lasater, the issues aren’t limited to Guttmann and the disputed loans. Dean “Holly” Cannon, a partner at the firm and managing partner from 1996 through the summer of 2001, admitted in an August 2006 deposition to having an affair with Guttmann that began in May 2005, six months before Guttmann filed for divorce, according to a transcript of that deposition. She is also helping Guttmann pay his soaring legal fees in the case.
According to court documents and copies of personal checks produced by Guttmann in the litigation and provided to Legal Times by Lasater, Cannon has contributed more than $300,000 to help Guttmann pay his lawyers at Ain & Bank. Cannon declined to comment. According to court documents, Guttmann has signed promissory notes to repay the money to Cannon.
Lasater alleges in a court document that Guttmann is borrowing money from Cannon and claiming it as a loan in order to “reduce both his obligation to support his family and to negate his equitable obligation to reimburse my legal fees.” Court documents show Guttmann’s assets totaling $2 million, with a net worth of $1.6 million. He claimed a gross monthly wage of $45,695. Guttmann declined to comment.
The numbers for John Guttmann’s assets and net worth seem a little low for a successful lawyer (named one of the 45 best lawyers under 45 by The American Lawyer, back in 1995). Did he make some bad investments in sheep futures?
Allegations of an Affair and a Forgery Ensnare Beveridge & Diamond [Legal Times]