Kenneth Starr, Musical Chairs, Thelen Reid & Priest, Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner

Winston & Strawn Tries To Rewrite History By Editing Out a Problematic Partner

It’s clear that Winston & Strawn isn’t happy about all the publicity it’s getting over Jonathan Bristol, the Winston partner — or former partner? — who has gotten entangled with Kenneth Starr

In case you haven’t been following the case of Kenneth Starr — not the one who brought us the delectable Starr Report, but the one who managed money for celebrity clients and now stands accused of a $30 million investment fraud — Jonathan Bristol did legal work for Starr. Bristol is referred to in the criminal complaint as “Associate-4″ — not as catchy as “Client No. 9,” but it’ll do.

Since the Starr story broke, Winston has refused to comment on the case or to clarify Bristol’s current status at the firm. On the latter subject, there are conflicting reports:

Bristol is a Winston & Strawn partner who arrived at the firm from the now-defunct Thelen. Bristol is not charged with any crime and faces no civil charges. But he appears to be gone from Winston, though firm higher-ups and a spokesman will not comment publicly on Bristol’s status. Two sources familiar with the matter say Bristol is indeed gone from Winston, though one source close to the case insists that Winston did not terminate Bristol.

Regardless of whether he’s still connected to the firm, Jonathan Bristol is definitely gone from the Winston website. As in really, truly gone.

Last week, Winston removed Bristol’s bio from the firm website. But that’s not all. Winston went to the trouble of taking the November 2008 press release touting Jonathan Bristol’s arrival at the firm (along with several other Thelen lawyers), revising it to omit any mention of Bristol, and then putting it back on the firm website….

We compared the original version of the Winston press release, still available on Lexis-Nexis, with the version that now appears on the Winston website. As you can see from the redline document below, most of the changes were aimed at “disappearing” Jonathan Bristol, which is not entirely surprising. We’re sure Winston wishes it had never heard of Bristol, and certainly wishes he had never joined the firm.

So Winston has decided to pretend that Bristol never existed — or that he never existed at Winston. This is consistent with the firm’s general approach to personnel matters (and media inquiries into such matters): Why openly acknowledge and address a problem when you can just wish it out of existence?

The redline — or blackline, if you prefer — appears below.

P.S. To the extent that firm press releases are attorney advertising, they have to be accurate, of course. But this isn’t an issue of accuracy; the press release was accurate at the time of issuance. Firms aren’t required by ethics rules to revise historical press releases every time a mentioned attorney leaves the firm. (And if Winston wanted to avoid any confusion, it should have simply removed the entire release, which is almost two years old, from the website.)

P.P.S. One of the edits to the press release involved changing the number of associates who joined Winston in San Francisco, revising it downward from nine to eight. We have no idea why that change was made. If you know, feel free to email us, at (subject line: “Winston and Strawn”).


Winston & Strawn Continues Growth; Adds 19 17 Litigation, Corporate, Real Estate, Energy and IP Attorneys

SAN FRANCISCO, LOS ANGELES and NEW YORK, November 19, 2008 — In a year marked by exceptional growth, Winston & Strawn LLP announced today the addition of 19 17 attorneys to its West Coast and New York offices whose practices focus on complex litigation, private equity, international transactions, real estate, energy and intellectual property law. Partners Paul R. Griffin, Jonathan R. Howden, Richard A. Lapping, Kit Choy Loke, Dirk R. Mueller, Robert L. Nelson Jr. and Robert B. Pringle join the firm’s San Francisco office;, and Jarrett L. Fugh will reside in the Los Angeles office, and Jonathan S. Bristol joins in New York. In San Francisco, Dean Morehous joins the firm as of counsel, along with nine eight associates. All were previously with Thelen LLP.

“We are extremely pleased to continue a remarkable year of strategic growth for the firm and welcome these attorneys to our offices,” said Tom Fitzgerald, managing partner of Winston & Strawn. “The depth of their experience will complement our existing core transactional and litigation practices and reinforce the firm’s reputation for handling high stakes deals and bet-the-company law suits.”

Pringle, Griffin and Howden bring a well-established antitrust and commercial litigation practice. Loke, Fugh and Mueller have deep experience representing companies in the hospitality, private investment and energy industries for transactional needs. Nelson and Bristol handle handles private equity, project finance and real estate matters globally. Lapping brings his restructuring and bankruptcy practice to the firm’s strong restructuring and insolvency practice. Morehous is known for his trial skills in intellectual property, insurance coverage and general litigation.

Since the beginning of 2008, and including this new group of attorneys, Winston & Strawn has opened two offices in Charlotte, N.C., and Hong Kong, while adding 40 partners, four of counsel and 28 associates. The firm climbed five spots in the recently released 2008 National Law Journal 250 Survey of law firms, based on size, and is now ranked 26th on the list.

Winston & Strawn Continues Growth; Adds 17 Litigation, Corporate, Real Estate, Energy and IP Attorneys [Winston & Strawn]
Winston & Strawn Lawyer Revealed as ‘Associate-4′ in Starr Case [WSJ Law Blog]
A Kenneth Starr Update [Am Law Daily]

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