Yesterday, a former Cravath associate had his law license suspended for three years by a New York court. For several years now, the young former associate has been dealing with some serious legal troubles.
Michael Zulandt was a Cravath associate in New York (we mentioned the story earlier today in Morning Docket). In 2008, he pleaded guilty to third-degree misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a domestic violence incident with an ex-girlfriend. The incident sounds like it was a pretty serious fight.
Keep reading to learn more about our (suspended) Lawyer of the Day’s crime and punishment….
From the Am Law Daily:
After Zulandt entered his guilty plea, he was sentenced to ten months in jail and ordered to pay the victim $8,273 to make up for the damage he caused by smashing her Cartier watch with a hammer, filling her purse with water, puncturing a painting, and damaging a couch with water and oil. Zulandt left jail in June 2009 after serving about six months, according to Thursday’s court ruling.
The crazy thing is that violence like that takes some real creativity. Zulandt not only attacked his ex-girlfriend physically, he had to find a hammer and probably a bucket or large pitcher. It seems reasonable to be wary of hiring an attorney (or any skilled professional) with that kind of explosiveness.
Clearly, Mr. Zulandt (who graduated from the University of Michigan Law School) is dealing with some serious anger issues. According to court records, he says he’s aware of his problems and is trying to fix them. But that wasn’t enough for the court, which increased his law license suspension by a factor of… well, a lot. From 60 days to three years:
In earlier disciplinary hearings, according to Thursday’s filing, Zulandt admitted that he “always had a temper” and had pushed the ex-girlfriend to the ground during an August 2006 argument. He also said he began to attend therapy to address his anger problems following the incident that led to the assault charge. A therapist who has treated him testified during the disciplinary process that the violence was “the result of an intermittent explosive disorder,” according to the Thursday filing.
In choosing to escalate the suspension from the suggested 60 days to three years, however, the court found that Zulandt “engaged in a calculated pattern of cruelty that was not the product of the intermittent explosive disorder described by the expert” but the sign of a problem that called for Zulandt to spend more time away from the law.
Zulandt is definitely paying the price for his actions. I, for one, hope he learns from his mistakes and will be able to successfully reenter his profession a few years from now. It might be tough for him to start collecting those big Cravath bonuses again, but then again, we all know he’s not alone in that.