Biglaw, Blind Item, Boutique Law Firms, Drinking, Guns / Firearms, Intellectual Property, No Offers, Summer Associates

A Summer Associate Story Update: In Defense of the Fitzpatrick Cella Fella

If you want to show off guns to your summer associates, just take them to a firing range.

Our latest summer associate story — involving a gun, too much wine, the managing partner’s boyfriend, and the summer associate who slapped him — is turning into the Biglaw version of Rashomon. We’ve heard so many different versions of the tale, from so many different perspectives.

Was the managing partner’s boyfriend a lowly transit cop or an NYPD detective? Did he brandish his firearm, or did it “come out in a joking manner”? How inappropriately did the summer associate in question act? How drunk was everyone at this wine tasting event?

If you’ve had enough of this tale, you can stop reading here. But if you’re willing to hear one more account of the proceedings, keep reading….

For those of you who are just tuning in, here’s a brief recap. The firm in question is Fitzpatrick Cella, the prominent intellectual property boutique. Here is the original version of what transpired:

[H]aven’t you heard about the wine tasting summer event for [Firm X]? It’s spread like wildfire to other firms so you have to have. You know, the one where the managing partner’s transit cop boyfriend pointed his GUN at a summer because he touched her arm? To make it worse, they NO OFFERED the poor kid. They had the gall to blame it on him!

That’s the telling that’s favorable to the summer associate. A subsequent version was more friendly to the firm. According to this version:

  • the boyfriend of managing partner Colleen Tracy is a detective, not a transit cop;
  • the summer associate, who was drunk, allegedly slapped the boyfriend before the gun came out;
  • the gun came out “in a joking manner”;
  • the summer associate allegedly touched Tracy (and other women) “inappropriately”; and
  • the summer “[s]howed up at work the next day in the same clothes as night before, which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t covered with vomit.”

That, in essence, is the firm’s side of the story. Although the firm declined comment when we reached out to them, the second version seems to reflect why the summer associate in question got no-offered.

Here is a third version that navigates in between the two prior versions, but leans more towards the summer associate. A knowledgeable source alleges as follows:

Some clarifications on the FCHS [Fitzpatrick Cella Harper & Scinto] story. FCHS is generally a well-run firm, though they have backed themselves into a mess. The word on the street is:

The bf is a Port Authority cop; mid 30s probably, handsome black guy, very outgoing…. [He] was drunk, and pulled out a gun in a (nice) bar/restaurant at the summer event wine tasting — Landmarc at the Time Warner Center.

The summer was drunk, but not overly so…. [M]any associates saw the summer the next day — the thing about the vomit on the shirt seems totally made up.

The MP distorted / spun / was loose with the facts — both about the summer’s actions and her bf’s behavior — to FCHS senior management, in order to justify her bf’s actions. This is why the summer was no-offered.

If these suggestions are true, then it would seem (1) firm senior management is in a bind because they (apparently) need to take the MP at her word and (2) associates are not likely to come forward to contradict her because doing so would be career-limiting (look at what happened to the summer).

This has angered many at the firm — evidenced by the [comments on past posts].

If true, the MP’s fitness for leadership seems an open question. Pulling a gun out in a bar is not a minor thing, but in a sense, this is a “cover-up is worse than the crime” story.

FCHS needs to get ahead of this. It soon may be bigger than (even) ATL.

I asked this source for additional information about how exactly the gun made its appearance. Did the boyfriend wield it threateningly? Or was he just showing an unloaded gun to people not familiar with what guns look like (i.e., New Yorkers)? The tipster told me:

[The MP’s boyfriend] was carrying two firearms. He pulled one out to make a point, not to show what one looked like — after he and the summer were bantering at the bar, and after the summer playfully slapped his face. Afterwards, the bf told a group he “hated” the summer and told the group what he had done.

MP indicates this did not happen. Bf was also drinking heavily. I can only assume the firearms were loaded — he definitely was not showing unloaded firearms to folks to show them what firearms look like.

I then inquired: How did this lead to a no-offer for the summer associate?

The fact that a gun appeared at the summer event spread like wildfire at the firm. Firm senior management questioned the MP, who indicated the reason a gun was pulled was because the summer had been “disrespectful” (for lack of a better word) to her, and the bf needed to control him (as opposed to the banter at the bar between the summer and the bf).

This is why he was no-offered. Management acted on the MP’s story over the summer’s. The MP was trying to justify bf’s behavior, since this behavior would look very bad to his superiors if it got out.

Colleen Tracy

By the way, the notion of the managing partner having to justify her or her boyfriend’s behavior to “senior management” seems a bit odd. According to her website bio, Colleen Tracy “currently serves as the firm’s Managing Partner.” That would seem to make her “senior management,” as opposed to someone who must appear before senior management and defend herself.

But perhaps this makes sense on a certain level. Some at Fitzpatrick Cella claim that even though Tracy has the title of managing partner, she isn’t the one calling the shots over there. Sources say former managing partner Nicholas Cannella, for example, wields great power at FCHS.

(We hope that, at some point, Colleen Tracy or Nick Cannella or somebody at FCHS will respond and clear up all these conflicting reports. What’s the worse that could happen? The whole legal blogosphere will start talking about allegations that your cop boyfriend pulled a gun on somebody? I think we’ve already crossed that bridge.)

If anything else happens in this story, we’ll bring you an update. If you have a summer associate story at another firm that you’d like us to investigate, just send us the details, by email or by text message (646-820-8477), and we will look into it. Thanks.

UPDATE (8/15/12, 9:30 AM): There is some interesting information in the comments. Here’s a posting about FCHS’s management structure:

Lat, re: your “managing partner” v. “senior management” comment — the structure is such that the MP is usually an “up and coming” mid-level partner who will serve as a good mouthpiece for FCHS. MP is then one of a six- or seven-member Management Committee. Other than the MP, the MC is comprised of mostly former MPs and heavy-hitting senior partners. The MC, in effect, the six non-MP members, make all the decisions, which explains why she would have to explain herself to them.

Earlier: Boutique Blind Item Revealed: More On The Infamous Firearms Incident — And An Allegedly Naughty Summer Associate
IP Boutique Blind Item: When The Managing Partner’s Boyfriend Allegedly Pulls A Gun On You

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