Perhaps you’re sick of reading about the aborted settlement talks between Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell. Presumably you’ve already read ourextensivecoverage of the March 15 court hearing, at which the settlement talks took center stage, as well as the reports of Lavi Soloway (who effectively functioned as ATL’s New York correspondent for the hearing).
But if your appetite for all things Charney-licious continues unabated, then be sure to read this excellent article, by Anna Schneider-Mayerson of the New York Observer. It doesn’t contain much new material, but Schneider-Mayerson does a superb job of explaining a rather confusing series of events at the hearing, in clear yet engaging prose. Enjoy! Update: We agree with the various commenters about the juiciness of this tidbit (and apologize for apparently missing it until now):
Michael Kennedy, an attorney for Mr. Charney, described an alleged “rant” by [S&C partner Gandolfo "Vince"] DiBlasi.
“That rant said, ‘Sullivan & Cromwell is invincible.’ That rant says, ‘We defended the Nazis, and nobody can do anything or cared. We’ll crush you like a bug,’” Mr. Kennedy said, quoting his client’s recollections at a Feb. 22 hearing in the New York State Supreme Court. “Those aren’t settlement negotiations; those are threats.”
We previously praised Anna Schneider-Mayerson’s great reporting. But we must also give props to the graphics team at the Observer, whose handiwork is shown above. Nice work, guys! Random observation: David Braff and Eric Krautheimer look much younger in this photo montage than in their S&C headshots. Heck, Krautheimer looks halfway cute. But the expression on his face says, “I’m a nasty, sadistic SOB.” Associate Gets Crushed Beneath White Shoe [New York Observer]
The excellent New York Observer article that we mentioned earlier today, concerning the Brokeback Lawfirm litigation, contains many interesting tidbits. Anna Schneider-Mayerson, always an expert at digging up fascinating facts, has outdone herself this time. To read the entire piece, click here.
Here are some highlights that caught our attention. On the early settlement discussions:
According to a source familiar with Sullivan & Cromwell’s side of the litigation, Mr. Charney initially asked for $5 million, and Sullivan & Cromwell offered “a very small fraction” of that. Mr. Charney referred calls to his lawyers, and through its recently retained public-relations firm, Sullivan & Cromwell declined to comment.
On S&C’s countersuit:
“The debate was: ‘Would this help us or hurt us?’” said the source familiar with Sullivan & Cromwell’s legal strategy. “The downside in filing the suit was to prolong the story, to keep it on the front pages …. [But] we concluded that we were obligated to bring the lawsuit irrespective of what it did to us.”
On Sullivan & Cromwell’s latest filing, a motion to dismiss (which we’d love a copy of if anyone can send it to us):
On Feb. 13, Sullivan called on the judge to dismiss Mr. Charney’s complaint on the grounds that the case will reveal client and firm matters and secrets. In a footnote to the 22-page motion, the lawyers address Mr. Charney’s destruction of his hard drive with a snarl.
“Charney’s attempt to blame S&C for his willful destruction of material information in violation of the New York Penal Code is false, contemptible and will be addressed at the appropriate time,” the note reads.
Update (9 PM): You can access a copy of the S&C motion to dismiss via this post.
And, finally, on Aaron Charney’s ex-associate and friend, Gera Grinberg:
In his complaint, Mr. Charney claimed, he was told that a Sullivan partner referred to their friendship as “unnatural” and that another partner thought they were too close. (That Sullivan associate, Gera Grinberg, has since been placed on paid leave.)
Gera Grinberg is a central figure in the Brokeback Lawfirm saga. He’s Ennis Del Mar to Aaron Charney’s Jack Twist.
(We’re making Gera the more butch one because he’s reportedly straight. Also, based on this comment and this one, it seems that Aaron Charney was basically Gera Grinberg’s bitch.)
But unlike the other figures in this story — Eric Krautheimer, Alexandra Korry, David Braff, etc. — we know so little about Gera Grinberg. Heck, we can’t even find a photograph of the guy.
We’d like that to change. We hereby request any and all information and rumor you might have about Gera Grinberg — what he was like in law school, what he was like to work with at S&C, baby pictures, etc. Please send what you have to us by email. Thanks!
P.S. Yes, we have contacted Grinberg’s staggeringly prestigious lawyers, Gallion & Spielvogel, for confirmation that he is now on paid leave. But we don’t expect to hear back from them, since they’ve ignored most of our prior inquiries.
P.P.S. If you’re troubled by this mini-investigation into Gera Grinberg, we have three responses:
(1) Grinberg is a public figure — a major player, in a publicly filed lawsuit, that’s of great interest to the legal and gay/lesbian communities.
(2) We are all public figures now. Check out this great article, by Emily Nussbaum.
As Nussbaum writes, “The future belongs to the uninhibited.” Trying to fight the loss of privacy is a rearguard action. So just embrace it.
(3) You’re entitled to your opinion about what is or is not appropriate for us to write about. We’re entitled to ignore you. You’re entitled not to read this blog.
Here is the first set of our photographs from yesterday’s hearing in New York Supreme Court in the lawsuit(s) between Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell (litigation nickname still to be determined).
We’ve taken a page from the Lavi Soloway playbook: these photos are thumbnail images. If you click on the thumbail, you’ll be able to see a larger version of the picture, in all of its glory.
More photographs, after the jump.
Rumor has it that Sullivan & Cromwell’s chairman, banking law god H. Rodgin Cohen, was “pretty angry” when he learned that the New York Times would be covering Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, the anti-discrimination lawsuit filed against S&C by a gay former associate, Aaron Charney.
(The NYT story was pretty even-handed. But it was surprisingly long and detailed, which Cohen probably didn’t like. We discussed it back in this post.)
If Rodge Cohen doesn’t like MSM coverage of lurid litigation involving his firm, then he’s probably less than pleased by all the news coverage of Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney, S&C’s countersuit against its former M&A associate.
Today’s New York Law Journal has an article about the case. Most of it is familiar to ATL readers. What’s new is info about Charney’s legal team, which now includes the scrumptiously credentialed Laura Schnell: Dartmouth, Chicago Law, Jack Weinstein clerkship, Best Lawyers in America listing.
In addition, the New York Times’s widely read DealBook blog has a write-up of the suit. The DealBook post contains a shout-out to ATL. Thanks, NYT!
As some commenters have noted, one purpose of S&C’s countersuit was surely to get Aaron Charney to shut up. It appears to have succeeded, since Charney has been tight-lipped since last Thursday, when the suit was filed.
But the countersuit does mean that (1) S&C is “stooping to Charney’s level,” i.e., crossing swords with someone of lesser stature (no “Rose Garden” / “we will ignore you as if you were a gnat” strategy); and (2) opening itself up to more media coverage, to wit, coverage of its affirmative lawsuit.
We are coming up to New York on Thursday to watch the preliminary injunction hearing before Justice Bernard Fried of New York Supreme Court. And we don’t think we’ll be the only media (or quasi-media) types in attendance.
Bob Kolker, of New York Magazine, is writing a feature-length article about Charney; so we’d expect to see him there. Other top legal reporters we’ll be watching out for — we have no idea of whether they’re coming, though — include Peter Lattman and Nathan Koppel, of the Wall Street Journal; Anna Schneider-Mayerson, of the New York Observer; and Anthony Lin, of the New York Law Journal. Update (4:35 PM): Prolific ATL commenter Lavi Soloway will be there.
If you’re at the hearing, feel free to come over and say hello. We look like this.
We also look forward to meeting the parties and their lawyers. We’ve emailed Aaron Charney to tell him that we’ll be there (although he hasn’t responded). And we’ve emailed Zach Fasman of Paul Hastings, who represents S&C, to put him on fashion-and-style notice:
I’m planning to attend the hearing on Thursday, so perhaps I’ll meet you then. Be sure to dress for success! I’ll definitely be writing about the sartorial choices of counsel at this red-carpet event.
(Because, you know, they have better things to do with their ten-foot poles.)
The New York Observer’s Anna Schneider-Mayerson has penned an interesting article on Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. Here’s the link. Random aside: When ATL holds its “Legal Journalist Hotties Contest,” expect Anna Schneider-Mayerson — a Harvard-educated blonde beauty — to give Jan Crawford Greenburg a run for her money.
Much of Schneider-Mayerson’s article will be familiar to regular readers of Above the Law (since we’ve been “covering the crap” out of this case, as promised). But the piece does contain some new information. Like this:
Mr. Charney said he called Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a legal advocacy organization that represents gay clients on civil-rights-related issues, to aid in his case.
“I called the hotline, spoke to the representative who answered, and was told I would hear back from them,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Days later they returned my call and informed me that they were not interested in pursuing my matter against S&C.”
(A representative at Lambda contacted by The Observer said it does not comment on these matters.)
The Lambda diss is the juiciest tidbit. But the NYO piece contains a few other highlights, which we reprint after the jump.
We have, on multipleoccasions, shot envious glares in the direction of celebrity law professors Noah Feldman and Jeannie Suk. They’re brilliant; they’re beautiful; they’re members of the Elect (former Souter clerks).
What more could one ask for? We can think of only two things.
First, a one-word, neologistic nickname. From this point forward, Noah Feldman and Jeannie Suk will be referred to in these pages as Noajeannie.
Second, a multimillion-dollar mansion. Oh wait — they already have one. From an article by Anna Schneider-Mayerson in the New York Observer:*
If Mr. Feldman’s announcement [of his move from NYU to Harvard Law School] is only two weeks old, it’s not because he’s immune to the charms of Harvard Square.
The Middlesex South Registry of Deeds lists Noah Feldman and Jeannie Suk as the buyers of a house in Cambridge for $2.8 million. According to city records, the 1873 Victorian home has a pool, nine bedrooms and five fireplaces.
Although we mentioned it inpassing, we didn’t give adequate attention to Anna Schneider-Mayerson’s delightful profile of Tim Wu when it appeared earlier this month in the New York Observer. (It was discussed on several otherprominentblogs.)
Now we have an excuse to double back and correct the error: We’ve received an email from the good professor! Here it is (reprinted with permission):
Hi this isn’t exactly a tip — I just read your entry for above the law and the FedSoc conference, and wanted to say sorry I couldn’t meet you at the Net Neutrality panel…. It turned out I had the wrong date and it conflicted with my Thursday copyright class, so I couldn’t come….
I hope to run into you in person one of these days.
Wow! When we received this email, we giggled girlishly with excitement. First, Professor Wu is brilliant. As noted in the profile, he was nicknamed “the Genius Wu” by no less an authority than Judge Richard Posner, who knows genius when he sees it (e.g., when he looks in the mirror).
Second, Professor Wu is quite handsome (see photo). How many other Columbia Law School professors have earned themselves a music video tribute (“Ain’t No Other Man But Wu”) from their students?
(Our only grooming suggestion to Professor Wu: Have those eyebrows thinned. We go to someone very good for ours, but she’s probably not convenient for you given that you’re in New York.)
Finally, we were glad to learn why Professor Wu missed the Federalist Society panel: he misread his calendar. It’s nice to know that a member of the Elect — and not just any old Supreme Court clerk, but one who has been called “indefatigable” and “a valuable man in chambers” by his former boss, Justice Breyer — makes scheduling mistakes. How utterly charming! Wu-Hoo! Nutty Professor Is Voice of a Generation [New York Observer] Tim Wu, Voice of a Generation [Volokh Conspiracy] George Clooney’s Got Nothing On Tim Wu [WSJ Law Blog] “I Heart Wu” [YouTube]
The recent HP leak investigation scandal has drawn into the spotlight a legal celebrity of the first rank: Viet Dinh. Dinh represents venture capitalist god Thomas Perkins, in Perkins’s (rather tense) dealings with HP’s board and lawyers.
Dinh, for those of you visiting from other planets, is one of the highest-flying legal eagles in the country. He’s a former high-ranking official at the Justice Department, current professor at Georgetown Law, and former Supreme Court clerk (to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor).
Despite his platinum-plated résumé, Dinh is a grabby l’il guy. Here’s the lede of Anna Schneider-Mayerson’s very interesting profile of Dinh, in the New York Observer:
On the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Viet Dinh, one of the lead architects of the controversial Patriot Act, was standing in his Washington, D.C., office, waxing poetic about Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
“Justice O’Connor, I love her so much,” the 38-year-old law professor said. “I love her so much. She’s the best.”
As if to return the compliment, her image, in the form of a photo portrait signed to her former clerk “with respect and affection,” smiled back at him.
Hugs all around!
The effusive Dinh is, according to Schneider-Mayerson, “an avid and nonpartisan hugger.” As he readily admits, “I always hug [conservative lawyer] Ted Olson and [ACLU executive director] Anthony Romero,” he said.
Does this surprise us? Not in the least. Learn why, after the jump.
One of our favorite legal reporters, Anna Schneider-Mayerson of the New York Observer — a paper that is, by the way, now under new ownership — chimes in on the slow death of securities class-action behemoth Milberg Weiss (headed by Melvyn Weiss, pictured).
Most of her piece summarizes recent developments that have been reported previously elsewhere. But the article does contain some nice color, including details about the indicted firm’s summer party on board an enormous yacht.
Some of our favorite anecdotes, after the jump.
A college graduate without student loan debt is akin to reading a kind quote about Kim Kardashian in a tabloid—it’s rare.
In the past eight years, student loan debt has nearly tripled to a whopping $1.1 trillion, and in the past 10 years, the percentage of 25-year-olds with such debt has risen from 25% to 43%
It’s gotten so bad, in fact, that New York Fed economists warned last month that the burden of student debt could stilt consumer spending by twentysomethings, as well as further hamper the recovery of the housing market and economy.
To get a better idea of what massive student loan debt (we’re talking over $100,000 massive) looks like, we talked to an attorney who graduated with a large student loan debt. We also consulted LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Katie Brewer to see just how their repayment plans stack up.
S. Fischer, 36, Attorney Graduated: 2001
How Much I Borrowed: $100,000
What I Still Owe: $45,000
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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