David Braff

We love our tipsters. You’re the best research team anyone could ask for.
Several years ago, we read Lincoln Caplan’s excellent book, Skadden: Power, Money, and the Rise of a Legal Empire. Unfortunately, we don’t remember as much from the book as we might like.
(Our memory problems, as well as our typing skills, have gotten worse with increased blogging. Someone should conduct research into blogging and what effect it has on your attention span, concentration, and overall brain functioning.)
Fortunately, one of you does have a better recall of the book’s contents. A tipster directed us to this interesting excerpt, from page 89 of Skadden:
Skadden Arps Sullivan Cromwell Lincoln Caplan Above the Law.JPG
Our source comments:

I thought that it was pretty amazing that a 1993 book about another law firm would have two separate references about Sullivan’s negative reputation toward gay attorneys. I’ve attached the first page from Skadden that mentions it; the second comes much later in the book (and is along the same lines, but a different occassion).

Very interesting. Perhaps proof that the more things change, the more they stay the same?
(Yes, David Braff: We know that you and several other gay partners are very very happy over at S&C.)
Update: Please don’t read too much into our bringing this excerpt to your attention. You can draw whatever conclusions you like from it.
We’re just agreeing with our tipster that it’s interesting. That’s all.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)

A picture is worth a thousand words:
New York Observer Aaron Charney H Rodgin Cohen David Braff Charles Stillman Eric Krautheimer Alexandra Korry Sullivan Cromwell.jpg
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]

Charney S&C 006A.JPG
Move over, Bryant Park. The real fashion show was going on here: New York Supreme Court, 60 Centre Street.
Last week, of course, was New York Fashion Week. Our little sister, Fashionista, covered the events extensively.
Meanwhile, downtown from the tents in Bryant Park, we too had fashion on the brain. But instead of watching runway models strut their stuff, we assessed the sartorial choices of lawyers — namely, counsel at last week’s hearing in the litigation between gay lawyer Aaron Charney and his former employer, Sullivan & Cromwell.
You’re dying to know:

– Who was the best-dressed attorney in Courtroom 540 — and who was the worst?

– Who sported the nicest footwear?

– Who had the most problematic hair?

The answers to these questions, and more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Brokeback Lawfirm: A Runway Report (Part 1)”

New York Supreme Court 2 60 Centre Street 60 Center Street Above the Law.jpg

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.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney: A Photo Essay (Part 1)”

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGWe got enough material from this morning’s hearing in Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney to fill several posts. Eventually we’ll do something for more organized (and fashion-focused).
For now, in no particular order, here are some highlights. We will update this list until we feel this post is “complete” (and then we’ll open a new thread).
We’re publishing this post now, and updating it constantly, to get you info as quickly as possible. Refresh your browser for the latest.
1. In addition to Zachary Fasman of Paul Hastings, Sullivan & Cromwell is now represented by Charles Stillman — a veteran litigator described by the New York Times as “known for representing clients with intricate legal difficulties.” S&C would seem to fit the bill.
Stillman took the lead in speaking for S&C at this morning’s hearing. Zach Fasman spoke only a handful of times. S&C litigation head David Braff, although seated at counsel table, was completely silent (and sans feather boa).
2. Plaintiff Aaron Charney was nowhere to be found at today’s hearing. Darn! We wanted to see him in the flesh. But his absence is understandable — some awkward moments would have arisen had he been around to be questioned (or, if not questioned, at least stared at during the many moments of factual ambiguity).
3. One of the juiciest details, as nicely summarized by Lavi Soloway:

Last Wednesday January 31 there was a secret settlement meeting at which Charney was offered an undisclosed sum in return for which he promised, among other things, to destroy the hard drive on his personal, home computer. The destruction of that hard drive moved to the center of the debate. Aaron Charney has been ordered to submit an affidavit to the court regarding the hard drive and the status of documents that were allegedly in his possession.

But no settlement was reached (as one could tell from the fact that a hearing took place today). And now Charney — who, at the time of the secret settlement meeting, was still pro se — is represented, once again, by counsel.
3. On the issue of the hard drive, Daniel Alterman, on behalf of Charney, represented to the court that the hard drive of his client’s personal computer had been “destroyed.” Charney has been ordered to provide greater information to the court about this (as noted above).
4. It seems, reading between the lines, that Justice Charles Ramos — who had the case initially — did grant a TRO to S&C last week. But he didn’t give them everything they wanted, “scratching out” various aspects of their request.
As far as we could tell, the upshot of the TRO was for Charney to not divulge any secrets or client confidences of S&C. This explains his sudden shyness towards press inquiries. Justice Ramos punted a bunch of other issues raised in the TRO, such as custody of documents, to Justice Fried.
5. Justice Bernard Fried is taking over both the S&C case against Charney and Charney’s original anti-discrimination action against S&C. Both actions will be handled by Justice Fried going forward.
6. Briefing schedule on the OSC: (a) Charney’s opposition to S&C’s Order to Show Cause (i.e., the preliminary injunction motion) is due on March 1 (and Charney will cross-move for some relief of his own on that date); (b) S&C’s response to the cross-motion is due two weeks later, on March 15; (c) Charney’s reply on the cross-motion is due one week later, on March 22; and (d) the next hearing on the Order to Show Cause will be held on March 27, at 11 AM, before Justice Fried.
7. Schedule for the pleadings: S&C’s Answer to Charney’s original Complaint — or, more likely, its motion to dismiss under CPLR 3211 — is due next week (apparently Tuesday, but there was some dispute over this).
8. Other procedural rulings: (a) discovery cutoff is February 5, 2008; (b) Note of Issue (placing the case on the trial calendar) set for February 12, 2008.
9. Rulings about S&C original documents: (a) various original S&C documents that Charney submitted to the Court, which S&C wants back, will be returned to S&C; (b) S&C will copy them and provide copies to the Court; and (c) next week — on Valentine’s Day, as noted by the Court — Charney must submit an affidavit or affirmation concerning S&C documents.
10. Rulings about the hard drive on Aaron Charney’s personal computer: (a) by the end of the day today, Charney must submit an affidavit or affirmation to the Court describing what happened to the “destroyed” hard drive; (b) if the hard drive has been merely erased, rather than physically destroyed, it must be produced to Judge Fried tomorrow; (c) if it still exists, a forensic computer expert will examine it, as requested by S&C.
11. Finally, Justice Fried entered a general preservation order, requiring all parties to preserve all documents relevant to these two cases (including attorney-client privileged documents).
Okay, that’s it for this post. Further commentary will appear in a new thread.
P.S. Comment wherever you like — this thread, the earlier thread, future threads. Commenting here at ATL has always been anarchic (which is why we love it so).

H Rodgin Cohen 2 Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGThis post picks up where our last one left off, in a page-by-page review of Sullivan & Cromwell’s Complaint (PDF) in S&C v. Charney. Our earlier thoughts are available here.
Now we’re up to the juiciest part: Paragraph 19. This paragraph concerns a certain confidential, internal firm document, which was leaked to the Wall Street Journal (previously discussed here).
S&C’s Complaint notes that a copy of this document (1) “is missing from [a] partner’s file”; (2) that the partner’s file “appears to have been put out of order”; and (3) that the partner in question had her office “next door to Charney’s office.”
You do the math.
Paragraph 19 also notes that the WSJ Law Blog, in writing about the leaked document, quotes from a handwritten note that was attached to the partner’s missing copy of the document. Charney also quoted from this same handwritten note, in Paragraph 63 of his Complaint. Ruh-Roh…
More after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney: Some Thoughts on the S&C Complaint (Part 2)”

Aaron Charney headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL.JPGBack in this post, we quoted this passage from an ABC News piece:

“Sullivan Cromwell is far from prejudiced in any way,” says John Scheich, the first vice president of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of New York [LeGal], adding that the firm often buys a table at his group’s annual fundraising dinner dance. “I don’t know Aaron Charney or the details of his case, but if I had to line up on one side or the other, I would have to line up with David H. Braff [an openly gay partner at the firm] and Sullivan Cromwell.”

A gay NYU Law grad sent a letter to LeGal, inquiring into the organization’s stance on Charney v. Sullian & Cromwell. He received a response from Jack Scheich that struck us as, well, kinda bitchy.
See if you agree with us. The letter and the LeGal response appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: That Time of the Month for LeGal?”

Aaron Charney headshot Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL.JPGThis morning brings some fresh news coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. ABC News, for example, has this story.
Most of the piece consists of background info, which ATL readers are already familiar with. But there is some new material concerning S&C and gay attorneys in general:

[T]he firm has a good reputation among gay lawyers. Among the 25 top law firms in New York surveyed in 2003, Sullivan & Cromwell had the highest percentage of gay, lesbian and transgender partners — almost 7 percent, although it ranked much lower — at 17th — for associates, which constitutes 1.48 percent of the total.

“Sullivan Cromwell is far from prejudiced in any way,” says John Scheich, the first vice president of the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of New York, adding that the firm often buys a table at his group’s annual fundraising dinner dance. “I don’t know Aaron Charney or the details of his case, but if I had to line up on one side or the other, I would have to line up with David H. Braff [an openly gay partner at the firm] and Sullivan Cromwell.”

Watch out, Aaron. The gay legal mafiosos are circling their wagons. Tables at those gay fundraisers cost small fortunes — and S&C is calling in its chits.
Sullivan & Cromwell itself will probably be tight-lipped about the case, since it would be unseemly for such a white-shoe law firm to engage in an aggressive public relations effort. But they will surely work behind the scenes to get friendly gay leaders, such as John Scheich, to speak out in their defense. (Cf. Hillary Clinton’s media strategy, in which she doesn’t criticize enemies herself, leaving such dirty work to Howard Wolfson and other minions.)
The ABC article also contains some interesting info about the plight of gay lawyers in the profession more generally. Some excerpts, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: S&C Rallies Its Allies”

David Braff David H Braff Sullivan Cromwell.jpgMove over, Fire Island. See ya later, Provincetown. Rehoboth Beach, you’re all washed up.
The gay destination of choice for summer 2007? This may come as a surprise to you, but it’s 125 Broad Street, New York, New York — home of the estimable law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell (plus the ACLU’s LGBT Rights Project).
From Aaron Charney, the plaintiff in Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell:

I am informed by numerous sources that David Braff (at right), on behalf of certain gay S&C partners, circulated a memorandum stating that such partners are pleased with the work environment at S&C.

Big Gay Al South Park Comedy Central.jpgWhat exactly makes Sullivan such a fabulous workplace for gays? Is it the subsidized gym? The proximity to S&C client Goldman Sachs, home to countless cute banker boys with seven-figure incomes? The complimentary cosmos served in the firm cafeteria?
If you have a copy of this memo, please send it our way, by email.
We’re looking forward to seeing it. But Charney seems less than impressed:

Braff’s memo directly misses the point. My complaint concerns the discrimination and retaliation perpetrated by S&C against me. S&C clearly has no defense against the allegations enumerated in my Complaint and instead seeks to muddy the waters by trying to divert people’s attention away from the issue at hand. S&C’s campaign of diversion is the latest example of S&C’s unwilling[ness] to enforce the firm office manual’s anti-discrimination policy and confirms why I was left with no choice but to pursue this legal matter.

Charney’s willingness to speak freely about the case — or to try it in the court of public opinion, as his critics claim — may explain why he seems to be winning the PR war, at least at the current time. In our reader poll, which is still ongoing, about two-thirds of respondents support him over S&C.
(But that is down somewhat from the 75 percent support that Charney enjoyed earlier in the afternoon. Could an anti-Aaron backlash be developing?)
Update: One of you has posted what appears to be the gay partners’ memo in the comments. Thanks!
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)

H Rodgin Cohen Chairman Aaron B Charney Aaron Brett Charney Sullivan Cromwell Above the Law Above the Law Above the Law ATL legal tabloid legal blog.JPGThe lawsuit filed by an openly gay associate against his prestigious law firm, Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, has been picked up by the mainstream media — big-time.
We expect that, after this rash of articles, the MSM will move on from this story. Rest assured, dear reader, that ATL will not.
We intend to cover the crap out of this case. If you have any information whatsoever about Aaron Charney, Sullivan & Cromwell’s treatment of gay lawyers, or related subjects, please email us. No detail is too small to escape our interest. If you shared your apple juice with Aaron Charney in kindergarten, we want to hear about it.
Okay. We have carefully read this morning’s coverage of the lawsuit by the New York Times, the New York Law Journal, and the Times of London — so you don’t have to. We’ve located the highlights, the juiciest details, and the money quotes.
The most notable news, as reported in the NYT and the NYLJ, is that Charney has been barred from the Sullivan & Cromwell offices while an internal investigation is underway. Considering the weirdness and tension that would have resulted otherwise, both Charney and the S&C partners are probably happy about his absence.
Excerpts and links to the full articles, after the jump (i.e., click on the “Continue reading” link below).

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: Aaron Charney Has Left the Building”