Leaving New York Supreme Court after last week’s hearing in Aaron Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: Paul Caminiti of Sard Verbinnen, a former lawyer turned public relations guru, retained by S&C for the Charney matter; Vivia Chen of The American Lawyer, as stylish as ever; and Dan Alterman of Alterman & Boop, counsel to Aaron Charney, rocking the whole “lovable schlub” look.
A few more photographs, after the jump.
- Aaron Charney, Biglaw, Charles Stillman, David Braff, Fashion, Gay, Laura Schnell, Shoes, Zachary Fasman
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.
- Aaron Charney, Biglaw, Charles Stillman, Daniel Alterman, David Braff, Gay, Technology, Zachary Fasman
We 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).
- Aaron Charney, Alexandra Korry, Biglaw, Continuing Legal Education / CLE, Education / Schools, Eric Krautheimer, Gay, Theodore Rogers, Zachary Fasman
(Yes, we know. According to Gawker, the formulation “Best. [X]. Ever.” is a blog-media cliché. But we don’t care. And we doubt that this cliché has ever been deployed in the context of Continuing Legal Education — so we get a free pass.)
If you’re (1) short on New York CLE credits, and (2) as transfixed as we are by the Biglaw train wreck called Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell, have we got a suggestion for you.
A reader tipped us off to this CLE event, taking place on March 8 at the Princeton Club in New York:
Employment Law for the General Practitioner and Corporate Counselor
Thursday, March 8, 2007
7.5 TOTAL CREDITS: 6.0 credit hours of practice management and/or professional practice; 0.5 credit hour in skills; 1.0 credit hour in ethics
This popular, basic-to-intermediate level program, updated and revamped from previous years, is structured to cover on a practical basis the issues and problems typically arising in today’s workplace on which corporate counsel, or a private practitioner with a general practice, may be called to handle on behalf of the company or the employee.
What’s so interesting about this? The presenters. Two of the lecturers are A-list celebrities of L’Affaire Charney: Zachary Fasman of Paul Hastings (at right), who represents the embattled megafirm; and Theodore Rogers of Sullivan & Cromwell, who is working on the case in-house.
We have advice for Mr. Fasman on how to structure his CLE presentation. Check it out, after the jump.
- Aaron Charney, Anna Schneider-Mayerson, Fashion, H. Rodgin Cohen, Media and Journalism, Nathan Koppel, New York Times, Peter Lattman, Robert Kolker, Zachary Fasman
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.
Hope all is well!
Time to break out the Brioni, Zach. We better see visible hand-stitching on the lapels, bitch.
This is going to be great fun!!!
Update (4:20 PM): As noted by Lawzer, New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer also has a brief item on the S&C countersuit.
Law Firm Facing Gay-Bias Suit Fires Back [DealBook / New York Times]
Sullivan & Cromwell Sues Fired Associate [New York Law Journal]
Paper Trail Disturbed at Sullivan & Cromwell [Intelligencer / New York Magazine]
Taking Center Stage [Soloway]
- Aaron Charney, Allan Bloom, Biglaw, David Braff, Gay, Richard Klapper, Stephanie Wheeler, Stephen Kotran, Theodore Rogers, Zachary Fasman
This 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.
We’re still trying to get the motion papers in Sullivan & Cromwell v. Charney, the lawsuit S&C has filed against its (former) associate. Unfortunately, we haven’t had any luck just yet.
We’ve contacted some MSM friends who have been following the case, but they either don’t have the documents or aren’t willing to share them. We contacted S&C’s counsel, Zach Fasman of Paul Hastings, to see if he might be able to provide us with copies — which, as we noted in our email, are publicly filed. He wrote back: “No comment” (and with no attachments).
We’re coming up to New York on Thursday, to attend the hearing before Justice Bernard Fried. So we will try to get the documents ourselves, in person, at that time. But we would obviously appreciate it if someone could get copies to us earlier.
In the meantime, we’re curious to see whether S&C’s going on the offensive has affected public opinion. Ever since we opened our Charney v. S&C poll, Aaron Charney has been polling between 60 and 65 percent. But maybe this will change, now that S&C has turned the tables on Charney, accusing him of wrongdoing and misconduct in court filings of its own.
The poll appears below. Please note that you are permitted to change your vote (so feel free to do so if S&C’s countersuit has affected your views):
And, of course, there’s our second poll, concerning the possible monetary value of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. We previously thought the poll might be an interesting gauge of the case’s settlement value. But in light of S&C’s apparent brass-knuckles approach, what Charney’s case might settle for is just a matter of academic curiosity.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)
We just got back from dinner with lawyer friends, where everyone mourned the apparent passing of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. Earlier today, it seemed that this lawsuit — which has riveted legal gossip circles — was on the brink of settlement.
As we pointed out this afternoon, something was definitely going on in the case. Aaron Charney was no longer listed on the S&C website. He wasn’t returning our emails, and when we finally reached him by phone, the usually chatty plaintiff refused to speak to us. When we contacted Sullivan & Cromwell partner Theodore Rogers, he was also quite cagey.
In short, the parties were acting weird — very weird. We felt a great deal of tension in the air. Something was definitely not “normal” (to the extent that anything about this lawsuit could be called “normal”).
We suspected a settlement was in the works (and even asked you to vote in a reader poll about the amount). But it turns out that nothing could have been further from the truth.
Reports of this lawsuit’s death have been greatly exaggerated (largely by yours truly). The legal warfare between Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell, far from going away, is actually ESCALATING. WOW!!!
Check out the fantastic comments to our last post. Or read this concise summary, emailed to us by a reader:
Sullivan & Cromwell filed its own action against Charney [yesterday] — and it was started by an order to show cause seeking a preliminary injunction!!!!
The case is on for next Thursday, February 8, before Judge Bernard Fried.
I think this means the case is far from settling, if S&C started their own lawsuit. I will try to get my hands on the complaint.
Mr. Charney, S&C is playing hardball — and you’re the ball. Biglaw is about to get medieval on your ass.
You’re going to be bending over for Messrs. Sullivan and Cromwell. And this time around, they won’t ask nicely.
ATL readers: Please email us with any information, tips, or rumors about the litigation. We are ESPECIALLY interested in getting our hands on S&C’s moving papers, which apparently were filed yesterday (February 1).
Treat this post as the open thread for all things Charney-licious. We will add, update, and tinker with it throughout the weekend. Refresh your browser for the latest — and check out the comments, too.
Fasten your seatbelts, everyone. For fans of Biglaw gossip, it’s going to be a bumpy — but hopefully entertaining — little ride.
Update (12:58 AM): Hey, guess what? You don’t need to read all 60+ comments to our most recent Aaron Charney post.
We’ve prepared a handy little digest of these comments. It appears after the jump.
What is going on in Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell? Here are some facts worth noting:
1. Aaron Charney’s bio has been removed from the Sullivan & Cromwell website (even though it remained there for quite some time after his lawsuit was filed). He is no longer listed on the site as an S&C attorney.
2. Aaron Charney has removed the Complaint from his website, www.aaroncharney.com.
Update: That was according to a commenter. But it seems to be back up (assuming if it was ever gone in the first place). See here (PDF).
3. Zach Fasman, the Paul Hastings partner handling the matter for S&C, has not returned our emails or calls.
4. Plaintiff Aaron Charney, who is usually an INSTANT emailer, has not responded to an email we sent him LAST NIGHT.
5. We just got off the phone with Aaron Charney. In the past, he has been very cordial and chatty with us. But today he DECLINED TO COMMENT.
And we could tell, from the sound of his voice on the line, that something is DEFINITELY going on. He was very, very nervous.
We pressed him a bit — “Can’t you tell us ANYTHING?” — but he kept on repeating that he could not comment. He was quite emphatic: “I really, really can’t comment right now.”
WHAT IS GOING ON???
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)
As we mentioned earlier today, word on the street is that Sullivan & Cromwell has hired veteran employment litigator Zachary Fasman (at right), chair of the employment law practice in the New York office of Paul Hastings, to represent S&C in connection with Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell.
That rumor has now been confirmed. We emailed Zach Fasman for comment, and we received this response:
I can confirm that I have been retained by Sullivan & Cromwell in this matter. I cannot provide any further comment.
- Zach Fasman
It will therefore fall to Mr. Fasman, and his associate minions, to quiz Eric Krautheimer on his bathroom reading habits. Fun stuff.
P.S. Thanks for all of your astute and amusing comments about Gera Grinberg’s lawyers at Gallion & Spielvogel — whose website is not to be missed.
Zachary D. Fasman [Paul Hastings]
Earlier: Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell: Now Everybody Gets To Bend Over!
Prior ATL coverage of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)