Avenatti Conviction Pierce’s the “Kevlar Skin” of Pierce Bainbridge

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Dan Garner – The conviction of high profile lawyer Michael Avenatti last week has seen another in the slew of Pierce Bainbridge clients who have been dealt hammer-blow legal results. Pierce Bainbridge Managing Partner John Pierce, given to adopting a macho-Marine manner regarding his firm’s prowess and clients will doubtless be disappointed in the reversal.

Pierce Bainbridge were not lawyers in the Avenatti trial, but their roster of high profile clients includes the brash attorney known for his representation of stripper Stormy Daniels, his Trump-baiting and now his conviction on wire fraud and extortion charges.

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Other high profile Pierce Bainbridge clients include Don Lemon, Carter Page, Rudy Giuiliani (right), Tulsi Gabbard, Lenny Dykstra, George Papadopolous and Joan Dangerfield (Rodney Dangerfield’s wife.) 

The firm has also retained Mark “The Lawyer at the Center of Trump’s Universe” Mukasey, of Mukasey Frenchman and Sklaroff, as outside counsel for the litigation we described as the  John Grisham Legal Thriller involving former Pierce Bainbridge partner Don Lewis, Putney Twombly and Littler Mendelson. 

All of which means Big names. Big spotlight. Big expectations.

“Rock Solid Facts” or Not?


The bombast from John Pierce appears to be inviting a healthy dose of criticism and ridicule from both inside and outside the firm.

In an article in Law 360 recently Pierce said:

“There are a few things that remain rock solid facts of life whether the industry likes it or not . . . we win almost everything we touch, and within a few to several years we will be the most dominant and profitable global litigation firm.”

The hype and hope for positive results are eluding the firm with a former Pierce’s partner characterising Pierce in derogatory terms (“totally bonkers”, “crazy person”).

Avenatti was reportedly accompanied by Pierce Bainbridge partner Tom Warren during a hearing in front of the California State Bar.

The recent trial result does not support Pierce’s “winning everything we touch”  talk and continues the flow of bad news emanating from the law firm.

The bad news has come in a steady stream, including:

  • Pierce Bainbridge clients – Avenatti and Papadopoulos – ending up in metal bracelets
  • $9,157,072.95 default on a “funding agreement” declared by litigation funder Pravati.  The debt was apparently eventually “terminated.”  It appears that another funder replaced Pravati. (Original 2017 Pravati filing and a March 2019 amendment)
  • Almost 20 attorneys, at least 8 of them partners, quitting Pierce Bainbridge in the last several months 
  • Accusations by a Philadelphia lawyer that Pierce Bainbridge allegedly pays off plaintiffs to secure them as clients  
  • A cottage industry of plaintiff “dance move” copyright cases filed, with every single one ending in a loss. One journalist observed:  

“Despite its 100 per cent failure rate in Fortnite lawsuits, Pierce Bainbridge is still finding plaintiffs willing to ensure its partners keep collecting paychecks. And isn’t that the greatest victory of all?”

Pierce Bainbridge Jury Results

As for results achieved by the firm, the only reported jury victory over the life of the firm netted a recovery of around $500,000

The trial lasted three weeks, and at least seven firm attorneys appeared throughout the matter. The attorneys (and their prior firms) included:  Andrew Lorin (Drinker Biddle & Reath), Conor McDonough (Paul Weiss), Michael M. Pomerantz (Grais & Ellsworth), John M. Pierce (K&L Gates), Ted Folkman (Murphy & King) and Stacey Villagomez (formerly of  PB, now of Allen & Matkins).  

Seven attorneys and a $500,000 net recovery, shared between the firm, the client and the litgation financier does not bring words like “dominant” and “profitable” to mind.

The Avenatti Crystal Ball 

While Pierce Bainbridge does not appear to have been involved directly in the Avenatti trial, he was a firm client and the relationship was touted by the firm. 

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Avenatti became a media celebrity until the Nike conviction, but it was his representation of stripper Stormy Daniels that propelled him to talk- and mediashow stardom, feted by media celebs Left and Right.

The disgraced lawyer, like Giuliani, tweeted about Pierce Bainbridge; the partners in the Guiliani tweet, Eric Creizman and Melissa Madrigal, quit just months later and are now at Armonsrong Teasedale.

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Pierce – who claims he was a “M1A1 Abrams Tank Platoon Leader in the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division” – remarked on Avenatti’s future a while back.

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Pierce’s partner, Caroline Polisi, appears to have had a better crystal ball; perhaps her background helped. 

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According to her firm bio,  Polisi has experience handling cases involving “Ponzi schemes” and more; Polisi also appears on “on CNN, MSNBC, CBS and Fox News analyzing federal criminal law.”

The “Ponzi Scheme” work experience is notable given the explosive financial allegations captured in paragraphs 8-20, 38-40 and 193-224 in Lewis’s complaint; allegations which partner Denver G. Edwards has said, “if true, would constitute criminal activity.”  

In October 2018, Polisi penned an article on CNN.com titled: “Where Avenatti’s Winning Streak Comes to an End.”  One can parse meaning, circumstances and details, but the suggestion is that Polisi believed Avenatti’s overall gig was about to be up.  Polisi appears to have been several steps ahead of her “Warrior Spirit” boss Pierce.

The “Tank Platoon Leader”

LawFuel.com’s first coverage  of the firm raised concerns about the financial dealings and leadership of the firm by the tough-talking, self-described “tank platoon leader” Pierce with bravado about “kevlar skin” and the like.

Other media have also reported on issues emanating from the firm. For example, Techdirt.com, also on Valentine’s Day, wrote a scathing piece titled – “Trouble At The Law Firm Filing Patently Ridiculous Lawsuits On Behalf Of Tulsi Gabbard.”

And Leaders League also recently pilloried the Pierce Bainbridge, opining: “Any funder that takes a bet on the firm now would be very brave to do so.”

The drama at Pierce Bainbridge continues with Avenatti’s downfall, even though Pierce Bainbridge did not appear at the trial of their high profile client.

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Prop 213 limits damages.

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