Dan Garner – Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, previously self-proclaimed as the “Fastest Growing Law Firm in the History of the World,” is in an unprecedented free-fall. The latest news is that name partner Carolynn K. Beck, who served as the firm’s General Counsel and D.C. Office Managing Partner, is out. The departure of Beck, who previously practiced at Murchison & Cumming LLP, and Margolis & Tinsman LLP, occurs amid the firm imploding in real-time.
The BraunHagey & Borden LLP Boys Beat Beck to the Exit
Beck’s departure comes on the heels of a report of partner defectors Franklin Velie (formerly of Sullivan & Worcester) and Jonathan Kortmansky (formerly of Sullivan & Worcester). Kortmansky landed at BraunHagey & Borden LLP. Douglas Curran (formerly of Covington & Burling) also left and joined Kortmansky.
In addition, ex-firm partners Yavar Bathaee (formerly of Sullivan & Cromwell) and Brian Dunne (formerly of Quinn Emanuel), have founded Bathaee Dunne LLP.
As we reported earlier, the Bathaee Dunne duo appears to maintain a close working relationship Pierce Bainbridge. With the departure of Beck, the second name-partner out within a week (David L. Hecht was the first), around twenty partners have quit Pierce Bainbridge in the last several months.
Curran and Kortmansky are pictured above on their new firm website.
Former Pierce Bainbridge partner Don Lewis, who has a lawsuit pending naming Curran as an individual defendant, remarked:
“Douglas Curran was John Pierce’s right-hand man; Doug knew what was going on, but rather than fulfill his obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct, Curran, like the rest of my former partners, was complicit in Pierce’s egregious misconduct. It appears Doug’s only concern was his paycheck.”
As for finances, Curran is one of the $9.1 Million Crew who appears on UCC filings as “liable” for the $9,157,072.95 default declared by litigation funder Pravati Capital LLC. While that debt has been cured, it stands to reason that Pierce Bainbridge is in substantial arrears to whatever entity or entities – potentially one located in Texas – has been funding the firm in a rob Paul to pay Peter fashion.
The “Pierce misbehavior” referenced by Lewis is captured in the written commentary of firm personnel opining on misogyny, substance abuse, disloyalty, dishonesty and potentially criminal financial misconduct. As General Counsel, one would have expected Beck to confront Pierce about his misogynistic and sexist musings; it appears, however, Beck never did.
Conduct and Capabilities
Beck has been under fire from Lewis’s lawsuits against the firm, dozens of its partners, as well as Littler Mendelson (S. Jeanine Conley) and Putney Twombly (Michael D. Yim).
Beck and Yim are personal friends, Lewis says Yim was hand-picked by Beck to run him out of the firm after Lewis blew the whistle on firm financial misconduct.
Lewis has accused Beck of:
- involvement in deleting evidence,
- burying evidence on her personal cell phone,
- complicity in potentially criminal financial misconduct,
- rigging an investigation with her friend Michael Yim,
- multiple ethical violations; and
- lack of general competence.
Lewis’s accusations generally align with sharp criticism Beck has received from Pierce Bainbridge personnel covering ethics, independence, integrity and more.
- “[Carolynn Beck and David Hecht] like cult members. . . at a certain point you have to put self-respect above all else if you are a real person. You’re either compromising yourself or you’re just plain dumb. I can’t decide which category those two fall into. Could be both.” ~ Former firm partner.
- “Carolynn is good for managing and settling the really low end, unimportant cases.” ~ John Mark Pierce
- “Carolynn was asking where the [money] in the accounts went this weekend. She now knows John transferred to himself.” ~ Firm Bookkeeper.
As the bookkeeper accurately stated, Beck appears to have taken affirmative steps to enable Pierce’s illicit financial activity by targeting the whistleblowing Lewis.
According to Lewis’s complaint, both Beck and Hecht frequently sought advice from John Pierce’s “closest confidante” and non-attorney Lauren Schaefer-Green (also a defendant in a Lewis lawsuit).
This is another inexplicable aspect of the Pierce Bainbridge operations: while Schaefer-Green touts her skill in “friendship jewelry” on social media, nothing indicates any experience in advising “managing partners” on successfully running a law firm.
Stewardship of the Firm’s Attorneys
The scarcity of positive case results and current real-time implosion are reasons enough to call Beck’s tenure as General Counsel into question. The conduct of partner Christopher N. LaVigne, who Beck oversaw as Head Legal Honcho, removes any doubt.
A sampling of issues involving LaVigne is damning:
- Lewis has, without qualification, stated: “LaVigne lied under oath.” Lewis has also produced text messages in which LaVigne advises Pierce should be “reported” for financial foul play and “guaranteeing” Pierce would “ignore” the firm’s tax obligations.” LaVigne then reportedly lied months later “to protect the same John Pierce and smear me.”
- LaVigne was accused by a Los Angeles attorney of perpetrating a fraud in connection with settlement negotiations – a claim that was not pursued. LaVigne’s e-mail response: “You essentially accused me, a lawyer and officer of the court, of lying,” is enlightening in light of Lewis’s unwavering and unqualified statements that “Lavigne lied under oath.”. (A screenshot of the concluding portion of LaVigne’s e-mail is below)
- A Los Angeles judge in the same case filed the “the Court’s own motion . . . as to why sanctions should not be imposed . . . for [a Pierce Bainbridge client’s] failure to comply with a Court order;” it appears from LaVigne’s affidavit that the firm was “unprepared” for a hearing. LaVigne handled the matter with recently promoted partner Dan Terzian (aka “Chief Emoji Officer”).
- One-month later, Pierce Bainbridge, LaVigne and Terzian withdrew as counsel in the same Los Angeles case.
Similarly, around a week ago, a client filed a motion in a California federal case seeking to substitute counsel for Pierce Bainbridge attorneys Tom Warren, John Pierce, Carolynn Beck, Doug Curran and Dan Dubin.
The California hits have been steady, in October 2019, in a case involving former major league baseball star Lenny Dykstra, a Los Angeles state court judge found Pierce Bainbridge, including its new Managing Partner Tom Warren, to have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Notwithstanding a clear picture of a firm imploding in real-time, over thirty attorneys having jumped ship ethical failings, severe dysfunction, and a recent lawsuits coming from a lender, another lawsuit from a Philadelphia attorney, as well as Lewis’s two lawsuits, LaVigne and Pierce Bainbridge filed a complaint on behalf Payward, Inc. d/b/a Kraken just last week in California federal court.
The Ominous Pierce Bainbridge Future
Beck Price and Hecht LLP faces an uncertain and ominous future. There are a number of potentialities, with the darkest being the allegations of criminal misconduct by certain current and former partners of the firm. Presciently, partner Denver G. Edwards conceded in a court filing in May 2019, that Lewis’s (recently validated) allegations of “unethical and deceptive business practices . . .if true, would amount to criminal activity.”
The story of the diminishing Pierce Bainbridge law firm, it appears, has more to tell.
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