The high-profile clientele of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP has substantially increased the spotlight on the battered law firm; and yesterday that light was searing. CNN reported that Tulsi Gabbard dropped a $50 million suit Pierce Bainbridge filed against Hillary Clinton. Hours after that report, the New York Law Journal reported that John Pierce entered an almost $4 million Confession of Judgment related to a loan he took out in February. The catastrophic collapse of Pierce Bainbridge has been something out of a movie with severe suspended belief.
The firm now has a reported $65 million debt to Virage Capital Management, is a defendant in seven filed lawsuits, four involving cash provided upfront against alleged firm receivables. The Gabbard withdrawal was the second of two $50 million lawsuits filed on behalf of the Hawaiian Congresswoman; the first was against Google. In less than a year, both suits have been disposed of with zero dollars recovered.
The torrent of bad news has featured substance abuse, massive debt, dishonesty, misogyny, and objectively poor litigation results.
Questions have been raised as to what convinced high-end clientele such as Rudy Giuliani, Michael Avenatti, Tulsi Gabbard, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and Don Lemon to sign up with a fledgling firm and no track record of meaningful success. One would imagine firm founder John Pierce shared his rants about becoming the preeminent global litigation firm, one would also imagine there was not much talk about Pierce, like a seasoned NYC attorney warned Pierce in 2018, potentially “ending up in jail.”
The Pierce Bainbridge collapse has exposed the so-called firm “leaders” Pierce, David Hecht (Hecht Partners), Carolynn Beck (Goldstein & McClintock) and Jim Bainbridge.
Pierce, in particular, the abandonment, rejection and ridicule have been fierce. It is apparently not an unfamiliar crutch, Pierce’s 24/7 long-time confidante Lauren Schaefer-Green wrote in 2018: “[John’s] just being a dick. drunk. kicked me out. then cried for me today. standard protocol.” In a recent Law 360 report Pierce confirmed he was in “rehab” for “substance abuse and other addictive behaviors.”
Hecht has been the subject of much criticism for his allegiance to Pierce and other matters, including from former PB partner Christopher N. LaVigne.
Beck, the ex-Pierce Bainbridge General Counsel is accused of a bevy of things, including complicity in potentially criminal misconduct, and lack of general competence. While LaVigne – in writing – referred to Beck as “fu*king dumb,” Pierce has delivered the most colorful written blow: “[Carolynn’s] mind moves at the speed of pond water.”
Bainbridge is dogged by no discernible on-line history in the over 40 years since he graduated Harvard Law School, other than primarily FTC filings from the mid-1990’s accusing him of being the ringleader of an $80 million scheme on the consuming public.
Pierce Bainbridge refugee firms such as BraunHagey & Borden, Goldstein & McClintock and Withers Bergman are presumably feeling the collateral impacts.
The newly formed Hecht Partners in comprised of eight lawyers, seven who worked at Pierce Bainbridge, five of whom were partners.
In addition, an ex-associate has accused David Hecht of lies in a federal court and new outside counsel for Pierce Bainbridge, Ed Altabet of Cohen Seglias of engaging in scare tactics to keep the former Pierce Bainbridge attorney from coming forward.
Pierce, and many of his former partners, may be having restless nights: fearful of what’s around the corner, when the next shoe will drop, or if the Feds will come knocking.
With Pierce seemingly judgment proof, and a Law360 report that Virage is chasing partners at new firms, there presumably is concern about what else Pierce may have done, and whether they’ll face additional legal, financial and reputational discomfort as a result.
Pierce’s longest standing partners, those who were with the firm before ex-partner Don Lewis says he blew the whistle on financial misconduct, and who were still there after many other attorneys who started after them, are likely feeling the most heat; they are pictured below. (With the exception of Denver Edwards, who like Christopher N. LaVigne is accused by Lewis of “lying under oath.”)
As for the featured clientele, Pierce claims he’s “good friends” with Giuliani, appears to have taken financial “advice” from Avenatti, claims to have a leadership military background like Tulsi, has an seeming aversion to the truth like Papadopoulos, and is seemingly anti-Hillary Clinton like Carter Page. However, CNN’s Don Lemon? Very odd. Pierce’s disturbing misogynistic writings and status as a Donald J. Trump supporter seem spectacularly outside of Lemon’s lane.
The Pierce Bainbridge plans of global litigation domination have failed, the firm is now known primarily for the distasteful, the bizarre, accusations of corruption and a catastrophic implosion. The firm has been gutted.
A quick review of the partner departures since October 2019 is enlightening; one would imagine that Rudy, Tulsi, Carter, Michael, George, and Don did not foresee this level of carnage when they entrusted their legal fortunes to Pierce Bainbridge.
A roll call of the partners who have quit the firm since October 2019 is incredible. Pierce Bainbridge stopped listing lawyers on its website a few months ago, so this is our best guess:
|FORMER PB PARTNER||PRIOR TO PB||NEW ENTITY|
|Andrew Lorin||Drinker Biddle||(unknown)|
|Amman Khan||Glaser Weil||Khan Law Office|
|Brian Slater||Kramer Levin||Hoag Partners|
|Caroline Polisi||Creizman LLC||Armstrong Teasedale|
|Carolynn Beck||Murchison & Cumming||Goldstein & McClintock|
|Christopher N. LaVigne||Success Charter Schools||Withers Bergman|
|Craig Bolton||Wilson Sonsini||Goldstein & McClintock|
|David L. Hecht||Steptoe & Johnson||Hecht Partners|
|Conor McDonough||Paul Weiss||Hecht Partners|
|Daniel Terzian||Duane Morris||Warren Terzian|
|Denver Edwards||Bressler Amery & Ross||(unknown)|
|Eric Creizman||Creizman LLC||Armstrong Teasedale|
|Franklin Velie||Sullivan & Worcester||BraunHagey & Borden|
|Greg Sephton||Kramer Levin||Hoag Partners|
|Janine Cohen||Gerard Fox||Hecht Partners|
|Jeffrey Alexander||Kasowitz Benson||Wachtell Missry|
|Jonathan Kortmansky||Sullivan & Worcester||BraunHagey & Borden|
|Jonathan Sorkowitz||White & Case||Law Offices of Jonathan A. Sorkowtiz|
|Joan Meyer||Baker McKenzie||Thompson Hine|
|Kathryn Lee Boyd||Pepperdine Law School||Hecht Partners|
|Maxim Price||Quinn Emmanuel||Hecht Partners|
|Melissa Madrigal||Creizman LLC||Armstrong Teasedale|
|Michael Pomerantz||Grais & Ellsworth||(unknown)|
|Michael Winograd||Ropes & Gray||Brown Rudnick|
|Patrick Bradford||New York City Council||(unknown)|
|Robert Allen||McKool Smith||Glaser Weil|
|Susan Winkler||United States Attorney’s Office||Winkler Law|
|Theodore Folkman||Murphy King||Folkman LLC|
|Thomas D. Warren||Baker & Hostetler||Warren Terzian|
|Thomas Frongillo||Fish & Richardson||Hecht Partners|