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The Slow Sinking of The Pierce Bainbridge Ship – And The Case of Its $9 Million Crew

The Slow Sinking of The Pierce Bainbridge Ship - And The Case of Its $9 Million Crew 4
The Slow Sinking of The Pierce Bainbridge Ship - And The Case of Its $9 Million Crew 5

    “The Pierce Bainbridge firm has proven to be a cesspool of lies and deceit.” ~ Don Lewis, June 7, 2019

The quote is from a complaint former firm partner Don Lewis filed against Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP last year.  The events from the week of March 9, 2020, appear to lend credibility to Lewis’s long-standing and serious accusations in his bitter fight with his former law firm. The brutal news confronting the law firm was so fast and furious it has left many wondering if jail time is on the horizon. It also made firm partner Denver G. Edwards’s judicial concession that Lewis’s allegations of “unethical and dishonest business practices . . . if true, would constitute criminal activity” uncannily prescient.

The Brutal and Bloody Week That Was

The week played out like a combination of A Nightmare on Elm Street meets John Grisham’s The Firm. It mirrored Lewis’s accusations of financial misconduct at the firm. 

Lewis’ allegations have been particularly serious regarding actions taken by his former partners.

Another Lewis filing states:

“[T]he pervasive dishonesty from PB, including two partners . . . making knowingly false statements of fact in sworn affidavits – calls the general credibility of the firm into question.”

The seemingly rogue Pierce Bainbridge operations came to a head in embarrassing fashion time after time after time over the last few days. 

Here are the lowlights:

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John Pierce

John Pierce is Kicked Out of His Own Firm for Illicit Financial ActivityAccording to The American Lawyer, Pierce was put on leave by his partners for “accepting money from a lender for personal use . . . essentially a pay day lender for small businesses.”  The loan involved a “John Mark Pierce Enterprises LLC.” Tom Warren was appointed acting Managing Partner in Pierce’s absence.     

First Lawsuit – Pierce Bainbridge, Name Partners, Pravati Capital LLC Sued.  A Philadephia attorney attached a copy of the Pravati – Pierce Bainbridge funding agreement; the public disclosure of such agreements is exceedingly rare. The complaint accuses the firm of the same type of wrongful behavior for which ex-partner Lewis blew the whistle.  

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Mark Mukasey

Mark Mukasey of Mukasey Frenchman & Sklaroff Files to Withdraw as Counsel for the Firm.  Law360 reported: The Mukasey withdrawal affidavit “stressed New York ethics rules about professional considerations that might require any attorney to drop a case.”  The Mukasey withdrawal stands in stark contrast to the conduct of Putney Twombly Hall & Hirson LLP and Littler Mendelson P.C, particularly their partners Michael D. Yim (Putney) and Sylvia Jeanine Conley (Littler).   Both law firms, as well as Conley and Yim, are defendants in Lewis’s claims for allegedly engaging in collusion, conspiracy and deceit.

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Second Lawsuit – Pierce Bainbridge, Pierce and John Mark Pierce Enterprises are Sued.  A lender based in Erie County, New York, West Coast Business Capital LLC, sued for the firm’s failure to fulfill payment obligations on an upfront loan.  Pierce Bainbridge “sold $387,400.00 of future receivables. . . for an upfront sum of $260,000.00.”

An exhibit filed with the complaint claims that Pierce Bainbridge made several payments to West Coast Business and then stopped on February 18, 2020.

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Just seven days later, on February 25, 2020, John Pierce entered into a lending arrangement with a pay day type loan entity. 

This timing comports with a Lewis court filing which states:

“Events subsequent to Lewis’s illegal expulsion, strongly suggest that Pierce Bainbridge is . . . engaged in a variant of a Ponzi Scheme.”

More Partner Defections

At least three more partners quite this week – Brian Dunne, Conor McDonough and Michael Pomerantz.

A full roster of PB attorney departees is below.

The $9,100,000.00 Million Crew

Certain members of the $9.1 Million Crew have quit.  While such individuals, Michael Pomerantz (formerly of Grais & Ellsworth), Caroline Polisi (formerly of Creizman LLC), Eric Creizman (Armstrong Teasedale) and Conor McDonough (formerly of Paul Weiss) may no longer be with the firm, the mess that has been created is unlikely to result in a clean break for those involved.

A happy ending has about the same probability as Pierce Bainbridge “replacing Quinn Emanuel as the next dominant global litigation firm.”  

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Image courtesy of Law.com

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RECENT PIERCE BAINBRIDGE ATTORNEY DEPARTURES

FORMER PB PARTNERNEW FIRM or FORMER FIRM
Eric Creizman Armstrong Teasedale
Caroline Polisi (formerly Creizman LLC)
Deborah Renner Renner Law
Jeffrey AlexanderWachtell Missry
Jeffrey NewtonKobre Kim
Joan MeyerThompson Hine
Melissa MadrigalArmstrong Teasedale
Michael WinogradBrown Rudnick
Susan WinklerWinkler Law
Theodore “Ted” Folkman(formerly Murphy King)
Thomas Frongillo(formerly Fish & Richardson)
Conor McDonough(formerly of Paul Weiss)
Michael Pomerantz(formerly of Grais & Ellsworth)
  
  
FORMER COUNSELNEW FIRM or FORMER FIRM
Kristin “Krissie” Darr(formerly Linklaters)
Julie CapehartBraughnHagey & Borden
Matthew Rand(formerly McKool Smith)
FORMER PB ASSOCIATENEW FIRM or FORMER FIRM
Aaron GoldOrrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe
Abbye OgnibeneHagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
Barron FloodHerbert, Smith & Freehills
Cassie Black(formerly Sullivan & Cromwell)
Clairborne HaneKasowitz Benson
Elizabeth DeGoriKirkland & Ellis
Matthew Kokot(N/A)
Minoti PatelGrant & Eisenhofer
Stephen FarrellyBrowne George Ross
W. Tyler PerryReid Collins & Tsai

The News on Pierce Bainbridge

>>The Departure of John Pierce

>> Pierce Bainbridge’s ‘Chief Seal’

>> The Exodus from Pierce Bainbridge

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Law Firm Pierce Bainbridge sees lawsuits and mass departures

Total Time:

Large scale departures from leading firm

Co-Founder John Pierce Steps down amid accusations of financial impropriety

Attorney Mark Mukasey steps aside from firm represetnation

 

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