Risk Update

Law Firm DQ Fights — Ethical Walls and Screens Spotlighted, Conflict-driven Counsel Change Causes Controversy

Leon Black’s law firm fights disqualification bid in Russian model’s case” —

  • “A law firm defending billionaire investor Leon Black in a defamation and sexual misconduct lawsuit is fighting to keep its role in the case, after Black’s accuser said the firm should be disqualified for hiring a New York prosecutor who once investigated him.”
  • “Last month Ganieva said Perry Guha should be thrown off the case because the law firm had recently hired Illuzzi-Orbon from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where she led the trial division.”
  • “Illuzzi-Orbon received confidential information about Black, the former head of private equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc, when Ganieva reported his alleged sexual misconduct to Manhattan prosecutors last year, Ganieva alleged. Allowing Perry Guha to stay on as Black’s counsel would be a flagrant ethical violation, she argued.”
  • “But in an affidavit filed Tuesday in New York County Supreme Court, Illuzzi-Orbon said she is ‘completely walled off’ from Perry Guha’s work on Black’s case.”
  • “Perry Guha separately called Ganieva’s move to disqualify it ‘shameful,’ saying it was not based on any actual conflict. Samidh Guha, a partner at Perry Guha, said in a statement the disqualification motion is ‘a cynical litigation tactic that has no basis in law or fact.'”
  • “Illuzzi-Orbon told the court she could not publicly confirm or deny any investigation of Black by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. She added that her former office ‘had no concerns about the propriety of my work with Perry Guha or my conduct.'”
  • “Lawyer Jeanne Christensen, a partner at Wigdor representing Ganieva, said Perry Guha’s filings this week indicate that they did not ‘give notice’ about Illuzzi-Orbon’s hire ‘or implement any screening formally in their office for months.'”
  • “Last month, Black filed a separate lawsuit against Ganieva and her law firm Wigdor, alleging Ganieva broke a confidentiality agreement she had with him. That case is also pending in New York County Supreme Court.”

California Lawyers Union Sues to Void State Use of Outside Firms” —

  • “California’s Civil Rights Department violated state contracting law when it outsourced legal services for two high-profile discrimination lawsuits, according to a complaint filed Wednesday by the union representing state-employed attorneys.”
  • “‘CASE and its members have been irreparably harmed by the Board Decision as it authorizes the outsourcing of legal work that could and should be performed by CASE members, who are rank-and-file civil service attorneys employed by the State of California,’ according to the complaint.”
  • “The Civil Rights Department, then known as the Department of Fair Housing and Employment, sued Riot Games in 2020 on behalf of female employees who said they faced sexual harassment, unequal pay, and other forms of gender bias. Three years later, the agency went after Activision over similar allegations.”
  • “The agency hired the two firms because the civil-service lawyers faced potential conflicts of interest in each of the video game company lawsuits, according to the civil rights agency.”
  • “In the Activision case, state-employed attorneys faced a potential conflict due to their previous work with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”