Risk Update

Lawyer Practices Examined — Lateral Move Causes Conflict Concern, Missed Conflict with Confidential Info, Investigated

Russian model wants Leon Black’s lawyers kicked off N.Y. lawsuit” —

  • “A Russian model who is suing Leon Black for defamation and sexual misconduct asked a judge on Thursday to disqualify one of the billionaire’s law firms, saying it created a flagrant ethical conflict when it hired a top Manhattan prosecutor earlier this month.”
  • “Perry Guha LLP, a small New York firm that is representing Black in Guzel Ganieva’s lawsuit, last week said it hired Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, who previously led the trial division in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, as ‘of counsel.'”
  • “Illuzzi-Orbon received confidential information about Black when Ganieva reported his alleged sexual misconduct to Manhattan prosecutors last year, Jeanne Christensen, Ganieva’s attorney, wrote in a Thursday filing in New York County Supreme Court.”
  • “‘Incredibly, out of the several thousand litigation firms in NYC, the one law firm Ms. Illuzzi-Orbon decided to associate with happened to be the same law firm representing Black in this case,’ Christensen wrote.”
  • “Perry Guha has only two partners and five other lawyers, Christensen said, making it impossible to wall off Illuzzi-Orbon from its work on the Black case.”
  • “Perry Guha in a statement called the move to disqualify it ‘nothing more than an exercise of gamesmanship,’ adding that it ‘warrant sanction.’ Illuzzi-Orbon will be working on ‘select new matters’ and has had no involvement in the Black case at the firm, it said.”

City firm found itself acting for both parties in banks’ dispute” —

  • “A partner’s human error led to a City firm inadvertently working for clients on both sides of a ‘passing off’ dispute between two banks, a High Court judgment has revealed. However in The Bank of London Group Limited v Simmons & Simmons LLP, the court dismissed an application for an injunction by a start-up bank stating that there was no reason to suspect a breach of confidentiality.”
  • “The court heard that The Bank of London Group, licensed in 2021, engaged Simmons & Simmons to review and advise on draft service agreements, including with the provider of its patented technology. The work was done with no formal engagement letter for a fee of £5,435 (plus VAT).”
  • “‘Unbeknown at that time to the defendant’s team dealing with the claimant, the defendant also had a long standing relationship with another client, Bank of London and The Middle East plc (BLME),’ Stuart Isaacs KC, sitting as a deputy judge in the High Court, observed. On behalf of that client, the firm had written to the start-up threatening a passing-off action over the use of the name ‘Bank of London.'”
  • “The firm found itself in this position because of a human error in a conflicts check by Simmons partner Alexander Ainley, the judge ruled.”
  • “Ruling on the remaining matters, the judge found that any criticism of the firm’s approach to the handling of confidential information could not be sustained. ‘No challenge is made to the integrity of the solicitors at the defendant,’ he said. He found ‘no real risk’ that confidential information would be disclosed.”
  • “A spokesperson for Simmons & Simmons said: ‘We take client confidentiality very seriously and have well-established procedures and policies in place to ensure security and confidentiality at all times. We were always confident that the judge would reject the claim from Bank of London.'”