Risk Update

Risk Updates — Latest on Several Past Risk Stories, Law Firm Settlements, Consulting Allegations

Law firm Proskauer settles trade secrets fight with ex-COO” —

  • “U.S. law firm Proskauer Rose on Thursday [Feb 1] said, opens new tab it has struck a settlement agreement with its former chief operating officer, whom it accused of stealing a trove of confidential information and trying to recruit other firm employees to a competitor.”
  • “As part of the deal, Proskauer Rose and the former executive, Jonathan O’Brien, asked a federal judge in Manhattan to issue an order, opens new tab barring O’Brien and others from using any of Proskauer’s proprietary and confidential information.”
  • “Other settlement terms reached between the firm and O’Brien were not disclosed. Lawyers for Proskauer and O’Brien did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the firm also could not be reached.”
  • “The settlement ends Proskauer’s year-old lawsuit against O’Brien, who was fired in December 2022 as he was poised to join rival firm Paul Hastings.”
  • “Proskauer alleged O’Brien downloaded 34 gigabytes of data before his planned departure to Paul Hastings. The firm said he took financial performance data, client lists and profitability metrics, compensation records and evaluations of every one of Proskauer’s more than 200 partners.”
  • “O’Brien denied Proskauer’s claims that he planned to take its secrets to another employer. He said he downloaded the data in order to work during a two-week vacation to Mauritius that coincided with his planned final days at the firm.”

Dechert to Settle UK Hacking Claim From Aviation Executive” —

  • “Dechert will pay a multimillion-dollar settlement to resolve a claim in the UK that it participated in an illegal scheme to hack aviation executive Farhad Azima.”
  • “The two sides disagree on how big the settlement will be. Dechert said in a statement it agreed to pay $3.8 million (£3 million) plus Azima’s ‘costs, which have yet to be agreed between the parties or determined by the court.'”
  • “An Azima spokesman, Tim Maltin, said the settlement will come out to nearly $15 million, including $11 million in costs and $3.8 million in damages.”
  • “‘While this substantial payment resolves Mr. Azima’s limited claim in the UK, Mr. Azima will continue to pursue the significant claims he has brought against Dechert and others based on their conduct against him in the US and the damages they caused him there,’ Maltin said in a statement.”
  • “Dechert, a Philadelphia-based law firm with offices around the world, has faced multiple lawsuits from Azima alleging that it participated in an illegal hack of his computer systems while working for one of the United Arab Emirates.”
  • “The accusations center around the emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, which hired Neil Gerrard, once a top white-collar lawyer in Dechert’s London office, in 2013 to aid an investigation into the former head of the emirate’s investment fund.”
  • “Azima, who once did business with the fund, has claimed he became a target of Ras Al Khaimah due to his efforts to publicize its human rights abuses. He was hacked and his emails were dumped online as part of an effort by the emirate to gain leverage in a court spat over a prior commercial agreement, Azima claimed in his US lawsuit.”
  • “His case against Dechert, which is pending in New York’s Southern District, also names Gerrard and one other former Dechert lawyer as defendants. Dechert last June asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing in part that the suit failed to adequately support claims including witness tampering and obstruction of justice.”

Conflict ‘inherent’ for firms with public, private clients: Scyne” —

  • “The PwC spin-off tells a[n Australian] parliamentary committee its mission is ‘purpose over profit’ compared to other big four firms, which have failed to divest their government work.”
  • “Firms that consult for the public and private sector have ‘inherent’ conflicts of interest that cannot be resolved unless they divest their government work like PwC, according to Scyne Advisory director Adrian Loader.”
  • “Mr Loader, who is also the co-founder of Allegro Funds, the private equity investor that purchased Scyne from PwC for $1, said the firm could only be ‘conflict-free’ as a corporation without private clients. “
  • “‘[Scyne] had to be its own corporate, rather than a partnership, and therefore a different legal entity. And it had to be conflict-free from private sector companies, because of the inherent conflict of interest,’ he told a NSW upper house committee into consulting services on Monday.”
  • “When asked by Greens MP and committee chair Abigail Boyd whether this meant there was an inherent and existing conflict of interest in the other big accounting firms – EY, Deloitte and KPMG, which had yet to separate their government consulting arms – Mr Loader said ‘it goes further than that.'”
  • “Mr Loader singled out partners doing work ‘for both sides’ as being ‘where the inherent conflict is.'”
  • “Managing partner Richard Gwilyn told the committee that Scyne’s goal was to carry out ‘for-purpose work in a commercial manner’ and it held itself to ‘different’ standards that would see it refrain from pursuing ‘profit over purpose.'”
  • “‘The ethics frameworks that we’ve put in place we do believe are different in the way in which we have looked at governance, the independent board members that we have in our organisation, and the standard that we are going to try and hold ourselves to is one that is different,’ he said.”