Risk Update

Varsity Blues: The Latest Conflicts and Conflict

Varsity Blues can be a bit hard to keep up with. But there’s certainly plenty of attention focused on this dramatic story… Here’s the latest:

DOJ Urges ‘Rigorous’ Conflict Inquiry In ‘Varsity Blues’ Case” —

  • “Federal prosecutors have again urged a Boston federal judge overseeing the ‘Varsity Blues’ college admissions cheating case to hold a ‘rigorous inquiry’ into conflicts of interest at BigLaw firms representing parents and the University of Southern California.”
  • “In a Friday filing in Boston, prosecutors said defense lawyers at Ropes & Gray LLP, Nixon Peabody LLP and Latham & Watkins LLP have conceded that some conflict work-arounds would be necessary moving forward for their respective clients, including having co-counsels question any USC witnesses.”
  • “But the potential that serious adversity between the defendants and the school may arise in the case is likely serious enough to require disqualification, the government argued, or at least raise real concerns about lawyers being limited by what they can do for their clients.”
  • “‘Pursuit of such defenses will entail not only cross-examination of U.S.C. witnesses but likely also discovery aimed at U.S.C., and effective presentation of those defenses will necessarily extend beyond witness testimony to opening statements and closing arguments,’ according to the filing. ‘The use of conflict counsel to handle the cross-examination of U.S.C. witnesses does not even purport to address these manifestations of the conflict.'”

Latham & Watkins Fighting To Stay On Aunt Becky’s Case Amid Conflicts Concerns

  • “The Varsity Blues scandal has already sunk a Biglaw managing partner and may end up sinking a whole law firm’s role in the case based on the most recent flurry of documents in the Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli criminal case.”
  • “When you have over 2500 attorneys, there’s bound to be a conflict or two. That’s what prosecutors claim is afoot with Latham & Watkins, which are representing Loughlin and Giannulli in their admissions bribery case.”
  • “Regardless of whether or not USC had a reputation to compromise, the threat of a lawsuit has got prosecutors on the move because Latham & Watkins has also represented USC and the government smells a potential conflict.”
  • “Latham, for its part, doesn’t see a problem: ‘USC is not a party to this case, and its status as an alleged victim does not automatically trigger a conflict of interest requiring Latham’s withdrawal. Latham will avoid any direct adversity with USC by relying on co-counsel to handle any cross-examination of USC witnesses and any restitution proceeding in which USC’s financial interests are directly at stake.”

Hooper Lundy OK To Rep Husband & Wife In ‘Varsity Blues‘” —

  • “A California couple charged in the nationwide college admissions case known as “Varsity Blues” told a Massachusetts federal judge they are comfortable having Hooper Lundy & Bookman PC represent them both, despite several concerns raised by prosecutors during a hearing Friday.”
  • “Gregory and Amy Colburn told U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley they would like to proceed in the case with the same attorneys, even after both the judge and the prosecutors warned them about some of the problems that might cause. The Colburns are among several potential conflicts the government flagged in the case, in which dozens of parents are charged with bribing their children’s way into elite colleges through fake academic or athletic credentials.”
  • “Defense attorneys want to split up the cases of more than a dozen parents currently charged in connection with the alleged scheme, which could resolve some of the conflicts posed by multiple representation. But Judge Kelley noted that would not help the married Colburns. ‘In your specific case, even if that motion is successful, you will almost certainly be tried together as being in the same conspiracy,’ “the judge said. ‘No matter what happens with that motion, you’re still in the same boat you are today.'”