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Monday, August 26, 2019

Black Partner Moves Forward With $45 Million Lawsuit Against Law Firm That Fired Him

Pierce Bainbridge Law Firm is being accused of dishonesty, deceit and dysfunction by Don Lewis, a former whistleblowing partner.

Don Lewis, former partner at Pierce Bainbridge

Don Lewis, former partner at Pierce Bainbridge

Nationwide — A look under the hood of the Pierce Bainbridge Law Firm reveals a corrosive den of dishonesty, deceit and dysfunction. Sylvia Jeanine Conley of Littler Mendelson P.C., Michael D. Yim of Putney Twombly Hirson & Hall LLP and PB partner Denver G. Edwards, a recent nominee to the Middlebury College Board of Trustees, have joined forces with PB’s Managing Partner John Pierce, in a nationwide smear campaign against whistleblower Don Lewis.

Lewis, who is African American, is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and excelled in the demanding environments of WeWork Companies Inc. and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Lewis was fired and his reputation and livelihood maliciously targeted in retaliation for speaking up about financial improprieties at the firm.

Lewis has painted a picture of a disturbingly dysfunctional law firm. The commentary of PB partner Christopher N. LaVigne – all in writing – refines the image; LaVigne has referred to the firm as a “mess” and observed that John Pierce “loses track of his lies.” The PB partner has characterized Pierce as a “bully,” a “snake,” and a “lunatic.”

Pierce sets the tone; the rest appear to follow. For example, a current PB partner opined – in writing – about David Hecht, PB’s NYC Managing Partner: “If [Pierce] said kicking dogs off the roof was a good strategy. Hecht would be there tossing them off.” Case in point, a federal judge recently admonished the PB’s “Top Dog” in New York for engaging in “deceit” and “trickery.” Hecht responded by bloviating on LinkedIn – “we think twenty moves ahead, like grandmasters in chess” – and gratuitously insulted the Jones Day law firm. A Harvard Law School educated attorney (unknown to Lewis) characterized Hecht’s post – in writing – as “childish and unprofessional” and advised Hecht to: “Grow up.”

The firm’s General Counsel, Carolynn K. Beck, Managing Partner of the firm’s D.C. operations, has her own deficiencies. Pierce has opined – in writing – “[Beck’s] mind moves about as fast as pond water;” and “[Beck] is good for managing and settling the really low end, unimportant cases.” While Pierce has a written record of a slew of piggish and misogynistic commentary, his opinions on Beck appear rooted in reality.

On the topics of Pravati and Pierce’s dishonesty, in a recent article in Forbes, Lewis stated: “[PB documents] filed in March, show a ‘$9,157,072.95’ default to Pravati [an investor in the firm].” Pierce responded: “Mr. Lewis’s allegations are not true.”

As the saying goes: “talk is cheap.” Pierce talked; Lewis provided documents. The documents confirm a “$9,157,072.95” default. (Additional lies by Pierce about the firm’s finances are covered in LawFuel.com: “Bar The Bare Knuckle Brawl Embroiling the ‘Fastest Growing Law Firm in the World”)

PB partners Eric M. Creizman, Caroline Polisi, Denver G. Edwards and Chris LaVigne each appear to have personally guaranteed the over $9.1 million “liability.”

This is mystifying.

LaVigne, a seasoned white-collar attorney, was informed by Lewis– in writing – that the firm’s bookkeeper had reported: (i) Pierce siphoned $200,000 from firm accounts in two months and (ii) Pierce used firm funds to pay his substantial alimony. LaVigne responded – in writing – that this was “very serious” and advised Lewis to “download all this stuff… and give it to a lawyer.”

Polisi is in the public eye; according to her firm bio “Caroline regularly appears on CNN, MSNBC, CBS and Fox News analyzing federal criminal law and is frequently quoted in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.”

Creizman, according to public records, has substantial personal tax debt.

Edwards, in addition to his Middlebury College nomination, is reportedly a former counsel at the United States Securities & Exchange Commission.

Why would these four individuals apparently agree to personal responsibility for a $9.1 million debt? What led to such a drastic shift in LaVigne’s position? What, if anything, did they receive in return?

According to Lewis: “Edwards is a disgrace, he lied like it was his job” in a complaint filed against Lewis in the Los Angeles Superior Court, a very small sampling is below.

Alternative Fact #1: Edwards claimed Lewis “revealed his false accuser’s former name… and exposed her to significant risk.” This does not add up; the false accuser had a Twitter page and Couchsurfing.com page with both of her names and her photo; she had shared both of her names with the world all by herself. Lewis generally pointed this out, a few days later the pages were deleted.

Alternative Fact #2: Edwards claimed Lewis withdrew his complaint as a part of “scheme to extort.” Conley (Littler Mendelson), PB’s own counsel asked Lewis in writing to withdraw the complaint and thanked him in writing for doing so. Lewis says: “They ask us to withdraw the complaint, we do, Conley thanks us, and Edwards lies like it never happened.”

Alternative Fact # 3: Edwards claimed “[Lewis] sought to extort a sum of $65 million on multiple occasions.” Early in negotiations Edwards was told “seven-figures” would resolve the dispute and acknowledged the same in writing; Edwards own e-mails prove he lied in a court filing.

Edwards ignored letters to retract his falsehoods. According to Lewis: “Denver put his head in the sand, apparently hoping it would all just go away. He’s made his bed.”

The Pierce Bainbridge “strategy” appears to be to smear the African American Lewis and maliciously defame him nationwide — based on abject lies — as an “Extortionist,” “Terrorist,” “Credibly Accused Sexual Assaulter,” and “Credibly Accused Sex Predator.” The “plan” appears to be to lie to Lewis, lie to his counsel, lie to the Court in New York, lie to the Court in Los Angeles and lie to the general public, in order to marginalize and demonize the double Harvard graduate and cover-up for the firm’s financial malfeasance.

Dishonesty and deceit appear to be the Pierce Bainbridge modus operandi. Lewis says: “Pierce has stated – in writing – ‘I am more loyal than a Navy Seal.’ In reality, Pierce is a liar and a cheat. The notion that Pierce has a shred of integrity or valor is a comical.”

PB’s legal representatives appear to have embraced the firm’s culture. According to Lewis, “Jeanine Conley engaged in deceitful and tone-deaf tactics embarrassing both herself and her law firm Littler Mendelson. Michael Yim ran a ‘sham investigation,’ engaged in deceit, reneged on his word and appears to be generally incompetent.”

Lewis concludes: “My former partners are disappointments. Amman Khan, Andrew Lorin, Caroline Polisi, Christopher N. LaVigne, Conor McDonough, Craig Bolton, Doug Curran, Eric Creizman, Jonathan Sorkowitz, Melissa Madrigal, Patrick Bradford, and Michael Pomerantz chose personal greed over integrity. They have no honor; this will be their legacy. The truth will rise to the top.”

The Pierce Bainbridge parties are represented by S. Jeanine Conley of Littler Mendelson PC and Marc Mukasey of Mukasey Frenchman & Sklaroff LLP. Putney, Twombly, Hall & Hirson LLP and Michael Yim are represented by Peter C. Contino and Todd Belous of Rivkin Radler LLP. While the details of this seminal case have received significant coverage by the law media, the general public needs to be apprised. For more information, contact Neal Brickman, of The Law Offices of Neal Brickman, P.C.: Neal@Brickmanlaw.com


About Don Lewis
Don Lewis, Esq. is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. The astute attorney’s high-end training, as well as his natural gift for bridging the gap between clients and their need for institutional support on complex matters, has been the foundation for his successful career.


Neal Brickman
The Brickman Law Group

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