The Twitter accounts of lawyers are usually lonely, desolate places ignored by many and visited by the (nerdy) few, but Ted Boutrous just broke away from that pack. On Saturday, Boutrous, the co head of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher's global litigation department, lit up Twitter with this offer:
I repeat: I will represent pro bono anyone #Trump sues for exercising their free speech rights. Many other lawyers have offered to join me.
When I saw this tweet, I thought: "Holy s*#%! That's some offer!" I mean, this guy is one of the top litigators in the country, charging well-over $1,000 per hour. If Donald Trump had done something nasty to me, I wouldn't hesitate for a New York minute to come out with my story. In fact, I'd say, "Donald, baby, bring it on!"
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought it was a YUGE deal. As of this writing, that offer has been retreeted over 12,000 times, with almost 20,000 likes. Luminaries like Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe also chimed in, tweeting that he's ready to join the team. David Frum, senior editor of The Atlantic, tweeted to his 161,000 followers about it, adding that Boutrous is "a big deal." New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff also took notice, tweeting Boutrous' message to his 1.88 million followers.
So how is Boutrous reacting to his status as the Kayne West of the legal tweets? "It's put me in a good mood," he says. So far, 25 Gibson Dunn lawyers—liberals and conservatives—have joined, plus "at least another 30 from around the globe in response to that Tweet," says Boutrous, including some of his adversaries. Among them is Supreme Court litigator Peter Stris. Boutrous says he's also been contacted by several people who allege that Trump has victimized them.
What spurred Boutros to action was Trump's latest threat to go after the women who've accused the Republican presidential candidate of sexual assault. (A few weeks ago, on Law.com, Boutrous had expressed his outrage about Trump's earlier threat to sue the New York Times.)
"It's chilling that a powerful person can sue you even though at the end of the day he might lose the case," explains Boutrous. "If people know there's a support network, then they can make their own decision about coming forward."
It all sounds fine and noble, but are his partners cool with his political statement? "We are an eclectic group," says Boutrous. "For a long time, people thought we were Republicans, but that's not correct. From my talks I didn't see a lot of Trump support in our firm." That said, he adds, "I keep my eyes on the legal perspective of any pro bono matter."
The question I'm curious about is whether he got the nod from firm management. (Remember, Trump's accusers could include not only the women he allegedly sexually assaulted but former employees, contractors, media outlets and god-knows who else.) "I did run it by the management committee and the pro bono folks," he says, though he admits, "they didn’t get a lot of time."
As for Trump's lawyers who are charged with bringing these suits, Boutrous says, "I do have sympathy for them; it sounds like they have to do what they are told to do."
Noting that Trump has a reputation for stiffing his lawyers, Boutrous (quoting one of his followers on Twitter) adds: "Trump's lawyers are working pro bono too. They just don't know it yet."