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Judge Spanks Former Kasowitz Associate

Vivia Chen

January 12, 2012

© Duncan Walker_iStockphotoIs anyone surprised that newbie lawyer-extraordinaire Gregory Berry (University of Pennsylvania Law School, class of 2010) lost his lawsuit against his former firm Kasowitz Benson? As you might recall, Berry sued the firm for over $77 million for wrongful termination, fraud, breach of contract, and other sundry charges after working at Kasowitz as a first-year associate.

Usually, I root for the underdog in these fights against big evil law firms, but Berry reminded me too much of some of the self-absorbed jerks I knew in law school. (In his complaint, he said he “immediately began doing superlative work” when he arrived at Kasowitz, but that the firm just couldn't handle his “superior legal mind.”)

Berry also failed to strike a sympathetic chord with New York trial court judge Eileen Bransten. She just dismissed his case, with prejudice. It looks to me that Berry really annoyed the judge.

Above the Law's David Lat offers some fascinating details about what went on in Bransten's courtroom:

Justice Bransten interrogated Berry for an estimated 20 minutes, challenging him as to why she should void the release after he willingly entered into the separation agreement (and accepted $27,000 as part of that deal). She was unsympathetic to Berry’s account of his brief time (about eight months) at Kasowitz.

And then the judge blamed Berryfor cratering his own career: According to an ATL tipster, the judge said "something to [Berry] along the lines of  'You had a great thing at Kasowitz, and you blew it.'"

So take that, you spoiled brat! The judge didn't quite say it, but you can almost hear her muttering, "How can you act like such a prima donna and waste a big opportunity when there are jobless law grads out there?"--something akin to "Clean your plate because there are starving children in India."

But that's not all the beating that Berry took from the judge, reports ATL:

Her Honor was displeased when Greg Berry walked out of her courtroom before the hearing was over, while she was still putting her ruling on the record. So later this month, he’ll have to appear before Justice Bransten again and explain why he shouldn’t be held in contempt.

Maybe Berry is just young and foolish, but I can't help feeling he deserves his comeuppance. Am I too harsh on the guy?

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Per his own website, Barry is a 1990 graduate of Carnegie-Mellon (so he's at least 44), meaning it's not likely he's "just young and foolish." I think once you pass age 40, youthful indiscretion is no longer a possible explanation.

Well, thank goodness for his "superior legal mind." With the negative publicity surrounding this guy, it is unlikely that anyone will ever hire him for their firm or legal department. At least he can hang out his own shingle - he appears to have a promising career as a "dog-bite" lawyer.

It was proper to treat Gregory Berry as if his law suit was annoying and absurd. It was. However, in spite of the suit’s dismissal, Mr. Berry is unlikely to change, and he is probably very angry. Those of us who have followed this case have witnessed damage in action. An obscure but wonderful unpublished article on narcissism is at http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/. It may “help” people who face narcissists in either their professional or personal lives. There is no practical help, only perspective.

YOU'RE complaining about self-absorbed jerks?!?!? That's a laugh.

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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