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Are Trump's Endorsements Helping Morgan Lewis?

Vivia Chen

May 19, 2017


Time for another roundup of news and gossip. And yes, they all center around our president (so let me apologize in advance).

Creepy lawyer dad award goes to: Yes, it is a Trump's lawyer.

New York Magazine reports that Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer and advisor, recently tweeted about his daughter: "So proud of my Ivy League daughter…brains and beauty channeling her Edie Sedgwick.”

So far so good, though the Edie Sedgwick allusion is a bit puzzling. (Sedgwick was a fixture in Andy Warhol's orbit in the 1960s who died of a drug overdose at age 28.)

But the really unsettling part: Tweeting about it with a photo of his daughter in black lingerie (photo above).

Guess he's just taking a page from Trump's fatherhood playbook.

Trump is doing infomercials for Morgan Lewis. If you believe the adage that all publicity is good publicity, then Morgan Lewis must be beside itself. That's because its client Donald Trump keeps putting the respected, if somewhat quiet, firm in the limelight.

You might recall that Trump put Morgan Lewis on stage at his first press conference as president elect in January when he trotted out tax partner Sherri Dillon. She spoke for 14 minutes at that time about how Trump would successfully dodge potential conflicts of interests.

Last week, Trump gave Morgan Lewis another big shout-out during his interview with NBC's Lester Holt. Asked by Holt if his family, businesses or surrogates "have accepted any investments, any loans from Russian individuals or institutions," Trump said he was in the clear, pointing to a letter written by Dillon and her colleague William Nelson. Though he didn't mention Morgan Lewis by name, he told Holt, it's "one of the most prestigious law firms in the country, tremendous, highly rated law firm."

What firm wouldn't want to be called "prestigious," "tremendous" and "highly rated" by a sitting president?

Well, when that president is Trump, it invites scrutiny. The New York Times, among others, jumped in, asking legal experts to opine on Morgan Lewis' letter. (The consensus was that the letter contained lots of ambiguity, including the definition of what constitutes Russian sources and lenders.)

Then, Saturday Night Live splashed the letter—with "Morgan Lewis" prominently displayed—as a backdrop on its Weekend Edition (photo below). In fact, the firm's name was on the screen for over 30 seconds. Granted, SNL lampooned the contents of the letter, but, hey, it was free advertising on a highly rated show.

Talk about product placement!SNL-screenshot-Article-201705151818

To be fair, I don't know how Morgan Lewis' lawyers feel about being tied so closely to Trump. Some probably think it's great, amazing, tremendous to be endorsed by the president of the free world. Others might want to hide under a rock. (We do know that at least one of its clients wasn't so keen about the association. Wallace Global Fund publicly fired the firm for its representation of Trump, calling it "ethical carnage.")

I don't know how long Trump will profess his love for the firm—probably until it's no longer useful.

In any case, Trump now has a hand in making Morgan Lewis a household brand. Like it or not.

This is why lawyers have a slippery reputation. First he supported Trump by hosting a party for him at his home; then when the tapes came out in which Trump bragged about groping women, he publicly withdrew his support. After all that, it turns out he shelled out $500,000 for Trump's inaugural ball.

That's how Houston trial lawyer Tony Buzbee handled the election mess he created, according to Texas Lawyer.

There's nothing wrong with changing your mind, but those abrupt turns are a bit unseemly. When Buzbee withdrew his support for Trump, he made a big deal about how he was doing it for his daughter, whom he described as thoughtful and "very kind." As a result of his daughter's influence, he said he told Texas Lawyer he couldn't support Trump: "I just can't do it."

Yet when Trump emerged as the winner, Buzbee plunked down half a million dollars for the party.

Oh well, so much for daughter and principle.

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About The Careerist

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: [email protected]

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