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Latham & Watkins Partner Wades Into NDA Mess

Vivia Chen

July 16, 2018

It's mid-summer and the heat is getting to us. So who's in the mood for serious news? Not moi.

Here are some easy, breezy news and gossip items to keep you chilled and amused:

Will cleaning up rich clients' messy sex lives be a thriving Big Law practice? Move over Michael Cohen: You no longer have a monopoly on representing powerful, rich men in their dealings with former mistresses and lovers. You've got serious competition because Big Law is now getting into the act.

Latham & Watkin's partner Christopher Clark, global co-chairman of the firm’s financial institutions industry group and a former co-chairman of its securities litigation and professional liability practice, is now representing big GOP donor and Trump supporter Elliott Broidy in his attempt to void a nondisclosure agreement he signed with former Playboy Playmate Shera Béchard.

According to New York magazine, Broidy signed the NDA in late 2017, agreeing to pay $1.6 million to Béchard in eight quarterly installments, to keep the model quiet about an affair, a resulting pregnancy and subsequent abortion. But after making two payments, Broidy is trying to get out of the deal. (The reasoning gets a big convoluted. Clark claims the agreement is “null and void,” according to the magazine, because Béchard’s former lawyer, Keith Davidson, “improperly disclosed aspects of the NDA to [Stormy] Daniels’ current lawyer, Michael Avenatti.”)

Anyway you look at it, representing a fat cat in his effort to get out of paying his pregnant girlfriend (who then has an abortion) is a bit sordid. Not exactly the typical kind of matters that Latham handles.

So why would a partner at a prestigious firm want anything to do with this matter? Well, Broidy is a client. Clark had represented Broidy when he faced charges for bribing officials in the New York State comptroller’s office. As a controversial influence peddler, Broidy undoubtedly keeps his lawyers busy, though it’s unclear how much of that work is usually handled by Latham. (Boies Schiller Flexner is also representing Broidy.)

But of all the fair law firms in the land, why would Latham want to handle this hot potato? (I’ve asked Clark for comment, but so far, not a peep.) Maybe Latham is just throwing in its services on this matter to please a long-standing client, but I don’t see how it can possibly benefit from it. You just know it’s going get super sensationalistic. And yucky.

Speaking of sex, why are the Brits so coy? Another sexual assault case in the U.K.—this time against a Magic Circle firm. But which firm? Who’s the victim? And who’s the harasser and/or potential assaulter? Who knows?

All we know from Legal Week is that a “former junior lawyer” (what gender?) reported the incident to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority and complained “that they were sexually assaulted by a partner at the firm and has strongly criticized the subsequent investigation into the incident.”

Moreover, this lawyer implicates alcohol in the incident and claims “significant harm” resulted “to their mental health, and that they felt compelled to agree to a ‘confidentiality undertaking,’ the negotiation of which ’contributed significantly’ to their distress.” (The “they” is used to disguise the gender of the complainant. Brave new world of grammar here.)

I get annoyed when American accusers won’t reveal their identities, but the British seem to take it to a whole other level. What is with all this secrecy? Who is this supposed to protect?

And speaking of secrecy, we still don’t know (officially) the identity of that senior Baker McKenzie partner who was accused by a female associate of sexual assault. At the time the story broke earlier this year, the consensus was that the identity of the partner was an open secret, but that U.K. privacy laws prevented  disclosure.

While the #MeToo movement has made waves in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world, it seems the Brits have their own version of it—and it’s lame.

Poor Dersh. What can be as awful and horrendous as being a victim of McCarthyism? How about being a social pariah on the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard? That’s how Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School’s most recognizable faculty member (now retired), describes his treatment by former colleagues, friends and the rich and famous at the Ivy League-studded summer playground, due to his defense of President Donald Trump. In an op-ed for The Hill, he writes: “I never thought I would see McCarthyism come to Martha’s Vineyard, but I have.”

And Dershowitz said he should know, because he lived through McCarthyism.

I honestly can’t top that.

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Twitter: @lawcareerist


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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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