Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Introduction and summary

       Welcome and thank you for visiting. I am a former attorney who used to work at O'Melveny & Myers. I was so surprised by what I saw there that I took on the role of an amateur reporter and started this website. It's one of those acts that takes little time, but might do some good by shining a light. Below is a summary of a few posts. I hope you find them informative.

       1. According to the New York Times, O'Melveny used violent imagery to threaten a sexual abuse victim into silence, as her assailant watched. This led to an additional decade of sexual abuse by the assailant. The attorney who reportedly threatened the young woman is chair of the firm's Trial Practice Committee.

       2. The firm has a history of conducting reportedly sham "independent investigations." (Links one, two, and three). If O'Melveny conducts such an investigation at your organization, expect them to reach the conclusion desired by the person who hired them. See for example the second link, a story in Corporate Counsel accusing O'Melveny partner Adam Karr of conducting a sham investigation of sexual abuse at Lions Gate. To reveal this information, the victim had to break her confidentiality agreement and return over a million dollars. But she did so to protect others, meaning she has the credibility of a saint. In the first link, you'll find a story about an O'Melveny alumnus who was arrested by the FBI while trying to negotiate an independent investigation retainer.

       3. O'Melveny has, as a practice group leader, a person who reportedly lied to a federal court. Once caught in that lie by the discovery of documents, he gave a radio interview criticizing The Geneva Convention. This person manages their Financial Services Practice Group.

       4. The firm has a disconcertingly money-obsessed culture, which they called "eat what you kill." For example, query whether they needlessly dragged out the misery of an alleged rape victim to maximize partner profits, and then bragged about the money they made off of her in a press release (links one and two). Or query whether they were the only defense firm to drag out an opioid crisis case, damaging their client's reputation and likely resulting in avoidable deaths, to maximize partner profits (links one, two and three)

       5. On the topic of money, an O'Melveny attorney once told me they can "monetize"  government positions.

       6. O'Melveny contrives claims to intimidate people. For example, after I published this website, they accused me of the federal crime of stealing confidential information – without any digital evidence that I even accessed the data they accused me of taking. When they realized that their baseless accusation wasn't going to scare me, they threatened me with a defamation lawsuit. But when I asked them to identify a specific defamatory statement so that I could retract it, they refused to do so.

       7. O'Melveny was at the forefront of the document used to silence victims -- the mandatory arbitration and nondisclosure agreement. Although three federal courts told O'Melveny that this document was "unconscionable" (case onetwothree) -- O’Melveny continued to force its employees to sign it until 2018, when law students pressured law firms to abandon this practice

       8. The firm retaliates against employees who complain about problematic practices. They even reportedly launched a "witch hunt" to find an employee who complained anonymously.
 

       9. O'Melveny claims to support diversity by following the Mansfield Rule, but their track record suggests otherwise.


       10. The firm consistently grades itself at the top-end, usually the top three, in Vault's self-graded rankings. But with some of the rankings, you may be able to catch them in the act. (Links one, two, three and four). For example, O'Melveny has repeatedly graded itself as the number one firm in the world for hours. But if you gathered data on hours from all firms, you may be able to prove that it's giving itself a higher ranking than it deserves. In fact, in one of the years that O'Melveny graded itself as the best firm for hours, two of Vault's six take-aways for O'Melveny criticized its "unpredictab[le]" and "long hours." If you did prove this, it wouldn't be as serious as the other items in this list, but it may reflect a fundamentally dishonest culture.

       11. O'Melveny tries to manipulate journalists into advertising for the firm. Here is their manager of public relations explaining how to do this on the show, "Law firm marketing catalyst." Some of the resulting articles are provably false.

       12. The firm was even lambasted in the press for trying to remove truthful information from Wikipedia, of all things.

       If you think this website is unusual, please note that I'm not the first person to do this. The late Judge Stephen Reinhardt expressed his public disgust with things he saw at O'Melveny over thirty years ago. A legal recruiter, whose livelihood depends on ingratiating himself to law firms, publicly shared a shocking story from O'Melveny. An O'Melveny attorney used twitter to talk about everything they lost while working there. And there's more about this firm that I haven't said, because I do not have hard evidence and don't want to be caught in a "he said, she said" defamation case (see #6 above). I'm restricted to writing about things that made it into the news, which may be the tip of the iceberg.

       I hope this information helps you. Please contact me at omelvenyethics@outlook.com if you have something to add (and please feel free to use anonymous encrypted email providers, like proton mail.) I can also call you if you would prefer to talk via phone.
  
Brad Butwin, Dan Petrocelli, Brian Boyle, Adam Karr, omm, omelveny, Christopher Rieck, Brandon Jacobsen

O’Melveny didn’t protest their client's racist comment about a judge

       Back when President Trump was running for office, he had an awful case around his neck. A bunch of former students of Trump University had sued him and the school for fraud. So he hired O’Melveny & Myers -- a go to firm for terrible "is this my life now?" cases. (Actually, this case is mild relative to some other cases O'Melveny works on. No one died of the alleged fraud at Trump  University.) Any way, Mother Jones just released a video of a break in one of the case’s depositions.

Friday, July 31, 2020

"Top-ranked" restructuring partner gets recruited to O'Melveny; leaves two months later

       On June 1, O'Melveny announced their recruitment of Adam Rogoff, and legal periodicals also covered the move. (Links one, two and three.) O'Melveny's Chair Brad Butwin said he was "delighted" by Mr. Rogoff's arrival. When asked why he left his old firm, Mr. Rogoff praised O'Melveny and listed its advantages. . . . Two months later, Mr. Rogoff has returned to his prior firm of Kramer Levin. Nothing unethical about this on its face, but I include it because I've never heard of such a thing in professional services.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Attorney reportedly threatened scientists in a way that had "life-and-death consequences"

       Before I get into the details of the story, please let me provide some background on Michael Walsh, because I worked with him at O’Melveny. He was one of the people who wrote my final review there. My impression was that he was another of the firm’s over-promoted associates: associates who had used political connections to get promoted to partner, and who were now making millions of dollars per year even though they didn’t really have much work or clients of their own. Of course, O’Melveny’s other money-grubbing partners are not keen on paying someone who isn’t pulling their weight -- and so I wasn't surprised to see him leave for government in 2018 after only five years as partner. I assume he’s trying to use the O’Melveny strategy of “monetizing” government positions to build a large private sector income stream for himself. Anyway, onto the story.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

O'Melveny's human resources

       One of O'Melveny's marketing efforts concerns their Director of Career Development, Jim Moore. They push articles about him and, in writing the May post, I saw O'Melveny list him as an advantage in recruiting materials. So I thought I'd write about an interaction I had with Jim.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

O'Melveny's Brad Butwin lies about coronavirus pay cuts

       O'Melveny's Chair Brad Butwin gave an interview to the American Lawyer. In the interview, Mr. Butwin said that O'Melveny did not cut pay during the covid-19 crisis. This is big. Attorneys and clients are keeping track of firms that announced pay cuts, because it sends a signal, e.g., about how the firm treats employees, and the firm's financial condition. Mr. Butwin is providing them with useful information when he tells this reporter that O'Melveny did not change compensation. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Vulgar lawyers at O'Melveny

       As I was writing the last post about law students who felt misled by O'Melveny's Vault ranking – I noticed something. The one law student in that group who will actually work at O’Melveny had picked a vulgar moniker. His moniker was, “attenuate my taint.” The others picked unremarkable monikers, but when picking his moniker, the O'Melveny person wanted you to think of his taint.1 It made me wonder if I should do a blog post about the vulgar people I met at O’Melveny. The challenge here is O’Melveny’s threat to sue me for defamation. Even if I’m telling the truth, I don’t want to be caught in a defamation case with only “he said, she said” evidence. That’s why I rely on news articles and other public documents to support the blog’s thesis. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Law students complain that O'Melveny's Vault rankings are misleading

       One topic that keeps reappearing here is the Vault rankings, specifically the best firm to work for, best summer program, and best firm for diversity rankings. As explained previously, they are self-graded. Law firms give themselves a grade, and Vault uses these grades to rank the firms. For example, if a firm gives itself the highest possible score on diversity, Vault will rank it as the #1 firm in the world for diversity. I know that sounds incredible but that's how it works. Vault is using the honor system, expecting honesty and sincerity from lawyers. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

The Mansfield Rule and the lucrative world of law firm diversity marketing

       Back in 2017, O'Melveny ran a publicity campaign proclaiming their adherence to the Rooney Rule a.k.a. the Mansfield Rule. That rule requires "at least 30 percent of the candidates considered for various law firm positions, including ... lateral positions, [to be] women and attorneys of color." 

       Out of curiosity, I just skimmed O'Melveny's press releases, and clicked on every release announcing the hiring of a new partner. According to these press releases, the last nine partners O'Melveny hired, Mr. Adam RogoffMr. Michael Hamilton (who was sued for discrimination at his prior firm), Mr. Tim Evans, Mr. Todd Boes, Mr. Christopher Owens, Mr. Terrence Dugan, Mr. Michael Dreeben, Mr. Jeffery Norton, and Mr. Jason Kaplan, are all white men. Not that there's anything wrong with hiring white males; I'm a white male. But I wonder if O'Melveny actually considered any women or minorities for these positions.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

O'Melveny hires attorney accused of mistreatment at his prior firm

       Mr. Michael Hamilton and Mr. Tim Evans recently returned to O'Melveny from DLA Piper. Both of these men were named in a tragic lawsuit at their prior firm -- a lawsuit filed by a woman who spent much of her life struggling to raise her child as a single motherMr. Hamilton was named as an individual defendant and Mr. Evans's name appears in the body of the complaint. The only other attorney named as a defendant, Mr. Michael Meyer, also suddenly left DLA Piper this month.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Another case in which O’Melveny fights alleged Chinese torture victims

       Anecdotally, it seems like O'Melveny works on a certain type of case. Cases that might make you question your life choices. I first wrote about this here, and gave a few examples involving a rape case (posts one and two) and an opioid case (posts one, two and three). 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Monetizing government positions

       A reader asked me how I came to join O’Melveny. So I thought I'd do a post on that, as it also offers a segue to another topic I have been meaning to write about. I came to O'Melveny through a relationship with a former professor, Ted McAniff. When he offered me the chance to work with him, I jumped at it. Imagine everything you would learn and the opportunities you would get at such a prestigious organization. I was excited.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Attorney joins O'Melveny, loses her health and her child, and O'Melveny's benefit provider is fighting her disability claim

       I remember this young woman. I spoke with her for about thirty minutes at a firm event around 2016. She was bright, upbeat, funny, and had recently graduated from the University of Chicago School of Law. She had a wonderful future in front of her. Fast forward three years and she has suffered the tragic loss of her health and child, and she risks becoming homeless due to O'Melveny's benefit provider refusing to pay her disability claim. I saw this at O'Melveny too often. People with bright futures and options would arrive, and they would leave worse off. I can't talk about them, as they did not go public like this young woman, but they're one reason I created this blog.