March 31, 2024

Introduction and summary

       Welcome and thank you for visiting. I am an 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 amateur journalist 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, which I hope you find informative.

They like to silence people

       According to the New York Times, an O'Melveny attorney 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, and the attorney became a go-to hire for rich men accused of sexual assault. The above may have influenced the attorney's own son, who was arrested for violating a domestic violence restraining order. Later, Mother Jones revealed that this same attorney chose not to stop a client's racist comments about a judge. The aforementioned attorney is chair of O'Melveny's Trial Practice Committee and vice chair of the firm. 

       Threatening people into silence seems to be part of an O'Melveny lawyer's toolset. For example, the inspector general chided an O'Melveny alumnus for threatening scientists in a way that had "life and death consequences."

       In fact, 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 its document was "unconscionable" (cases one, two and three) -- O’Melveny continued to force its employees to sign it until 2018, when law students pressured all law firms to abandon this practice.

       They will even contrive claims to intimidate people into silence. 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 I reminded them that they won't have much of a case without evidence, 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. And that's not the first time they attacked an employee who talked about their problematic practices. According to this article, they even launched a "witch hunt" to find an employee who complained anonymously.

The quality of O'Melveny's legal work

       O'Melveny's legal services might not always be of the highest quality. For example, per ABC News's Sacramento affiliate, O'Melveny's lacking advice embarrassed the governor's office and cost California wildfire victims billions of dollars; a judge devoted a paragraph of his opinion to criticizing O'Melveny's lack of professionalism; a letter O'Melveny wrote on behalf of a client was so "absurd" that it caught the attention of reporters; and they couldn't even handle a child sexual abuse matter without being accused of serious improprieties. These items made it into the news during the period that I wrote this blog, but this has been going on for decades. For example, the city of Los Angeles sued them for malpractice back in 1999.

       The firm also has a history of conducting reportedly sham "independent investigations." For example, see this story in Corporate Counsel accusing O'Melveny partner Adam Karr of conducting a sham investigation of sexual abuse at Lionsgate. A saint of a woman returned over a million dollars to break her confidentiality agreement and reveal that information. Or see these stories about a woman who learned that her alleged sexual assaulter's personal lawyer (O'Melveny) had been hired to "independently investigate" whether he assaulted her (links one and two.) Or see this story in ESPN about a backlash that followed O'Melveny's suspicious independent investigation in the Portland Trailblazer organization. Or see this story about an O'Melveny alumnus who was arrested by the FBI, as he tried to negotiate his fee for an independent investigation.

Money

       The firm has a money-obsessed culture, which they called "eat what you kill." Its lawyers would constantly search the dockets for new cases, hoping that one of their clients got sued, and then rush to pitch for the work. Sometimes they might go further. For example, query whether they needlessly dragged out an alleged rape victim's case to maximize billable hours, and then bragged about the money they made off of her in a press release. Or query whether they were the only defense firm to drag out the Oklahoma opioid crisis case, damaging their client's reputation and likely resulting in thousands of avoidable deaths, to maximize billable hours. 

       Naturally, O'Melveny's partners are exceeding cheap. For example, they upset law students by cutting summer associate pay by about $10,000, and replacing it with a $10,000 loan from the partners. That financial maneuver boosted partner profits by about 0.24%. So a partner who would have made $2,000,000 in that year now made about $4,800 more, as a result of reducing summer associate pay by $10,000.

       Here is a picture of the firm ridiculing and caricaturing a partner who gave clients discounts. For a numerical example of the feast or famine manner in which one O'Melveny group allocated profits among its partners, see this post. Here you will find an example of an O'Melveny partner's compensation package, and here is an example of a retired of counsel's compensation package.

They corrupt government

       Ingrained in O'Melveny's culture was the idea that a government job isn’t accepted to serve the voters, the public, or the country – it’s taken to serve yourself, and the people who pay you. For example, an O'Melveny attorney once shared their plan to "monetize" a government position. Or see these two posts about another O'Melveny attorney who used a government position for his own personal purposes. O'Melveny has also repeatedly tried to change case law to make it harder to prosecute public officials who engage in quid pro quo corruption (cases one, two and three.) It doesn't always work out though; one of O'Melveny's friends got arrested by the FBI for trying to use his government access to benefit a client.

       When serving in the Department of Justice, an O'Melveny practice group leader reportedly lied to a federal court on an important issue in the nation's history. Once caught in that lie by the discovery of documents, he gave a radio interview advocating for torture and criticizing the Geneva Convention.

Diversity

       O'Melveny claims to support diversity by following the Mansfield Rule in hiring, but their track record suggests otherwise. O'Melveny also hired two partners who were sued for discrimination, by a Latina single mother, at their prior firm. It also seems to follow the too-common practice of assigning minorities to cases where they have to fight someone of their own group.

       I also list the players in the lucrative "law firm diversity marketing" industry, how much each charges for their stamp of approval, and what their executives make per year. 

Pro bono

       O'Melveny claims to support pro bono work, but an attorney said they fired him because he spent too much time on pro bono matters. See also this post about its director of pro bono who, despite a career in legal aid and other pro bono efforts, lives in a $5 million house in Beverly Hills, which might lead to fair questions about how much money he took out of those ostensibly charitable endeavors.

Employee wellness

       The firm claims to support employee wellness, but its stinginess and environment may interfere with that goal. For example, according to this lawsuit, it provides employees with cheap medical insurance; and one of the firm's most widely publicized wellness efforts amounted to nothing more than a $13 per month Peloton plan. It's also sort of a difficult place to work. For example, an attorney made partner after derailing the careers of a half-dozen associates; and here are two other posts about the kinds of personalities that thrive there; really, every post on this blog is about the challenges of working there.

       In fact, it might not be the place to go for wellness. For example, see these messages by a woman who lost her health while working there, or this story about an O'Melveny attorney who suffered health problems to the point where she was rocking back and forth, whispering: "I have to quit O'Melveny." The firm's chief operating officer also shared a chilling story from his time at O'Melveny.

Marketing

       The firm seems to put a lot of effort into public relations. For example, around 2016, it started giving itself the highest scores in Vault's self-graded rankings, so as to rise to the top of those rankings, after which it issued press releases celebrating that victory. Of course, you can't fool all of the people all of the time, and so that effort led to complaints from law students who felt misled by what they thought was an undeservedly high score. Then another firm decided to copy O'Melveny's gamesmanship, and started giving itself the highest scores too. That firm rose from a low position in the rankings to the number one spot in all of them, even ahead of O'Melveny, in only one year. 

       As a result of all this manipulation, the Vault rankings no longer meant anything. A few months after the second firm's chicanery, Vault changed its name to "Firsthand" and, based on the timing, I wonder if they did that to try and reboot their rankings' lost reputation.

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

Other random posts about O'Melveny

       The firm gives favorable treatment to some associates, especially those from prominent families. A highly respected partner joined O'Melveny with great fanfare, only to leave two months later and return to his old firm. O'Melveny tried and failed to merge with the giant multi-national firm of Allen & Overy and then, four years later, they ridiculed Allen & Overy at a partner meeting. The firm worked on two cases against alleged Chinese torture victims. And here is a post is about O'Melveny's human resources and career development personnel.

Not the first time

       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 back in the 1980s. 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 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 the first section above), or because the person who shared the information asked me not to post it here. I'm largely restricted to writing about things that made it into the news, which may be the tip of the iceberg.

The legal profession in general

       Not all of the posts are about O'Melveny; some are about law in general. A few posts compare law to other professions. For example, this post explains how to "think like a lawyer," and contrasts that with approaches used by other fields. This post is about my exchange with Penn Law professor Amy Wax, after which I imagine a world where she taught tech instead of a law. This post is about the award-winning movie I Care a Lot, and how sometimes the justice system creates or prolongs injustice, until a reporter exposes and fixes the problem. 

       This post adds to the long list of articles about regulatory capture, and chronicles the careers of a handful of bank regulatory lawyers who spun the revolving door to riches. It also recalls how lawyers have been history's worst Federal Reserve chairs. Here, you'll find the story of a lawyer who tried to fight regulatory capture, and the consequences he faced.

       I spend a few posts on torture, for example this post is about Bank of America's former General Counsel David Leitch, who told me that I would never work for his organization because I criticized his friend on torture, and these two posts are about my experiences with the aforementioned friend and other related parties, such as former Fifth Circuit Judge Michael Luttig.

       I also spend some time on the opioid crisis. This post is about the best-selling book Dopesick, which recounts how captured regulators, lobbyists and lawyers put their financial interests above their country to start and perpetuate the epidemic, which has killed half a million Americans so far. It also contrasts the United States' pliable regulators and lawyers with those of Europe, who rejected efforts to expand the use of opioids, saving their continent from the same fate. This post summarizes articles accusing former Attorney General Eric Holder of covering up the opioid crisis back in 2004, when it would have been easier to stop. And this post compares the crisis to the opium epidemic that ended China's High Qing golden age and started the worst century in its history, although hopefully the United States can recover with less damage.  

       Finally, this post is about how unpleasant it was to write this blog, which is why I eventually retired it
Brad Butwin, Dan Petrocelli, Brian Boyle, Adam Karr, omm, omelveny, Brandon Jacobsen