Biglaw Firm Lashes Out At Ex-Exec And Calls Out 'Facially Absurd' Story

Biglaw Firm Lashes Out At Ex-Exec And Calls Out 'Facially Absurd' Story
Jan 2023

Biglaw Firm Lashes Out At Ex-Exec And Calls Out 'Facially Absurd' Story

The latest filing in the explosive lawsuit between Biglaw firm Proskauer and its former Chief Operating Officer, Jonathan O'Brien, reveals the type of rancor we're rapidly coming to expect from the case. You'll recall, the firm alleges the now-former COO downloaded 34 gigabytes of internal data to a USB drive before announcing he was leaving the firm to work for a competitor. (The firm fired O'Brien the same day they filed the Southern District of New York complaint.) The complaint also alleges O'Brien attempted to delete emails subject to a litigation hold.
Of course, because this case is nothing if not acrimonious, O'Brien responded by calling the firm's management "Machiavellian." He told the court he only downloaded the information necessary to do his job as he traveled abroad at year end.
In the latest court filing, Proskauer calls O'Brien's explanation for his possession of the documents in question "ludicrous" and "facially absurd," as detailed by Law360:
"Did [O'Brien] really need to download more than 34 gigabytes of data (including detailed financial performance metrics for every partner in the Firm) in case he might need to work on vacation?," the firm asked in its brief.
"Is it remotely believable that this activity was for the Firm's benefit given that he planned to join a competitor upon returning from the vacation and refused to disclose to the Firm that that was his plan? Is it credible that he needed to take all of this highly confidential and sensitive information with him ... when virtually all of the Firm's year-end work had been completed nearly two months before he left on vacation?"
The filing also identifies Jeremy Russo, Proskauer's former director of financial planning, and Leigh Anne Whyte, former chief financial officer, as working with O'Brien on his plan. Both Russo and Whyte resigned from Proskauer in mid-December, shortly before O'Brien announced he was leaving the firm.
Reminder, these are just the filings for a preliminary injunction. The case is bound to get juicier as the litigation heats up.

Biglaw Firm Lashes Out At Ex-Exec And Calls Out 'Facially Absurd' Story
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon