Yesterday, Nixon Peabody managing partner Steve Zubiago convened a special firm-wide meeting regarding the firm’s new client Donald Trump. While every other Biglaw firm has cut ties with any partner taking on Trump in a bid to shield the firm’s professional reputation from getting compromised by public stances like downplaying January 6 as mere puffery… like Nixon Peabody just did.
The message to the nervous partnership: Get over it.
In a meeting that reportedly lasted less than 15 minutes and offered no opportunity for questions, Zubiago informed the firm that he didn’t think the firm would suffer reputational damage because, so far, it hasn’t garnered much media traction (other than Above the Law of course).
Yes, nothing says “we’re not worried about this coverage” like a hastily thrown together firm-wide meeting that ends with a refusal to take questions.
In our original coverage, sources suggested that the representation had skirted existing intake procedures and we wondered if Zubiago had perhaps not known of the impending debacle beforehand. At the meeting, Zubiago confirmed that any claim that he was unaware of the firm taking the case is untrue.
Oh. That’s much worse then.
According to reports from Nixon sources, Zubiago then informed the collected firm that the Trump matter is not unique and that Nixon takes on many new matters that are not publicized to the rest of the partners. Not sure the message, “if this took you by surprise, you should get a load of all the other potentially damaging representations we take on without your knowledge” is going to play as well with a crowd of risk-averse attorneys as he thinks.
Zubiago apparently added that the case came through the Republican Party as opposed to Trump directly, a distinction without difference since the firm is representing “Donald Trump” regardless of who referred the matter.
But the fact that Trump is the actual client is key to the weirdest tidbit from the account of this meeting: Zubiago seemingly suggested that he was taken off guard by the January 6 reference in the case.
Yes, it is entirely possible to argue that a private citizen cannot invoke the Fourteenth Amendment to bar a candidate from appearing on the ballot and leave it at that. But Donald Trump is the client. He’s literally not shut up about how he did nothing wrong on January 6 since… January 6. His people inject it into conversations about the weather! I think Rudy has it as a tattoo! Was the theory that he wouldn’t demand it have a starring role in his attorney’s brief in a case ABOUT JANUARY 6?!?!?
If that’s the take, then is Nixon Peabody interested in representing me in a deal to sell the Brooklyn Bridge? No need to tell the rest of the partners… let’s keep this one hush hush, K?
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.