If you’re a Biglaw partner, it’s probably not a good idea to do work on the side in contravention of your firm’s own policies. It’s probably an even worse idea to bill the Biglaw firm’s clients for your side hustle. An ex-Crowell & Moring partner who landed on the wrong end of a disciplinary ruling is finding out exactly why.
Matthew Melville, formerly of the Am Law 100 firm, was accused of running his own side gig while working at the top Biglaw firm and underreporting the money he made from it. Reuters has the details:
The appeals court said Melville secretly performed legal work for non-Crowell clients and also personally billed Crowell clients for work he solely did, outside of Crowell’s usual billing structure. He earned more than $360,000 from his side practice, the court said.
Crowell discovered Melville’s side practice in November 2021 after a client received invoices from both the firm and Melville, the court said.
In its ruling, the court said Melville “admitted that he engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation” in violation of New York’s professional rules, and suspended him from practicing law in the state for six months. Melville must also comply with business and mental health monitoring and reporting for two years.
In a statement, Crowell & Moring said: “We promptly terminated Matt Melville’s partnership with the firm in 2021 when we learned that he had engaged in conduct in violation of the firm’s practices and policies and bar rules.” The firm went on to say that despite Melville’s conduct, there was no “adverse impact on our clients.”
Melville told Reuters that he intends to continue practicing law in California, even though the State Bar plans to place a “consumer alert” on its website noting that he’s been suspended in New York.
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.