After Nixon Peabody filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of Donald Trump, the firm’s partnership started wondering, “Why is this the first we’re hearing about the firm representing the most brand toxic man in the country?” It didn’t help that the motion strayed from a narrow focus on procedural issues to include Trump’s favorite argument — and everyone else’s favorite to mock — to hurl Brandenburg at everything from gag orders to the constitutional standard for aiding an insurrection and that January 6 was just a run-of-the-mill exercise in free speech.
How are things over at Nixon Peabody? Well, the phrase used by multiple different tipsters over the last week is “shitstorm.”
On Monday, managing partner Stephen Zubiago held a firm-wide meeting where he basically told the rest of the firm that he authorized the firm to take on Trump as a client without informing the rest of the partners and they all need to get over it. He did not take questions. But ATL has now learned that this was just one of the meetings Zubiago held on Monday.
Because also on Monday the firm’s 220 partners convened for their own Zoom meeting to discuss the matter. As you might imagine, things got real.
Per reports, Zubiago and Brian Kelly — the partner representing Trump — spoke about “working through this together” and noting that the firm sometimes has to take on undesirable clients. Leadership offered a nod to strengthening internal procedures, despite the fact that the firm already has internal procedures for this… they just got ignored here. Apparently the justification floated for the secrecy is that they felt the representation was an internal confidential issue — an excuse that might fly if the firm’s drafting the guy a new will, but falls apart when it’s a case on the public docket!
Unlike the firm-wide meeting, Zubiago opened the floor to questions from his partners and it wasn’t long before someone raised this doozy:
Stephen Zubiago has to step down as managing partner, Anthony Barron, Litigation Department Chair, also has to step down.
This call seemed inevitable even back on November 1st, when we still hadn’t confirmed that Zubiago had prior knowledge of the situation. At that time tipsters reported “no confidence” conversations among partners in various offices.
It seems that telling the partners not to worry about it is the proverbial FA that precedes the FO.
According to a report of the meeting, Zubiago replied that he would not make any decisions on this matter at the time and then mused about why the commenter , chose a public forum to ask for his resignation and not in a private call Zubiago had held with the commenting partner earlier.
I dunno… maybe the tone of these meetings added extra sour to the situation?
Litigation chair Anthony Barron is a new figure in this imbroglio. Barron has apparently conveyed to the partners that he recognizes that taking on this client — and more importantly the clandestine process of taking on this client — was a bad decision. Because taking on Trump and slapping the firm’s name on embarrassing arguments alienated a lot of people, but even partners who could care less about Trump are angered by the lack of honesty and transparency. Barron seems to get this frustration and offers the sort of contrition that the other participants might want to adopt.
Instead, Zubiago seems content to strap in and deal with the onslaught. He will undoubtedly have supporters in an upcoming showdown. Will they outnumber his detractors?
Presumably he’s trying to work that out for himself right now.
Earlier: Biglaw Firm Adds Donald Trump As Client… Rest Of The Firm May Not Be Too Happy About It
After Nixon Peabody Hitched Itself To Donald Trump, Blindsided Partners Told To Get Over It
Some Clients Aren’t Worth The Risk For Biglaw… And, Yes, We Mean Donald Trump