- Long-time name Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP partners and their new firms: John M. Pierce (Pierce Bainbridge P.C.) James D. Bainbridge (Bainbridge Law APC), Carolynn K. Beck (Goldstein & McClintock LLP), Maxim Price (Hecht Partners) and David L. Hecht (Hecht Partners)
- The litany of founded and accused transgressions is substantial.
- Lies under oath, accusations of fraud on courts, repeatedly pledging the same collateral in exchange for tens of millions in cash, allegedly stiffing vendors, a reported $70 million debt, lawsuits from four cash advance lenders and more.
- In September 2018, a lawyer warned firm founder John Pierce: “Trying to do what you are doing — build a major NYC firm overnight is hugely risky . . . The last person who tried it in NY was Mark Dreier. He ended up in jail.”
- Firm clients have included: Rudy Giuliani, Tulsi Gabbard, Carter Page, George Papadapoulos; as well as an individual who plead guilty to money laundering in 2012 , one arrested and accused of money laundering in 2020; clients have also includes three convicted felons: Michael Avenatti, Lenny Dykstra, Papadoupoulos.
In March 2018, Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP became the third name of a law firm founded by John M. Pierce in January 2017. Pierce has recently been in the national spotlight as he is “lead counsel” for Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse. Pierce is representing Rittenhouse through “Pierce Bainbridge P.C.,” the fourth firm moniker in less than four years.
An Ominous Warning
In September 2018, a lawyer for Oscar De La Hoya named Judd Burstein, rejected advances to join the firm and warned Pierce about following in the path of disgraced lawyer Marc Dreier and potentially “ending up in jail.” An excerpt from Burstein’s e-mail is below. (Per a United States District Attorneys’ Office release: Marc Dreier Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Fraud.”)
One would imagine that Burstein may not be surprised at the way the operations at Pierce Bainbridge played out.
A sample of issues are the firm is below.
March 7, 2019. Declared Default of $9.1 Million.
Litigation funder, or lender, Pravati Capital LLC fueled the firm’s litigation efforts for two years and eventually declared a $9.1 million default. While Pierce Bainbridge claimed it had the “most elite litigators on the planet,” the firm won only 1 trial (with a net verdict of $500,000) during those two years, the only trial the firm ever won. (The Pravati debt was eventually cleared, it appears by taking on more debt from litigation funder Virage Capital Management.)
A UCC filing names Douglas S. Curran (BraunHagey & Borden LLP), ex-PB United States Office Managing Partner, as an “individual” debtor related to the declared default. (Similar UCC filings are in the names of a multitude of Pierce Bainbridge former partners, in addition to Pierce.)
April 11, 2019. “Inconsistency” with Ethical Rule on “Misrepresentation.”
A federal court found David L. Hecht’s involvement in an undisclosed recording of an adversary at a social event was “inconsistent” with the ethical Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 covering attorney “dishonesty and misrepresentation.”
May 1, 2019. “100% Failure Rate in Fortnite Lawsuits.”
An article in Techdirt.com about a string of “copyright infringement” lawsuits filed by Pierce Bainbridge and led by David L. Hecht concludes: “Despite its 100% failure rate in Fortnite lawsuits, Pierce Bainbridge is still finding plaintiffs willing to ensure its partners keep collecting paychecks. And isn’t that the greatest victory of all?” (A suit against Fortnite recently had one claim survive an early stage motion to dismiss.)
May 15, 2019. Lies Under Oath.
Two ex-partners, Christopher N. LaVigne (Withersworldwide / Withers Bergman) and Denver G. Edwards (Bradford Edwards & Varlack LLP) lied under oath in sworn affidavits filed in New York State Supreme Court. Edwards is also on the Board of Trustees at Middlebury College. The lies were filed in an effort to keep allegations about financial misconduct at the firm from becoming public.
October 24, 2019. Accusation of Assisting in “Stonewalling” a Subpoena Related to Proceedings Involving Alleged Domestic Violence.
John Pierce’s ex-wife secured a domestic violence restraining order against him in late July 2019; she also secured one in 2016 and declared under the penalty of perjury that she received a warning that Pierce “expressed an intense desire to kill” her; Pierce denies the accusation.
A sampling of the “over sixty” disturbing texts from Pierce on July 27, 2019, which led to the request, was tweeted by a reporter from the Business Insider. One of the Pierce texts, appears to invoke Tulsi Gabbard as a threat; Pierce Bainbridge had filed a lawsuit for Gabbard two days earlier.
In connection with the proceedings, Pierce’s former spouse subpoenaed Pierce Bainbridge for financial information. The firm was accused of assisting in “stonewalling” the request.
October 25, 2019. Violation of Ethical Rules of Professional Conduct.
January 14, 2020. Client Arrested for Money Laundering.
While attending a California State Bar hearing, with the same Thomas D. Warren, then Pierce Bainbridge client Michael Avenatti was arrested and accused of money laundering.
February 19, 2020. $2.5 Million Upfront Cash Seemingly Vanishes.
John Pierce signed a “merchant cash advance” agreement on February 19, 2020 for $2.5 million upfront cash with an entity reportedly at a “residential address” in Queens, New York, described by the New York Law Journal as “essentially a payday lender.”
The agreement called for daily repayments of $37,500 until $3.75 million was paid. By July 2020, several months later, Pierce and his firm had paid nothing and an approximate $4 million money judgment was entered against the firm and related entities. (This Medium article contains supporting documentation.)
March 12, 2020. Mark Mukasey Quits as Counsel Citing Ethical Concerns.
The lawyer integral to the successful defense of Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, Marc Mukasey, the son of Michael Mukasey, United States Attorney General as appointed by former United States President Ronald Reagan, files to withdraw as counsel for Pierce Bainbridge and a multitude of partners. The Mukasey filing cites, among other items, ethical concerns with continued representation.
May 18, 2020. Accusation of Lying to a Federal Court and Related Intimidation.
An ex-firm associate comes forward and accuses David L. Hecht of lying to a federal court, and Pierce Bainbridge outside counsel Ed Altabet of Cohen Seglias PC of engaging in intimidation tactics to stop the ex-associate from coming forward. The accusations have been denied.
June 5, 2020. Fraud on the Court Accusation.
Based on the sworn affidavit of a different ex-firm associate, former Pierce Bainbridge General Counsel Carolynn K. Beck is accused of spearheading a fraud on the New York State Supreme Court. Two sworn affidavits were submitted in support of the fraud on the court motion. While a response was filed, Beck did not submit an affidavit of denial in response; the motion is pending.
The timeline is merely a representative list; for example, it does not cover:
- The reported estimated $65 million debt (and related default) the firm racked up to litigation funder Virage Capital Management in around one year while not winning a single trial. It also does not include the additional around $5 million owed to cash advance lenders, and the four related lawsuits from lenders filed against the firm this year.
- The repeated pledging of the same collateral in exchange for tens of millions in cash, most of which appears to remain unpaid.
- Putting a client up in a $1.3 million home for 2 years where Pierce Bainbridge firm funds were used to pay at least some of the $6,600 month rent obligations.
- Lawsuits from five legal service vendors who allege Pierce Bainbridge failed to honor payment obligations.
- A pending fraud on the court motion in a case where Pierce Bainbridge Co-Founders, Jim Bainbridge and John Pierce, appeared as counsel.
All of this transpired in just a little more than a year, which leads to the question:
Is this a Corrupt Law Firm?