Two Firms at War: Quinn Emanuel and Wigdor LLP Get Personal

by Alice K Jump

New York City litigators have a (somewhat) deserved reputation for aggressive attacks and scorched earth tactics, all in the name of zealous advocacy.  The dispute between two of New York’s most prominent litigation firms, Quinn Emanuel Urquart & Sullivan LLP, on one side, and Wigdor LLP and its founder Doug Wigdor on the other, takes the vitriol to a whole new level.

The public and highly personal blood feud stems from a sexual misconduct lawsuit brought by former Wigdor client Guzel Ganieva against Leon D. Black, the founder and owner of Apollo Capital.   Her complaint was dismissed because she had previously settled with Black and had signed a non-disclosure and release agreement, which barred her from filing the claim.  Black, represented by Quinn Emanuel partner, Michael Carlinsky, then counterattacked by filing a malicious prosecution complaint in New York state court against Wigdor and Ganieva.  The complaint, attached here, contains detailed allegations about Wigdor’s “questionable ethics” and purported practice of making manufactured allegations in order to elicit pre-complaint settlements.  This is actually the third lawsuit that Black has brought against the Wigdor firm.

Wigdor has responded publicly to the most recent action by accusing Quinn Emanuel of being “bought off” by Black.  The firm then took things a step further by engaging in a social media campaign under the hash tag #anythingformoney.  One tweet said, “We have emails from Carlinsky asking Wigdor for personal favors, referring close & family friends to Wigdor for counsel, asking for legal assistance, and calling Wigdor the ‘best employment lawyer.’”  Carlinsky has countered by issuing a statement decrying the unprofessional tactics and declaring that while he once respected Wigdor, the firm has “lost its way.”

There is no doubt that the battle will continue both in and out of the courtroom, and it’s safe to presume that Wigdor and Carlinsky will not be seated next to each other at New York City Bar events anytime soon.

This article is intended as a general discussion of these issues only and is not to be considered legal advice or relied upon. For more information, please contact RPJ Partner Alice K. Jump who counsels clients on litigation, alternative dispute resolution and business counseling, with particular emphasis on representing clients in the financial services and real estate industries as well as educational and non-profit institutions. Ms. Jump is admitted to practice law in New York and before the United States District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.