Judge Denies Greenberg Traurig Bid to Disqualify Epstein Becker
Epstein Becker & Green's conduct tied to a legal malpractice case against Greenberg Traurig raises ethical concerns, but it doesn't warrant Epstein's disqualification in the case, a state judge has ruled.
Allen Roberts, an Epstein member who is represented by his firm, is suing Greenberg and its shareholder Leslie Corwin, an expert on partnership law, for legal malpractice. Greenberg Traurig claims Epstein Becker should be disqualified because of its dual role as co-counsel in an underlying arbitration proceeding and as opposing counsel in the malpractice case.
"Epstein Becker's simultaneous representation of Mr. Roberts for purposes of both mitigating damages in the arbitration proceeding and preparing for a possible malpractice action raises ethical concerns," said Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman (See profile).
"However, this case does not involve the egregious conduct in obtaining confidential information through deceptive means, or an inherent conflict of interest," which is needed for disqualification, Friedman said in Roberts v. Corwin, 115370/2009,
Friedman denied Greenberg's dismissal motion, letting the malpractice case against Greenberg and Corwin proceed.
In the underlying matter, Roberts retained Greenberg Traurig and Corwin as counsel in an arbitration against the firm he founded, Roberts & Finger, to recover his share of partnership interest.
In an interim ruling, the arbitration panel found in May 2006 that Roberts failed to establish a case that he suffered any damages as a result of the dissolution of his firm. The arbitration panel's decision was based in part on Roberts' failure to present expert testimony as to the value of the law firm and its assets, according to Friedman's decision.
Roberts retained Epstein Becker to serve as co-counsel to Greenberg after the interim ruling. The arbitration panel issued a final award in July 2006, incorporating the interim ruling. Roberts ultimately reached a settlement with Roberts & Finger in 2007.
Shortly after the interim ruling, and while then-Epstein attorney Barry Cozier was co-counsel with Greenberg Traurig to obtain relief, Roberts consulted with John Sachs, another Epstein attorney, about a possible malpractice suit against Greenberg, Friedman said.
Sachs is now a solo practitioner and Cozier is now at LeClairRyan.