Legal Ethics

Ex-BigLaw Associate Loses Law License for 3 Years Due to Domestic Incident With Girlfriend

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Updated: A former associate at Cravath Swaine & Moore yesterday had his law license suspended for three years by a New York appeals court due to his earlier conviction in a domestic assault on his girlfriend.

A disciplinary committee had sought a one-year suspension and a hearing panel had determined that a 60-day loss of Michael Zulandt’s law license was the appropriate penalty for behaving in a manner that adversely affected the public perception of the trustworthiness, fitness and honesty of the legal profession, reports Reuters.

However, the the Appellate Division, First Department, upped the ante, suspending Zulandt’s license for three years.

Although a psychotherapist had testified at a 2011 hearing that Zulandt was being treated for an “intermittent explosive disorder,” the court found that this wasn’t the full story. “We are persuaded that respondent engaged in a calculated pattern of cruelty that was not the product of the intermittent explosive disorder described by his expert,” it said in a written opinion.

Zulandt, now 32, was admitted in 2006 after graduating from the University of Michigan Law School in 2005. He took a plea in 2008 in a third-degree assault case that resulted from a 45-minute rampage in his girlfriend’s East Village apartment and served six months of a 10-month sentence before being released from jail in 2009, according to the Am Law Daily, the New York Daily News and Reuters.

He was working for Cravath at the time of the 2007 domestic incident. It isn’t clear, however, when exactly Zulandt worked for the law firm and what he is doing now.

The articles, which rely on information from police, say he allegedly slapped and pushed the woman, called her names, pierced a painting with a pen and hit her Cartier watch with a hammer. Police said Zulandt also destroyed her $1,000 purse by filling it with water, damaged a couch with water and oil, ripped her intercom off the wall and grabbed her cell phone.

Police said Zulandt kicked the woman, struck her with a closed fist, put his hands around her throat, threw her onto the coach after she tried to get away and screamed “I want you dead! I want you killed!” reports the Daily News. At some point during the incident, he allegedly broke her nose.

Initially charged with kidnapping and burglary, Zulandt pleaded guilty on Christmas Eve of 2008 to a misdemeanor assault charge, the newspaper reports.

Reuters could not reach Zulandt for comment and his lawyer declined to comment. Cravath also declined to comment when contacted by the news agency.

The Am Law Daily post provides a copy of the Appellate Division’s opinion (PDF).

Updated at 9:04 a.m. to include Am Law Daily and New York Daily News coverage and link to opinion.

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