Law Firms

Federal judge says it's 'outrageous' that BigLaw firm sent associate to court

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Updated: A federal judge in Brooklyn said last week it was “outrageous, irresponsible and insulting” that Kirkland & Ellis sent an associate—and no partner—to represent Facebook at a court hearing.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis told Kirkland associate Aulden Burcher-DuPont last Thursday that the law firm should “scrounge up a partner” for the next hearing. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Bloomberg News and the New York Daily News covered Garaufis’ remarks.

Garaufis is presiding in two lawsuits that accuse Facebook of facilitating terrorism by joining terrorists and would-be terrorists. “You tell your folks back at Kirkland & Ellis,” Garaufis told Burcher-DuPont, “that that I don’t much like the idea that they think so little of this court that they didn’t send a partner here to talk about this kind of problem which implicates international terrorism. … I think it’s outrageous, irresponsible and insulting.” Above the Law links to the transcript (PDF).

Burcher-DuPont joined Kirkland last year and was an associate at Mayer Brown before that, according to the Kirkland website. He received his law license in New York last year. He told Garaufis that the lead counsel could not be present because he was in Texas for an emergency hearing.

In a hearing in the case on Tuesday, Garaufis was more conciliatory, (sub. req.) reports. “Any inference that might have been achieved through the media that I was ever upset at Mr. Burcher is totally unfounded, and for that I apologize, if that’s the impression that was given,” the judge said. His greater concern, Garaufis said, was that Kirkland take the matter seriously.

Facebook’s deputy general counsel, Paul Grewal, was at the new hearing, along with three Kirkland partners and Burcher-DuPont. “We apologize” for the failure to send any partners to the hearing, said Kirkland partner Craig Primis. Above the Law has the transcript here.

Updated on Sept. 28 to include Garaufis’ latest remarks and on Sept. 29 to include Above the Law’s transcript links.

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