Former Boies Schiller lawyer refused to leave new firm after partnership voted him out, lawsuit says
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A partner in a firm formed by former lawyers at Boies Schiller Flexner refused to leave after he was ousted for abusive behavior in a partnership vote, according to a lawsuit filed Saturday.
The Feb. 27 lawsuit by law firm Roche Cyrulnik Freedman says partner Jason Cyrulnik was ousted for “abusive, destructive, erratic and obstructive behavior.”
Cyrulnik’s abusive behavior included screaming at partners and attempting to assume control over management decisions, the lawsuit alleges.
“Rather than accept payment for his work and focus on ensuring a smooth transition,” the lawsuit says, “this expelled partner now refuses to leave, attempting to shake down his former firm for millions of dollars he did not earn and to which he is not entitled.”
Roche Cyrulnik Freedman is a litigation boutique with offices in Miami and New York that handles cryptocurrency, cannabis, class action and commercial litigation matters. The law firm, formed in 2019, shortened its name to Roche Freedman on Monday, Reuters Legal points out.
The suit includes allegations that Cyrulnik:
• Engaged in “a pattern of verbal abuse and bullying towards other partners, punctuated by screaming fits of rage directed towards those who disagreed with him.” Partnership meetings were obstructed by his “filibustering, speaking over and demeaning other partners.”
• Mocked and belittled attempts by other partners to increase diversity.
• Obstructed associate assignments by ordering them to prioritize the clients he originated.
• Created an unsustainable work environment for associates, leading some associates to threaten to quit if they continued to be staffed on his matters.
• Instructed a firm employee to withhold law firm financial information from other equity partners.
• Repeatedly demanded additional compensation beyond what was contemplated by the partners’ memorandum of understanding.
The memorandum provided for a division of equity that would be effective after a formal partnership agreement was reached. But the agreement never came to fruition because of Cyrulnik’s obstruction, the suit alleges.
The suit says Cyrulnik’s actions make clear that he intentionally refused to enter into a partnership agreement to “leverage gaps” in the memorandum of understanding in a bid to “seize power and a financial advantage.”
The money dispute concerns the law firm’s decision to accept tokens as payment from its representation of a startup. Initially, Cyrulnik and two other partners were designated to work for the startup and to receive a higher allocation of the tokens as a result, the suit says.
But Cyrulnik was told of a reallocation of the tokens in an email based on partners’ actual work for the startup. Cyrulnik, who never worked on the matter, did not dispute the reallocation, the suit says.
Since the beginning of 2021, the tokens have appreciated and are now worth millions of dollars, the suit says.
Cyrulnik claims that five equity partners voted to remove him to gain the speculative value of his tokens and then lied about the cause for his removal, a claim that is false, the lawsuit says.
“In addition to Cyrulnik refusing to acknowledge his own egregious behavior, Cyrulnik ignores that the issues leading to his removal … began months prior to any rise in the token value and were problems of his own making,” the suit says.
The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that Cyrulnik was removed for cause, and he is entitled to compensation in the section of the memorandum of understanding governing withdrawal.
The American Lawyer received this statement regarding the suit from Cyrulnik’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz.
“The allegations of the complaint are false and irresponsible. Mr. Cyrulnik will continue to focus on fully protecting the interests of his law firm and clients. The motives and conduct of his partners who launched this attack to take over the firm and appropriate for themselves Mr. Cyrulnik’s interests will be fully and appropriately addressed in the proper forum.”