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Musk’s Outside Lawyer Spiro Now on Inside of Twitter Overhaul

Nov. 1, 2022, 9:31 AM

Alex Spiro, who as Elon Musk’s outside attorney defended the entrepreneur’s Twitter use, now finds himself inside the company’s headquarters, working side-by-side with Musk to overhaul the social media platform.

The partnership marries two brash-talking, hard-charging people in an endeavor that marks one of the biggest challenges either of them have faced in their careers. People who have worked with Spiro describe him as a tough and aggressive lawyer who likes the spotlight and doesn’t shy away from legal fights.

The Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan litigation partner has been working with Musk inside Twitter Inc.‘s San Francisco headquarters in a deputy role, two people familiar with the matter said. He’s been working on matters touching every aspect of the company, including discussions about pending layoffs, the people said.

His work comes as Musk on Monday became sole director of the company he purchased last week for $44 billion after the removal of all nine other board members, according to a securities filing.

Twitter did not immediately return requests for comment. The Washington Post first reported Spiro’s role inside the company.

Spiro, who is known for celebrity clients such as the rapper Jay-Z, is a former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney who has built a reputation as a hired gun for high-profile clients including professional basketball players and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

He has made appearances in at least six different matters on behalf of Musk and the electric automaker he leads, Tesla Inc., over the past three years, according to court records.

“Obviously he’s a very articulate lawyer and creative thinker,” Quinn Emanuel chair John Quinn said of Spiro. “He connects well with a lot of different kinds of people. He’s broad-gaged in his knowledge and his experience.”

It’s unclear how deep and longstanding Spiro’s Twitter-related work will be, or if Quinn Emanuel will become outside counsel of choice to the social media company in its litigation matters.

‘Street Fighters’

Musk has built a reputation as someone who spars with attorneys; he has cycled through several top in-house lawyers at Tesla, and he publicly criticized the Big Law firms Cooley and Perkins Coie.

He has said he wants “street fighters” as litigators. Spiro, whose outspoken approach has sometimes led to clashes with other attorneys, may have the attributes that endeared him to Musk.

Musk is “a very honest and direct person” that he has gotten to know “very well,” Spiro said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio after the 2019 defamation trial.

Spiro’s litigation work for Musk began in 2019, when he successfully led the trial defense in a $190 million defamation suit stemming from Musk calling a British diver “pedo guy” on Twitter.

Musk and Tesla sent more work Spiro and Quinn Emanuel’s way in the intervening years, including in the legal dispute around Musk’s initial attempt to back out of the Twitter deal.

Musk “really trusted Alex in the space of being the legal expert in the room,” Jeanine Zalduendo, a former Quinn Emanuel attorney who worked on the defamation trial defense team, said in an interview.

Spiro and Quinn Emanuel are currently defending Musk in a class action over a 2018 tweet in which Musk claimed he secured funding to take Tesla private. The matter is set for a January trial.

Spiro and his firm also represent Musk in an effort to get him out of his agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to have a Tesla lawyer screen all his company-related tweets.

Star Litigator

Spiro’s legal career began at Harvard Law School, where he enrolled in 2005 after studying bio-psychology during his undergrad and later working at Harvard’s Psychiatric Facility.

Soon after graduating, he got a job at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, quickly building a reputation as someone who wanted to take cases to trial.

In 2013, he moved to the opposite side of the table, joining Brafman & Associates, a small New York criminal defense boutique that Benjamin Brafman, a vaunted criminal defense lawyer, has led for decades.

It’s there where Spiro gradually began to build his impressive client list, including through high-profile representations of rapper Bobby Shmurda and Thabo Sefalosha, an NBA player who successfully fought criminal charges stemming from a confrontation with New York police officers.

During his time at the firm, Spiro also worked on the defense team of a Wall Street bond trader who, along with two of his colleagues, faced charges that included conspiracy and securities fraud. Spiro’s client, Tyler Peters, was acquitted on all counts following a 2017 trial.

He joined Quinn Emanuel just months later, where his clients now include hedge funds and private equity firms in addition to big-name CEOs and celebrities. In 2021, he successfully defended Jay-Z in a trial over claims that he breached an endorsement deal for a cologne brand.

Spiro has also found himself at the center of controversy in his career.

In 2017, he faced accusations of trying to deceive women considering lawsuits against the disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was ultimately represented by Brafman.

Spiro, who was reportedly on his way out of Brafman’s firm at the time, denied the claims. A New York judge ultimately dismissed a lawsuit against Weinstein that included the accusations.

More recently, Spiro’s name emerged in a legal dispute between Leon Black, the founder of private equity giant Apollo, and Guzel Ganieva, a woman who accused him of rape.

A January countersuit from Black accusing Ganieva and others of an extortionate plot included the claim that private investigators entered Ganieva’s apartment and told her to contact Spiro if she wanted to sue Black. Spiro has denied sending investigators, according to court records.

— With reporting by Jack Pitcher, Brian Baxter

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Wise at jwise@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com