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Jones Day Bucks Big Law Trend of Firms Fleeing From Trump (1)

Jan. 22, 2021, 10:00 AM; Updated: Jan. 22, 2021, 1:47 PM

The list of lawyers former President Donald Trump can call upon for his legal battles, including a looming Senate impeachment trial and tax probes in New York, is shrinking.

Seyfarth Shaw and Morgan Lewis became the latest firms in a growing list to say they’re cutting ties with the former president and his companies.

Seyfarth cited the former president’s role in stoking the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Morgan Lewis declined to offer a reason for backing away.

The moves may be a result of internal pressure from the firms’ attorneys and external concerns from clients that don’t want to be associated with Trump, said Jan Jacobowitz, a legal ethics consultant.

“Law is a profession but it is also very much a business,” Jacobowitz said. “Not only are you not your client—the lawyer remains separate from the client—so that everyone has the right to seek counsel, but in most situations you’re not required to represent anyone.”

Still, Trump and his businesses have a number of law firms in their orbit. The former president, for instance, recently tapped South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers to defend him in the Senate.

Here are some of the notable firms that appear to be sticking with Trump:

Jones Day

The Big Law firm most publicly aligned with the Trump administration represented the former president throughout his last two campaigns. The firm also served as a feeder for Trump administration roles, sending former White House Counsel Don McGahn and Solicitor General Noel Francisco, among others, to fill some top federal government lawyer jobs.

Jones Day faced swirling public criticism, whipped up largely by anti-Trump group The Lincoln Project, and concerns from some of its own lawyers about its work on an election case in Pennsylvania that continued after voters cast their ballots. The firm declined calls to bow out, noting that it represented the state Republican party rather than the Trump campaign and maintaining that the lawsuit raised important constitutional questions about changes to Pennsylvania voting rules.

John Gore, a Jones Day partner who did a stint in the Trump Justice Department before returning to the firm, filed an appearance on behalf of the Trump campaign as recently as October. Gore and Jones Day didn’t respond to requests for comment on whether the firm intends to continue representing Trump.

Kasowitz Benson Torres

Marc Kasowitz, the renowned New York litigator who co-founded Kasowitz Benson Torres, is defending Trump in a defamation lawsuit by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. Trump could be forced to testify under oath in a deposition in the case as soon as this year.

Kasowitz also represents Trump in a defamation lawsuit by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos. Trump said Zervos and Carroll were lying when they accused him of sexual assault.

The firm, which brings in more than $200 million in revenue and ranks among the Am Law 200, did not respond to requests for comment.

Consovoy McCarthy

William Consovoy, considered a rising star in Republican legal circles, has worked for Trump in various efforts to keep the former president’s tax returns private. He also represented the Trump campaign in a number of voting rights cases.

Consovoy is a former Wiley Rein partner who co-founded Consovoy McCarthy in 2014. He drew public attention last year when he argued that Trump couldn’t be investigated while in the White House, even if the president shot someone.

Consovoy didn’t respond to request for comment on his work for Trump.

Michael Best & Friedrich

Stefan Passantino, a Michael Best partner who served as Trump’s deputy White House counsel, represented a Trump company in a 2019 case involving Trump International Hotel in Washington. That case was later consolidated with others testing the strength of a congressional subpoena for Trump financial records.

Passantino recently joined Consovoy McCarthy lawyer Cameron Norris to represent the Georgia Republican Party in litigation over election rules in that state. He reportedly launched a political action committee to support former Georgia Sen. David Purdue’s failed reelection bid.

Passantino didn’t respond to request for comment on current or future Trump work.

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith

Lewis Brisbois lawyer David Luck made a court filing for the Trump Organization and the Trump National Doral Resort as recently as Jan. 4, two days before the Capitol riot.

The South Florida based attorney is representing Trump in a lawsuit that was dismissed by a federal judge and is currently on appeal.

Reached by phone on Thursday, Luck declined to say whether he will continue to work on the case.

—Brian Baxter and Meghan Tribe contributed to this report.

(Adds information on Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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