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Dershowitz Joins Transperfect Team Disputing Skadden Fees

Oct. 3, 2019, 7:35 PM

Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz will represent Transperfect Global Inc. in its fee dispute with the Skadden partner appointed to run its forced sale following a controversial 2017 Delaware Supreme Court ruling.

A Delaware Chancery Court judge ordered the translation company sold in 2015, finding that co-founders Liz Elting and Phil Shawe were incapable of running it after their romantic relationship ended. He appointed Robert B. Pincus of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom as Transperfect’s custodian and tiebreaking director.

The state’s top court affirmed the appointment, upholding the judge’s authority to order the sale of a deadlocked but profitable company.

The case attracted attention for both its legal issues and for its tabloid-ready details. It included a shouting match between Dershowitz—who was representing Shawe’s mother, Shirley, a 1% shareholder—and the Delaware Supreme Court’s chief justice. A Transperfect employee also unsuccessfully sued the trial judge, Chancellor Andre G. Bouchard.

Shawe subsequently bought out Elting and moved the company from Delaware to Nevada. Transperfect sued Pincus there in August, accusing him of “shady” billing for work not tied to his custodianship.

Pincus fired back in Delaware, saying Transperfect isn’t paying its bills. He asked Bouchard to impose “meaningful civil contempt sanctions.” That request is pending.

Meanwhile, a group called Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware—funded by Shirley Shawe—announced a campaign to increase Chancery Court transparency. The effort includes major ad buys in early presidential nominating states blasting former Vice President Joe Biden for opposing the proposed reforms.

The Delaware State Bar Association’s president has portrayed the group as a fake grassroots organization and called its ads “a false and misleading smear campaign” aimed at Bouchard, whom the spots also target.

Transperfect sought permission Oct. 3 to add Dershowitz as an attorney. Bouchard granted the motion.

Dershowitz, a part of O.J. Simpson’s defense team with a decades-long career as a public intellectual, has courted controversy recently for his high-profile defenses of President Trump.

Dershowitz has also been drawn into the scandal involving billionaire sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, a former client, who killed himself in jail in August. Dershowitz fought successfully to unseal a defamation suit that he says will exonerate him of claims he sexually assaulted a teenage girl aboard Epstein’s private plane. He’s also facing his own defamation suit for calling his accuser a liar.

The case is In re Transperfect Global Inc., Del. Ch., No. 9700, 10/3/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Leonard in Washington at mleonard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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