What does a corrupt Chavismo contractor have in common with Johnny Depp?

File, Archive. (Reuters)

Brown Rudnick is making brand and reputation management part of growth plans after his victory in the Johnny Depp defamation trial, promoting clients that include an NBA star, a “Yellowstone” actor and a Venezuelan “businessman” who sued Fox News.

By: Bloomberg Law

Firm leaders have defined the practice as one of five “pillars” of an overall operation that they plan to expand by 20% in the number of lawyers in three years. Camille Vasquez and Benjamin Chew, two attorneys who helped actor Depp win for him, took over the 30-attorney practice about three months after the June win.

“More people are paying attention” to reputation protection, Vásquez said. “You can win in the court of law, but if you lose in the court of public opinion, you have lost.”

Spotlighting legal work that attracts celebrities like Depp, Cher and Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, is unusual for Big Law. Reputation management, which is part of Brown Rudnick’s practice, has typically been the province of public relations workshops.

But branding and identifying target markets are widely known benefits in American businesses, said law firm consultant Bruce MacEwen. “In principle, BR’s strategy must be solid and proven,” he said.

There are risks. “Hitching your bandwagon to high-profile and often volatile, impulsive, high-beta celebrities can be a recipe for disaster,” MacEwen said.

Last month, the firm dropped Ye because of anti-Semitic comments, including his tweet that he wanted to go to “the death with 3 against the Jewish people.” Around that time, he was also seen wearing a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt.

Vasquez and Chew said some reports falsely implied that the firm signed him as a client after his comments. The performance began in September, Vásquez said, “long before the White Lives Matter T-shirt and before the anti-Semitic comments.”

“We as a firm, as lawyers, as people, do not support anti-Semitism, racism or bigotry of any kind, full stop,” he said.

Fox, ‘Yellowstone’

Brown Rudnick, a Boston-based firm that American Lawyer ranks just inside the top 150 firms by revenue, gained much publicity in Depp’s June 1 victory of $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages from ex-wife Amber Heard.

Less than a week after the Depp award, the firm promoted Vasquez, who played a prominent role in the trial.

The firm is now working on a potentially much larger defamation payment. He represents Venezuelan businessman Majed Khalil, who is suing Fox Corp., Fox News Network and former Fox talk show host Lou Dobbs for $250 million.

Khalil claims Fox and Dobbs smeared him by claiming he helped rig the 2020 election against President Donald Trump in collusion with voting machine makers Smartmatic Corp. and Dominion Voting Systems. In late September, a federal judge in New York denied a motion to dismiss the case.

Vasquez and Chew, who joined Brown Rudnick in 2018 from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, also signed “Yellowstone” star Q’orianka Kilcher. The California Department of Insurance alleged in July that Kilcher violated the law by collecting more than $90,000 in disability benefits.

Brown Rudnick also lists among his clients Sacramento Kings center Richaun Holmes, accused by his ex-wife of physically abusing their 6-year-old son, Vásquez confirmed. He faces charges “despite the fact that three different courts in two different states have awarded her full custody of his child,” he said.

You can read the full note at Bloomberg Law

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What does a corrupt Chavismo contractor have in common with Johnny Depp?

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