How can you tell we're in a lull in the McCourt divorce proceedings? Well, I guess you could go by my suffering post rate. That, or you could notice that what scant news there is concerns those usually paid to be quiet--the lawyers. Lately, there's been a small flurry of activity. Recently, the Times' Bill Shaikin noted that Bingham McCutchen--Larry Silverstein's firm--and the Dodgers have parted ways. The timing of all this is a bit in question...Shaikin suggests the relationship was severed in late December, while my understanding is it happened weeks prior. That's a distinction without a difference, however: the takeaway is that Bingham and Frank McCourt are no longer working together.
This should come, of course, as no surprise. Given everything that has transpired over the last several months, it's difficult to imagine either Frank or Bingham wanting to remain working with the other. In fact, it's easy to imagine Frank and Bingham working against each other at some point in the future. After all, whichever McCourt ends up losing out in the divorce will likely go after Bingham. As many other of the dozen-plus lawyers related to this case would tell you, we're still months--if not years--from finishing this case. But it will end some day, and whoever loses will look for scalps elsewhere. And what better place to start then the law firm that could be ultimately responsible for the allegedly-lacking actions of one of its attorneys?
To that end, Bingham McCutchen has hired another very prominent law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, to represent its interests in any potential litigation. (Shaikin's report here.) Specifically, Gibson Dunn's Kevin Rosen will be responsible for keeping Larry Silverstein's mistakes from costing Bingham dearly. I have heard that Rosen has been working with Bingham for some time, likely well before the December ruling in which Judge Gordon invalidated the MPA. Hiring an attorney isn't an admission of guilt, but it is a sign of concern. As someone familiar with the situation told me recently, "It's a prudent practice to anticipate all those scenarios and that includes seeking advice internally and externally." One of 'those scenarios,' of course, is a possible malpractice action aimed at Bingham.
Still, that litigation is months and months off, if not longer. In the mean time, Bingham is likely evaluating all its defenses: those it might use in a courtroom, to be sure, but also proactive defensive measures designed to avoid litigation entirely. It has been reported in the past that Bingham was a party to settlement discussions between the McCourts; in theory, it could offer some much-needed cash in exchange for both parties' agreements not to pursue their future claims--if any--against Bingham. Within or without a courtroom, Bingham's involvement in the McCourt divorce will not end soon. And so Bingham's own retention of a law firm with significant expertise in this area is perfectly reasonable.