2021-03-10 17:58:41

Ex-Boies Schiller lawyer was ousted from new firm in ‘deplorable scheme’ to keep cryptocurrency fees, suit says

Law Firms

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The former Boies Schiller Flexner partner sued for refusing to leave his new law firm is claiming that his ouster was a pretextual money grab in his own lawsuit filed Tuesday in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Plaintiff Jason Cyrulnik claims that he was asked to leave the Roche Cyrulnik Freedman law firm in a “deplorable scheme” by Kyle Roche and Devin Freedman to take for themselves his share of the firm.

His share included “an enormously valuable firm asset—a fee payable in cryptocurrency by one of the firm’s clients that only days before had suddenly appreciated exponentially to more than $250 million,” according to the March 9 lawsuit.

Cyrulnik’s suit says he is entitled to a 25% share in the cryptocurrency.

Cyrulnik was a founding partner of the law firm formed by former Boies Schiller lawyers in 2019. The firm, now known as Roche Freedman, is a litigation boutique with offices in Miami and New York that handles cryptocurrency, cannabis, class action and commercial litigation matters.

Cyrulnik claims that Roche and Freedman were more inexperienced lawyers who recruited him to join their firm because they needed a lawyer with an established practice and cash flow to fund the firm’s operations.

Cyrulnik was “the lynchpin” of the new firm, with his practice accounting for more than 60% of the firm’s revenue and about 70% of the its profits in 2020, the suit says. He seeks dissolution of Roche Freedman and distribution of its assets.

Roche Freedman had claimed in its Feb. 27 lawsuit against Cyrulnik that he was ousted for “abusive, destructive, erratic and obstructive behavior.” The behavior included screaming at partners and attempting to assume control over management decisions, the lawsuit alleged.

Roche Freedman said the law firm had collected cryptocurrency, known as tokens, as payment for its representation of a startup. Cyrulnik was among the partners who were supposed to get a higher allocation of the payment for their work with the startup, but the firm said it reallocated the cryptocurrency because Cyrulnik did no work for the client.

Cyrulnik claims that Roche and Freedman concocted a reason to oust him because the firm’s governing agreement bars the removal of a founding partner without cause.

The suit says Cyrulnik clashed with Roche because of his “amateurish” approach to client billing.

Cyrulnik says he complained after seeing a report showing that Roche had failed to record the hours that he had worked on client matters. And Cyrulnik says he asked Roche to take his responsibilities to clients seriously after Roche boasted about lining up associates on client matters to position himself for a better percentage of fee awards in class matters, the suit alleges.

Cyrulnik is represented by Marc Kasowitz of Kasowitz Benson Torres.
Law.com and Reuters Legal had coverage of the lawsuit.

Sean Hecker, a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink who is representing Roche Freedman, told the publications in a statement that Cyrulnik’s allegations are inaccurate. Hecker said Cyrulnik tried to avoid service of the firm’s lawsuit by locking himself in a room in a house.

Corrected March 10 at 12:41 p.m. to report that the suit alleges that Kyle Roche boasted about lining up associates to position himself for better fee awards.

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