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This story first appeared in Corporate Counsel, an American Lawyer affiliate.
Hell hath no fury like a general counsel scorned by her outside counsel. On Thursday, GC Elizabeth Abdoo made Boies, Schiller & Flexner (BSF) feel the depth of that fury.
Abdoo and her company, Host Hotels & Resorts Inc., won sanctions against BSF for its conflict of interest in trying to represent another entity suing Host. In a sharply worded decision [PDF], U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan ordered the firm to pay Host’s attorneys fees after the law firm agreed to bow out of the litigation.
“A clearer conflict of interest cannot be imagined. A first year law student on day one of an ethics course should be able to spot it,” Judge McMahon wrote.
“BSF, which holds itself out as one of the country’s preeminent law firms, did not” adequately investigate the conflict of interest when Abdoo raised it, the judge said. Instead the law firm “undertook a representation that would inevitably attack its own [previous] work for Host.”
Abdoo said in a brief statement:
“Host placed its trust in Boies to handle one of the most important matters in our company’s history, and the firm’s failure to fulfill the most basic ethical obligations to its client is deeply troubling. We are of course pleased with Judge McMahon’s decision, which clearly and forcefully sets forth the law firm’s conflict of interest.”
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