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Tiger Woods' Choice of Law Firm Sends a WarningIn hiring Hollywood entertainment boutique Lavely & Singer to help him sort through his recent troubles, Tiger Woods turned to a shop known for stomping out potentially libelous material on behalf of celebrity clients. Woods has reportedly retained the firm amid continued media reports that he engaged in extramarital affairs -- a scandal that has tarnished Woods' previously pristine public image. Name partner Marty Singer is famous for the cease-and-desist letters he fires at tabloid publications on behalf of his clients.
The National Law Journal2009-12-15 12:00:00 AM
In hiring Hollywood entertainment boutique Lavely & Singer to help him sort through his recent troubles, Tiger Woods turned to a shop known for stomping out potentially libelous material on behalf of celebrity clients.
Woods retained the firm amid continued media reports that he'd engaged in extramarital affairs, The Wall Street Journal has reported. The scandal has tarnished the golfer's previously pristine public image.
Lavely & Singer's recent clients have included Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Willis and Naomi Campbell. Name partner Marty Singer is famous for the cease-and-desist letters he fires at tabloid publications on behalf of his clients.
By hiring Lavely & Singer, Woods "sends a message he's got someone with experience who will be looking over everybody's shoulder," said Lin Wood, a partner at Bryan Cave's Atlanta office who has handled media management for clients including the estate of Anna Nicole Smith, John and Patsy Ramsey and Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha. "It's a warning shot across the bow if nothing else."
Singer and name partner John Lavely Jr. did not return calls for comment.
Wood noted that he'd responded to one of Singer's letters himself within the past year on behalf of the Atlanta Braves. He called the Los Angeles lawyer one of a handful in the country who specializes in representing public figures in libel disputes. Because of that, "his letters will carry more potential clout with the recipient."
These letters are intended to prevent recipients from publishing false statements, Wood said. In the event that a story gets published, a letter could establish proof that a publisher knew the statements were false and published them anyway -- setting up evidence of malice for a potential libel claim.
Hiring Lavely & Singer could chill future false statements in the tabloids or on the Internet, or chill publication of false photos or videos of Woods and his wife, Wood said.
Another lawyer who represents celebrities in litigation, but who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Lavely & Singer's lawyers also are equipped to help Woods manage his endorsement deals amid the scandal.
Lavely & Singer has attempted to unravel a number of scandals for its clients in recent months. Since October, Singer has represented actor Nicholas Cage in a dispute with his ex-girlfriend; pop singer Justin Timberlake, who was beset by an alleged stalker; and reality television star Kate Gosselin, who accused ex-husband Jon of taking $200,000 out of the couple's joint bank account during their contentious divorce.
The firm is no stranger to cases involving sexual trysts, either. Many of its recent clients have dealt with steamy videos that surfaced in public. In August, Singer represented "Grey's Anatomy" star Eric Dane and his wife, Rebecca Gayheart, after a video of the couple naked in a bath tub became public. This month, Lavely represented Jennifer Lopez, whose honeymoon tape appeared in her ex-husband's documentary film.