Perkins Coie has earned nearly $1.4 million for its work probing allegations of sexual abuse against a former Ohio State University athletic doctor, in another illustration of how a profusion of sexual misconduct investigations is keeping law firms busy.
Data released Thursday by the university outlines over three months of invoices from Perkins Coie and two other law firms for the investigation into Richard Strauss, a deceased physician who allegedly sexually abused approximately 150 male athletes decades ago.
The Perkins Coie team is led by two partners: Markus Funk, chairman of the firm’s white-collar and investigations practice and previously an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago; and Caryn Trombino, a former federal government ethics attorney.
After news of Strauss’ misdeeds broke in the spring, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office appointed Columbus-based Porter Wright Morris & Arthur to advise the university, which in turn brought on the Chicago-based Perkins Coie team.
Porter Wright billed nearly $46,000 for its share of the work, in four invoices from May 11 to Aug. 10. The university also noted one invoice from Columbus litigation boutique Carpenter Lipps & Leland, amounting to over $71,000.
In late August, Ohio State announced the Perkins Coie team had conducted 335 interviews with former Ohio State students and staff and searched 520 boxes of university records believed to potentially contain materials relevant to the investigation. It said the fact gathering phase of the investigation could end in the fall.
A number of law firms have launched or branded new practices that highlight the specific care needed in investigating harassment and abuse claims, and investigations carried out on the public dime, like Ohio State’s, give a snapshot of how lucrative this work can be.
Chicago-based Am Law 200 firm Schiff Hardin was hired in June by the Illinois House of Representatives to investigate reports of sexual harassment and bullying by top aides and allies of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Documents obtained by The American Lawyer show that partner Maggie Hickey, a former executive inspector general for the Illinois governor’s office and executive assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, is earning $500 per hour. Her work will continue into January at the latest.
Several other states have seen outside counsel brought in to investigate harassment scandals in their own legislatures. Massachusetts and California’s laws for public disclosure of legislative records do not favor transparency, and ALM was unable to determine how much Hogan Lovells and Gibson Dunn, respectively, earned from those probes.
In Florida, both Jackson Lewis and GrayRobinson completed an investigation into a single state senator over accusations of unwanted touching, groping and inappropriate language.
There, the Miami Herald reported the lead Jackson Lewis lawyer on the investigation, Tampa-based principal Gail Golman Holtzman, had signed a contract to charge $395 per hour for her work, while associate Matthew Klein would charge $320 per hour. GrayRobinson’s contract called for hourly rates of $600 for Miami-based shareholder Brian Bieber and $345 for shareholder Allison Goodson.