Kanye West’s lawyers cut ties amid hate speech storm

(Reuters) – As companies like Adidas AG end multi-million dollar deals with the artist formerly known as Kanye West after anti-Semitic comments, his lawyers are following suit.

Alex Spiro, partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, told me he is not representing him despite recent reports that the rapper, now named Ye, is his client.

Ye “asked me to be his attorney, but representation was never formalized,” Spiro, whose other clients include Elon Musk, said via email. “I’m not representing Mr. West.”

A Ye representative did not respond to a request for comment on this column.

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft said it stopped working for Ye. “We do not currently offer representation and have no intention of providing representation in the future,” a company spokesman said.

Cadwalader partner Nicholas Gravante wrote a letter on behalf of Yes to The Gap Inc last month, informing the retailer that its customer at the time was terminating the partnership, alleging that the company had failed to meet its contractual obligations.

Brown Rudnick also “no longer represents Kanye West,” a rep confirmed. The firm is home to high-profile trial attorney Camille Vasquez, who represented actor Johnny Depp in his defamation lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard.

And Ye’s most recent divorce lawyer (he’s had several), Robert Cohen of Cohen Clair Lan’s Greifer Thorpe & Rottenstreich, also informed me via email, “We no longer represent Ye.” Cohen previously represented Melinda French Gates in her divorce from Microsoft- Co-founder Bill Gates.

The moves come after Ye wore a T-shirt that read “White Lives Matter” to Paris Fashion Week on October 3 — a phrase the Anti-Defamation League has dubbed white racist sloganeering.

Five days later, he tweeted, “I’m a little tired tonight but when I wake up I’ll be terminally ill 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

The professional repercussions were quick and severe. My Reuters colleague Uday Sampath Kumar reported on Tuesday that the musician has been removed from Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires because Adidas has canceled the deal with him.

“Adidas does not tolerate anti-Semitism or any other type of hate speech,” the German company announced on Tuesday.

European fashion house Balenciaga has also severed ties with Ye, Kumar reported, and Gap has removed Yeezy Gap products from its stores and shut down YeezyGap.com.

In addition, Reuters reported that Creative Artists Agency is no longer representing Ye and that film and television studio MRC Entertainment has dropped a documentary about him.

If there’s one thing you could probably use right now, it’s a good lawyer. Still, it’s clear why his A-list lawyer no longer wants to be associated with him.

I’m not saying only Saints deserve advocates. But lawyers are not taxis, obliged to take anyone who can pay the fare. They make decisions about who they want to represent. And I don’t blame those who choose not to dedicate themselves to protecting the bank account of someone who spreads hate speech.

“The prevailing rule is that attorneys can drop a client for virtually any reason — including not liking being associated with the client — so long as the representation “without a material adverse effect on the client’s interests.” “ends,” Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham University Law School, via email.

Of course, attorneys cannot simply terminate representation in the middle of a litigation. The client and generally the court must authorize the departure, and this can take some time.

For example, Greenberg is currently defending Traurig partner Justin MacLean Ye in a copyright lawsuit brought by Ultra International Music Publishing in federal court in Manhattan, according to PACER. MacLean did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But for legal work not before a tribunal, ethics expert Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law, told me that Yes’s attorneys are free to resign “as long as they do so in an orderly manner.”

“It shouldn’t be a problem for him to find new lawyers,” Gillers said. “In what will probably be a short time before a new lawyer is on board, they have to protect his interests.”

As Ye stays rich (albeit not so rich) and famous, I am sure he will find lawyers willing to fight for him. But almost certainly this list will be much shorter than it used to be.

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Jenna Greene

Thomson Reuters

Jenna Greene writes about the legal business and culture, taking a comprehensive look at industry trends, the faces behind the cases and whimsical drama in the courtroom. A longtime chronicler of the legal industry and high profile litigation, she is based in Northern California. Reach Greene at [email protected]