Proskauer Sues COO, Claiming Theft of Trade Secrets

Global Am Law 50 regulation agency Proskauer Rose is suing its most recent main running officer for allegedly stealing extra than 34 gigabytes of sensitive inner files shortly just before announcing his plans to depart for yet another employer.

Leaders at the firm reported Jonathan O’Brien, Proskauer Rose’s COO considering the fact that 2017, was terminated from his situation before this thirty day period immediately after a forensic investigation indicated he downloaded private content to an exterior tricky travel that could be made use of to edge a competitor, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in the Southern District of New York. In the complaint, the company termed O’Brien’s alleged conduct so “brazen and destructive that it rises to a legal law violation.”

The trove of compromised material allegedly features shopper data, company financials, strategic arranging documents in anticipation of a recession in 2023, payment designs and proprietary software program. These content could be exploited by rivals seeking to gain leverage on Proskauer Rose by finding a peek into its internal organizing.

“Mr. O’Brien understood this facts would be highly valuable to Proskauer’s opponents, as it would permit them to successfully goal and recruit Proskauer’s associates, follow teams and clients,” the business claimed in its grievance, filed on Tuesday by New York-primarily based Proskauer partner Michael T. Mervis.

Citing O’Brien’s alleged “extraordinary misconduct,” the complaint states that the firm’s government committee voted to terminate O’Brien’s employment on the submitting of Tuesday’s criticism.

By Mervis, Proskauer’s pro se criticism asks the courtroom to grant an ex parte short-term restraining order to avert O’Brien from disseminating Proskauer’s private information and an injunction necessitating O’Brien to return the material to Proskauer. Proskauer also questioned the court to quickly restrain O’Brien from performing with everyone who might be privy to the material he allegedly copied from the firm’s devices.

Neither Mervis nor O’Brien promptly responded to a request for remark Wednesday morning.

Proskauer’s efforts to safe its trade secrets is playing out in an “era of extreme level of competition for spouse talent and clientele,” the business wrote in its criticism.

“The methods by which companions are compensated and the procedures for performing so are really confidential and would be of excellent value to a competitor,” the company said in its grievance. “They also are deeply personal and the menace to disclose these kinds of info could be utilized to pressure, intimidate, and extort partners and the business.”

O’Brien has reportedly been on a paid out holiday in Mauritius considering that Dec. 22 and doesn’t strategy to return right until Jan. 4, according to the firm’s complaint. O’Brien explained to business leaders that he seeks to resume his role at that time right before serving his last day on Jan. 6.

The Breach Is Coming From Within the Household

Whilst regulation corporations and other businesses invest greatly in cybersecurity protection versus external lousy actors, Proskauer’s leaders assert the firm’s breach arrived from one particular of their personal. The go well with states O’Brien copied proprietary and private information and facts to a USB generate on Dec. 5 and 16.

Proskauer leaders assert that O’Brien applied his authority to override the firm’s safety protocols, which include methods that are programmed to protect against copying files and data on to detachable difficult drives. O’Brien allegedly told an details engineering personnel that he essential to copy files to a detachable USB for an outdoors consultant.

In sworn statements filed in the circumstance this week, Proskauer leaders reported they found out O’Brien’s alleged misconduct soon immediately after he knowledgeable them on Dec. 20 of his ideas to depart on Jan. 6. Leaders said this revelation induced a program, 30-working day report by the firm’s facts protection workforce to look at for suspicious computer action, revealing O’Brien experienced copied 115 data files to a USB generate.

When questioned by the firm’s chair and handling associate, O’Brien reportedly refused to divulge the identity of his new employer, the grievance states. But on Dec. 21, O’Brien advised main qualified assets officer Christopher Gardephe that company leaders would be “mad” when they learned the place he would be working next, according to a signed declaration by Gardephe.

This led firm leaders to suspect O’Brien approved a posture at a competitor legislation firm that could advantage from an inside of glimpse at Proskauer’s money situation and strategy.

“It is a truthful inference that Mr. O’Brien will join a competing law business, or do the job as a specialist to legislation firms that compete with Proskauer,” the business stated in its grievance. “The massive, vital trove of proprietary data that Mr. O’Brien misappropriated would be really handy to Proskauer’s opponents, which would make Mr. O’Brien far more valuable—whether as an worker or a advisor.”

Deleting Emails All through Litigation Maintain

O’Brien is also accused by his former company of attempting to delete an approximated 66 gigabytes of e-mail additionally an additional 2,000 email messages that had been getting preserved pursuant to a litigation hold that experienced been in place because 2020.

His try to circumvent the litigation hold, an inside method that an group deploys to protect all details that may relate to a lawful motion, allegedly took put in the hrs following his first down load on Dec. 5.

The fit states that O’Brien directed an e-discovery consultant to carry his litigation keep that had been preserving e-mails more mature than a calendar year, which under normal firm functions would be deleted. Even so, exceptions to a litigation keep have to be authorized by the firm’s basic counsel, in accordance to documents submitted in the case.

“While my staff is responsible for the technological steps of activating and deactivating litigation retains, we do so only at the path of the firm’s basic counsel’s business or its identified designees,” Yong Hsu, the data stability and technologies officer at Proskauer Rose, said in a declaration of guidance of the movement for a restraining get.

Proskauer leaders explained a review of the firm’s worker activity logs exhibits that “several” other firm employees assisted O’Brien in his alleged plan.

O’Brien’s profile has been taken off from the Proskauer site.

O’Brien was hired in 2015 when he started at the organization as main economic officer. From 1999 to 2010, he served as main monetary officer and chief running officer of the Asia Pacific division of Fidelity All over the world Investment. He was the world finance director of the Boston Consulting Team from 2011 through December 2014. For a brief stint in 2015, he acted as main monetary officer of LumiFi. Considering the fact that 2017, he experienced served as main operating officer of Proskauer.

Editor’s observe: This tale has been up to date to correct the timeline of Jonathan O’Brien’s professional historical past.

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