Leaders of Lewis Brisbois rebellion sent emails with ‘unacceptable, prejudiced language,’ law firm says
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Updated: Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith appears to be fighting back after two lawyers left with more than a hundred others last month to form their own law firm.
Lewis Brisbois has released emails with “wildly offensive and demeaning language” exchanged by the former partners, John Barber and Jeff Ranen, the New York Post reports.
Emails by one lawyer or the other used the C-word to refer to women, repeated the N-word and used LGBTQ slurs.
Both lawyers resigned from their new firm, Barber Ranen, on Monday, Reuters reports. The newly formed firm requested their resignations, Barber Ranen CEO Tim Graves told Reuters.
Lewis Brisbois also released the emails to the ABA Journal.
Lewis Brisbois was “shocked” to find dozens of emails exchanged between the two lawyers “with unacceptable, prejudiced language aimed at our colleagues, clients, attorneys from other firms and even judges,” the firm’s management committee told the Journal in a statement.
The emails were unearthed after an anonymous complaint was made against the lawyers following their departure to form Barber Ranen. The firm began an investigation in keeping with its policies.
Lewis Brisbois released these emails to the Journal and the New York Post, which contained redactions to protect firm clients:
- Ranen reported to Barber that someone had asked a question about the need to pay overtime when an employee works six hours one day and 10 hours the next day. “Kill her by anal penetration,” Barber had replied in June 2012.
- After someone wrote in March 2022 that a judge hates being called “Barbs,” Barber replied, “But loves ‘Babs,’ and ‘Sugar T- – s.”
- After a Lewis Brisbois partner told Barber in November 2013 that people were upset during a mediation because a witness frequently used the N-word, Barber used the full slur when he replied, “Got it. N- – – – -. Don’t use.”
- Barber responded to an email about a baby shower with the full N-word in the subject line against spelled out in full.
- Ranen used the anti-LGBTQ slur beginning with an “F.” Once he asked in November 2014, “What’s this
f- – – -t’s problem?” In April 2015, he told a partner, “Don’t be a f- – – -t.”
- Ranen referred to looters as “savages” when he wrote in May 2020, “F- – -ing looters came within a mile and a half. I can’t even imagine what it was like living in Larchmont in 1992 when the savages decimated Koreatown.”
- The lawyers mocked a lawyer from an opposing firm for his past service in the Israeli Defense Forces. “He’s a f- -. Israeli Defense Force hand-to-hand combat instructor? Yawn. I’ll kick his ass,” Barber wrote. “His bio gave me a stiffy. Does that make me a homo?” Ranen replied.
- Ranen refers to an opposing counsel as “the Gypsy king” and uses the phrase “dirty gypsy.” In July 2012, he declares, “Gypsy is my new word to describe about half of the minorities in California. Generally with an Amo, Persian or Middle Eastern flair.” In the same email chain, Ranen said a lawyer is “a surprisingly tough negotiator due to his Persian background.”
- Ranen wrote, “Sorry. I worry about things. Part of being half Jewish.” In a March 2012 email about an invoice, he wrote, “This is the reason why people don’t like Jews.” In a September 2017 email soliciting suggestions for a private investigation company, Ranen wrote, “How about someone who’s not a Jew?”
- After Ranen wrote in July 2014 that he brought in bagels and cream cheese with lox spread, Barber replied, “Jew c- – -.”
The Lewis Brisbois statement to the Journal said the firm was conducting “a broader review of Barber and Ranen’s behavior at the firm, including a full review of their correspondence—as well as interviewing other employees who interacted with the pair.” Because the lawyers are no longer at the firm, the firm is “taking no disciplinary action at this time.”
Barber and Ranen did not immediately respond to the Journal’s request for comment by voicemail and email.
Updated June 5 at 3 p.m. to report that John Barber and Jeff Ranen resigned from their new law firm.