There is nothing earth-shattering in this court filing by Kaine Wen in the case where the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) went after Premier Student Loan Center.
However, if you wanted to see a client-attorney relationship meltdown in public, this is the document for you to read. The full document is at the end.
Kaine Wen makes his representations in the document indicating that Albert Kim held the same or similar opinions about the issues raised.
Wen goes after Venable attorneys Allyson Baker and Gerald Sachs and does not paint a friendly picture of the attorneys representing them.
This statement by Wen and Kim is the ultimate “It’s not me, it’s you” filing.
Allegedly Venable agreed to represent Wen and Kim in settlement discussions with the CFPB to make their lawsuit go away. For that expert representation by Venable attorneys, Wen and Kim paid a retainer of $500,000 with more to follow.
You’ll need a beverage of some sort to read through the entire document. And I bet any client-attorney meetings now are chilly events between the players named. Brrr.
Venable made a motion to withdraw as attorneys of Wen and Kim. The guys say “It was only after Venable demanded more money from me and Albert (after we had already paid it $535,000 to represent us in the litigation), and in response to those demands we began requesting our monthly invoices and questioning Venable’s bills and billing practices, that in late July 2020 Venable told us it had an unwaivable conflict of interest and needed to withdraw as counsel for both of us for that reason.”
Good attorneys are expensive and Venable has a good name in the field of debt relief.
So it came as no surprise when I read “On the evening of July 16, 2020, during a telephone conference with me and Albert, Allyson and Gerry told us Venable would have a conflict if the CFPB Action did not settle, and litigation resulted, but that Venable did not have a “current conflict.” Allyson also remarked that Albert and I could not afford Venable for litigation.” Yikes!
Then it goes into opinions that billing and invoices were confusing and Wen and Kim felt they were inaccurate.
Venable eventually did file to get the hell out of Dodge and as the attorneys of Wen and Kim. The lads wanted Venable to include the following statement in the request to split.
“Albert and I request that you include the below statement verbatim in your
Motion to Withdraw:
Neither Albert Kim nor Kaine Wen consent to Venable’s withdrawal as counsel in this action, and have expressly told Venable this. Venable has represented them jointly, along with Defendants True Count Staffing and Infinite Management, since the initiation of this lawsuit in October 2019, and have acted as the lead counsel for all defendants and their counsel in negotiating a settlement with Plaintiffs.
Venable has refused to tell Mr. Kim or Mr. Wen the reasons for their withdrawal after all this time and when the parties seem close to a settlement, other than that they have an unwaivable conflict, but refuse to tell Mr. Kim or Mr. Wen what the conflict is, when it arose, and why it cannot be waived.
Mr. Kim and Mr. Wen have also told Venable that they do not waive the attorney client privilege or any other privilege that applies to their communications with Venable.”
In the request for withdrawal by Venable it does say “An actual conflict of interest has recently arisen between and among Defendants that prevents Venable from continuing to represent Defendants, and prevents Venable from being able to simultaneously satisfy its duties of loyalty and confidentiality to each of Defendants. That conflict of interest also materially limits Venable’s ability to effectively represent each of them.” – Source
But here is what I am too stupid to understand. What is the plan for keeping Venable in the relationship representing Wen and Kim in such a way they get back to being a big happy family?
It seems to me that if Wen and Kim are successful in blocking the withdrawal of Venable from representing them the dudes are still stuck in a relationship where they feel communications and accurate invoicing are problematic.
Wen says, “I continue to vigorously oppose Venable’s Motion to Withdraw on the basis asserted in that Motion, that an unwaivable conflict of interest has arisen between me and Albert. As both Albert and I have repeatedly advised Venable, both orally and in writing, that our positions, interests, and objectives remain aligned and there are no conflicts between us that we did not attempt to previously waive.”
After reading this filing above by the Defendants in the case, it just feels like folks at the CFPB are going to be going out for socially distanced drinks tonight.