Trump Lawyer Kasowitz Resurfaces at Charity Event

Marc Kasowitz has kept a relatively low profile ever since leaving his role as the lead lawyer for President Trump in the Robert Mueller investigation.

But he showed up last Thursday to shake hands with attendees – including clients and lawyers from his own firm – at a fundraiser held in midtown Manhattan, where donations went to benefit victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

“Now that I’m back in New York full time, I’m doing what I typically do,” said Kasowitz, in an on-scene interview with Big Law Business, saying he has returned to dedicating more than 90 percent of his time to his law practice after an admittedly tumultuous period this summer.

Kasowitz, who became Trump’s lead lawyer in the Mueller probe, stepped down from that role after Pro Publica published a story that Kasowitz didn’t have security clearance to see classified documents, pointing to a drinking problem as a possible reason.

Kasowitz has disputed the report, including the claims that he struggled with a drinking problem. But after the story was published, a retired PR professional wrote Kasowitz an email saying he should resign, and Kasowitz responded with a profanity laced reply for which he later apologized.

On Thursday evening, Kasowitz declined to comment on the controversy, but said he continues to represent Trump. He declined to specify details of the engagement, but said he’s back to business as usual at his namesake firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, and is bullish about recent changes to the partnership.

In September, the firm appointed co-managing partners – civil litigator Cindy Caranella Kelly and real estate practice leader Wallace L. Schwartz – to oversee administrative matters.

Kasowitz said that he wished he had appointed the pair earlier than he did, saying they will free him up to focus on his practice and allow him to stay close to his firm.

“I’ve always tried to keep close contact with people and not be isolated,” Kasowitz said. But, he acknowledged, “Sometimes, I’m a little hard to reach.”

To keep himself in the loop, Kasowitz said that he holds monthly breakfasts with firm associates.

“We’ll talk about everything but business,” Kasowitz said.

However, despite Kasowitz’s focus on firm culture and staying connected, some partners have exited this year, one of whom cited a desire for a workplace environment with “a little more warmth, more connection, more participation.”

That warmth craved by former partner Charles Miller appeared on display at the Kasowitz-hosted fundraiser, which raised more than $120,000 for Puerto Rico victims and featured a live band, open bar, and dancing at Manhattan’s The Copacabana.

Charlotte Pontillo (special counsel), Frank DiCarlo (associate), Sondra Grigsby (associate), Kim Conroy (partner), Cindy Caranella Kelly (partner)
Left to Right: Charlotte Pontillo, special counsel, Frank DiCarlo, associate, Sondra Grigsby, associate,, Kim Conroy, partner, Cindy Caranella Kelly, partner. (Courtesy photo)

Kasowitz partner Kim Conroy, who has been with the firm since 2002, coordinated the event with name partner Hector Torres.

Conroy said “it broke my heart” to see the devastation of Hurricane Maria and that she felt “at a certain point, it’s our duty to help out where we can.”

At one point in the event, Torres stood on stage and gave a speech about the firm’s fundraising efforts, encouraging attendees to donate.

Kasowitz, for his part, spent much of the evening quietly conversing with attendees and watching the event unfold. He noted he would have to leave early to tend to other matters.

 

Contact the reporter responsible for this story: Casey Sullivan at csullivan@bloomberglaw.com.

Contact the editors responsible for this story: Gabe Friedman at gabefriedman@outlook.com and Tom Taylor at ttaylor@bna.com.