By Xiumei Dong
Law360 (August 19, 2020, 3:14 PM EDT) — Marc Mukasey, a former co-chair of Greenberg Traurig LLP's white-collar defense and investigations practice, and two other former firm shareholders launched their boutique law firm, Mukasey Frenchman & Sklaroff LLP, in spring 2019.
Here, Mukasey chats with Law360 about the reasoning behind founding the law firm, his goals for the firm over the next five years and how it is different from other litigation boutiques in New York.
This interview took place July 17 and has been edited for length and clarity.
What is your reason for founding a boutique litigation firm?
I spent nine years in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. I loved trial work. I loved being in the courtroom. I love preparing for the trials and working with a team and everybody being in it together for the high-stakes moments. And I was very lucky at my two prior law firms, after I left the U.S. attorney's office, to get a lot of trial work representing all sorts of folks from all sorts of industries.
I realized that the team that I was working with was a great one, and we were really effective in the courtroom, and we were winning a lot of defense verdicts and getting investigations resolved in a positive way for the clients. And I thought that if we could … build a firm that would handle the most difficult trial work, the highest-stakes trial work — I mean, in-court jury trial work — that we could be of great service to individuals and institutions. We started about a year and a half ago and it's been a tremendous success.
Does the firm represent President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization in legal matters?
I represent the Trump Organization in connection with a subpoena and an investigation by the Manhattan [district attorney's] office. I know of no other cases [going forward]. I am focusing on this criminal investigation at the moment.
What are your goals for the law firm over the next five years?
We want to stay small. We want to stay lean. We have been thriving and succeeding during the pandemic because we are very technologically advanced.
In the next few months, we expect to have two criminal trials. One is called United States v. Goyal — that's the health care fraud case in the Southern District of New York — and a very controversial case in the [District of Massachusetts] called United States v. Charles M. Lieber. And in that case, we represent a world-renowned scientist named Charles Lieber who has been accused of making false statements. He's the chairman of the chemistry department at Harvard University.
This is a time of incredible change and necessary change in our country and in our judicial system. As a firm, we are committed to representing those people who are not treated fairly and have not been treated fairly by the justice system. We will always fight for the rights of those people.
What distinguishes your firm from other litigation boutiques in New York?
One of the very interesting features of our firm, as we continue to grow and move forward, is that we have one of the best health care defense lawyers in the country, our new partner Torrey Young. She left BigLaw to come to us. She's moving from Boston to New York in the middle of a pandemic to come to us with her family. Health care has not always been the focus of white-collar firms in New York. It's much more of a Southeast, Southwest focus, and we plan to be very active in that space, and I think that's one of the things that makes us very interesting and unique.
What kind of legal talent do you want to bring on board? What is your approach to attracting and retaining them?
We are operating on all cylinders, able to handle any kind of case no matter how large or how complex right now. Our eyes are always open for good candidates, and good candidates are people who are skilled in the courtroom and people who are skilled in brief writing and legal argument.
How has your firm been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?
We've been very lucky to go through this pandemic with everybody busy and incredible clients who stand by us as much as we stand by them. We have been working remotely. We have been doing everything we would do in the office. We do cocktail hours once a week, and we actually have a guest speaker series where we were arranging to have speakers come in over Zoom and get some thoughts on their careers to our firm.
Our firm is more of a trial team than it is a law firm. It is a movable, flexible, fast-style, tactical trial team. That's how we think of it, as opposed to a big, bureaucratic law firm.
If you could have lunch with any well-known lawyer, alive or dead, who would it be?
I would say Abraham Lincoln because he was a fantastic oral advocate. He created the kind of change that set people free and set a path towards people being treated equally, and that's something that still resonates today, and we still have to strive for today. I would definitely do lunch with Lincoln. –Editing by Kelly Duncan.