Lawyers rarely make nationwide headlines – unless they appear to have committed a criminal act or otherwise breached their ethical obligations to famous clients. One lawyer who is facing unwanted notoriety for such acts is Michael Avenatti, the Los Angeles lawyer who gained nationwide notoriety from representing Stormy Daniels, the alleged lover of President Trump. He almost disappeared from view in 2020, but a recent report indicates that 2021 will be a much more active year for him.
An inventory of legal peril
While Avenatti’s claim to fame is largely linked to his representation of Ms. Daniels, he has become involved in multi-million dollar lawsuits with former law partners and clients. In this regard, his situation is very similar to corporate executives who are charged with wasting corporate assets to feather their personal nests.
Avenatti was penalized $960 for failing to show up for an evidentiary hearing in a case in which one of Avenatti’s former partners is seeking to recover $5.4 million as compensation for funds the partner claims Avenatti stole from their law firm. He is also facing twenty involuntary bankruptcy suits that are attempts by various parties to recover money that Avenatti allegedly spent on himself instead of turning it over to the law firm. These cases seek to recover amounts ranging from $48,000 to $2.2 million.
Avenatti is also involved in lawsuits stemming from his first two marriages. The first wife is being sued by one of Avenatti’s former partners to recover $718,723 in cash and 13 pieces of art that are alleged to be linked to $5 million that Avenatti owes the partner.
The forgoing inventory of legal troubles is only part of the troubles that Avenatti will face in the New Year, but it is not very different from the kinds of legal problems that could follow a corporate officer who is accused to keeping money belonging to the company and failing to pay attorneys’ fees. Anyone who becomes in a similar legal tangle might benefit from consulting an experienced corporate attorney. A capable attorney can provide an evaluation of the evidence, suggest legal arguments that may produce a favorable outcome, and assist with settlement negotiations.