In Which a “Superior Legal Mind” Is Confused With Arrogance

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What does one do “after conquering Silicon Valley”? Well, one option is to go to law school, although personally if I had conquered that particular area I would go ahead and retire. But not Gregory Berry, whose restless mind took him on to new challenges.

After a “remarkable career” in software engineering, Berry graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s law school and took a job with Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman in New York, where he “immediately began doing superlative work.” Indeed, “in virtually every assignment Mr. Berry was given, he went above and beyond the call of duty, pointing out better ways to proceed, inefficiencies, observations, and ways to get a better result for KBTF clients.” Yet by April 2011, he found himself without assignments. “Having worked for KBTF for six months, Mr. Berry had assessed the situation. He saw that he would be of far more value to KBTF if he was given more responsibility,” and sought to make that happen.

By the way, all quotations in this post are the words of Gregory Berry himself, as set forth in his complaint. Including this one, which is part of an email he composed in order to seek the aforementioned responsibility.

I am writing to see if you have any small cases I could manage for you. It has become clear that the only limiting factor on how much value I am to a case is how much responsibility I am given: the more responsibility I am given, the better the outcome. I am in kind of an uncomfortable position at the firm because although I am a “first year,” I have 15 years business and real world experience, as much as many senior associates. When I first got here I did not know what to expect, but after working here for several months now it has become clear that I have as much experience and ability as an associate many years my senior, as much skill [in] writing, and a superior legal mind to most I have met.

Emphasis added. Yet within a month of the composition of said message, which was sent to 12 partners, Gregory Berry was, to his apparent surprise, no longer employed.

Berry is now suing KBTF, alleging 14 causes of action, and seeking not less than $77.55 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

It is possible to sympathize with Mr. Berry on a number of levels, including his extreme distaste for document-review projects, his frustration at the inefficiencies of traditional law practice and his chafing at the limitations on a first-year associate, especially one who has the type of business and real-world experience that he claims to have. (I could not find any references to his distinguished career in Silicon Valley, but so far I have only Googled this, and have no reason to dispute his claims in that regard. Except I guess to say that if Silicon Valley had been conquered, Silicon Valley would probably have noticed it.) It would also not be entirely surprising, though, to find that some more senior lawyers may have reasonably confused what Mr. Berry sees as simple statements of fact with unwarranted arrogance.

KBTF has characterized the suit as “frivolous,” and only time will tell.