When publicist Raymone Bain wanted a team of Washington lawyers to represent her most famous client, King of Pop (and Peter Pan enthusiast) Michael Jackson, she went straight for big names from Big Law, recruiting Venable partners Gregory Cross and former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti.
So who’s representing Bain now that she’s suing Jackson herself? An eight-lawyer D.C. intellectual property firm, Cahn & Samuels.
Bain filed a complaint against Jackson at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia this week accusing the troubled superstar of owing her $44 million. She alleges that Jackson, whom she represented from 2003 through 2007, failed to pay her for her roles in facilitating several major financial deals, including the 25th anniversary re-release of his hit album Thriller.
The breach of contract suit is a bit of a departure for Bain’s lawyer, Frederick Samuels, a registered patent attorney who has worked in IP law since 1986. He says he was referred to the case thanks to his own chart-topping client, Philly soul sensations the O’Jays. Samuels’ firm handles copyright work for the group, whose single “Love Train” hit No. 1 in 1973. Their general counsel, Rosalind Ray, was a friend of Bain’s, and knew of her plan to sue Jackson. She referred the publicist to Cahn & Samuels.
“I guess you could say we’re branching out in the type of client we have,” Samuels says.
Samuels says that while the case is a bit out of the ordinary for his firm, they are used to handling contract disputes.
“When we have an IP case with a contract claim, we handle the contract piece as well,” he says. “The difference here is that there isn’t the straight IP piece.”
As for the media frenzy that follows any Jacko-related lawsuit, Samuels says he’s still getting used to it.
“In our typical patent cases, people aren’t that concerned about it,” he says.
No word yet on who will be representing Jackson.