Williams & Connolly can continue to represent the son of one of the firm’s partners in a business dispute in court, a Washington federal judge has ruled.
Brendan Sullivan III, the son of Williams & Connolly partner Brendan Sullivan Jr., sued his former business partner Robert Elwood in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the two had a falling out over management of a multimillion-dollar youth sports program.
Sullivan accused Elwood of stealing from the business—Headfirst Baseball LLC and related entities—and interfering after he was fired. Elwood, in his counterclaims, said Sullivan knew about and approved of his spending practices, and claimed Sullivan was trying to push him out to avoid sharing profits as the company became more valuable.
Williams & Connolly is representing the younger Sullivan; his father isn't part of his legal team. Elwood asked U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton to disqualify the firm, arguing there was a conflict of interest because firm attorneys—including the elder Sullivan—gave Elwood legal advice in the past and counseled Headfirst. The firm denied any attorney-client relationship with Elwood.
On Nov. 22, Walton denied the request to disqualify Williams & Connolly. Besides Elwood's own allegations, Walton said Elwood failed to produce evidence of an attorney-client relationship with the firm. Even if there were a relationship, Walton said, Elwood only made "vague allegations" about what information the firm might know about him that could give Sullivan an advantage.
Walton added, though, that Elwood could refile his motion if new information came out during discovery about the existence of an attorney-client relationship.
Williams & Connolly partner Michael Sundermeyer declined to comment. Elwood's attorney, J. Douglas Baldridge of Venable, could not immediately be reached for comment.