Bloomberg Law
Jan. 4, 2023, 11:40 PM

Proskauer Official Accused of Firm Secrets Theft Faces Deadline

Justin Wise
Justin Wise

A former executive at law firm Proskauer Rose accused of stealing a slew of sensitive financial information has two days to return any files he took from the firm, a judge said Wednesday.

Jonathan O’Brien allegedly pilfered electronic files relating to Proskauer financials, practice information, and billing rates. The firm’s ex-chief operating officer also snagged a hard copy of a “Black Book Binder” containing records on partner compensation and allocations of the firm’s profits, Proskauer alleged in a Dec. 27 lawsuit filed in a Manhattan federal court.

O’Brien—who denied the allegations through an attorney—has until 5 p.m. on Friday to return any proprietary or confidential information, District Judge Analisa Torres ruled Wednesday. He’s set to return to New York from Mauritius on Thursday, according to his lawyer.

Proskauer says O’Brien downloaded sensitive files on an external thumb drive before abruptly announcing on Dec. 20 that he was leaving the firm less than three weeks later. He also told the firm he would be on vacation in East Africa in the weeks before his exit, the lawsuit claims. O’Brien is alleged to have also deleted thousands of his emails.

Torres on Wednesday granted O’Brien’s request to extend the deadline to comply with a temporary restraining order granted last week. She also scheduled a hearing for Jan. 24.

“As you can imagine, Mr. O’Brien has a very different perspective on the case and is eager to tell his story, which will provide the truth of what actually happened” Russell Beck, litigation counsel to O’Brien, said in an email. “Out of respect for the process, he hopes to refrain from hashing this out in the press.”

Beck did not immediately return a request for further comment on the restraining order.

O’Brien, who is a UK citizen and not a lawyer, has been with Proskauer since 2015. He served as its chief operating officer for the past five years, occupying a top position at one of the largest US law firms.

Proskauer employs hundreds of lawyers and reported more than $1.1 billion in gross revenue in 2021, according to the American Lawyer.

The firm claimed that some of the materials O’Brien took included “proprietary methodologies” that have helped it “maintain and enhance its position in the highly competitive market for legal services.” He allegedly also told a Proskauer executive that firm management would be “mad” when it found out where he was headed in his next job.

“O’Brien’s wrongful scheme must be stopped and remedied with great dispatch to forestall the harm he has caused and intends to continue to cause,” the firm said in its complaint.

Proskauer has retained lawyers at fellow Manhattan law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. It’s seeking unspecified compensatory damages along with the return of the files.

The case is Proskauer Rose LLP v. O’Brien, S.D.N.Y., No. 1:22-cv-10918 (1/4/2023).

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Wise at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at; John Hughes at

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