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Firm Sues Hollywood Lawyer

September 18, 2004|Lorenza Munoz | Times Staff Writer

The feud between Hollywood power broker Barry Hirsch and his former law partners took another nasty turn Friday when they accused him of having a "secret plan to loot the firm" and installing software in their computer system to steal clients.

The accusations against Hirsch and three other lawyers who joined him in leaving came in a countersuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by Hirsch's former partners at Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum & Morris.

A spokeswoman for the Hirsch lawyers said they would have no comment until they had seen the court papers.

Long one of Hollywood's A-list lawyers, Hirsch, who represents Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lopez, abruptly left the firm last month, alleging in a lawsuit that partners there were grabbing control and not fully compensating lawyers.

Friday's lawsuit alleges that Hirsch was upset by moves to get the firm's finances in order because for years he "set his own salary, took whatever benefits he wanted and imposed on the firm unprecedented personal expenses."

The lawsuit alleges that Hirsch and the three lawyers who joined him in leaving -- Robert Wallerstein, Howard Fishman and David Matlof -- were "preparing to divert and squirrel away for themselves fees that properly belonged to the firm."

Also alleged is a "nocturnal escapade" in which, at 11:15 p.m. on Aug. 11, the Hirsch-led group of lawyers installed software to download confidential documents. It says the group "deleted e-mails and electronic documents ... in an attempt to cover their tracks."

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