Douchebag U.S. Lawmakers Go After DLA Piper for ZTE Representation

September 14, 2012

Be prepared for some very strong language. This incident makes me want to vomit.

DLA Piper, a global law firm noted for high-profile attorneys, should rethink its work for China’s ZTE Corp, two Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged.

Representatives Sue Myrick of North Carolina and Frank Wolf of Virginia, staunch critics of China’s human-rights record, sent the request to DLA Piper on Thursday.

[ . . . ]

The letter faulted DLA Piper for helping ZTE “as it attempts to circumvent U.S. government concerns” to gain a larger share of the U.S. market.

“By publicly representing and advising the ZTE Corporation, your firm is indicating it values the retainer of one contract over the legitimate cyber security and supply chain concerns of the United States government,” the lawmakers wrote. (Reuters)

I need to be careful here. I already have high blood pressure, and this shit ain’t helping, I can tell you.

{Deep breath} OK, the issue is simply this: you have a well respected law firm that represented a foreign telecom company with respect to commercial matters in the United States. Now members of the U.S. House of Representatives are criticizing that firm for DOING ITS FUCKING JOB.

Pardon me. Didn’t mean to shout.

Was ZTE on some sort of “Do Not Represent” List? Not that I’m aware of. Are U.S. lawyers not allowed to represent Chinese clients for some reason? Not that I’m aware of, and that certainly is something I would know about.

What exactly does “circumvent U.S. government concerns” mean? Well, a House hearing was held yesterday concerning the national security issues swirling around Chinese telecom giant Huawei and, to a lesser extent, ZTE. Both companies have run into trouble in the past with specific transactions, some of which have been questioned and/or torpedoed by folks on Capitol Hill.

This sort of scrutiny, with some politicos taking a favorable stance on these deals, and others looking to nix them, is absolutely an adversarial process. And even if you disagreed with that statement, you certainly wouldn’t disagree that Congressional testimony is often a game of hardball, with one side looking to pump up the speaker, the other side wishing to shred their credibility, and everyone trying to get on television.

Call me crazy, but a foreign company heading into that sort of environment might wish to consider legal counsel.

The Reuters writeup of this nonsense also suggests that allegations against ZTE concerning business with Iran is somehow relevant to DLA Piper’s representation. Sorry, that’s also a bucket full of half-congealed bullshit, unless someone has evidence that DLA lawyers advised ZTE on how to circumvent U.S. law. No? Then shut the hell up about the propriety of their legal services to a legitimate client. And if it turns out that the FBI is indeed going after ZTE on the Iran issue, doesn’t that suggest “lawyering up” is a damn good idea?

Frank Wolf, and his fellow House member whom I’ve never heard of before, is trying to smear a law firm with the sins of its clients, some of which have yet to be substantiated. Fuck you, Frank Wolf. (Had to be said.) You’re calling into question America’s entire legal system, you prick.

Currently the American Civil Liberties Union is representing the Ku Klux Klan against the State of Georgia in a freedom of speech case. That’s the American legal system at its best. God knows what the country would look like if reactionaries like Frank Wolf were in charge.

Perhaps we should all ignore this letter. I’m sure DLA Piper is not going to raise its profile, and potentially burn some bridges, by responding to this wingnuttery publicly. And after all, Frank Wolf is an old China bashing hack, a miserable bastard who gets lots of cash from the defense industry, which benefits directly the more the U.S. is afraid of China. Of his top five campaign contributors, four are defense contractors and one, Orbital Sciences Corp, makes missile and satellite technology. You think these guys don’t benefit when good old Frank Wolf gins up China controversies?

Serial killers are allowed access to lawyers. Companies that dump toxic waste have legions of attorneys. Terrorists are represented . . . well, mostly the U.S. likes to drop bombs on those guys with no due process. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

But a foreign corporation from a country that does a huge amount of business with the U.S.? No soup lawyer for you! I wonder if Frank Wolf is aware that DLA Piper actually has two separate, rather sizable, offices in Mainland China, out of which they sometimes {gasp} offer legal advice to Chinese clients?

String up the traitorous bastards!

(Disclosure: I used to work for DLA Piper.)