Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Pharma Bro Throws Lawyer Under Bus

under the busTo the surprise of absolutely nobody, the infamous “Pharma Bro” is blaming his legal problems on his lawyer.

What is more surprising is that he may have a point.

Martin Shkreli is the bad-boy CEO who last year acquired a life-saving AIDS drug and immediately hiked the price more than five thousand percent.

He took to social media with posts, videos and tweets bragging about his business acumen and boasting of all the money he was making.

The Pharma Bro was in full bloom. But it didn’t take long for the flower to wilt.

Now he is in federal court on charges of securities fraud. He is asserting reliance of counsel as a defense. He says his actions came at the blessing of his former counsel, who has been separately charged with wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison.

“I Did What My Lawyer Advised”

After becoming a social media sensation, Shrkeli was brought to Washington to appear before a Congressional hearing on drug pricing. He spent most of his time smirking and taking the fifth. He was also arrested by the FBI and charged with securities fraud. Allegedly, he’d been running a Ponzi scheme with two of his hedge funds.

The Pharma Bro had fallen, and fallen hard. And he was dragging his lawyer down with him. He said he had acted on advice of his counsel, and that he had legal bills and documentation to prove it.

“Specifically, prosecutors allege that Shkreli diverted stock and funds from one hedge fund to the investors of a prior hedge fund in order to compensate the investors for money lost,” says Professional Liability Matters. “To do so, he disguised the payments as a contract for ‘consulting services’ allegedly at the suggestion of his lawyer.”

Three Takeaways

  • Don’t take clients who are jerks. Clients who brag publicly of their greedy, dubious exploits are the very ones who will point the finger at you when things go bad.
  • Don’t wind up in federal prison because you want to make a jerk happy. Yes, you have a duty to follow your client’s instructions and help them accomplish their goals – up to a point. Rule of Professional Conduct 2.1 requires you to “exercise independent professional judgment and render candid advice.” This gives you an ethical shield for telling a client no.
  • Don’t become a jerk yourself because you happen to represent one. You can go to bat for the most odious clients and still maintain your dignity, professionalism and self-respect.  


Source: Professional Liability Matters




About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

Related Posts