Highly respected attorney Thomas Hyland, of Wilson Elser, writes in the NYLJ, in part:
"We write in response to your article, "Judge Orders Firm to Disgorge Fees Over Ethics Breach," (NYLJ, April 5, page 1) which discusses Justice Marcy S. Friedman’s decision in Ulico v. Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, granting partial summary judgment against our firm. The article notes that Wilson Elser is an "insurance defense giant." We are proud of our reputation and standing in the insurance defense and greater legal community. We have built this reputation with over 30 years of exceptional service to our clients, and in accordance with the highest ethical standards.
With all due respect, Justice Friedman’s decision is flawed and contrary to the law and facts. As is the right of any litigant aggrieved by the order of a lower court, we intend to appeal. Unfortunately, an erroneous decision may do damage, even if ultimately overturned. While it would be impossible to demonstrate in this forum all of the problems underlying the court’s decision, we feel compelled to note the following:
The court stated that "the facts relevant to [the claim of breach of fiduciary duty] are largely undisputed," yet failed to heed the most important undisputed fact: Wilson Elser did not represent two parties having adverse legal interests. Rather, the claim concerns the propriety of Wilson Elser doing work for an existing client that was potentially adverse to the business interests of Ulico. This is a question of interest to all lawyers. If, for example, a lawyer assists a restaurant in obtaining a liquor license, does he violate his ethical obligations to that client if he also helps another restaurant on the same street obtain a license? A "competitor" is simply and obviously not an "adversary."
Here’s the rest of the letter.