Sounds like the start of a joke?  This litigation is obviously not a joke for either side.  Bois Schiller uses an arbitration clause in their engagement letter, requiring arbitration of anything “arising from or relating to the Engagement” and they will go to great lengths to enforce it.  Even this particular billionaire client was unable to keep his case in court.

Guo Wengui v Schiller  2019 NY Slip Op 31436(U)  May 23, 2019  Supreme Court, New York County   Docket Number: 150001/2019 Judge: Joel M. Cohen determines that a properly written arbitration clause is perfectly enforceable in New York.

“This case involves a claim by a client (Guo Wengui a/k/a Miles Kwok, “Kwok”) against his former law firm (Boies Schiller Flexner, LLP, “Boise Schiller”) and one of its partners (Joshua Schiller) based on conduct allegedly occurring after the attorney-client relationship had ended. Defendants move to compel arbitration of the claims (and to stay the instant litigation) on the ground that the claims are subject to mandatory arbitration pursuant to an engagement letter setting forth the terms of Kwok’s retention of Boies Schiller. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants’ motion is granted, and the action is stayed during the pendency of the arbitration. ”

“New York has a “long and strong public policy favoring arbitration … as a means of conserving the time and resources of the courts and the contracting parties.” Stark v Molod Spitz Desantis & Stark, P.C., 9 N.Y.3d 59, 66 (2007) (internal citations omitted). Parties “will not be held to have chosen arbitration as the forum for the resolution of their disputes in the absence of an express, unequivocal agreement to that effect.” BR Ambulance Serv., Inc. v Nationwide Nassau Ambulance, 150 A.D.2d 745 (2nd Dep’t 1989) (internal citations omitted).

Here, while the specific conduct of which Plaintiff complains took place after the attorney-client relationship ended, the claims in this case plainly arise out of and relate to Plaintiff’s engagement of Defendants as his counsel. Absent the attorney-client relationship between the parties, Plaintiff would have no claim for legal malpractice or breach of fiduciary duty. As such, the claims are covered by the broad arbitration provision in the Engagement Agreement. See Menche v. Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, LLP, 129 A.D.3d 682, 682 (2nd Dep’t 2015) (arbitration provision that “any dispute arising out of or relating to this agreement and/or the legal services rendered
hereunder” was held to be “clear, explicit, and unequivocal, and [the plaintiff’s] legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty causes of action fall within the broad scope of this provision.”).
Kwok’s contention that the arbitration agreement is applicable only to disputes over attorneys’ fees is meritless. The arbitration clause is broad and unequivocally refers to “a dispute” that “aris[es] from or relat[es] to the Engagement,” without any substantive limitation. See Menche, supra. Although the arbitration paragraph provides for a different arbitration option if the dispute relates to “fees involving a sum between $1,000 and $50,000,” which is not applicable here, it nowhere suggests that the arbitration right is limited to such disputes. ”

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Andrew Lavoott Bluestone

Andrew Lavoott Bluestone has been an attorney for 40 years, with a career that spans criminal prosecution, civil litigation and appellate litigation. Mr. Bluestone became an Assistant District Attorney in Kings County in 1978, entered private practice in 1984 and in 1989 opened his private law office and took his first legal malpractice case.

Since 1989, Bluestone has become a leader in the New York Plaintiff’s Legal Malpractice bar, handling a wide array of plaintiff’s legal malpractice cases arising from catastrophic personal injury, contracts, patents, commercial litigation, securities, matrimonial and custody issues, medical malpractice, insurance, product liability, real estate, landlord-tenant, foreclosures and has defended attorneys in a limited number of legal malpractice cases.

 

Bluestone also took an academic role in field, publishing the New York Attorney Malpractice Report from 2002-2004.  He started the “New York Attorney Malpractice Blog” in 2004, where he has published more than 4500 entries.

Mr. Bluestone has written 38 scholarly peer-reviewed articles concerning legal malpractice, many in the Outside Counsel column of the New York Law Journal. He has appeared as an Expert witness in multiple legal malpractice litigations.

Mr. Bluestone is an adjunct professor of law at St. John’s University College of Law, teaching Legal Malpractice.  Mr. Bluestone has argued legal malpractice cases in the Second Circuit, in the New York State Court of Appeals, each of the four New York Appellate Divisions, in all four of  the U.S. District Courts of New York and in Supreme Courts all over the state.  He has also been admitted pro haec vice in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida and was formally admitted to the US District Court of Connecticut and to its Bankruptcy Court all for legal malpractice matters. He has been retained by U.S. Trustees in legal malpractice cases from Bankruptcy Courts, and has represented municipalities, insurance companies, hedge funds, communications companies and international manufacturing firms. Mr. Bluestone regularly lectures in CLEs on legal malpractice.

Based upon his professional experience Bluestone was named a Diplomate and was Board Certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys in 2008 in Legal Malpractice. He remains Board Certified.  He was admitted to The Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019.  He has been featured in Who’s Who in Law since 1993.

In the last years, Mr. Bluestone has been featured for two particularly noteworthy legal malpractice cases.  The first was a settlement of an $11.9 million dollar default legal malpractice case of Yeo v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman which was reported in the NYLJ on August 15, 2016. Most recently, Mr. Bluestone obtained a rare plaintiff’s verdict in a legal malpractice case on behalf of the City of White Plains v. Joseph Maria, reported in the NYLJ on February 14, 2017. It was the sole legal malpractice jury verdict in the State of New York for 2017.

Bluestone has been at the forefront of the development of legal malpractice principles and has contributed case law decisions, writing and lecturing which have been recognized by his peers.  He is regularly mentioned in academic writing, and his past cases are often cited in current legal malpractice decisions. He is recognized for his ample writings on Judiciary Law § 487, a 850 year old statute deriving from England which relates to attorney deceit.