U.S. law firm Dechert has hired Kaplan Hecker & Fink to defend it in a lawsuit by a former Wall Street Journal reporter who accused the firm of working with hired hackers to tarnish his reputation and force him out of his job.
Lawyers from New York-headquartered Kaplan Hecker entered the case for Dechert late Friday in federal court in Washington, D.C. The Kaplan Hecker firm, founded in 2017, has combined advocacy for progressive causes with representation of major corporate clients.
Sean Hecker, a name partner at the firm who is leading Dechert’s defense, declined to comment. Dechert has previously disputed the allegations and vowed to fight the lawsuit in court.
Jay Solomon, the Journal’s former chief foreign correspondent, sued Dechert and the firm’s former partners Neil Gerrard and David Graham Hughes in October, accusing them of working with hackers in India to steal and leak emails between him and one of his sources, Iranian American aviation executive Farhad Azima.
Solomon was fired shortly before The Associated Press reported on emails in which Azima offered Solomon a business opportunity. Solomon has said he did not accept the offer.
Kaplan Hecker is also representing Dechert in a related racketeering lawsuit Azima filed against the firm in federal court in New York.
In both cases, law firm Greenberg Traurig is representing lobbying and public affairs firm KARV Communications and two of its employees who are alleged to have played a role in circulating the emails.
In court filings in the New York case, both Dechert and KARV Communications have argued that Azima’s complaint rehashes allegations that are already the subject of litigation in the United Kingdom. A lawyer for Hughes has argued in a court filing that the U.S. court in New York does not have jurisdiction over the claims against him.
A lawyer for Gerrard did not immediately return a request for comment.
Solomon’s lawsuit alleges that Dechert sought to tar Solomon and Azima as part of its work for Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al-Qasimi, ruler of emirate Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.
Ras Al Khaimah’s business interests were harmed by Solomon’s reporting on an Iranian sanctions evasion and money laundering scheme, for which Azima served as an important source, according to the complaint. Reuters has reported that lawyers for Ras Al Khaimah’s investment agency – RAKIA – used Azima’s emails as evidence to help win a fraud lawsuit filed against the aviation tycoon in London in 2016.
Gerrard, the one-time co-chair of Dechert’s global white-collar practice, and Hughes have both since left the firm.
The case is Solomon v. Dechert LLP et al, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 1:22-cv-03137.