Tamar Arminak Guest Panelist at Harvard Law School Symposium on Sports and Entertainment Law.
Gabe Feldman (moderator), Director, Tulane Sports Law Program; Associate Provost for NCAA Compliance, Tulane University
Tamar Arminak, Founding Partner, Arminak Law, APC
Michael Fee, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP
Jay Reisinger, Partner, Farrell & Reisinger, LLC
While the panelists shared the task of representing individuals who are prominently in the public eye, they each brought a unique perspective on the task to the panel. Whereas Mr. Fee is predominately a white-collar criminal defense lawyer, Ms. Arminak deals primarily with civil litigation involving celebrities in Hollywood, and Mr. Reisinger navigates both worlds while also dealing with leagues and players’ unions. These differences were apparent in the panelists’ thoughts on preventative measures.
For example, while Ms. Arminak views preventative measures as important, particularly for clients who are repeat offenders, both Mr. Fee and Mr. Reisinger see themselves in more of a firefighter role, where their job is to be reactive rather than proactive. Mr. Fee emphasizes that regardless of false or misleading information being leaked out regarding the client, a lawyer must abide by a code of ethics and resist the urge to make a statement, particularly because hopes of turning the press are tempting, but ultimately unrealistic. Ms. Arminak generally agreed with Mr. Fee, but pointed out that from a civil perspective, she is often in a better position to make comments. Her belief is that occasionally there is a need to fight back to show the client that work is being done on their behalf. In contrast, Mr. Reisinger advocated for silence, for it is better to “deny the fire oxygen” and remain vague while saying little. Ironically, despite being based out of the location with the heaviest media scrutiny, Ms. Arminak was alone in claiming that she does not actively pay attention to the media coverage that her cases receive.
The panelists were unanimous, however, in agreeing that the biggest challenges from working with a celebrity client are the media coverage and the other people who have clients’ ears, such as agents, friends, and family members. In particular, the difficulty in controlling the celebrity’s posse creates problems in terms of remaining in control of all aspects of the trial. Ms. Arminak points out, however, that the media attention may cut both ways, as sympathetic media attention can cause a case to proceed more smoothly. In addition, none of the panelists favored using a PR company to deal with the publicity for a case.
Summary by Bianca Harlow and Matthew Lee, Harvard Law School Class of 2016.