Roche Freedman is no more: the firm announced it would be sacking its co-founding partner Kyle Roche and rebranding to Freedman Normand Friedland. The move comes as the firm continues to face pressure after leaked videos showed Roche bragging about abusing the legal system to harass the competitors of one of their client, Ava Labs.
Roche Freedman originally seemed to be hoping the scandal would blow over without fuss. Following the leaks, the firm quietly notified the courts in its crypto class action lawsuits that Kyle Roche was being replaced as counsel because he was no longer part of their class action practice. When the parties they were suing—particularly Tether and Bitfinex but others, too—demanded the firm be kicked off their case entirely, Roche Freedman said it had removed Roche from the class action practice to avoid the appearance of impropriety and argued that they should be allowed to remain as counsel. It was only after the Judge hearing the Tether case ruled that Roche Freedman should be removed as counsel altogether that the firm decided it had no other choice than to fire Roche.
Kyle Roche appears to have already set up his own practice. The lawyer told the court hearing at the Celsius bankruptcy proceedings, in which Roche represents one of the creditors, that he had moved on from Roche Freedman and would now be practicing under Kyle Roche P.A.
This marks the end of Kyle Roche’s relationship with the firm formerly known as Roche Freedman, but the fallout from the leaks is apparently just beginning. The firm was unceremoniously kicked off their class action case against Tether last week after opposing counsel expressed ‘grave concerns’ over Roche Freedman’s motivations in bringing the suit, and the firm faces similar motions in its other cases which have yet to be ruled on, including one motion that would see Kyle Roche and Roche Freedman submit to extensive discovery as to their relationship with Ava Labs.
While Roche’s removal means that Roche Freedman’s loosest lips are gone, serious questions remain about the degree to which Roche’s gloating represents the wider firm. In his boasting, Roche appeared to be describing a firm-wide strategy to file lawsuits to suppress Ava Lab’s competitors and gain a general edge in the digital currency industry based on information gleaned in discovery. And documents from a lawsuit filed by one of Roche Freedman’s former partners against the firm reveal he and his fellow senior partners were all given sizeable allotment of Ava Labs’ digital assets in return for law firm’s services. The largest allotment of tokens belongs not to Kyle Roche but to Vel Freedman, the co-founder who leads many of Roche Freedman’s digital asset cases. Freedman was lead counsel in Ira Kleiman’s case against Dr. Craig Wright—one of the few “enemies” of Ava Labs to be named in the leaks as someone Roche had “taken down.”
Roche Freedman’s focus now will be on resisting the outstanding applications for their removal. Of particular concern will be the Tulip Trust’s application to have the firm (and Kyle Roche) submit to discovery. Should that happen, we are likely to get a far clearer window into the true motivations behind the Roche Freedman lawsuits filed against companies throughout the digital asset industry, as well as the exact services they have provided for Ava Labs.
We may find that Kyle Roche was just the beginning.
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