#MeToo ‘Media Assassins’ Clare Locke Still Repping Russian Oligarchs

·2 min read
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

This exclusive reporting appears as one of several scoops featured in this week’s edition of Source Material, the media newsletter that pulls back the curtain to reveal what’s really going on inside the world’s most powerful navel-gazing industry. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips, and complaints here.

The bloodshed in Ukraine has given many who’ve greatly profited over the years from working for Russian oligarchs a much needed reality check. For example, prominent global law firms and PR agencies here and across the pond have quickly dumped Putin-linked billionaire Russian clients. Linklaters and Norton Rose Fulbright have both closed their Russian operations entirely, while Skadden Arps bailed on repping the now-sanctioned Alfa Bank.

But one well-known, U.S.-based law firm has seemingly not had such a crisis of conscience.

Clare Locke LLP, the husband-and-wife duo who have boasted on their website of killing media stories and have repped #MeToo villains like Matt Lauer, Jeff Fager, and Michael Corn, can still count three oligarchs among their clientele, according to court documents reviewed by Source Material.

Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan have been sanctioned by the EU and the U.K. for their close ties to Putin and are locked in litigation against D.C.-based research firm Fusion GPS over allegations in the infamous Steele dossier.

Tom Clare filed a declaration on March 5, 2021, in support of the trio in their effort to combat a Fusion GPS motion for partial summary judgment, according to the docs. Clare has repped the three businessmen since last year.

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The firm has earned a reputation as “media assassins” for their aggressive tactics in fighting against news outlets. Outside of Lauer and other #MeToo villains, Clare Locke has represented right-wing media figures like Sarah Palin and James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas in their lawsuits against The New York Times.

Their most famous legal victory came in 2016 when they won $3 million in damages for Nicole P. Eramo, the former University of Virginia associate dean, in a defamation case against Rolling Stone over an infamously retracted story naming her as a “chief villain” in a campus rape case.

Clare Locke also has a lengthy history of representing oligarchs: In one 2019 letter they warned The New York Times that they may be “liable for the catastrophic economic damages” facing then-sanctioned Russian industrialist Oleg Deripaska. The firm also threatened the Times before and after publication over an article about Yuri Milner, another Russian billionaire with close ties to Putin, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Clare Locke did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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