A partner at law firm Cooley LLP got an unexpected call late last year from a lawyer for one of the firm’s most famous clients, Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. with an ultimatum.
The world’s richest man wanted Cooley, which was representing Tesla in numerous lawsuits, to fire one of its attorneys or it would lose the electric-vehicle company’s business, people familiar with the matter said.
The target of Mr. Musk’s ire was a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer whom Cooley had hired for its securities litigation and enforcement practice and who had no involvement in the firm’s work for Tesla. At the SEC, the attorney had interviewed Mr. Musk during the agency’s investigation of the Tesla chief executive’s 2018 tweet claiming, wrongly, to have secured funding to potentially take the electric-vehicle maker private.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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