Joe Francis vs. his lawyers: Who, dare we ask, has gone wilder?

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Joe Francis vs. his lawyers: Who, dare we ask, has gone wilder?

Tue Jan 27, 2009 @ 01:03AM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Joe%20FrancisIt's been awhile since we checked in on "the Bobs," the pair of Milwaukee attorneys who called themselves "legal mercenaries" to Portfolio magazine before hopping on a plane to hit it big in Hollywood. Last year, we wondered whether anybody in the entertainment community would bother putting Robert Bernhoft and Robert Barnes on their lunch schedule. 

Well, the Los Angeles Daily Journal today prints a front-page update on the Bobs in which disgruntled client Joe Francis of "Girls Gone Wild" fame calls them "swindlers," saying "The only reason they wanted me was to mooch off me and open up an L.A. office...The Bernhofts are the Paris Hilton of lawyers — just to be famous, not to do anything."

Them's fighting words. Bernhoft responded swiftly to the article, invoking the dreaded D-word in a statement to LA Observed. "Today’s Los Angeles Daily Journal story on Bernhoft Law’s representation of Joe Francis is ambush journalism at its worst. It turns a false premise – that Joe Francis allegedly dismissed Bernhoft Law for poor performance in Francis' tax case – into a lazy, false, and defamatory hit job."

True, THR, Esq. favorite Francis sees a lot of conspiracies in this world. And if Francis did ditch the Bobs, it wouldn't be the first time they've been let go without really being fired. After the two got Wesley Snipes acquitted on the major charges in the actor's tax evasion case, they were allegedly dismissed because they said they didn't want to be held responsible for Snipes' maximum prison term sentence on the misdemeanor counts.
 
But the real question here is, who cares? We're surprised the DJ gave Francis, not exactly a reputable critic of legal service providers, a venue to trash his attorneys. Lots of starry-eyed lawyers set up shop in LA hoping to land celebrity clients. And plenty of those lawyers end up getting kicked to the curb by those same celebrities, often for reasons that have little to do with the quality of the representation. 
 
That said, Joe Francis is a special breed. The Bobs probably should have known that when you take on a guy like Francis, you're probably going to end up as humiliated as the women in his videos. 

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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