High-powered attorneys John Barber (55) and Jeff Ranen (45) who started their own law firm earlier this year, routinely sent each other vile emails while they were senior partners at the Los Angeles law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith.
When Barber and Ranen left Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith to form their own firm earlier this year, Ranen told the Los Angeles Business Journal, "We wanted to lead with empathy, collaboration and compassion, to do it our way and not have any baggage," and to "build something that's reflective of our values and our beliefs."
The New York Post published a few highlights from these two leaders of empathy, collaboration, and compassion:
In a March 2022 missive, a Los Angeles judge was described as "sugar t-ts." when Barber joked about how the judge liked to be addressed.
In a November 2012 note, Ranen noted to Barber that another partner has "huge t–s." That female partner has since decamped to Ranen and Barber's new firm.
In November 2013, Barber was told by a Lewis Brisbois partner that people were upset during a mediation because of a witness' frequent use of the N-word.
"She doesn't want the word n—-r used in her presence. She claims it was used with great liberality, unnecessarily so… and she found it very offensive," the partner emailed him.
Barber responded snidely. "Got it. N—r. Don't use." He spelled the slur out in full.
In October 2012 Barber responded to an email about attending a baby shower with the subject line "N—r" — again spelled out in full.
According to Forward, "Lewis Brisbois, which has more than 1,600 attorneys nationwide, found the problematic emails after an audit triggered by a formal complaint about Barber and Ranen, according to two sources familiar with the matter."
The duo also appears to be quite anti-Semitic. From Forward:
In a Sept. 13, 2012 email, for example, Ranen wrote to Barber, "I forgot to write that we will not hire Jews" after the latter recommended a person — his or her identity was redacted by the company — for a litigation contract. In another email earlier that year, Ramen told Derek Sachs, a former partner at Lewis Brisbois, "This is the reason why people don't like Jews," in response to an invoice submitted to them. In a June 2012 email thread that begins with discussing a new hire, Ranen referred to Barber as a "Jew" for owing him money.
The pair also singled out observant Jews. In a January 2014 email, Ranen boasted to Barber that he deliberately emails a Jewish opposing counsel on Shabbat after the person requested that he not be sent material related to a deposition on Saturdays. "This Jew is cracking me up," Ranen. "I almost ONLY write to him on Saturday mornings." Barber responded, "Jew hater."
In a July 2014 email, Barber called Ranen a "Jew cunt" after he said he brought some bagels and cream cheese from Sam's Bagels to the office.
The Barber Ranen website describes Ranen as "a member of the Crisis Management Practice" who "regularly manages crises pertaining to employment matters." Maybe he can hire himself to manage this crisis. He and Barber could always go with the classic excuse: "We were under tremendous stress while fighting on behalf of our downtrodden clients, and this locker room talk was a way of blowing off steam. It in no way represents our values of fairness and equity for all."