WPP Hires an Outside Law Firm to Conduct Investigation of Martinez Allegations

By Patrick Coffee 

The latest update in the ongoing saga of JWT global chairman/CEO Gustavo Martinez concerns a memo which Sir Martin Sorrell sent out to WPP leadership.

Multiple sources who have seen the email confirm that it reads as AdAge reported yesterday:

“I just wanted to update you on the Erin Johnson lawsuit. We have decided to retain an outside law firm to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations in the complaint. Bettina Plevan of Proskauer Rose LLP will lead this. Feel free to use this information with clients, our people and other parties as you see fit.”

Proskaeur is a very well known New York City-based firm that specializes in employment law, finance, intellectual property and corporate litigation. Its client list includes stars from every major sport as well as rock bands and business interests ranging from BP and Exxon to Coca-Cola. It has also represented organizations like the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences and the Creative Artists Agency, and its notable alumni include current Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

We also hear that the firm will begin conducting one-on-one interviews with all staffers who had interactions with Martinez, beginning today and this evening.

This update follows the unsurprising news that WPP retained its own PR firm Finsbury to handle all related media requests and perform crisis communications services related to the lawsuit.

Yesterday–as reported in various outlets–the legal team representing Johnson officially moved to include a DVD which allegedly features video of Martinez making racist and sexist comments at a Miami conference as Exhibit A in its case against him.

The firm also amended its initial filing to indicate that Martinez’s first response to Johnson’s allegations effectively called her a liar and accused her of perjury.

More updates to come, obviously.