Big law firms didn’t want Donald Trump as a client. Now a boutique Miami-area firm is elevating its profile by representing the former president.
In an announcement first shared with NBC News, the president’s newly hired lawyer, Chris Kise, has joined Continental. The firm has a stable of Trump loyalists with deep Florida GOP ties and attorneys who describe their mission as a legal antidote to “woke cancel culture” that they say has taken over “Big Law.”
Kise, a former solicitor general for Florida who also was attorney for the gubernatorial transition teams of both Govs. Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott, who’s now a U.S. senator, said Continental has “exceptional firepower” to represent Trump and other clients, including conservative figures and causes.
As a South Florida-based firm, Continental is well-positioned for the court fight — and possible criminal charges — related to the trove of highly sensitive records the FBI says it seized Aug. 8 from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
Trump petitioned the Supreme Court on Tuesday in connection with a special master’s review of the documents. Joining Kise and other Trump lawyers on the filing was one of Continental’s attorneys, Lazaro P. Fields, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Florida.
Continental’s other attorneys include Carlos Trujillo, Trump’s former ambassador to the Organization of American States, who served in the Florida House; Richard Corcoran, DeSantis’ former state education commissioner and a past state House speaker; Paul Hawkes, a former Florida First District Court of Appeal judge in Tallahassee; and Jesus M. Suarez, a former chair of the Republican National Lawyers Association and a DeSantis appointee on a judicial nominating commission.
Suarez said the firm was happy to fill the void left by firms that wouldn’t represent Trump or others like him.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to represent conservatives who were shunned by Big Law,” he said. “The fact that there’s a segment of the legal establishment that won’t represent a former president of the United States because they disagree with his political views is antithetical to the practice of law.”
NBC News legal analyst Joyce White Vance, a former federal prosecutor, said representing Trump isn’t easy.
“It’s not surprising that lawyers who would typically be delighted to take on representation of a former president have hesitated here,” she said, “because of the reputational damage suffered by so many of the lawyers who have represented the former president, including, in its most extreme forms, disbarment and prosecution.”
Michael Cohen, a former Trump attorney who pleaded guilty to a campaign finance scheme tied to Trump, said he’s the worst of clients.
“The big firms are electing not to represent Trump for two reasons: First, Trump doesn’t listen to his lawyers’ advice. In this respect, Trump’s biggest issue is himself. Secondly, his history of stiffing law firms is notorious,” Cohen said.
Trump’s orbit is also notorious for its backstabbing and internal discord, which Kise experienced last month when anonymous sources told CNN he had been “sidelined” from the Mar-a-Lago case. Kise said it was untrue, and, supporting what he said, he was listed as counsel of record on the Supreme Court brief filed Tuesday with some of the other attorneys in the case.
Kise declined to discuss the internal dynamics of Trump’s legal team.
“I’m excited to work on a team with such exceptional legal firepower, and it gives me the privilege to work with good longtime friends,” he said.