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BigLaw Partner Confused for Ryan Lochte's Attorney

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on August 23, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Jeffrey Ostrow, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, has some pretty big name clients. Intel comes to him for legal advice, as do Marvell, Spotify, and Cisco. But as the chair of Simpson's IP practice, his work doesn't usually get him invited onto the evening news.

So imagine Ostrow's surprise when his inbox was suddenly inundated with invitations to appear on NBC News, NPR, and CNN. Suddenly, everyone thought he was representing Ryan Lochte.

This Is Why We Use Middle Initials

Of course, Jeffrey Ostrow was representing Ryan Lochte, the American Olympic swimmer who landed in a bit of Brazilian legal trouble after he "over-exaggerated that [fictitious] story" about being robbed in Rio. But Lochte's lawyer is Jeffrey M. Ostrow, of Kopelowitz Ostrow in Florida, not Jeffrey E. Ostrow, the IP partner at Simpson Thacher.

Not that journalists could tell the difference. According to the AmLaw Litigation Daily, Lochte's lawyer usually appears in print as just "Jeffrey Ostrow." And when you google that name, Simpson's Ostrow is the first name to pop up, leading to the confusion. The first email came last Wednesday afternoon, according to Litigation Daily:

Hi Jeff, I'm a producer for Greta Van Susteren's show on the Fox News Channel. I'm reaching out to see if you might be interested in joining Greta tonight live during the 7pm ET hour for an interview ... Greta is an attorney by trade, so I can assure you that this would be very straightforward.

The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and NBC soon followed. Simpson's Ostrow was even invited to appear on Anderson Cooper's AC360, live on primetime.

Not Just the Media

That wasn't the end of it. Ostrow was also suddenly the recipient of plenty of nasty emails and voicemails from strangers, wanting to let him know just what they thought of his non-client, Lochte. While Ostrow says he directed reporters to the correct Jeffrey Ostrow, he mostly ignored the irate messages from the general public.

It wasn't just the media who was confused by the Ostrows' similar names. "When my brother was confused, I knew I had a problem," Ostrow says.

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